Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Making yourself feel good

Since I made my tough announcement last week, I’ve had a lot of kind messages from friends and strangers.

Are you OK? Are you taking care of yourself?

At first, this seemed like an intensely personal question. Then I realized most people have a different definition of “taking care of yourself” than I do.

At any rate, the answer is yes. I’m aware that all isn’t right with my world, so I’ve been taking extra steps to give myself reasons to smile.

Getting dressed
There are perks to walking around unclothed all day, not the least of which is not having to unbutton your pants when you’ve eaten too much ice cream. But when I’m feeling glum, lounging around in filthy yoga pants makes me feel like a slob. A glum slob. It’s amazing how much it can lift my mood to put on a cute outfit (complete with matching bra and underwear) and slather on a little makeup. Shallow? Perhaps. But it saves me a lot of awkward moments with the UPS man.

Fresh flowers
I started this habit several years ago when I was working from home and noticed how often I make the circuit between my desk and the kitchen. Then I noticed how much more I enjoyed the trip when I saw a vase of fresh flowers on the table each time I passed. I started buying inexpensive little bundles of them in the winter, or in summer months, picking my own from the yard. It’s such a simple thing – $1.29 for a bunch of daffodils from Trader Joes – but having fresh flowers in my life does wonders to perk me up.

Laughter
I have my go-to websites that are guaranteed to make me laugh in 30 seconds or less. Damnyouautocorrect is my favorite, but Allie Brosh’s Hyperbole and a Half is a close second. Cracking myself up is the single best favor I can do for myself, so I try to do it often.

New bedding
Being in bed makes me happy even when there’s nothing risqué happening there. Being in bed with pretty sheets and a cozy down comforter makes me even happier. I have a knack for finding good deals on bedding, and I can mix and match and add different pieces for a whole new look. This past weekend, I scored a great deal on some high thread count sheets in a bright grass green. Paired with a blue and white duvet cover I already owned and some aqua pillowcases, the whole ensemble looks bright and springy. I keep wandering upstairs to admire it, and the only thing that could improve my mood more would be discovering a hot, shirtless man lying there doing my taxes.

What do you do to take care of yourself? Er, we’re going with the common definition here, not the pervert one. Please share!

36 comments :

Danielle Spears said...

First, I have to say you are hilarious! I just discovered your blog and added you to mine. You are so down-to-earth. Thanks for sharing this personal part of your life. I have never been divorced before, but I imagine it's like breaking up with a boyfriend times a thousand. But, to answer your question regarding what we do to make ourselves feel better the undirty way, I get a massage. (There is a guy in our town who only charges $35/hour!) I also try to get my hair cut and colored. It makes me feel like an entirely new woman. Thanks again for sharing and can't wait to read your books! :)

salarsenッ said...

Getting dress sounds so simple, doesn't it?? But if you're anything like me and stay home to write...um, what's the point of getting dressed?? Lots. I find when I don't get ready for the day, I feel tired and a bit lazy. Duds are a must!

Exercise is another 'take care' method of mine. As much as it does for me physically, the more it does for me mentally.

Thanks for the reminder to take care of myself. Great post!

Andrea Mack said...

This is so important, but I have to say I'm not very good at it (in the ordinary way). Except for those chocolates I enjoy once in a while. I should treat myself more often!

Penelope said...

Love this post!

Fresh flowers on the table ranks high for me as well (our Farmer's Market puts together beautiful bouquets for cheap).

In the 2 1/2 years I lived alone with a preschooler, one of the things I did to be kind to myself was splurge on a good bottle of wine and cook myself something delicious. Food generally makes me happy. :)

Susan Flett Swiderski said...

A deep steamy bubble bath, scented candle, tall glass of wine, and a good book usually do the trick for me.

Eating well, too. It's so easy to bypass fixing yourself a decent meal, isn't it? Why bother going to all that trouble when you could just as well grab a quick bowl of cereal or snag a cold piece of pizza from the fridge, right? Wrong. Treat yourself like company. Don't have to make a five course meal, but eat at regular times, on real dishes, with real veggies ... and of course, a glass of wine.

Rick said...

I don't comment much, but I have been reading your blog for a couple of months now, and while this may be a ~too serious~ comment for a hilarious post, my heart really goes out to you.

And I am so impressed by your resolve, and your positive outlook, and your ability to make me laugh even when things are less than stellar for you.

So I just wanted to say that you've got another (albeit quiet!) blogger rooting for you in your corner.

Also, I'm disappointed to learn there are non-perverted definitions of "taking care of yourself".

Sarah W said...

