Self-Care Stuff/Update

JenniferP + Cat + Tweedy Hat
“Are you there, God? It’s me, Cat Furniture.”

A nice person emailed me to wish me a happy new year and also to ask: “What kind of self-care stuff are you doing these days, if you don’t mind me asking?

I don’t mind. Probably the biggest thing I’ve been doing is updating my professional CV, working on my professional portfolio and reel, and applying for some fellowships, conferences, and job opportunities in my field. I want a tenure-track job in teaching screenwriting and film/video production. As part of a local grant program, I’m also putting together a 12-week documentary course for high school students who have dropped out and returned to school, and will be piloting that this semester. I’ve also been compiling a lot of resources for my courses: clips, how-to guides, curated lists of tutorials, etc. Good for my students, good for my teaching portfolio. I guess that’s more “work care” than “self care” but I’d like to get paid more and have more stability and institutional support to do what I do, so updating and fancying-up the materials is in order.

The other big project/change is getting in a pool or on a treadmill regularly. I read Hanne Blank’s book about exercise in November/December, I joined the YMCA with my boyfriend a couple of weeks back, and together we’ve been going 4-5 times a week. It’s been weird – my brain can remember being an athlete and knowing how to do certain things once upon a time, but my sedentary, recovering-from-a-knee-injury body has been very much “ummmm…what?” about the whole thing until just this week when it’s been more like “Okay, I guess this is going to be a thing now (sigh).” Fingers crossed that the whole “Yaaaay! Exercise!” thing kicks in before March.

Over Christmas I marathoned all of Twin Peaks. I’m also watching movies. Recently:

  • Wild – Liked it very much, loved every minute with Laura Dern.
  • Ida – It was amazing. Heavy subject matter. Amazing.
  • A Girl Walks Home Alone At Night – If you like The Toast’s Misandrist Lullabies or want a Male Tears mug, this is the Iranian noir vampire western for you.
  • Dear White People – loved it. I thought it was so clever, funny, smart, and loving/forgiving of its characters while also being a reference-feast for film nerds.
  • Calvary – beautifully made and thoughtful.

Soon I will see: The Imitation Game, Selma, Two Days, One Night, Goodbye to Language, Big Eyes, Almost There 

Also I’ve been watching a ton of Werner Herzog, Les Blank, and Albert Maysles films on Netflix/Hulu/Amazon in preparation for some documentary courses I’m teaching. I’m especially interested in films like Little Dieter Needs to Fly vs. Rescue Dawn, Grey Gardens vs. Grey Gardens – films where a documentary was adapted into a fiction piece.

Other recent/winter/holiday projects:

  • Reading for pleasure
  • Seeing friends
  • Dealing with some mental health stuff (like, actually dealing with it, not just enduring it)
  • Getting enough sleep
  • Writing longhand in a journal every morning and making lists and then checking things off lists and sticking sparkly star stickers to the checked-off items
  • Planning a wedding
  • Pulling out all the art I need framed/hung up and getting it on the walls, among other habitat unfucking measures.
  • Culling the wardrobe of ill-fitting pants (not a metaphor), stained shirts, hole-y underwear, etc.
  • Misc. writing projects for the page & the screen.

What self-care kinds of things or new adventures do y’all have going on?


359 thoughts on “Self-Care Stuff/Update

  1. Thanks for sharing this! And good luck on the job hunt/getting what you want out of academia. /salute

    I too have been working on getting back into the habit of regular exercise, for personal (physical and mental) health reasons, and here’s hoping that I scheduled this quarter’s classes to be more conducive to actually achieving that goal. I read a bunch of books over winter break, watched some TV shows with my husband, bought things for my friends (that always makes me happy), and took a gloriously long bath with a LUSH bath bomb AND half a bubble bar, with the water so hot it made me sweat. It was fantastic. A++, would recommend. Oh, I too have been working on getting things framed and hung in my apartment–I really have to work to get over the “this is a frivolous expense” knee-jerk reaction, but I’m glad I’ve been doing that because it makes the space feel so much nicer and more welcoming.

