Self-care Starter Kit

Last weekend I went to the mall to buy a pair of jeans. I had a goal and I knew what color and what style I only wanted. I went straight to the jeans section and only fixed my eyes on those that were within my preference. For the first time, I was able to buy a pair of jeans in less than an hour, and with less assistance. It was, by far, the best shopping experience I can remember. Honestly, I hate shopping and I especially dread having to shop for clothes, so for me to have a good time while shopping, now that’s a story.

This year has been incredibly hard for me. Each day is a constant struggle. Each day I have to put on my better self so I can survive the day. One day at a time. My heart and my spirit are too overwhelmed and sad to even make the smallest decisions. There have been so many changes within me that I had been too exhausted to even keep track. One thing, though that I am fully aware of is how early this year, I lost an appetite for color. I found that colorful things made me sadder, and black and dark stuff have never been more beautiful to me than they do now. So I practised a bit of self-care by doing away with things of color. I got rid of all my colored shirts and restocked my wardrobe with plain shirts of the same colors. Now, I only wear dark colors, specifically black, dark blue, gray, and sometimes, dark green. That’s it!

When I shopped for a pair of jeans last weekend, I only wanted black. That simple choice made all the difference in the world. It cut my shopping time. It narrowed down my choices. It allowed me to focus. And it made all the difference in the world. It was one thing that I never had to invest so much energy or so much brain power on. I have never been freer.

It amazed me how a simple change in wardrobe style or color preference made a huge difference in my life. Of course, this strategy is not entirely original. Mark Zuckerberg and Steve Jobs have both shared why they only wear one color or one style of clothing. About the same time, I also read about the concept of Decision Fatigue and the Science of Simplicity to further support the idea. I thought the point made really great sense, but it was just boring, and yes, I am no genius anywhere near their caliber. Little did I know, those ideas were already embedded in my brain, and my subconscious probably tapped those ideas to help me preserve my sanity at a time when I am so down low. Thank God for that!

I realized that I am a responsible person. My mother raised, taught, influenced, and trained me well. Although I am one who has depressive tendencies, there is this tougher part of me that is saved and thus continues to save me. I am an advocate of self-care and self-preservation. At a time when I really can care less about so many things, I just want to focus on the things that matter to me. When I first experienced my first great failure, I took care of myself by going through a period I called a personal rehabilitation. I think I am wired this way, someone who is not afraid to introspect and someone who does what she can to manage her self and then bounce back.

Sharing with you the contents of my Self-care Starter Kit:

Have a specific goal in mind.
I’ve been asked by my manager once about what I wanted to be. I said it has been my dream to become a visionary. I want to have a vision, an eye that can see beyond. I know it would take many years and experience before I get to this stage, so for now, I’ll do what I can do. I can start with making goals. I find that having a fixed and clear idea about something makes a whole lot of difference. It also helps you make appropriate backup plans should option A fail.

Know what you want.
When you know what you want, chances are, you would have a great idea of how to get it. And if you don’t get it, two things can happen: you can either be so disappointed, or it will be easier for you to move on. As for me, it is the latter. I find that when I know what I want and I don’t get it, it is easier for me to let go and move on. When I know what I want I spend very less time and little energy dwelling on whether I can compromise because honestly, I seldom do. When I do not get what I want, I sit back instead of sulking. I wait until I get another inspiration for something I would want and then when that time comes, I create new plans.

Narrow down your choices.
For me, the simple choice of sticking to certain styles and colors helped me narrow down my choices. I no longer lingered on other selections, so I saved time, energy, and effort. It helped me simplify the act of choosing. When you have a goal and you know what you want, it becomes easier to narrow down your choices. Then when you narrow down your choices, it becomes easier to choose. Things become simplified. More accurately, things become simplifed to what really matters most to you, what you value.

It does not matter whether they are just for the mean time, whatever works for you is, well, generally a good thing. Life is so damn complicated and our minds and emotions further complicate things. We can’t do everything but we can always start with something, even through small things, even with just one thing. I’m not saying life is easy to me right now because it is not, but I guess, by using the Self-care Starter Kit, I have helped unburden myself off some things so that I can assist my self and make it easier for me to do the one thing I need to do, which is to grieve, to mourn, and to someday, rebuild.

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The Whole of the Missing Piece

No matter what I do
no matter how I try
my thoughts always
lead back to you.
There is no missing the truth:
I MISS YOU.
Every single day.

Everybody Needs a Go-To Friend

When you crave fancy dinners that you cannot afford or eat on your own
When you need an honest opinion on a style you want to wear
When you feel spontaneous to go visit some place new
When you find something silly on the internet that you’d want to share a laugh with
When you want to consume hours singing in karaoke
When you’re feeling down and you can’t decide between booze or ice cream
When you want to work on something but still need an extra team member
When you can’t pretend about the mess that you are and the shit that you’re in
When you need to be serious and must have a deep conversation
When you want to debate over politics or discuss about human or society issues
When you feel lonely and could use a little cheer-me-up
When you just need someone and there is no one else to call
Everybody needs a go-to friend. An available one.
I wish I had one, too.

Book Notes: Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine

Eleanor Oliphant is Completely FineEleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Eleanor Oliphant is definitely one of my most memorable characters. I have not yet met a character as socially clueless and yet as endearing as Eleanor. To me, this story is one of available possibilities in spite of sad realities.

I must confirm that this book is not a romantic love story. Sure, there were hints that a romance might bloom and I was worried that the old formula of boy-loves-girl-then-changes-and-saves-her would be used, but thank goodness the story did not take that direction.

This story is more about the necessity of human connection and how simple, but genuine acts of caring and kindness influence and touch another human being. It is also about forgiveness for one’s own self, moving on from the past, restarting a life, and learning to love one’s own identity and worth. It is about understanding what it means to be truly alive as opposed to daily survival.

Fine is a response we often absentmindedly say about how we truly are. We have different definitions of being fine. We have to understand well and resolve on what it takes to be completely fine. Often, the process involves either asking for or accepting help when it knocks on our doors.

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This World Still Wants You

She had not yet met him. She had not yet gotten a chance to know him, yet she has already created a world with him in it. She found herself frequenting this world. Here, they were familiar with each other.

She was a mother. A world-maker. She creates multiple worlds where she lives multiple lives, multiple versions of herself, multiple revisions inspired by her realities.

One of her worlds is dedicated to the books she reads. This world continuously transforms according to what she’s reading. In this world, she meets her characters. In this world, her understanding is unparalleled, unafraid to dissect the persons of her characters, especially those she would not want to meet and be friends with in reality. In this world, she explores meaning, reason, and purpose. In this world, she is not only a reader. She is a seeker, an omnivorous scholar of life and the supernatural.

Her best world is the world where she is still with her mother. An intimate, joyful, and loving world where they are and continue to be inseparable. It is from this world where she draws the strength to continue, to carry on with her life in the real world.

But no matter the details of her worlds, reality always catches up with her. Following her. Disguising itself as a stranger in either of her worlds and sometimes, as part of nature, such as a dark cloud threatening a storm in her sun-filled blue skies. Reality remains to be inevitable, always powerful, inescapable.

So she is left with no other choice. She returns to the world where she knew no more pleasant hellos, only painful farewells. The world where an ever-present absence robbed the purpose of her life and the only love she acknowledged and knew. The world where she has to live through the pain. A welcomed pain that was now an equivalent to the loss of a love so great and so true. The world that still wanted her, somehow. This reality, she had to learn how to want it again. She has to, someday, still far away.