On this, the 13th of November, I can say that all month, I have been very good. What does that mean, exactly? It means that I have kept up with my NaNoWriMo project- exceeding my daily word requirement by at least 2,000 characters, I’ve donated about $25 to good people and groups, I covered a shift for a coworker who had a wedding to attend, and I have finally figured out the perfect gift to express my gratitude to my sweetheart this holiday season. I’ve also been taking a lot of hot baths.
Self-care is an important tool that we often forget about. In our daily lives, it is often easier for us to just hammer through stress rather than to step back and allow ourselves room to breathe. We don’t stay home when we’re sick, we pound ibuprofen and vitamin C, and we go to work, damn it! We don’t sleep, we drink coffee! We get into these habits and stay in them for a long time, and we forget to truly be good to ourselves. To this, I have a couple things to say:
1. ‘Tis the season. Don’t just be grateful for the people and things in your life, be grateful for yourself! You are so amazing, you have accomplished so much, and you’ve survived a lot of ridiculous circumstances. Maybe you are surviving a ridiculous circumstance right now. Be grateful for the incredible person you’ve become, and let yourself feel proud of all your hard work. You have done well, and you can continue to grow, and to do even better, but you’ve gotta allow yourself the space to do so. Take your space, love yourself good and proper, and you will ensure the best outcome possible. (Don’t get hung up on what you can’t control, but work with what you’re in charge of- your reactions and proactivity- and let the rest work itself out.)
2. From me to you, professional waitress and bartender extraordinaire (or you know, just regular waitress and bartender) to consumer, patron, friend I’m dining with, etc.: when your waitress offers you dessert, do not say, under any circumstance, “No, I’m being good.”
Why #2? Why not say you’re being good? You want everyone to know about how hard you’re working at cutting down your butter intake or losing that five pounds or whatever, right? You want to feel like THAT is the dessert, like the icing on your cake is your personal crusade toward a Better You™, right? Sadly, that isn’t what this sentence reinforces. When you say, “I’m being good,” and what you mean is, “I won’t be eating dessert,” it actually comes off as, “people are only good if they deprive themselves for vanity’s sake.” Disclaimer: No one cares about your weight-loss diet. Go for it, though, if you want to. I’m not about to personally endorse that, but it’s your choice to make and that’s fine. However, when it comes to shaming other people so you can feel better about yourself? That’s not only impolite, it also supports generations of systemic oppression- especially of women- that dictates that we do not deserve the space our bodies require, and we do not deserve to make choices for ourselves. But your actions in denying yourself the pleasure of dessert do not say this to the world; it’s your words. Choose a different set of words, for instance, “no, thank you.” It’s the same amount of words, and one less syllable- even easier! You could even skim it down to, “no, thanks!” Whatever works best for you. And, when your pal, or your wife, or your dad, or whoever, orders that huge slab of pumpkin cheesecake with the giant dollop of whipped cream? Don’t go staring off in anger at them for eating treats in front of you. After all, they’re only being good. To themselves.
(Other forms of “I’m Being Good” may include, “ugh, I shouldn’t be such a fatty,” which is pretty self-explanatory. Don’t say that, because you aren’t an oppressive jerk- I can tell because you’re reading a feminist e-zine. Alternate versions, “oh my god, I’m going to have to run like twenty miles tomorrow,” unless you are a warrior in some land far from the average twenty-first century American town, and you will be hunted by cats and birds of prey on some expansive dessert terrain, I really doubt you will need to run twenty miles tomorrow to burn off the two pounds of turkey you ate. If you do need to run from lions and tiger and bears, well, oh my, you’d better carb up!)
TL;DR: 1. “Treat Yo Self.” – Donna Meagle 2. Don’t say things that may oppress others.
This holiday season, please be good to yourself. It is the hardest time of the year for many of us, and with the sun fading earlier each day, the focus on money and happily-ever-afters (read: meet a prince and marry him and have a hundred babies), the holidays have become riddled with terrifying statistics. If you feel yourself slipping into loneliness, needing something to help you calm down, needing someone to talk to, or you just want a little smile or two, do that for yourself. (check out the links!) Being good to oneself is not necessarily about deprivation, so much as it is about caring for your health in all matters. Be a good friend, a good citizen in whatever communities you inhabit, and help others feel the love, too. On a side note- The More You Know: if taking care of your health (i.e.: you have diabetes, thyroid conditions, etc.) means you are working hard to lose some pounds, or making sure you avoid sugar, you should be proud of yourself for the effort you are exerting. This article isn’t vilifying heath care practices, this is about the words we use, how we use them, and how they affect the people around us.