I'd been reading in bed for the better part of an hour last night when anxiety began to creep in. It had been such a good weekend--this welcome pause at the end of a frenetic and busy and meaningful two weeks. The blizzard swept in in all of it's glory and for the first time in a good, long while it felt okay--sanctioned, even--to not do anything. But Monday was fast approaching, and with it, invisible to-do lists were taking root in some dusty corner of my brain.
And suddenly, lying there, a good book between my hands, I wanted something sweet. Sugar. Except that I don't usually keep any in the house. Not in the fridge or the cabinets or hidden beneath my bed. And since Julie and I had spent an hour earlier in the evening discussing health and wellness and what we believe in, I paused for a moment, wondering if I could trace the root of the sudden craving.
It's been a really exceptional two weeks. Meaningful and important and frankly, scary. And I've been doing my best to hang out in the discomfort of not-knowing. So what I really wanted was--for just a moment--an escape from that feeling. A little hit of dopamine, an activation of the senses. I didn't have sugar lying around, so I couldn't satisfy taste. But I did have a damn fine face mask that would cover two of my other senses: touch and smell. It sounds ridiculous, doesn't it? A face mask in lieu of candy? But it worked. I pulled out the tiny jar, rubbed a small amount between my hands and patted it onto my skin. And its lemon and vanilla smell, the soft texture of it, clean, as few products are, well...it felt sweet. And I climbed back into bed satisfied.
My mantra at the start of any new year is now a commitment to really active self-care: treat yo self. (Parks and Rec, anyone?). It is my response to the media and advertisers' narrative that a new year is the chance to transform yourself totally and immediately because you are somehow unworthy, as you are, right now. There is always much I want to accomplish when the calendar flips, but it is motivated by a desire to inch my life forward, not a conditioned response to self-loathing. My version of treat yo self has little to do with expensive meals or big ticket items, rather it's a capitulation to the everyday indulgence: Mrs. Meyer's cleaning soap for the dishes, fresh flowers before the snowstorm, a fancy face mask that I can put on morning and night. And those small things help signal to myself that I am in fact worth it, right now, in this moment--and also, that I'm worth the hard work that moving your life forward demands--sending the scary emails, making the phone calls, learning to tolerate the discomfort of not having an ever-loving-clue as to what comes next. And until I do, I'll keep getting the nice soap. Hell, I'll probably get the nice soap even after I know where my life is headed.