Reschooling Tool #3: Be Good to Yourself in Little Ways

It’s been a bit of a tough week. I’d hoped to turn my copious notes into blog posts, but unfortunately the words haven’t been flowing very easily. Today I spent 6 hours straight at a coffee shop crafting a grant proposal that’s slowly taking shape. I wish I could bring it forth from my brain, fully formed, like Athena springing from Zeus’ head.

My hair smells like roasted coffee beans and my eyes are about to fall out of their sockets, but I am pleased to have rewarded myself by doing a few simple things I enjoy. These are the small ways in which I was good to myself today:

1) Took breaks when I needed them.

I normally push myself and power through, even when I’m past the point of exhaustion. Today I realized when I wasn’t being productive and stopped to stretch, get some fresh air, and grab a mocha.

2) Did a puzzle.

Back in 6th grade, I was really into doing puzzles, but I haven’t touched the hobby since then. Today I grabbed a kids’ puzzle of a cat in a basket from the back of the coffee shop and pieced it together. There’s something extremely satisfying about snapping each piece into place. Because there were only 63 pieces (minus a few that were missing), I set myself up for success. Hooray for achievable goals.

3) Watched Friends for the first time in ages.

I don’t let myself watch TV very often, but I was simply too exhausted to do anything else. I hadn’t seen the episode where Monica gets her hair in cornrows, then gets them stuck in the shower curtain while swinging her braids around while singing “No Woman, No Cry.” It felt good to laugh.

I just polished off a bag of Trader Joe’s chocolate covered pretzels, and now I’m going to eat pizza and drink a beer. Learning to be good to myself is a major part of my reschooling, and I’m proud to be making subtle progress.

Comments (3)

  1. Margaret

    The paraphrased Friends episode made me chuckle out loud in the thankfully noisy cafe. Hilarious.
    I join in with you in spirit with the chocolate-covered TJ pretzels. Question, though: milk or dark?
    Examine your habit of “letting yourself” do things- who is letting you? Sometimes, bad and good are not so white and black; for example, TV can be useful, pizza can be relaxing, and also, being on task can be painful. Depends on context. Depends on needs. Just thought I’d pop that in there… yay for breaks!

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  2. Alicia C.

    I read this post when you first published it but I guess I just wasn’t paying attention or something. I like to go back and read everyone’s comments every once in a while and I decided to do that this morning. That’s when I noticed the previous comment and it made me think: yes, what is up with this “I don’t let myself watch TV” business? I suspect you grew up in a house very much like mine where books were worshipped and TV was not. Personally, I’ve learned over the last year or so that I’m inside my head so often it’s actually healthy for me to turn on the TV when I first get home and start to relax. (If I got paid to mentally examine my life I’d be a billionaire–easy.) TV is a distraction that does not allow me to THINK. I must say that I am picky about what I watch. If I don’t find it funny, relatable, or educational I don’t watch and will find a TV series on DVD to put on instead. Music doesn’t keep me out of my head (almost every album or song I own is tied to one set of memories or another). Trying to do something creative doesn’t do that unless I’m completely possessed by the project and that is very rare right now in my life. So TV it is… and I get over the books vs. TV guilt from childhood by recognizing that I read on MUNI, on my lunch breaks, and on weekends.

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  3. Melia

    Margaret — glad my summary of the episode did it justice! And great question on the pretzels, because this is one of the only instances in which I prefer milk chocolate. On “letting myself” — I’m used to pushing myself, or forcing myself, to do things the hard way. I’m beginning to see that truly “going with the flow” — as martial artists do — is much more enjoyable, and productive. What else is life about, if not chomping on pizza and watching Friends with someone you love?

    Alicia — I was allowed about an hour of TV per day, I think. And it’s funny (and by funny, I mean ridiculous), I’ve grown to think of TV, movies, magazines, and fiction as “brain candy.” If it’s not in newspaper or nonfiction form, my initial reaction is to think of it as fluff. Of course, this is not true. I could make you a long list of novels and movies that have helped me understand my own life better, and given me random knowledge about things like beekeeping. The Daily Show, as every fan knows, not only features the most incisive satire around, but it’s also one of the best ways to stay informed.

    Best of all, as you said, these media ideally get me out of my own head, where I live most of the time. I’m often so distracted by thoughts that I can’t focus on a movie for two hours. Now that I’m watching more frequently, my concentration is improving. Maybe I’ll become a pioneer in the field of TV Meditation.

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