Friday, May 6, 2011

Song of Myself

I’ve had two events happen in the past few weeks that have radically motivated me to change aspects of my life:

Exhibit A:  I was out and about with Sam and the kids.  I had spit-up on my shirt, the hem was coming out of one pant leg, I didn’t have on socks, my makeup was smudged, an earring missing, and I couldn’t find my phone in the diaper bag.  I was yelling at Hope and shushing Atticus.  Sam was ordering coffees.  I looked outside and saw another MOM.  She was smiling, her ponytailed hair fresh and bouncy, her outfit immaculate, nails done, not pudgy at all, makeup on, and I was intensely jealous.  I could feel my eyes welling up and I asked Sam “HOW… How does she do it?  Why?  Why can’t I get myself together???? “

Exhibit B:  Our weekend getaway to Athens was fantastic.  One of the things I most enjoyed was that I was able to pay attention to myself.  I actually chewed my food at dinner.  My hair was brushed and I wore a cute dress.  I slept soundly at night and awoke refreshed.  My food consisted of fair-trade coffee, locally grown produce, and delicious vegan baked goods.  We spent the entire weekend outdoors walking.  Essentially, I felt like I was able to take care of myself. The result of this fantastic weekend was that I returned home a rested, happy mama ready to play with the kiddos.

I need so much to get away from Exhibit A and find more ways to live an Exhibit B life.  This means that I need to become a bit selfish.  Perhaps selfish is the wrong word; I need to be more…. self-caring.

This is no easy thing to accomplish.  I spend so much time cleaning the house, balancing bills, working and worrying about everything and everyone else.  Maybe I need to treat myself as well as I treat other people?  The kids are routinely bathed, their clothes are cute, mended, and clean, food is to their liking (for the most part) and nutritious.  I would never treat my children as I treat myself.  My goal is to instill in them healthy habits and I need to teach them by example and take care of myself.

My new challenge to myself is to create one goal for three separate categories (i.e. a total of three goals) for the month.  My challenge will be to devote that month to the three goals and hopefully, as a result, I’ll have some new, healthy habits.  This challenge will last a year, so by my 32nd birthday in April I will have accomplished a great deal.

This is certainly a challenge.  I was trying to come up with different categories and I realized that I started slipping towards caring for others and not myself.  For example, I thought of doing a finances focus, but really the problem is that I scrimp and save to feed and clothe the kids and in the process forget myself.  Determining goals was tough as well; at one point making baby food, reorganizing the basement, and making homemade bread for everyone I know was on the list.  Fun and productive, but time-consuming, exhausting, and isn’t all about me.

At last I found my categories and determined my goals.  My three categories are HEALTH, APPEARANCE, and INDIVIDUALITYHealth concerns my physical body, Appearance concerns MY perception of my body, and Individuality means that I’m thinking of myself as Amanda and not my other roles (mom, wife, sister, daughter, employee, and friend).  I’ve determined a calendar of goals in each area, but that is subject to change.  Before I discuss my May goals, I want to share some ground rules I set for myself:

  1. Be reasonable:  I tried not to set unattainable goals.  I’m one of those “all or nothing” kinda gals.  If I say I’m going to exercise for an hour everyday and I don’t do it.  I’m going to throw away exercise all together and sit on the couch.  But if my goal is simply to do something outside five days a week, then I have a greater chance of getting exercise (or at the very least soak up some vitamin D).

  2. No negativity:  Instead of NO FAST FOOD or LESS COFFEE or QUIT WEARING WORN OUT SHOES TO WORK, I’m focusing on positive changes.  These positive changes will, I think, help eliminate the negative behavior.  For example, if my goal is to drink 64oz of water a day, then of course I’ll end up with less coffee/soda/sugary tea, but I’ll be focusing on taking in water and not on all the things I can’t have.

  3. Practice awareness:  I want these things to become habits or at the very least things I can do without guilt (like going away for the weekend or leaving Atticus in daycare a bit longer to get a pedicure).  This means I need to stop and think about myself while I’m doing these things.  How do I feel? How do I look? How different will this make my life?

Okay, on to May’s goals!

  • HEALTH:  Make a vegan meal one night a week.  This was going to be making a vegetarian meal, but since I’m dairy-free, I figure I might as well go vegan.

  • APPEARANCE:  Put together a Spring/Summer wardrobe that reflects my personality.  This means cleaning out my closets, getting rid of the stained and unflattering garments, ditching my last bit of maternity wear, setting a budget, planning out purchases (because I’m poor) and expressing myself.  I want to make sure that I don’t focus solely on work-clothes and I have a few things to wear on the weekends.

