After the last few weeks of gut-wrenching mental torment and the emotional agony of the healing process, things around here have been…well, restful. Imagine that; not overworking or doing, doing, doing?
Yeah, I didn’t know what that looked like, either.
In thinking about blog topics for today, I sifted through my usual list of grievances, both against humanity and myself. I considered what was going on in life, little anecdotes about my days or with what exactly I’ve filled them. Truthfully though, my time has been passing with very little to distinguish one day from the other. I have been napping a lot lately, not exercising as intensely as usual, writing less and reading more.
In short, I’ve been hibernating. Licking my wounds, then retreating home to sleep it off – after eating enough cheese to last through two winters, of course.
While this is nice for me personally, it may have sapped my store of interesting blog topics for the day. Unless you guys want to hear about my latest trip to Target (where a twelve pack of toilet paper was on sale!) and how many amazing books I have read (Reading Lolita in Tehran; The Year of Magical Thinking; Suburban Nation; Carry On, Warrior; Lean In. Okay, I’ll be honest; some were not “amazing,” just plain old “good” or “okay”).
So even though I have neither compelling nor humorous stories about life because I am very busy resting and spending quality time with my books, I did make a valuable discovery this week…
I discovered I am really mean to myself. Like, bully mean, full of negative trash-talk and exaggerated taunting. I didn’t even realize I was doing it, or that how I treated myself was wrong or even mattered.
Measuring myself solely by how “productive” I am, if I make a mistake or fail to accomplish a planned task, my favorite pet description of myself is “failure.” Or “worthless.” Or “stupid.” This name calling is so reflexive, it’s no wonder I’m often sad-faced and defeated.
So for the past few weeks, I have been resting when I am tired. I have been writing when I can, but if I miss a day, I don’t resort to “all hands on deck” panic-mode, the special way I pressure myself into doing more than is healthy. I have been treating myself as if my well-being actually mattered.
The result? A few days ago I asked myself, “Why didn’t I try this years ago?”
Thus, I’ve begun taping inspirational quotes to my office mirror. Don’t laugh! I’m forgetful, and they remind me to be kind to myself when I start with the negativity, to be positive when really I just want to wallow in self-inflicted pain.
As an inadvertent bonus, all this rest has been a conduit for a level of creativity unmatched probably in my entire life. Ideas for larger projects are flowing in, and I feel motivated and equipped to make changes that will better my quality of life.
I’m taking things a little slower; am faster to see another’s point of view.
The verdict on this time of restfulness and kindness towards myself? Everybody wins.
– – –
1. I like you. 2. I’m glad you are learning how to take care of yourself more and more. 3. I loved Reading Lolita in Tehran.
I like you too. 😉 Self-care is just not something I learned when I was younger – it always felt selfish. Now I see it’s just necessary, so I don’t BECOME selfish. And I think Reading Lolita in Tehran is my new favorite book. 🙂
Enchanted Seashells, Confessions of a Tugboat Captain's Wife
I like you too, can I come and clean your mirror for you? I just washed all my windows today, inside and out, and am still in the mood for more…
Enchanted Seashells, Confessions of a Tugboat Captain’s Wife recently posted…Pretty In Pink
Please come clean my mirrors, lol. I always forget them…
I’m so glad to hear that you’re doing well and treating yourself the way you deserve to be treated. You are awesome!
Ericamos recently posted…Why Free Clinics Are Free
Thank you. 🙂 Why is it so hard, lol?
It’s so amazing what happens when we take the time to slow down and pay attention to ourselves. I’m of the personal opinion that our lives are generally over-scheduled and that we are far too busy in general. We can’t pay attention to our inner creative urges when we’re frantically running from thing to thing all the time. When we slow down and reflect, all that comes to the forefront again. Creativity is a healing force. How can we possibly beat ourselves up when we’ve accomplished so much? Thanks for this post Natalie – it was great.
S.J. Faerlind recently posted…Caught Red-Handed
Exactly – creativity is healing, and rarely born of idle stress. I must remember that before I go over-scheduling myself again.
I believe in taking “reading hibernation.” I’ll fall onto the couch with a pile of books and emerge from my word coma when I’m ready. I’m glad you’re being kinder to yourself – you deserve the best! And any woman who read Ulysses three times and understood it, should be treated like an intellectual Goddess. Really, you should have your own Holiday. (And, yes, I’m going to mention Ulysses at random times because – damn!- that’s impressive. And don’t say/write anything to minimize your awesomeness – not allowed!)
Blogging Bibliophile recently posted…A Brief Family History
FINALLY. Somebody appreciates how much effort goes into understanding that book!! 🙂 You’re my new favorite person. ALSO, you understand the need for reading comas…I could read ALL DAY if it was allowed.
This is inspirational. REST as being a conduit for CREATIVITY. Possibly world changing? Now I have to just lay down.
Cheryl Nicholl recently posted…Second Act
Go lie down, Cheryl. You won’t be disappointed. 🙂
Sounds brilliant. Nothing like curling up with some mental space to reassess. Well done you for realising that the way you treat yourself is not only important, but *vital*. It sounds as though you’ve begun some excellent changes. Keep at them 🙂
Considerer recently posted…A texture past midnight
I only wonder why I didn’t think of it sooner…
The beginning of the school year is when I get to take a moment to myself. I take a nap, focus on a random task I have been meaning to get too. It’s easier to be me when I am not all strung out on life. Glad you have found your zen.
