On Being Kind To Yourself
I was originally going to write about Michelle Obama’s crusade to tackle childhood obesity (which I think is great, and I think people need to calm down about the supposed “diet” she put her family on…but more on that later) but I feel like addressing something else first. Being kind to yourself. I normally hate phrases like that, because they’re so vague and self-helpy. They reek of goddesses, gurus and granola (which are not bad things, in moderation).
If you know me in real life (as opposed to cyberspace) you know I have been insanely, distractingly, sleep-deprivedly busy. You know that I have been stressed out and stretched thin with teaching, book publicity, writing and volunteering. I have a vacation scheduled in the near future, but it’s a good 5 weeks away.
I’ve been out of touch with what I need. So many people have asked me that question, including but not limited to, Brady, my therapist, my parents, etc. I have always had a hard time answering that question. I never quite know what I need, and how to let other people help. I have a fiercely independent and bull-headed streak that I think contributes to this. My impulse: to say I need nothing and no help.
Last night I began with my normal routine of grading and reading. Brady knew that I was busy and overwhelmed, and he graciously made a wonderful dinner which I hurriedly ate and then returned to grading and reading. I should’ve taken that time to relax with my wonderful husband, and to savor that glass of wine with my dinner. That is what I needed, but I didn’t listen to myself. Instead I returned to reading and grading, which I felt was an obligation that needed to be fulfilled at that moment.
Later in the night, Brady went into his room to work on some things, and I finished up some grading and pushed aside the voice that told me to keep grading and reading, and instead I was a bit selfish (and I don’t mean in the normal sense of the word…sometimes we all need to be selfish). While I was writing, I was exchanging emails with J, someone who helped me through the hard time of writing Purge, and who I consider to be a literary godmother of sorts. The whole evening felt blessed.
After writing I lounged in a bubble bath; something I used to do all the time, but hardly ever do now, because I am so busy. It felt simply luxurious. I needed it to unwind.
Today I woke up in a bit of a crummy mood. Midterm grades are due Friday and I have loads of grading to do. A friend asked me to lunch, and I couldn’t go because I simply didn’t have time. While I was reading for class, I looked up and noticed the pale winter sun shining down on me on the sofa, and I closed my book and relaxed and basked in the sunlight for half an hour, meditating (I use that word loosely) on how I should stop and take a break more often, and occaisonally do things like sit down and enjoy a non-rushed dinner, enjoy that glass of wine, relax in the sunlight and make time for my own projects.
We could all stand to be kinder to ourselves. I look around me and see everyone harried by a winter full of potholes, ice and fender benders. We have all grown pale and tight-lipped. I believe January-March is the hardest time of the year here, and we would all do well to take a little break and relax. Take that bubble bath and make a dinner date with friends.
In our society today, we expect so much of ourselves and others. We often forget to sometimes take the focus inward and relax.
I took half and hour for myself today, and the world didn’t end.