    Happy New Year!

    1. I’m working on actually putting things up in my apartment too – several months after I moved in – and it’s helping a lot. Hurray for making spaces we like to be in!

        1. Yessss. Seconding the Lush recommendation! 🙂

          My self-care has been in setting good boundaries re: getting the sleep I need and not being a full-time carer / support-staff for my grandma / parents. I’ve also been taking the time to do like 10 minute exercises here and there every day and that has been feeling really good.

          I’m definitely gonna look into sparkly stickers for my to-do lists. :3

          1. I used to work there, and let me tell you, the 50% discount was glorious! Now I don’t work there anymore, and I’m still an addict to their bath products. Curses!

            My favorite combo is butterball + avobath. It smells like citrus-and-cream and leaves your skin wonderfully soft.

            Okay, back on topic: my self-care lately has been getting back into writing and photo-editing. I’m trying to do this daily, or at least a few times a week, but without putting too much pressure on myself.

            I’ve also gotten a couple massages because I’m dealing with a back/neck injury. When that’s all sorted, I’m hoping to get back into yoga and going to the gym.

          2. That butterball + avobath combo sounds amazing. I’m going to have to try it. Thanks for the rec!!

      1. I am also a 90% shower person, but the apartment I moved into back in July has a giant soaking tub (!) that makes me more inclined to take actual baths every now and again. Still feels like a complete indulgence, but that’s why I need to do it periodically!

        Congratulations on the upcoming nuptials! I hope all your planning goes smoothly!

  2. I love the question, and i love the answer!!! It feels nice to hear an update about what the Captain is up to, and great self-care encouragement and normalization (extra needed as i am 11 pretty overwhelmed weeks into learning to live with and care for my elderly dad in a new and SO not-unpacked, and self-care has mostly been back-burnered, which, um, doesn’t work). Thank you for more inspiration to really think through a better self-care regimen and maybe come back and post about it downthread. And for the most satisfying-sounding to-do list approach i’ve heard yet. Gotta get some sparkly “yay i did that” stickers! Also, congratulations!!! I hope it’s safe to assume you’re not planning someone _else’s_ wedding 🙂 and so, making that assumption, i wish you every happiness and a long life of excellent communication, mutual support, lots of fun times and whatever you both want it to be!

    1. Thank you! Yep, it’s my own wedding. Still venue-hunting. Still.

      I cannot recommend the sparkly stickers method enough.

  3. I dropped out of school and came back! Thanks to people like you, now I’m in a PhD program! Do you know how awesome the work you’re doing is? I hope you know how awesome the work you’re doing is. You guys are like, magical. You come in and you know how the game is played and you teach it to people who don’t and all you ever seem to ask for is gratitude. (Ask for from us I mean. From the institution, prolly some money maybe.) Anyway. My self-care stuff is playing around with a programming language and learning guitar! I’ve got an awesome roommate who knows how to do both and loves to share.

    Anyway. Rock on with your awesome self! Happy New Year!

    1. What’s your PhD about? I really and honestly want to know, that sounds amazing and exciting.

      1. Thanks! I’m in a geography department and I’m looking at critical race theory and materialities of race and gender. My department is way theory-oriented so I’m still learning all that before I, you know, pick a damn project. 😛 I’m only in my second year of a 6-7 year haul so it’s still a bit… nebulous. But I’m learning a lot. And yeah, it’s been such a freaking whirlwind. Academia is a way different world than the one I grew up in. I’m talking confidently with people about dissertation chapters and meanwhile I’m still like, “holy shit that guy over there wrote a whole book why is he talking to me i still read comic books.”

        But seriously, the people who actually recognize the strengths of non-normative students and help them get their feet under them? No words. You guys are freaking saints. It tickles me that you’re one of them. Because OF COURSE YOU ARE!

        1. That sounds so neat! I hope it’s a wonderful journey. And don’t let the Imposter Syndrome grind you down – that dude over there who wrote the book is like “Why is Fishmongers’ daughters so cool I will never be that cool” because grad school is just LIKE that.

