Sunday, May 28, 2017

112 Ways to Be Soft with Myself

This post owes a lot to my favorite piece of street art from the DC Women's March (below) and to Elizabeth Gilbert, Gretchen Rubin, and Elizabeth Craft, whose podcasts Magic Lessons and Happier  have been steering me back toward my happiness wheelhouse these past few weeks. 

            Last Monday in therapy, I got to a breakthrough point that was as relieving as an exhale. Closing a volume on a particularly ensnaring story, I felt space open up around me in a way that I haven’t felt in years. The urgency, defensiveness, and vigilance that has always fueled/plagued my life has, for the moment, receded.

            Friday afternoon, just before being let out of a phone session early (Because of happiness!) I told my wonderful therapist (SERIOUSLY. Call Women Organized Against Rape if you need help even a little. (215) 985-3333. ) that in order to preserve this lovely margin that has opened up for me, I want to make my life as soft as possible, to give myself every advantage over the harshness that is unavoidable both in my head and in the world. Here’s what I have so far, in no particular order:

1.      Be imperfect.
2.      Just sit for a minute.
3.      Take pictures of flowers and other beautiful things.
4.      Think about chakras.
5.      Plant things and see if they grow.
6.      Read chick-lit books and pretty magazines.
7.      Read in bed.
8.      Sit in the park.
9.      Treat the neighborhood mini-libraries as oracles.
10.  Write whenever and whatever I want.
11.  Build up my money cushion.
12.  Read children’s books, especially biographies of cool-as-heck ladies.
13.  Keep Hillary in my heart.
14.  Do yoga at home and in classes.
15.  Leave places whenever I want and then
16.  Go back whenever I’m ready.
17.  Never have a classroom again.
18.  Call a hotline whenever I need it even a little bit.
Women Organized Against Rape: (215) 985-3333
William Way LGBT Community Center Peer Counselling: (215) 732- 8255
19.  Always have a therapist.
20.  Keep taking Prozac.
21.  Give others margins too--be slower to judgement.
22.  Learn to distinguish between microaggressions and annoyances and then
23.  Push back as often as needed.
24.  Block any number I want to, for any reason.
25.  Date in real life, not online.
26.  Expect softness from partners, and give it.
27.  Continue to not watch Twin Peaks. Fuck off, Dead Girl Town!
28.  Sleep in.
29.  Go to bed early.
30.  Go back to bed.
31.  Take naps.
32.  Keep being addicted to Insight Timer and sending strangers around the world “Thanks for meditating with me” messages.
33.  Keep loving Yoga Nidra and other guided meditations.
34.  Keep swimming.
35.  Keep getting on the elliptical, even if it means sometimes having to watch the news.
36.  Be late for stuff.
37.  Or be early.
38.  Earn the amount I deserve to, which is at least $50 an hour for tutoring and creative coaching.
39.  Keep having jobs that allow me to regularly stop and put cash in the bank, I’ve loved that feeling since my waitress days.
40.  Look at baby animals.
41.  Walk in the woods and around my magical neighborhood (which has woods too).
42.  See my niece and nephews.
43.  See my siblings.
44.  Go to the beach, alone or with family.
45.  Get haircuts.
46.  Get my car washed.
47.  Canvass for candidates I believe in.
48.  Donate to good causes whenever I can.
49.  Call the government a few days a week.  (Daily Action and ResistBot really help with this!)
50.  Get in marches, protests, and demonstrations whenever I want to.
51.  Make, enjoy, and photograph street art.
52.  Use my art museum membership.
53.  Draw.
54.  Paint.
55.  Collage.
56.  Color.
57.  Bake.
58.  Make soup.
59.  Have breakfast for dinner.
60.  Look at gemstones.
61.  Visit the Hope Diamond, which I think is the most existing thing I’ve ever seen.
62.  Learn the names of birds, butterflies, flowers.
63.  Read Rumi every day.
64.  Listen to happy podcasts! (Right now I’m bingeing Magic Lessons.)
65.  Write a haiku sometimes.
66.  Wash the dishes and do the laundry.
67.  Enjoy my time working in the bookstore with Amy.
68.  Buy one feminist book per month.
69.  Watch movies.
70.  Accept invitations but
71.  Cancel plans whenever I need to.
72.  Ditto for calling in sick.
73.  Keep fresh flowers in the house.
74.  Send mail.
75.  List gratitudes and accomplishments daily.
76.  Say thank you, I love you, and I’m sorry easily.
77.  Be a guest house for emotions and other things recommended by Rumi.
78.  Go on mini-artist-dates whenever I get a little pocket or time.
79.  Or do nothing.
80.  Always be doing The Artist’s Way.
81.  Do self-help books, or “emotional sudoku” as Maria Bamford calls them.
82.  Watch, read, and listen to funny ladies. (And, okay, other funny folks too.)
83.  Honor my sacred alone times: Fridays after yoga, Sunday morning swimming, whatever else comes along.
84.  Make alone time on family visits.
85.  Always have good candles, notebooks, incense, and meditation stones.
86.  Goof around in thrift stores.
87.  Drink wine and watch Steven Universe.
88.  Believe that the Universe loves me and wants to shower me with gifts, blessings, and synchronicities.
89.  Admit to being a romantic.
90.  Have pretty clothes.
91.  Say yes to free stuff.
92.  Keep umbrellas, headphones, lipstick, cardigans, and chargers EVERYWHERE.
93.  Increase my IRA deposit whenever I can.
94.  Turn off the phone.
95.  Or just go ahead and scroll through Instagram.
96.  Play games.
97.  Watch sitcoms.
98.  Notice and enjoy silence.
99.  Celebrate having a body.
100. Say no to things I don’t like.
101.   Allow for the possibility of grey areas.
102.   Assume good intentions.
103.  Use and celebrate my voice.
104.  Treat everyone, especially myself, as if we were The Prodigal Son/Daughter/Non-Binary Child.
105.  Look at collections, varieties, arrays.
106.  Enjoy my friends.
107.  Have some tea.
108.  Believe fortune cookies, encouraging tea bags, and other messages from the Great Whatever.
109.  Keep a stock of tea lites.
110.  Notice magic every day.
111.  My neighbor once told me that “Living in a community is a constant state of forgiveness and self-forgiveness.
112.  Put loving myself first, always.

What are your ways?