I've started to take a fifteen- (or so) minute walk before I clock in at work.

I blast the tunes, too -- nothing like the Black-Eyed Peas, Oakenfold, and a little Metallica to get this librarian going . . .

Valerie said...

Feel like I'm intruding as I'm stumbling upon your blog when you are going through - and sharing - such a personal experience. Different things work for different folks at different phases, but if you don't mind me saying ... I love your approach. It comes from a place of healing and not wallowing (which we are certainly entitled to sometimes). As for what makes me feel good? Exercise, drinks with friends, and - hell yes, new bedding! Brava!

Teri Anne Stanley said...

Running through Wal Mart and taking stuff out of people's carts and putting it in other people's carts can be fun AND adrenaline-boosting. Watching the little nun go through the check out line and discovering an economy-sized KY product? Priceless.

I've never actually done that, but doesn't it sound great? What I actually do when the committee in my head starts dogging me is to do something nice for someone else (It's a bonus when I try to pretend I am doing this anonymously and someone sees me).

Linda G. said...

Love those sheets! And the flowers. And I can even see the value in getting dressed & adding a some make-up. The little things are restorative. :)

As for how I take care of myself...well, it usually involves chocolate in some form. And a funny, light read, with no socially redeeming value whatsoever. If it makes me blush, so much the better. ;)

Patty Blount said...

I dose with chocolate. And by dose, I mean consume obscene amounts of it,step on the scale, wail, and repeat.

Fresh flowers seems easier. I'll give this a try. :)

Ang said...

I buy myself flowers, as well. I keep part of the bouquet on the kitchen counter and bring a sprig or two to my office in a bud vase.

I also like to splurge on a pedicure every couple of months!

German Chocolate Betty said...

Flowers -- always good.

Fresh clothes and makeup -- you betcha! Although I have to confess to having forked out for permanent, read "tattoo'd on" makeup (eyeliner, brows and lipliner), so I literally get out of bed each day (cranky or not) looking about as good as I can (once the sleep wrinkles smoothe themselves out, natch).

My bed is my CASTLE (with or without the funny business). I have a super thick down duvet, with a fuzzy flannel cover. Our bedrooms is under the eaves, with french doors looking out to the east and I get to look at the ruins of an 11th century castle and the vineyard that makes our white wine). My desk is in there, as well as two leather chairs, and it is sooooooo cozy. I more or less live in there. Husband and son know where to find me, curled up with a good book.

Of course, a hot bath with lavender oil in it is sooper-dooper. And, as I recall, you have got the coooooolest tub (which I don't and I envy, but not enough to trade you the view of the Rhine with the castle...)

Chocolate, of course, always there (hence the name).

And shrimp, I pig out on chilled shrimp when I'm feeling blue or under pressure...

Just keep up the good work -- and remember we're all in there pulling for you!!!!

Alexa O said...

OMG, I LOVE this post and completely 100% agree with all of your strategies.

For anyone reading this who wants to have a delicious bed, make sure you get a lovely down (or faux down, but a good one) comforter and one of those mattress pads with all the fuzzy fluff. Then clean all your sheets and take a shower right before bed. Shave your legs and wear something cute as PJs. Take a good book to bed with you and VOILA! The world is a happy place and you control your destiny.

I also find that a walk is an amazing mood booster--fresh air, even if it is raining or cold out, is medicinal.

Finally, I buy expensive food. Eating a Twinkie (or a box of them) will quickly make you feel like a cow. But eating very fancy chocolate or an organic avocado or gourmet ice cream is a sensory treat and makes me feel like a sophisticated woman instead of a broken hearted teen.

And thank you for this post!!!

Girl Friday said...

I'm really glad you're doing all these little things to keep your spirits up - they really help enormously.

My bad-mood-buster is dancing round my kitchen to really loud music while cooking :)

inkgrrl said...

DAFFYDILLS!!!

That's one of the ways I cheer myself up in the late winter/early spring ;-)

I've found that how I best define "taking care" of myself has evolved over the years from 'pint of Haagen-Dazs + a Highland romance + bubble bath' to 'drink plenty of water, get enough sleep, and remember to laugh' - you're already in great shape, so as long as you're sleeping and keeping your sense of humor, I'd say wallow however pleases you when you feel the need to do so. It's part of the process, so might as well embrace it.

And LOVE the green sheets!

Kristi Helvig said...

I love the fresh flowers idea...my 6-yo son brings me home a single rose sometimes and it makes my whole week!

For me, my dogs and my kids are instant mood lifters (unless the kids are fighting or the dogs vomited on the carpet). But usually, after a few minutes playing with them--the other stuff doesn't seem so important.

