List of acts of love towards me

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This year, I’ve been working on a project I’m calling My Kindest Year. Each day, I do one nice thing for another person and one nice thing for myself.

Doing nice things for myself has been the most difficult. I’ve been putting it off until the end of the day and then not doing anything particularly special. Which is okay, but I do want to go a little above and beyond some of the time.

Here’s a list of acts of love I can do towards myself:

  • Go to bed extra early;
  • Take a long, hot bath;
  • Stop for a coffee on my walk home from counselling / biofeedback;
  • Cook myself a nice dinner when I’m going to be eating alone;
  • Ask others for help or to do something special for me;
  • Knit myself gifts;
  • Read for hours without feeling guilty about not being productive;
  • Take breaks from work to cuddle the animals in my home;
  • Bake my favourite pastries and desserts;
  • Do my nails;
  • Ignore emails / social media comments from trolls;
  • Sit out on social events when I’m not feeling up to it;
  • Buy myself nice vegan cheeses and beauty products for no occasion;
  • Be totally okay going out without make-up;
  • Give myself compliments; and
  • Use the things I’m saving because “I’ll probably never be able to afford this again!”, like soy candles and dark chocolate and face masks.

Are you frequently nice to yourself? What do acts of love towards you look like?

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The ugly side of self-care

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Self-care isn’t always bubble baths, spa days and expensive chocolate. It isn’t always something Instagram-able or costly. When self-care started to be a thing, this is actually why I shied away from it. I didn’t have money to order food in and I was cuddling up in bed early to watch Netflix because the feeling that a giant was standing on my chest and the heart palpitations made anything else impossible.

What I’ve realized is that this makes self-care even more important for me.

Self-care is dragging my ass to the doctor to let her know I’m feeling worse on the new dose of meds. It’s telling my partner I’ve been feeling suicidal and need to change something major in my life. Carrying a water bottle around so I remember to drink water, cornering myself into answering texts from friends so I don’t isolate myself and eating breakfast even when I still feel too nauseous to actively want food at 11 a.m. are all forms of self-care in my life.

It’s important for me to remember this. Sometimes when I’m feeling down, I’ll buy myself a vegan cheesecake and eat it for dinner in the name of self-care, when really I should be saving that money and eating a big salad instead. Especially when I’m so down it’s hard to get myself out of bed and dressed to go to the store for said cake. That sugar isn’t going to do shit to get me feeling better.

It’s when I’ve got the basic self-care down–getting all the nutrients I need, staying hydrated, keeping active, finding time for connection and play–that the fun, pretty self-care can come into my life in a way that adds something beneficial.

What’s your relationship with the self-care trend like?

Gettin’ into it

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This week in My Kindest Year went just great.

There were a couple days where I felt like I didn’t put much effort in, but then on other days I did a little extra.

For myself, I went to sleep at 9 p.m. one night. Another night, I took a long, hot bath and used a face mask. Another hot bath was with a mineral soak for joint pain which I’ve been saving, followed my using a spicy chai lotion I’ve also been saving. While I’m not officially figuring this into this project, I also worked much harder on not making myself feel guilty when I’m not being productive by reminding myself that I need breaks (especially as my wrists and fingers are in quite a bit of pain) and trying not to sweat the small things, like being late when it’s out of my control.

For others, I sent some tea to an Etsy buyer who made a large purchase this week and sent my younger brother a nice text. I wrote letters to two friends listing my favourite qualities about them (check out my article on Vent Over Tea about gratitude letters) and sent another card to yet another person whose cat recently passed. I feel great about all these acts of kindness. A couple only took a few seconds while others took a half hour, but they’re all giving people the feeling I wanted this project to give people; I want them to feel loved and cared about, and to get to have a moment of joy in experiencing something out of the ordinary.

On of my 2018 goals was to do one huge thing for a friend each month, so this week I’ll be focusing on that while continuing these daily acts of kindness.

Struggling with kindness towards me

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The first five days of my challenge to do one kind act for someone else and one kind act towards myself each day has been interesting.

I made my partner breakfast, baked my neurobiofeedback counsellor cookies, wrote my mom a letter of thanks and gave my mother-in-law a book. I’m still deciding what to do today, but I think I’m going to mail a book to a friend.

Where I’m struggling is doing nice things for myself. On January 1, I let myself read for hours without feeling guilty about not doing anything productive. That was awesome.

Next day, I went to bed early to read. Okay. Not a great act of kindness, but something.

Wednesday, I decided to go to bed to sleep at 9:30 p.m. But then my partner had some car troubles. I got out of bed and didn’t get back in until after midnight. Last night, I’d planned on popping my pjs in the dryer for a few before tucking in, but by the time it was close to bed I was just too exhausted to go downstairs, come back up to wait, then go back down to get them; I just wanted to go straight to bed.

My lesson from this week is that I need to find kind things to do for myself earlier in the day. I need to make them a priority so I don’t bump them. However, I’m struggling a bit in finding kind things to do for myself that don’t involve spending money.

Any suggestions?

What’s this?

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In 2018, I’m going to do one kind thing each day for someone else and one kind thing each day for myself.

Why?

There are a few reasons.

First, I’ve realized that relationships are one of my highest values, so I want to spend more time focusing on them. A few of my 2018 goals reflect this, but I wanted to do something bigger. Spreading love through small, daily acts seemed like that something bigger I was looking for.

