Reclaiming #selfcare: a happiness project

I’ve been holding off on writing this post for several reasons.

I’ve written drafts, none of which felt right. I wasn’t in the right mindset, and I’m not totally sure I am right now. Tonight, I find myself at a cider bar sipping on ice water. The lighting is dim, Ariana Grande’s Sweetener album is on repeat through my rose gold headphones. Tonight, her music inspires me – basic, you say? It’s fine. This scenario doesn’t seem optimal for a blog post, but I’m not sure there’s ever a ~perfect~ time or place.

I’m here alone — it’s just me and the blinking cursor and bright screen that stares me in the face.

My inner monologue loves creating stories about the strangers that surround me. I’ve been told it’s “writer’s brain,” but I also think it’s a result of having constant thoughts spinning. The vibe in here is quiet — it’s chill. I wonder what people are thinking about me. The lone gal aggressively typing at her laptop in an out-of-season floral jumpsuit.

Who am I to these people?

***

My days of late have been jam packed with anxious thoughts. Will my business make it? Why doesn’t this guy want me? Am I eating the right food? Will I ever be a size zero? When will my debt go away? Am I taking on too much? Can I be better at life?

Can I be better at life?

My head repeats this question. It seems like a simple, yes” but how do I get there? How do I develop a better life with a shit ton of anxiety, limited funds and a busy ass schedule?

It seems like I’m faced with the impossible.

That’s how I justify it. A better life is just…impossible.

I usually rationalize this thinking in my head when I’m having shitty thoughts about my body while scarfing down a cookie. I will never be able to make this negative image about myself go away, not yet anyways. 

I tell myself that I’ll be better tomorrow. Tomorrow WILL be the day I make serious moves to being better at life.

The problem is, I’ve never really thought through it. I go through the motions, wash my face and apply expensive toner. I try to meditate every day but then get stressed about making it so routine and get mad at myself when I don’t make the time. I try to give up alcohol, light candles and apply essential oils and think, is any of this fucking working?

I try to define what self-care means to me and find my responses cliché and simply falling into the mold of what it should look like rather than implementing my own creative practices. The health & wellness world has turned into commodified industry that I simply cant’ keep up with.

Tap water is no longer good enough, spend the extra $2 for water with charcoal in it. Vital proteins are ~life~. Flexible dieting is #cool and you can still easily have six pack and eat cake – it’s easy! 

I’m not knocking these practices, I’m just saying it’s exhausting and overwhelming to keep up with. We’re promised all of these amazing results with an easy fix so we drink Kombucha for a day and expect to wake up looking like Blake Lively.

I’m rambling. I know. Rambling on WordPress is one version of self-care that never lets me down. I hope you’re still reading.

***

A few months ago I read Gretchen Rubin’s The Happiness Project. Tbh, I usually toss books like this to the side because oftentimes self help books are too preachy for me and don’t speak to me like they do all the five-star reviewers on Amazon.

OMG!!!! THIS BOOK SERIOUSLY CHANGED THE WAY I SEE EVERYTHING IN MY LIFE!!! I AM FOREVER CHANGED!!! Really, Karen? I’m calling bullshit.

I’m not an avid book critic, but I will say Rubin’s book was fucking brilliant. A quick synopsis: a woman (Rubin) who has a perfectly fine life and is generally a happy human wants to make her life better — an no, she doesn’t turn in to a ~yogi~. Her journey isn’t an overnight fix, she makes small, manageable steps to make her life better. She sets a theme every month for a year and follows those guidelines while noting her progress. She has pitfalls and fuckups, but don’t we all?

But you have a great life! How can you make it better? 

*Newsflash* you can alwayyzzz make your life better. I want to take on my own happiness project — and UGH yeah I know that sounds cliché, but bear with me. I want to say with 110% that I’ll stick with all this shit, but the way my current brain works, I usually let it fall the wayside. The 34954357 times a charm, right?

There are aspects of my life that I want to tackle head on. Like, in my ultra nirvana, these are things that wouldn’t exist:

  1. Hating my body
  2. Questioning my self-worth when men screw me over/reject me
  3. Using food to solve my emotional turmoil
  4. Picking at my skin
  5. Having to put in extra EXTRA effort to be clean and organized
  6. Food as the enemy

I’m definitely leaving some out, but this is all I can think of at the moment.

In the beginning of the book, Rubin lays out twelve “commandments,” they aren’t specific rules like “stop dating fuckboys” but more so overarching principles in which she tries to live her life. You can view hers here, but here are mine. They might not make any sense to you, but they make sense to me and it’s all about me at the moment so get over it!! (jk)

  1. Think the way you want to live.
  2. Be kind.
  3. Know your worth.
  4. Eyes on the prize.
  5. You’ll figure it out.
  6. You don’t need him. Or him. So put down the damn phone.
  7. Listen to their story and don’t be afraid to tell yours.
  8. Breathe.
  9. Dig deeper.
  10. Get your shit done.
  11. Own who you are.
  12. Find your tribe.