Michelle Wolfson said...

For me this would mean a massage although in a financial crunch that could get downgraded to a manicure.

I have to say, that new bedding trick is sheer genius though.

Jason said...

Fresh flowers sound like a great idea. Unfortunately my three cats would just nibble on them and make themselves sick, probably on the fresh sheets on the bed. Lovely little fuzzies they are. I commend your kitties for having common sense. :)

For me, I try a new restaurant. Doesn't have to be fancy or anything, just new and (maybe) different.

Heather M. Gardner said...

Only a true giving person would try to make their audience laugh while they are feeling less than 100% inside.

Cat hugs always make me feel better.

Debra Lynn Lazar said...

Fabulous post, my friend. Facials, manis, and pedis make me feel wonderful. I love the flower idea, but my feline captors would eat them. Once I move into my new place and am in a fur-free environment, I plan to put that idea into action. And, taking a nice, long, hot shower is a great treat. We writers can be quite the mess.

But, nothing beats great music and laughter. Well, almost nothing, but you asked us not to go there..

Julia Broadbooks said...

Chocolates and hugs from the kids always brighten my mood.

Sunny days. There's a reason I live in FL.

Reading. Reading just about anything. It takes me away from my troubles for a bit and helps me keep my problems in perspective.

Linda said...

Hey Tawna! The new sheets are lovely! So "spring-like" and cheery. You have inspired me to look for something a little more upbeat than my current beige/tan/doesn't show cat hair comforter.

Steph Schmidt said...

If the day is going like crud I say to hell with work and curl up on my bed and read till I fall asleep. When deadlines don't allow for that, I watch Korean Soap Operas. They're so crazy with impossible story lines I usually feel better about myself after one episode.

Diane Henders said...

Music is my favourite pick-me-up. I have playlists called "Energy" and "Funny". The music in those lists makes it impossible to stay gloomy.

Once I'm pumped up on good music, I can usually get motivated to exercise, and that always makes me feel good.

But sometimes it's okay to just let yourself feel sad, too. It's all part of the process. Don't worry, it does get better.

Liz Hayes said...

I LOVE Allie Brosh's blog -- it's on my "check daily" list (along with yours!) I just wish she'd post more frequently. I'd take shorter, more frequent blogs over two long posts a month...

Matthew MacNish said...

Only you can put a photo of your bed on your blog and have it mean so many things.

For me, picking my self back up usually involves getting outside. I love to hike, especially to places with views, and especially when I can bring my dog.

That or an ice cold beer.

Christina Auret said...

I can relate to the getting dressed and applying makeup approach. It's not on the same emotional scale, but I use to use it for a confidence boost on test days when I was at varsity.

kmullican said...

After my divorce from Asshat #1 - I moved into a house that needed a little remodeling...using a sledgehammer made me feel really - really good. The final product was a sense of accomplishment and my new surroundings were literally all mine. I did it...without the asshat controlling every aspect of it. it was mine...all mine.

Then I did all of the things I couldn't do while married. I enjoyed every aspect of my single life, including not having pee drips around the toilet, smaller loads of laundry and even leftovers. I watched chick flick after chick flick...because I could. I danced wildly to loud music with and without my kids. I ate ice cream out of the container and left the mail on the counter (something I would have been punished for by ASSHAT #1.)

Healing takes 1 day at a time, and everyone does it differently.

After a few bad post-divorce relationships, I declared to my father that I was going to become a lesbian... "Just as long as you find someone cute..." was his answer.(Love my dad!) Two days later I met my current husband...so who knows.

Ice cream, chocolate, alcohol and exercise seem to be common themes for endorphin flooding results. Only you know what makes you happy.

Flowers are nice. Chocolate is great. And since we're not talking about any other definition - I won't bring up acquiring a 20-something boy toy... oh wait..

XD Much Love

Clever Cherry / Betty said...

I do the flower thing, too. And the get-dressed thing.
I also will reread one of my two favorite perk-me-up Jenny Crusie books: Maybe This Time or Agnes and the Hitman.
They both restore my happiness every time I read them.

Simon C. Larter said...

Does treating myself to a fifth of vodka count as taking care of myself? I'm inclined to think it does.

:)

Tawna Fenske said...

Danielle, thanks so much! Great idea on the massage. Our beauty school in town charges $20 for a facial that lasts over an hour and makes me feel sooooo relaxed!

Salarsen, good point re: exercise. I'm always amazed at how a good walk with the dog can really clear my head.

Andrea, you definitely deserve it, right?