Second, 2017 sucked. I lost a lot of the faith I had in humanity. I let go of a few friendships because of the way they backed right off after my car accident and I’ve struggled to not be bitter about the friends who weren’t there at all but who are still in my life. A lot of my feelings are totally valid and I do need to re-evaluate how much I put into relationships and how much I get back. But my desire to pull back from everyone and refuse to support those who haven’t supported me has been kind of scary. That’s just not me. I’m hoping that spending a year consciously being kind to others and to myself will help me work through some of these feelings somehow.

Third, I’ve decided (for the 1,000th time) to give quitting drinking a serious go. While I’ve managed to stay sober for months at a time in the past, I’ve never stayed sober permanently. I feel a project like this will help give me something to focus on as I tackle my drinking problem, once and for all. This isn’t something I’m terribly comfortable discussing publicly at length, yet.

What will it look like?

I’ve set some rules up for myself.

  1. Stitching Hearts projects don’t count because I’d be doing those anyways.
  2. If I decide to do something kind that takes multiple days (such as knitting someone a scarf), it will only count for one day.
  3. If I miss a day, the act of kindness towards myself will be forgiveness without making a big deal of it.

I’ll send postcards to friends, plan parties for loved ones and buy strangers’ coffee. I’ll take hot baths, spend afternoons reading in coffee shops and cook delicious meals for one.

Watch my blog for daily to weekly updates on how it’s going.

Holy crap, people are nice.

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I received the above gift anonymously in the mail a couple of weeks ago after a particularly annoying day. I don’t remember what was going on, but I do remember feeling ridiculously stressed and anxious. A lot of that slipped away after I found this in my mailbox.

If you know me at all, you know I don’t go to theatres. What you might not know is that I don’t go because some months I barely slip by financially and going out to see a movie isn’t in the budget. Like, it hasn’t really been for more than a year. But the beautiful feather, kind note and lovely handmade envelope were just as special. I had to sit down for a minute and cry. Multiple times over the next 24-hours.

People are just so dang nice to me!

I’m not going to lie, after really enjoying receiving this gift, I put on my detective hat and tried to figure out who’d sent it. There were some telling clues, but I stopped myself before coming up with a list of suspects and instead shifted my focus to thinking about how damn lovely this was and how I want others to feel this way.

That’s sort of why I started Sending Love to Broken Hearts. But folks staying in women’s shelters over Valentine’s Day aren’t the only ones who need some love. Talking with a good friend, we decided to start getting together somewhat regularly to create nice little packages like this for people who we know are struggling, whether or not we really know that person.

Whoever sent this, thank you! I’m holding on to the love you sent me and making sure to spread it. You’re fucking beautiful, amazing and lovely.

 

I can do this, with you

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I really felt like shit about myself last week. Despite knowing better, I was judging myself rather harshly for not being able to take care of myself properly on my own. And then you all stepped in and set me straight.

An acquaintance responded to the status update about last week’s blog post on my Facebook wall with this:

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She’s right. I’ve always had high expectations for myself. I was the kid who cried when they didn’t get an A in a class. I was disappointed in myself for getting 98 per cent as my final grade in a high school pre-cal class. I stopped drawing in junior high because, though I loved it, I didn’t think I was good enough (looking back at my old sketchbook, I was again judging far too harshly).

Last week, two friends popped into my place to help clean and I told them to leave the disaster that is my living room. At the time, there were piles of whole rags, stripped rags and braided rags which are part of my project to turn worn-out clothes into dog toys for animal rescues. I had a suitcase of wallpaper, wallpaper cut into squares, notched/creased wallpaper for envelopes and some actually glued into envelopes for sending issues of Cockroach mag out. I had a little bin of mason jars for packaging the dried greens I foraged this summer to make teas and the vegetables I collected and dried for soup mixes. And there was some yarn lying about for a gift I’m working on.

The time I spend putting supplies for craft projects away and taking them back out is ridiculous, even though everything is sorted nicely in labeled bins. Having the projects I am currently trying to power through all over my living room saves me time. Maybe one day I’ll have a little workshop for these things, but right now I do all my making in the living room. What Lynn said made me not only feel better, but realize that it’s totally acceptable to have my home however I want it and not feel guilty.

While all the comments on my post were supportive and lovely and made me feel better, this one also really struck me:

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If you know me, you know I do a lot for others. Friends are often encouraging me to stop helping people so much, but it’s hard because I truly believe this world would be a much better place if we all did as much as we could to take care of one another.

Part of making that a reality is actually accepting help. So, when a dear friend offered to deliver a care package to me, I didn’t object. Rather, I said thank you and appreciated the dried goods and vegan hot chocolate mix (which she’ll have available at The Half Moon Market). When another friend called to tell me she was coming over to clean, my response was also simply “thank you,” as was my response when she surprised me the next day by bringing another person along plus food her husband had made me.

My friends’ generosity (whether that was them physically being there, sending me cat stickers on Facebook, or texting me cute emojis or a tiny compliment) helped rejuvenate me. This week isn’t awesome. The pain is minimal but I’m just exhausted. One afternoon, I passed out on a co-workers couch when I stopped by to feed his cat while he was out of town and then considered going to bed at 7 p.m. that night.

However, the love I’ve received gave me the energy to get most of those dog toys ready to go to D’Arcy’s Arc and Hampers of Hope, watch a friend’s kid and sneakily clean her kitchen a bit while she went to an appointment and start to plan a sleepover at my place for four children who I absolutely adore but don’t make enough time for.

The past week strengthened my belief that if we all put more time and energy into supporting and loving one another, we’d all be better off.