  4. Could one count vowing to avoid going to one’s MIL for the holidays this year? I’m still reeling a bit from the last time. No moar.

    I’ve recently been throwing money to fix problems, which is really nice. That includes finally paying a professional to get my hair to a state of I woke up like this flawless-blonde-ness (yep, that’s a word).Next week I’ll get my first tattoo, something I’ve been wanting for several years. I’ve put it off in part because it’s “frivolous” but now I’m gonna look at it as an investment in happiness instead.

    Last but not least, blessed time alone to unwind! Nothing compares to U, I mean it, for me. I love spending times with friends but I neeeeed to be alone now and again.

    1. I’m paying a professional (whom I last visited more than 6 months ago for an excellent first salon experience) to trim and re-color my hair with purple streaks. Partly it’s “OMG it’s way past time and my split ends are just fried and my streaks are all faded aqua,” and partly I am aiming for a (renewed) fun hip vibe that suits the job I’m interviewing for, now that I’m to the second round of in-person interviews. And even if I don’t get the job, I will feel better having purple hair again.

      1. I am so happy that there are jobs where purple hair is a plus! If I ran the world, purple hair would also be fine in the courtroom and the operating room, and maybe that will happen in my lifetime – people have gotten less hung up about tattoos since I was a child. Meanwhile, rock your purple hair!

    2. I like the idea of getting a tattoo as an investment in happiness.

      I got my first tattoo in 2005, at a time when I was having a very hard time practicing self-care. I found it SO much easier to take care of myself if I re-framed it as “taking care of my new tattoo”. I’m an artist and I care deeply about respecting the work that artists do, so I wanted to take good care of this work of art which I had commissioned and painted into my body. It was a side benefit that taking care of my tattoo helped me take care of myself, too.

      1. Oh, cannot agree with tattoo-as-happiness-investment hard enough. In fact, your comment reminded me that I’m due for my next one. There’s nothing quite like getting to make a choice in exactly how your body looks. There’s so much – hair loss/growth, scars, weight, etc – that we’re not in control of that it’s incredibly good for the soul (at least some of us) to say, “This thing. Here. I want to have this become part of me.”

      2. Oh that’s a really lovely way of looking at it! I will definitely keep that in mind for myself. I was devastated a couple of years ago when a lovely painting I owned was damaged when I moved, and I think it would be very helpful for me to think of that kind of sadness at carelessness when it comes to my body, too. I have one beautiful tattoo that is important to me, perhaps if I take good care of the canvas it’s on I can reward myself with another one of these days.

    3. I need a haircut, adding that to the list. And yes, avoiding people who drain you counts as self-care, for sure.

    4. Avoiding people that are bad for you is great self-care, especially if you can instead use that time to spend with (self, other people) who are good for you. I think you did a great job with that one!

    5. Could one count vowing to avoid going to one’s MIL for the holidays this year? I’m still reeling a bit from the last time. No moar.
      I did that this year! Well, she’s my FMIL, not my MIL, but still, avoiding her is ideal. I also appreciate Facebook mobile’s new feature of allowing users to specifically filter out which users they don’t want to see their posts–now I don’t have to block off all my acquaintances whenever I’m irritated at her. I. Just. Don’t. Let. Her. See. Anything. And I hid her from my feed. (Because she was being WAY too affectionate in her comments. And frequently trying to invite herself for a visit. And occasionally went racist/transphobic/ridiculously ignorant in her posts. But defriending would stick my fiancé with a pile of whyyyyyyyyyyy?)
      Ach! Toast to avoiding annoying in-laws!

  5. I’ve been all gung-ho to take better care of my body by giving it the technology it needs to not be in pain or cold or otherwise uncomfortable. Expensive shock absorbing shoes? Check. New shirts where the sleeves aren’t so blown out I look like a happy seal when I bring my hands together? Check. Next item to arrive is a vest with enough pockets to replace my purse for everything except carrying food.