****

Ok, so next is the tough part. Implementing these commandments into my every day life. In the book, she has a “theme” or focus, if you will, associated with every month. With each focus she has a set foundation of rules. I’m not much of a rule follower, so this will be pretty difficult for me.

How do I hold myself accountable? You guys, duh.

This sounds like a super basic thing to do — a journey to find happiness. But it’s more than that. It’s about claiming what happiness means to you, tossing the cliché self-care shit to the side and honing in on what YOU actually want to do.

Like, for example, I can’t get into yoga. I just can’t. Sure, maybe it’s all in the practice, but it stresses me out to become a ~yogi~ so guess what? I’m not gunna do it!!!!! I just won’t!!! Take THAT!

This blog series is going be uber honest — I already know I’ll have my pitfalls and shitty days. I’ll have more fuck-ups than I’ll probably be able to count, but it’s fine! All is good.

I’m not sure exactly how I’m going to share this happiness journey – a weekly blog post with updates, a daily Insta post maybe? Idk – I’ll figure it out.

***

So what’s up for this month?

Mindfulness.

I was going to start off with “health” but tbh I still need time to figure out exactly how I would tackle that one. Health is too broad of a term for me to personally define at the moment.

Have you ever started eating an ice cream cone, taken a lick or two, then noticed all you had was a sticky napkin in your hand? Or been going somewhere and arrived at your destination only to realize you haven’t noticed anything or anyone you met along the way?

I’m really really bad at focusing on the present. My mind is constantly going a million miles a minute and I know for a fact this impacts my anxiety levels, productivity & overall well-being.

You do too much, Beth. I hear this all the damn time. Between my business, bartending gig, running a women’s networking group, grad school & trying to stay sane, it’s a lot.

The problem isn’t the workload, it’s compartmentalizing the workload.

Breathe. Focus. Breathe. Onto the next.

Instead I’m like:

lethwif’pierh’oprj’wiorhaoire’oprk. Breathe, eat. ‘ih[oi’er’oierba;erione roiajr’ paorae.

Yeah, a whole bunch of shit going on in my head I can’t even put into words.

This goes for eating too. I’ve always been a fast eater. I hardly enjoy food unless I’m at a Michelin Star restaurant where the waiters create a mindful experience for you — explaining the tastes, senses etc. I’d love to do this all the time but I can’t afford a $250 meal every night lolz. 

So, ~being mindful~ how the fuck do I do that? I read a bunch of articles on this, most of them saying relatively the same thing. They offer advice and books to read up on. Like I said, the point of this personal happiness project is to create my own version of self-care. Sure, I’ll take advice from the “experts” or whatever…but I’m STILL NOT DOING YOGA EVERY DAY FOR 30 DAYS!

So mindfulness essentially is “being in the moment.” There’s meditation podcast I love that explains mindfulness as sitting in the middle of a road during rush hour. There are cars passing on each side that you’re very much aware of, but you’re choosing not to move. You don’t eliminate the distractions, but instead embrace them and integrate them into your practice. You can’t stop your brain from thinking, but you can learn how to channel it better.

Our reactions to the stressful events of our lives can become so habituated that they occur essentially out of our awareness, until, because of physical or emotional or psychological dysfunction, we cannot ignore them any longer.

SO – I gotta come up with rules for mindfulness this month. Practices that I’m almost 100% positive will be annoying to partake in, but generally, rules are annoying to me so I’ guess I have to swallow my pride for this project. Wish me luck!

After several articles and a bit of deep thought, here’s what I’ve come up with.

  1. Meditation 10 minutes in the morning and 10 minutes before you go to sleep. Yeah, IDGAF if you get home at 330am after a 12 hour shift. Do it.
  2. Go for a 30 minutes walk with Kevin every morning – no phone. No music. Just you and the sweet sounds of loud car horns and police sirens.
  3. Ten deep breaths before a snack, meal, etc. Think before you eat. Think while you eat. Slow, long bites. After your done, note how you feel.
  4.  While at work, perform a “body scan” once every two hours.
  5. Practice mindful writing once a day. 15 minutes of uninterrupted journaling.

***

My goal is here to be ~in the moment~ more. Focus on the task at hand without the distractions of everything else going on in my life. I don’t have any immediate plan to slow down my life & goals, nor do I really want to. That’s not the point.

I don’t expect to be a super zen monk by the end of these 30 days. Again, my end goal here is to just be better at life. I don’t know how exactly the above rules will change me and my life, but I guess there’s no harm in trying.

The following weeks I’ll be keeping you posted on how things are going – expect a handful of blogs and of course a bunch of Instagrams. Since I’m a thirst monster, follow me on Insta for the day-to-day scoop.

Funnn stuff to come! Thanks for reading.

X,

Beth

Words.

The blind in the middle window of my bedroom is broken. I should get it fixed, but I enjoy Mother Nature as an alarm clock.

You cannot hit snooze on the sun. I’ve tried. Mother Naure is relentless.

I am relentless.

Continue reading Words.

home

At times I wonder why I left.

I ask myself if “exploring” could mean a Southie apartment with friends or “taking a chance” has to mean uprooting the familiar and planting yourself in the unknown.

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