I often struggle with talking about self-care, because I’m loathe to equate the purchase or use of bath and apothecary items with active self-care. Too often self-care is marketed as a simple measure, ie., “Take a bubble bath to escape your life,” rather than, “Build a life from which you don’t feel the need to escape (and take a bubble bath if you feel like it!).”

Self-care is messy and multi-faceted.

The latter is infinitely more complicated, a lifetime commitment, and not easily marketed.

One element of self-care that I have struggled with is recognizing my worth.

As a cis-woman, and in particular a queer cis-woman, I have often felt the weight of the cultural expectations to devalue myself and my labor. This has taken many shapes over the years, from struggling with how to approach salary negotiations, to once apologizing to a cis-male ex-partner who asked me not to discuss my income because it “emasculated” him. (Emphasis on the EX-partner.)

When I started this business, even as I was striving to create business practices and structures to support myself, it was extremely important to me to prove my value. Over the past two years I have tried to make everything myself, do everything myself, while investing as little as financially possible. Even the expense of building my online store sent me into a state of paralysis, keeping track of every penny earned until I could be certain it was worth the cost. Since starting this business I’ve relied almost entirely on organic growth and word-of-mouth, spending a total of $25 on advertising (shout out to our local newspaper the Thousand Islands Sun!), and like every other expense, I began to doubt it almost immediately.

And so recently, when a friend began to share their experiences with marketing, I began to feel that old anxiety creeping up. But rather than allow that feeling to be the end of it, I began interrogating the anxiety—were my fears based in facts, or in old narratives that do not serve me?

I share this not because I have gained some magical insights, but in hopes that we can start a conversation around assigning value and self-care. Fellow makers and service-providers, do you struggle with fairly pricing your work? Fellow souls, how are you honoring your expertise and labor?

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