    1. Shoes are so important, and clothes that fit and do what they are supposed to make life so much better. ^5

    2. +1 to good shoes and warm things with pockets. A couple years ago I bought a pair of super comfy walking shoes, which went with everything. I ended up wearing them almost every day to my food service job, while biking/walking where ever I needed to go, and on many low key outdoors adventures. Some of the best money I ever spent.

  6. so far: looking at lots of art I am fond of; watching Mr. Turner and enjoying both Timothy Spall chewing acres of scenery and an extremely funny caricature of John Ruskin.

    1. Don’t know when I’ll get to Mr. Turner, but I’ve heard great things. What kind of art do you like?

    2. This film is so good and I’m going to go and see the Turner exhibition at the Tate this weekend (apparently it has some of Spall’s paintings he made for the film there!)

  7. I stopped working through lunch, and gave myself permission to turn down lunch offers from coworkers if I was just being polite. Instead, every day I take the full lunch break, sit by myself and read a book. The quiet time to recharge is so helpful for my day, and it feels great to be reading again.

    1. Darcy, I started doing this about a year ago. It makes such a huge difference. To how productive I am in the afternoon!

      1. Agreed! When I take lunch at work, it’s always a solo book lunch. My partner, who rarely takes lunch, wonders why I bother when I could just skip the break and go home a half hour earlier.

        I don’t think she understands. 🙂

    2. Ooh I need to remember this. I’m on a late lunch break right now eating food I actually cooked myself! Hooray. Actually cooking may have become my new self-care strategy…along with taking real lunch breaks away from my work station.

    3. Yes this, one of the few self-care things I do whenever possible. I can’t do it every day most weeks, but I go for 3x a week minimum. I also listen to books on CD in my car to/from work which is lovely as well. I have 3 children, a 5-year-old and twin almost-2-year-olds and I have little time for self-care nowadays, so I try to guard my 3x a week lunch well and up it to 4 or 5 times a week whenever I can. My husband and I are hosting board game and D&D nights at our house about twice a month and it’s worth staying up late and missing sleep to get to do fun things with adults. I also have a few games on my iphone I play to recharge as I rarely get to sit down and play computer games anymore.

      I changed jobs in September (same field, different company) and that by itself has been great self-care. It was well past time to move on from my first “real” job and I’m so glad I did. This job/company is better in every way except the commute is longer, but it’s still acceptable and more time to listen to books 🙂

      Once the twins are sleeping better (OMG hopefully soon :/ ), I will get back to exercising, I miss it so much and feel so bleh all the time from lack of exercise & lack of sleep. I hope to get back to computer gaming a little and playing more board games with my husband (we have several good 2 player co-op & competitive games now) again once we have our evenings back a bit more.

      Last one I’ve been doing is I have some fancy eye & face cream and face cleanser that I’ve been using and it just takes a few more minutes during my prep time/before bed but makes me feel beautiful and I’m so less dry in the face/eyes especially with the sudden brutal cold we have had this week!

    4. YES!!!! I’ve been doing the solo book lunch too. In fact, I find a place to sit on my work campus that is away from my office to prevent being interrupted in the break room.

  8. I ordered a new vibrator from Good Vibrations. Which is not like me at all.

    I also got a new pair of orthotics, and new shoes to put them in.

    Happy 2015 All!

    1. I love this! My friend and I jokingly declared 2015 The Year of the Female Orgasm because we both intend to buy new vibrators this month.

  9. So I just bought that book about exercise after following your link and reading the reviews. I’m hoping there will be some inspiring stuff to help me get active again (because I know I’ll feel So Much Better), now that I have a more predictable schedule of four 10 (often 11 or 12) hour work days. So, thank you for that :).
    My self care stuff has included getting some good-fitting work clothes that feel good and look professional; I’m awaiting arrival of an embroidered lab coat that my sweetie will tailor to 3/4 length sleeves for me, yay!
    I also am organizing my crafting stuff and space, so I can make stuff more easily. That’s one of the most satisfying de-stressing things I can do, and as a side effect I get presents for friends.