Me too! It’s so important, yet undervalued in society…
There is so much to be said for the restorative powers of the temporary shut down. Ive been following you for a while now and I have to say…Way to take your recovery seriously and take care of yourself at the same time…You may be my new hero.Let’s make it official…Youre my new hero! Z
Wow, slow down there! Hero? I’m just trying to avoid a nervous breakdown, lol. 😉
No, in all seriousness, if there’s anything recovery has taught me, it’s that I need to slow it down to a more manageable level. I just can’t handle the über-stress-mode.
I think I may have told you in an earlier post that I was in recovery. I think you are totally right…It is one if not THE most important lesson. slowing down incorporates sanity, decreased impulsivity, decreased stupid-assed mistakes…its really important…and no pressure on the hero…Im a big silver surfer fan and he feels no pressure from me Im sure!
I really understand you. I feel so similarly way too often.
Julie DeNeen recently posted…Day Four | Get Out of Your Cup!
I think many of us feel this way. We’re not alone.
Being busy resting and/or spending quality with the things/people you love is not a bad thing…not by any stretch of the imagination.
I know exactly what you mean about being our own bullies (by the way, very nicely put) I too do the very same thing. Sometimes I even put myself through so much poop that the end result is me in the corner crawled up in the fetal position sucking my thumb…so not flattering.
Thanks for sharing…awesome piece.
MJM recently posted…” Can I Get an Amen”
Thank you. Yes, I’m learning just how wonderful cutting myself a break can be…
Samantha Brinn Merel
Glad you’re treating yourself right. I think a self imposed hibernation and some self love is the perfect cure for whatever ails you. Particularly if the aforementioned hibernation involves great snacks, good books, and maybe some TV binge watching. Stay happy, friend.
Samantha Brinn Merel recently posted…The Elevator Pitch. Or, Making Myself Sound as Interesting as I (Hopefully) Am.
Oh yes, my hibernation included ALL of those elements! 🙂
Sounds like this was GOOD for you and therefore, good for your fans. 🙂 Glad you are healing yourself (inside and out!).
Looking forward to seeing your bigger projects come to light.
Terrye recently posted…20 Things To Do While Waiting For A Tow Truck
Exactly: everybody wins. 🙂
I think this is so accurately put, being bully mean to yourself. I’m so guilty of that and somehow I am sure there were many others who could identify with this definition. I think you leaving inspirational quotes for yourself is awesome. I admire any attempt to better where you’re at in life, emotionally that is. I’ve read Reading Lolita in Tehran and it was such an interesting read. I’ve heard of Lean In and I look forward to reading it. It’ll probably take a year at the rate I’m going these days, but I will. 😛
Katia recently posted…Things That Make You Go Hmmm
Yes, I think it’s nearly universal in our culture. How can we be kind to others when we aren’t kind to ourselves? It was a profoundly altering realization.
Good luck with the book reading! I know you’ll squeeze it in. 🙂
I’ve had those days, where just focusing on healing has made me “uninteresting.” I’m starting to wonder how much more material I have left, even on my “on” days.
I Sharpied inspirational quotes all over the cement walls of my classroom (not really authorized to do this, but…) and the kids loved them…now another teacher gets to bask in my hard work.
Oh well, they’ll be inspired for a few seconds.
Chris Plumb recently posted…Songs for the Missing Keys of Life
I love that you went rogue like that! Damn the man! Save the kids! Lol.
I think you’ll always be interesting, Chris, and always discover new ways to look at and write about things.
Oh my gosh Natalie, I needed to read this – thank you. Doesn’t life feel sometimes like running on a hamster wheel? And as much as I enjoy blogging, sometimes it feels like a race – like I should always be doing something, not miss a day. You’re absolutely right; we have to take time for ourselves and breathe a little. I have a stack of books on my nightstand that I’m looking forward to reading. Time to start reading. Glad to hear you’re taking some time to unwind!
Linda Roy recently posted…Ketchup With Us: Freedom
Glad this was helpful! Yes, blogging can feel so competitive sometimes – especially competitive with myself! Taking some breathing room was invaluable for me – hope you can enjoy those books, soon. 🙂
I loved your self-analysis. Yes, I frequently bully myself too. The notes to yourself is a great idea!
Roshni recently posted…I really don’t want this Monday to come!
Yep, I need the reminders!
Oh, it hurt reading about how destructive you are to yourself. You don’t deserve that. I love how you’re now listening to a diferent more loving voice. Please keep listening and be good to yourself.
Sandra Sallin recently posted…I Shook Hands With Steve Jobs
I am. 🙂 No one deserves that kind of treatment.
Yes! Good for you! I enjoyed reading your post and think hibernation suits you.
I haven’t read any of those books- but appreciate the list. I’ll check them out. Sometimes I read a book at a time but more often I’ll keep several going.
It’s wonderful that taking care of yourself gets you to where you need to be. A great life lesson!
Pam Huggins recently posted…BLOGGER BLOWS UP BLOGS
I think so too – for now, anyways. 🙂 I usually jump between books, depending on the time of day, mood, etc.
Many of us seem to get taken down with our own self-criticism. Something as simple as inspiring notes seem to help – good tip that I may copy for myself. thanks!
grownandflown recently posted…Sally Koslow Writes the Book on Reinvention
Yes. I think self-kindness may be a skill that needs to be taught at a young age, at least for kids who were like the way I was.