beauty · habits · maturity

The Usual.

8.11.18Anyone who witnessed my reading of Gretchen Rubin’s habit book, Better Than Before: What I Learned about Making and Breaking Habits, knows that I have some trouble making, and keeping, habits I’d like to reinforce.

But that’s not what today’s blog is about.  Instead, today is about relishing and delighting in some of my habits (which is precisely the point of that book, btw).

Yesterday, I went to the nail salon to get my toes did, as I do a few times a year.  As the woman was finishing up, she asked what I thought of the color.

“I’ve gotten this color almost every time for the last year—I love it,” I laughed.  “It’s just so nice to find something that works and stick with it.”

The 20something in the next chair side-eyed me with alarm and disgust.

I hear her.  I understand that one of the treats of getting your nails done is the thrill of trying something new: feeling into yourself what mood you’re in, what aura you want to project, what mood you’d like to be in.

But, lady, I’m about to be 37.  I’ve done my nails.  I’ve “felt into myself” (don’t be creepy) for years, and I’m kinda done.

When I was in college, I brought with me a giant Sketchers shoebox brimful of nail polish bottles.  Teal, Topaz, Magenta, Glitter.  Girl, I’ve tasted the rainbow.  Tried it on, taken it off, pasted it on again.

And now I’m old.  Now I have other brain cells I’d like to use.

We each get decision exhaustion by the end of a day.  A time when we’ve used up our store of “This or that?” and frankly, nail polish is not one of the things I’d like to use it up on anymore!

I want habit!  I want usual!  I want easy breezy beautiful, baby!

So, yes, I do love the sparkly, sexy red, like I dipped my toes in pulverized ruby slippers.  I love the peek of red out of my sandals, sophistication with a dash of coy playfulness.

I love that I drink 2 cups of coffee each morning.  That I eat 3 eggs, no matter what.  I love that I wash my hair on prescribed days of the week and make my bed without thinking about it.  My mornings are nearly perfect in their efficiency of decision-making, or absence of decision-making.

This frees up my brain to decide other things, to focus on the margins that aren’t habitual.  These are the places of excitement now:  Go to the theater.  Dress up.  Try a new book.  Read a new piece of research.

What will I do in the places I’ve opened up for myself by not constantly making choices?

Further, I love the habits I’ve formed—the healthy ones, at least!—as they give me their own kind of thrill.  You could say that it’s like a machine, how boring.  Or like a well-oiled machine, how sleek and confident.

Acting out these non-decisions make me feel like I have a center of person, places I know I want to reinforce over and again.  Places that form the ground of who I am.

“I am a person who X.”  And as Pamela Druckerman writes about in her newest book, There Are No Grown-Ups, confidence in our person is what our 40s are all about.

 

Advertisements
habits · imperfection · success

Hear Ye, Hear Ye!

4.30.18

“I make a lot of proclamations, don’t I?” I asked J yesterday morning.

We were at brunch at a cafe we like after having run “Cardiac Hill” in Berkeley, CA and I proclaimed that I would spend 3 hours at the Mills Library that day to do work.  The day before, I’d proclaimed that I was going to follow a new exercise schedule for myself.  The day before that, I turned down sweets because I’d previously proclaimed that I would only eat sweets on Fridays, but had already eaten them twice that week!

Recently, I have variously proclaimed that I would:

Shower daily, clear old boxes twice a month, only eat sweets on Fridays, go to bed at 8:30pm, not read Game of Thrones except whilst in bed.  That I would put 40% of my income into savings, that I would take daily breaks at work, that I would grade papers daily, that I would be outside for 45 minutes each afternoon…

Some of these proclamations have held fast, some have been loosely worn, and some haven’t taken hold at all (mainly the ones related to work).

After returning from brunch yesterday, I crawled back into bed and nap/rested for another hour (Come on! — we were up at 7am and it’s not called “Cardiac” for nothing!), and was then so sleepy/sloggy that going all the way out to the college library seemed silly.  …

did spend about 1.5 hours on workywork (though not in a row!), but didn’t get to any of my Goals Group writing that I intended, and needed, to do.

(Would it be ironic to mention that much of my Goals Group work this round will be about time-management!?)

It’s important for me to recognize that my life is a process and an unfolding.  It’s not a “one and done,” it’s not a “get it perfect every day.”  Perhaps like you, I hold myself to incredibly high standards, but take it viciously hard when I don’t meet those standards.  Or, if not vicious toward myself, certainly mildly aggrieved that I haven’t accomplished what I intended.

There is absolutely a balance that is needed between setting goals, reaching them, and the esteem that comes from such effort, and allowing for the humanity, imperfection, and dynamism of everyday life.

I have not yet found this balance!

And so, I make proclamations.  Some of them have improved the quality of my life by taking the questioning out (e.g. all the esteemable habit calendar work I’d done… until I got through one month and have yet to print out a new calendar sheet).  With others of my proclamations, I’m trying to hone in on the right apportioning of effort and devotion of time.  (Indeed, today, I’m up about 20 minutes early because I have some grading to do at work that needled at my sleep.)

I don’t necessarily desire to see my proclamations subside, but I do wonder if turning them into habits, natural parts of my life and day, would enable me to remove the judgment from achieving them or not.  Because, as Oprah intoned this morning, “Judgment, simply put, is fear.”