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Self Care can be summed up into four words expanded into your daily life. 

Find Joy. Make Happiness. 

It really is as simple as that. But it’s hard too.

What brings you joy?

What is something that you can make more of in your life that you really need and have and want? Do you like cooking but never have the time? What can you do to have more time to cook? Is it starting a blog and making yourself famous for cooking that you don’t have a regular job anymore? 

For everyone, that’s not always the solution. Maybe it’s getting up a little earlier to have that breakfast made the way you want rather than a rush out the door. You’ve now started your day with joy. It can only gain more. 

That’s the point of self-care. It’s about the five-minute-fixes that transition your life from what it was, to what it could be. 

A lot of reading will tell you that this one thing will change your whole life. 

It probably will, but that timeline on the one single thing, will take a damn long time. 

I’ve found in the last decade of fixing myself, that it was a five minutes at a time sort of change that really made a lasting impression. It wasn’t immediate. It wasn’t easy.

But you know that feeling when you have a completed project that you’ve spent the last fifteen years looking for the perfect solution for and it finally all comes together?

I was thirteen when I started to reinvent myself. No, not your typical teenage rebellion going for that, well there was some of that but totally unrelated to this.

You see, when I was little, I was Jenny. And when I was thirteen I realized that Jenny was a selfish pain in the ass. She was a brat, she didn’t care about other people. She was rude. She hurt other people’s feeling without realizing it. Some of it was a lack of knowledge that it was inappropriate to ask such things or say such things, but most of the time, she just didn’t care. The summer I was thirteen I realized that I didn’t like her. I knew it would be a process to replace her but I started anyways. 

So thus began J

And God, was she different. She was kind, she said kind things. She had tact. She didn’t pick a fight because she just had to be right. She had manners.

This was my ideal self for the world of a teenager. She was who I wanted to be. Over the years, she was given more traits, more skills, more ideals until she resembles a real person that I could become. 

But there were traits that I wanted her to have, that she didn’t get. She just didn’t control her temper the way I thought she should. She reacted to things instead of acting in them. 

And then there was an incident at a job I was working and I was new and this person, not a member of management, decided to get on my case about something I didn’t know anything about and got in my face. 

And I kept my cool. 

It took a week for it to finally kick around in my brain. This was the person that I had wanted to be. I wanted to be the grownup in that situation and have the experience of not falling into the trap of defending myself to someone I didn’t owe an explanation to. This was the quiet cumulation of a fifteen year journey. 

And I knew I wanted more. I wanted more of that feeling of getting the process right.

Do I think it should take someone fifteen years to work through a problem? Depends. 

I had a lot of guilt, shame, anger, and a host of other emotions to work through before I could really look at this kid who thought that I had made a mistake and know that I hadn’t. And be able to separate her actions from mine. 

The thing is, the answer of who to become the person that I wanted to be didn’t come in one fell swoop.

It was a little here, a little there. A pinch of this, a pinch of that. It was a bit of this and that and ignoring this other bit because I didn’t find value out of it. I was cherry picking the good stuff for me.

I love reading and learning and I take my time at this because somewhere in the last year I realized that I was not making minute changes little by little but trying to do it in chunks and that only works so well. So I changed tactics. And the return was a whole lot better.

I started by writing notes when I read self-care books. I started because I wanted to remember anecdotes and other bits that would help me make my changes in my life and because in high school I had someone teach me the best way for me to remember the information.

Then I broke it down to having a chapter a day. I know a lot of gurus like to say that you should try to read a book a week, but that feels a little overwhelming, but a chapter?

That sounds manageable.

It also lets you break up the reading into intended chunks of information. Sure, it might take you two weeks to read 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, but you get what you put into it. But it takes away the rush. 

I think the realization that I needed to change five minutes of my day at a time was the biggest shift in how I tackled things.

I’ve started with my mornings, with making sure that the day starts well. That I’m not beating myself up for not getting up early —I will never be one of those people who tells you that getting up at 4am is the secret to life—and hitting the snooze button. That I get the time in the morning for my cup of coffee and reading my scriptures. I get a chapter of that focused on during a week and reread it each day to find what insight I have now that I didn’t have yesterday. Or to have things from yesterday get reinforced in my mind.

Sometimes, I don’t really want to listen to what I read. It makes for a interesting week of having the idea put into my mind a few more times until I realize that this is the thing that I want long term and yeah, it’s going to hurt the first time, but it’s worth it in the end. 

I started reading self-care stuff because I am an efficiency junkie.

I want optimize, to fix, to finagle better time management. If I could make my time use better, for sure I’d get more done.

Oh boy, did I learn a few more things than that. I started with the productivity stuff. I figured out how to use what are my limitations and limits to my advantage. I know when to quit, is really the thing.  I know when something is not helping me.

Take Task Lists for Example

Like how all the gurus tell you to make a list of your three top things and only focus those things. That triggers my procrastination because I’m terrified of mucking those things up. Which means that I get nothing done.

Instead, I make a list of 6-10 things, sometimes 14 (that seems to be my max) and figure if I get 60% of that done I’ve passed the day. You know like in school where D’s aren’t pretty but they get degrees.

Then there’s a special bit of completist magic that happens.

IF I get four of the six things done, getting the last two done is so much easier because wouldn’t you like to cross off all the things on your list?

Take yesterday for example. I started with 8 things on my to-do list. Through the day I ended up with another six things that needed to get done/got done. I made it out of the day with 12 things finished. Thirteen if you count fun reading that could go on the list but I ran out of room so it didn’t.

Do I recommend this to everyone? No, this is where your judgment of your self and your skills/needs/wants/other come into play. I’m just telling you something that works for me. I hope it helps you on your journey of life.

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