  • INDIVIDUALITY:   Journaling for 15 minutes a day.  My blog has truly become my journal, but I still love the feel of pen on paper.  My goal is to journal at the end of every day.  However, it will be more like a list of what happened during the day.  I love those types of diaries!  It will be fun to have a reflection on my day and all the accomplishments.  In addition, I’ll get down all the milestones Atticus and Hope reach.

Expect periodic updates on my progress and I welcome feedback and advice.  My first task is to make a vegan meal Saturday night.  I’m leaning towards Gazpacho, but I’d love to hear of other recipes and suggestions.  Wish me luck!


theveryhungrybookworm said...

I love your idea to set those smaller, short-term goals. They are nice and specific so it's not as vague as "Be happier." Good for you! I think I should start writing down some goals myself...

Daphne said...

What an awesome post! My daughter is grown up now (well, she'll be 20 this year), but I can so relate to what you are talking about. Why is it that women focus so much on their kids and lose themselves when they become mothers? It wasn't until my daughter became a teenager that I started to "find" myself again and realize that I was important to and deserved to focus on me some of the time. Here's to you!

catherine said...

this is a really thought provoking post, amanda. i'm not struggling with the same kinds of things, mostly because my life, rather unfortunately, revolves around school as much as my kid. but! i think there is something to be said to pursuing growing in your knowledge of yourself, what makes you tick, and what makes you happy. i think the way you're going about it is incredibly mature, and when i finally graduate college, i will be more than likely coming back to this post.

also, i picked up another vegan cookbook at the thriftstore, and totally thought of you. i'll dig through and see if i can find something worth sharing. :)

catherine said...

and that last comment should have read "something to be said about pursuing..."

Selena said...

I've started recently doing this as well. I'm making small steps to be like those high ponytail, nicely dressed, happy people.

I started with emptying out the things I didn't want in my closet, things I didn't wear and getting rid of most of my "looks horrible but comfy" clothing. I picked only quality items to get - sure, it's less stuff, but it'll all last a long time.

I purchased new makeup and I make an effort to wear it every day to go with what I'm wearing. I've even started just, getting up earlier, giving myself time to get myself together and not feel like I'm being rushed all of the time.

I'll be honest, it's taking a lot of work, but as a result of looking and feeling better, I'm losing weight, I'm eating healthier and I'm feeling happier than I have in ages. More like myself.

I didn't mean to write a novella on your post! But I think this is really good for you and, in the end, I think you'll feel better, every little step will make a difference.

Katie said...

Love your title and love this post, Amanda. We forget to take care of ourselves most of the time. I say this as my hair that needed a trim months ago is tucked into a messy ponytail and I'm wearing a shirt I've had for something like 6 years. I'm thinking I am due for the same type of resolution. :)

And as a side note, I am exited to hopefully read a little about your vegan cooking here as well. I am interested in it part-time - although I know I could never commit to it full time (butter, eggs, and cheese!). One night a week sounds perfect.

Andi said...

AMEN, sister! Since Greyson came along I try to live this kinda of self-caring. I've even gone so far as to set a "Mom's Morning Out" goal. In other words, I get to escape to the bookstore for alone moments on Sunday mornings. Totally need that. Good luck upping the self-caring in your life. You'll be far better for it! :)

Thomas at My Porch said...

I love how you always make even your bad days enjoyable to read about (perhaps you should be writing a novel...). You might want to put a hyphen in spit-up. As it is written it sounds like you spit up on your shirt. And I truly hope your day wasn't that bad. :)

Heather said...

I'm with Andi. AMEN, sister! I am totally with you! Somedays I feel accomplished if I manage to give MYSELF a bath after everyone else has one! It's mostly spit-shine (kidding, kidding, maybe).
You definitely need to take time for yourself. You can't take care of everyone else without caring for yourself as well! Apply this quote:
Treat people as if they were what they ought to be, and you can help them become what they are capable of becoming. - Goethe
I know it smacks of management (where do you think I got it?) but it's so true too! I think your goals are going to set you in the right direction!

nerdybookgirl said...

hooray for goals! I like the "checking-off as complete" part of goals the best.

nerdybookgirl said...

Ack! Thanks, Thomas. It wasn't as bad as THAT! :)

Vegan Food for the win! | Fig and Thistle said...

[...] Food for the win! In early May I set two goals:  one, to eat a vegan meal at least once a week and two, to work on assembling my clothing for the [...]