    1. I hope you like the book! She was telling me a lot of things I already knew, but also needed to hear someone say, if that makes sense. I also like her book Big Big Love.

  10. I’m using a Joy Jar. Every night I write on a piece of paper something that made me happy that day, then I put the paper in the jar.

    I’m also seeing a psychologist because my depression and anxiety over being laid off have now made it impossible for me to look for a new job, and I don’t want it to get so bad I start thinking suicidal thoughts. To be clear, I’m not suicidal, just doing everything I can not to get that far.

    1. That jar thing is a really need ritual, and I’m glad you are getting the care you need. Smart of you to preemptively seek help!

    2. You are so smart to do this! My dream for our world is that everyone who feels the beginning tugs of that draining depression/anxiety cycle goes and gets treatment asap, and that those resources are there for them. It would be a revolution on par with antibiotics.

      I know it feels like a hard place right now — not minimizing that — but it can also turn out to be a great opportunity. I’ve seen this phenomenon time and time again: 1. People get laid off. 2. They wind up in a way better position.

      And remember, you are not your job. I once heard someone at a party say, “Never commit suicide over credit cards, boyfriends, or work.” We all laughed but it’s come back to me over and over again. Those are things that feel big in the moment but are actually not nearly as important as the kind of stuff your joy jar is filled with.

      The world is made of butterflies and ice cream. YOU are butterflies and ice cream. I wish you much, much joy in this wonderful new year.

  11. Hired a housecleaner for my new place. I will also be doing the art on walls, not in piles.

    1. I think my birthday present to self will be hiring someone to do a deep clean here. Yessssssss clean floors.

  12. Very strong movie recommendation, if you haven’t seen it: Boyhood. I went because I wanted to see how they got the gimmick to work, and instead what I saw was a unique experience that I’m still processing, months later. (And now I have the Blu-Ray so I can see what I missed the first time ’round.)

    1. I saw it when it came out and really liked it! The “boy” is half my students, seriously. The story rang so true about abusive families & “uncle dad” dynamics, and the performances were amazing.

  13. I started a job search assistance program this week, since I need a job and I ain’t gettin’ one without help. So far I’ve been prepping my resume and looking at possible job places but I’ve already been able to manage that without the anxiety I’ve felt since I got fired from my last place. Getting help I need for the win!

    I’ve also started journaling when I feel anxious/sad, which has helped me work through those emotions. I taped one of my ‘Strength’ tarot cards (I have eight decks, I can spare a card) into the front of it to remind me that I have the strength I need inside of me.

    1. I hope that the program does its work for you. Where in the world are you located, if you don’t mind me asking? Would you be willing to write about the program for the site in some capacity, maybe in the future? I’m curious to know what kind of resources are out there for this, and your experience may help other readers.

      1. I’m up in Canada (central Alberta) and I would be happy to do that, though maybe in the future after I see how things work out. 🙂

    2. Did you attend a university? I want to make a change in my career and I discovered that my alumni association offers super-cheap one-on-one counseling with an advisor.

      The Strength card is great for these situations. I have a framed one on my wall, along with the Lovers, the Sun, Temperance, the Empress, and the Fool.

  14. For Christmas, I asked for a gift certificate to my eat-a-cheeseburger-and-read-alone-when-I’m-sad restaurant. It’s amazing how being able to go there for only the cost of tip makes it such good self-care, because I don’t even have to feel guilty about spending the money. Other self-care: giving myself permission to just avoid my ex instead of trying to tough it out and be chill. Also, I came up with an actual hopefully-attainable budget and plan for getting top surgery—right now the stress of saving money is actually a huge relief from the cloud of vague, undefinable, it’s-just-never-going-to-happen-and-I’ll-feel-like-this-forever panic that was always there before. Oh and I have been getting to play the Game of Thrones board game a lot which satisfies my need to be conniving and talk a lot of shit, in a harmless setting.