Penelope, the good wine is a nice splurge, as long as you don't end up chugging the whole bottle!

Susan, excellent ideas on the bubble bath and good meals!

Rick, thank you. You made me smile and get teary-eyed at the same time. Turn me on, and you'll have a winning combination there.

Sarah, great point about the music and the walking. Can't wait for warmer weather around here so the walking becomes more pleasant.

Valerie, thanks! Having such a supportive community of blog friends around me has helped tremendously!

Teri Anne, that reminds me of something I always wanted to do but never dared....Always thought it would be fun to hang out at the arrivals gate at the airport and just start hugging strangers at random.

Linda G, ah, yes! I love re-reading favorite trashy novels when the mood strikes.

Patty, how about chocolate roses?

Ang, I try to do the same thing! Bigger bunch of flowers on the table, but a little sprig or two on my desk. I also keep a big basil plan on my desk. Smells heavenly, and looks pretty when I remember to water it.

German Chocolate Betty, can I come live with you?

Alexa, fabulous, FABULOUS point about the food. I do the same thin, but had never thought of it in terms of a "sensory treat." I'd never sit & pig out on quart of regular ice cream, but a decadent little serving of something expensive and imported makes me feel like I'm treating myself.

Girl Friday, I've never been much of a dancer, but I might have to try it!

inkgrrl, do you get inexpensive daffodils this time of year? It's one of my favorite things about Trader Joes each spring. Next up = tulips!

Kristi, I grow tons of wildflowers in my yard, so when warmer weather hits, I'll have an endless supply of fresh flowers.

Michelle, I desperately need a massage. Might have to splurge pretty soon!

Jason, I don't know why, but my cats never mess with the flowers.

Heather, making other people laugh helps keep me laughing, too. It's selfish, really :)

Debra, wait, are your furry friends not coming with you when you move? Where will they go?

Julia, I need more sunny days. Can I come visit?

Linda, I've tried different color combos in my bedroom, from dark jewel tones to earth tones and everything in between. I always feel happiest when I have bright, springy colors.

Steph, you have a name! You aren't just SM Schmidt now! I never thought of you as a Steph but I like it!

Diane, thank you. I've had plenty of sad days, and I need to remember that it's OK every now and then.

Liz, I'm honored to have my blog mentioned in the same sentence as Allie's. Small world, she and I actually live in the same town (though we've never met).

Matthew, I actually had a brief moment where I thought, "is it weird to post a picture of my bed?" And then I thought, "since when do I care about weird?"

Christina, just being able to check yourself out in the mirror and think, "I look pretty hot," does wonders for the psyche!

kmullican, I loooove your story! Thanks so much for sharing it!

Clever Cherry/Betty, re-reading Crusie books always makes me smile. I love WELCOME TO TEMPTATION or CRAZY FOR YOU.

Simon, Vodka counts for sure!

Thanks for reading, guys!

Neurotic Workaholic said...

I like eating M&Ms, which I make up for by going to the gym. But I gave up M&Ms for Lent. So I like writing in coffeehouses, because at least I still get my chocolate fix there.

middle child said...

Taking care of me means not worrying about taking care of everyone else. (my kids are grown). And by not taking care of, I mean, not worrying or trying to fix things. I just breathe in nature and relax.

German Chocolate Betty said...

Tawna, dahlink, come and VISIT!!! There's always room chez GCB. I can promise great local wine, river cruises and, oh heck, just lots of stuff to do!!

(Plus dog and cat to cuddle.)

And chocolate....

Anne said...

I do many of the same things suggested above, so I almost decided not to add. However, I thought I'd add my 2 cents anyway... just in case.

Treating myself nicely includes accessorizing. Never forget the earrings.

I love massages and such, but if I'm feeling broke, a homemade pedicure works just fine. Something about aggressively red toenail polish is uplifting. I call them 'harlot toes' and wear them all summer long.

Indulging in comfort food. Not always mass amounts, but something wonderfully old-school. Like homemade baked mac and cheese. Or my mom's orange bread. Drooling now.

The best things is to just let yourself feel how you feel without guilt. If it's a sad day, it's okay to wallow. If you're feeling frisky, don't feel guilty. If you want to pretend you're someone else for a day, go for it. This was a hard lesson for me to learn, but sooooo worth it. I still sometime lie by omission about my kids.

In case you're curious, I blogged about my experience of loss (which is different, but all grief sucks) on my site. Feel free to drop on by: www.annebakerbooks.com/blog (cue shameless pimping)

-Anne

P.S. I like the hugging idea too. Touch is a good thing.