School starts next week at our house. I am not ready for the whirlwind schedule to begin again already. I feel like I’m just getting used to summer, and I haven’t had nearly enough time to soak it up. But July was a great month, and I feel like I have an awfully big list for this month’s What I’m Learning and Loving list, which is a good thing…
What I’m learning
Self-care is different from self-comfort. Self-care is a bit of a buzz word these days, especially for women I think. But until I heard Kelly describe it on this podcast (great episode), I didn’t realize that when I heard “self-care,” I was associating it more with self-comfort. Self-comfort isn’t necessarily a bad thing (there’s a time for everything), but recognizing the difference between the two has been eye-opening, especially when I’m having a rough day. I’ve been making a list specific to me differentiating the two, and it has been really helpful. I encourage you to do the same!
Self-comfort looks like: something sweet, “just one more glass” of wine, staying up too late watching a show with Grant, splurging on food because “I deserve it”
Self-care looks like: going to bed on time, not having that last glass of wine, eating mindfully, reading books, taking walks with Grant and the kids, bike rides, watching a movie/show with Grant, reading with the kids
Habits and practices are extremely important and powerful – but adaptable. I finally read Charles Duhigg’s The Power of Habit this month, and Duhigg had some fascinating observations about habits. I also read Found (loooved it), which tells the story of a young mother who feels like she has lost the ability to pray. Surprisingly, these books had some interesting parallels that I probably wouldn’t have picked up on if I wasn’t reading them both at the same time. The most empowering take-away for me was that habits make up so much of our daily lives, but they are malleable. Check out some of these free resources on Duhigg’s website if you want to give his suggestions a try without reading the whole book (although I do recommend the book!). The flowcharts for making a new/breaking an old habit are especially helpful.
Marriage is fun. Grant and I took a delayed tenth anniversary trip to Colorado FOR A WEEK this month, and it was SO. FUN. It was so nice to get away from home, alone, with not much of an agenda other than enjoying the Rockies and each other. We know that marriage is hard work – we’ve had our shares of troubles over our nearly eleven years, and there are sure to be more to come. BUT this week away reminded how fortunate I am to get to spend this crazy adventure with him.
Side note: what is a reasonable expectation for a couple to get away together? I feel like once a year is necessary for at least a weekend, but this was our first time away for more than a weekend just us since Maeve was born…and it was wonderful. My parents watched the kiddos, but they work full-time so we had our nanny watch the kids during the day, which was so worth it, but sort of the cost of a vacation in-and-of-itself. I have many more deep thoughts about this…
You shouldn’t towel dry your hair. I have been towel drying my hair for as long as I’ve been bathing myself. Oops. I stole an old tshirt of Grant’s to use instead, and I do actually notice a difference.
Reading as action. This summer of news has been awful, but I came across this post from a writer I’ve long respected earlier this year and resolved to read more diversely. I started picking out half of the kids’ books on our trips to the library, so that I could pick out books with people of color as the main characters. Astyk convicted me with this:
One of the best tools we have for developing empathy with others, besides getting to know them, is reading. After all, the first thing that reading does is ask us to imagine ourselves in the heads of others, either through through identification or vicariousness. Books mostly DEMAND we see others as human, because, well, that’s what good books do – make characters into people who see the world in a way necessarily different from ourselves. Childhood reading is often our first experience of seeing the world through other eyes, and developing the empathy that emerges from that reading.
The kids have found some new favorites along the way: Maeve is obsessed with the Grace books, anything Angela Johnson, especially The Girl Who Wore Snakes, the Lottie books, and When I Am Old With You (you should own that one), Sam and the Tigers, and Jasper is addicted to the Ordinary People Change the World series, specifically the Rosa Parks one. Astyk has a helpful starter list here, and I like these lists too.
I have been trying to do better on this front too, especially after reading Ta-Nehisi Coates’ Between the World and Me this month, in which he “implies that it’s not his job — or, by extension the job of other black voices or leaders — to coach white folks, let alone worry about their feelings” and listening to The Liturgist podcast on race I referenced a few weeks ago, in which they said something similar. I didn’t like Between the World and Me; I’m not sure it’s a book one can enjoy, but it was necessary and important and timely. I did love Brown Girl Dreaming. I think we’ll read it with the kids this fall.
What I’m Loving
July reads. I mentioned some of them above, but I finished some great books this month: Found, The Power of Habit, Between the World and Me, Brown Girl Dreaming, Before We Visit the Goddess, Benediction, and Everything Belongs – all highly recommended. I guess that’s what happens when you go on vacation for a whole week without the kids!
Vacations where I don’t touch the blow dryer or makeup once. I do live like this most of the week outside of the office anyway, but it was really nice to go a whole week without that stuff (and a reminder to be grateful I found a husband who prefers it that way).
Red Stamp app. I found this several years ago, but sorta forgot about it until recently. It allows you to send cards directly from your phone. You can customize the style, text, pictures, etc. AND they mail it for you! I love sending (and receiving) real cards in the mail, I love writing out a message, but I have so much trouble with stamps. I literally have thank you notes left over from my birthday (MAY!) waiting on my desk that need stamped and addressed. I am embarrassed about this, but rather than delve too deeply into what this means about my personality, I’ll just keep using Red Stamp, which allows me to send snail mail so quickly and stamps it for me. Most cards with postage are less than $3, at least in my experience, so it is cheaper than going to the story and buying most Hallmark cards. Obviously, hand written is preferred, but I’m not about to start making perfect the enemy of the good.
Taking Facebook and Twitter off my phone. I fasted from Facebook and Twitter for the month of July, and it was magical. I’m not putting them back anytime soon if I can help it. I have some additional thoughts on this one that I’m hoping to write up in a separate post, but getting off of most of social media for July 2016 was a great decision!
My knock-off Yeti. Grant bought us a couple of knock-off Yeti tumblers from Costco. I think they hold like 40 ounces of water or something. He was reeeeally excited about them, but I didn’t get at first. But now I can’t live without it, especially with the heat of the past several weeks, and I’m drinking soo much more water.
Pesto out of anything. The gardens are going mostly nuts (my zucchini looks terrible, sadly). I have been making pesto out of anything – kale, chard, basil, tarragon, dill, parsley – and putting it on everything – pasta, tomatoes, sauteed greens, sandwiches, in salad dressing. I’ve been freezing any that we don’t snarf down via this method. Here’s my lazy formula:
1/2 cup nuts or seeds (I’m partial to sunflower seeds or almonds because I never have pine nuts around)
1/2 cup olive oil (less/more depending on what consistency you want)
2 cloves garlic
2 big handfuls fresh herbs or greens (about four cups)
1 tsp salt
Optional: juice of half a lemon, pepper, or 1/2 cup parmesan
Pulse ingredients in a food processor. Then serve or freeze.
What are you learning and loving these days?!