    1. Avoiding unchill exes and reading alone with a cheeseburger = solid plans. I hope your surgery account fills quickly.

      1. Congrats, Captain! Have you proceeded to the setting-a-date stage? I ask because “When?” was the question Fiancé and I got constantly when we hadn’t even decided on a year yet. We did eventually set one, but it took us far longer than almost everyone would have liked. Happy planning, and hopefully it’s as stress free as you can make it!

        1. We’ve been trying to find a venue that’s affordable and will work with when (roughly) we want to do it. We were so close and then my cousin booked her destination wedding for the same exact window of time, so we’re in a bit of a “what now?” spiral. Moving the date earlier means going “on season” pricing wise, which, nope, but moving it later means that people need to travel between Ice Planet Hoth and Narnia Where It Is Always Winter and Never Christmas.

  15. Self care includes reading comfort reads when I am feeling poorly. Letting go of my to-do list and not beating myself up over it when I just curl up with a book instead, and spending the weekend just resting after all. More baths. Lots of tea in the morning. Starting each week anew as an opportunity to get a good night’s sleep, get exercise, cook a healthy dinner. And when I fall down on those goals, picking myself up, dusting myself off, and not beating myself up for the weight of gravity conquering me once again, with the pledge to try again next week. Watching marathons of the Addams Family, the Boondocks, and any other good DVD finds. Tai chi. Finished the structural integration bodywork series. Setting up appointments for new glasses and compression garments. Arranging to travel to visit friends next week.

      1. This is a very ME list, but I don’t mind sharing comfort reads if you don’t mind sharing yours in return!! For me, a comfort read is a well-loved book where the characters are pleasant and nothing surprisingly awful happens. Authors include:
        Jane Austen, Rosemary Sutcliff, Maud Hart Lovelace, C.S. Lewis, J.K. Rowling, Madeleine L’Engle (especially The Young Unicorns, her best and most under-appreciated work!), Dorothy L. Sayers, and J.R.R. Tolkien, Douglas Adams (primarily the Dirk Gently books), and P.G. Wodehouse.
        What are yours? 😀
        — the world’s worst re-reader. years probably go by where I don’t read something I haven’t read before.

        1. Oh man, I am very excited to check out the ones I don’t know from your list, because JK Rowling, Douglas Adams, and PG Wodehouse are the top of mine! I’m currently re-reading Harry Potter for the umpteenth time (and I recommend her new “Robert Galbraith” mystery novels too!). Nick Hornby is high on my list too. The problem is I can only re-read my well-loved favorites so many times, or I’m scared they’ll get old. I’ve enjoyed Maria Semple, Rainbow Rowell and Emma Straub lately for light-but-new reading.

        2. That is a great list. I would only add on Terry Pratchett. He is my go to for poorly/tired/sad reading.

          1. I love everything on your lists, I think! Have any of you read The Young Visiters, by Daisy Ashford? That’s the Victorian romantic novel she wrote at age nine; it was discovered in the attic in the 1920’s, published with the original spelling intact, and became a huge hit. It was also adapted into a movie starring Hugh Laurie and Jim Broadbent, which is kind of a licorice thing–I think most people enjoy it if they have already read and loved the book. Anyway, for those who love Austen, Wodehouse, and Terry Pratchett, I think it would become a treasured re-read. I found a hardback copy at the Friends bookstore of my public library for a dollar after looking for it in used bookshops for quite a while, snapped it up , and have read it many times and pressed it on almost all of my friends and relations. The worldview of a nine-year-old paired with a marriage-and-class plot and sentence structures (mostly) out of late nineteenth-century novels is tremendous.
            Sorry to drool on, but I do love the book enough that after reading silently here for years and being a huge admirer of the Captain and the Awkward Army, this is my first comment, as a small token of thanks for others’ self-care and reading tips–if you decide to read it, I hope you also love it.
            Happy 2015! May we all prosper in it.

      2. I can second many of the authors that harvestkitchena2 listed. I track my annual reading, and I can get a sense of how stressed I am by how many of the books are rereads instead of jumping into something new. The ones that I’ve hit most frequently the last few (stressful!) years:

        I am deeply crushing on Lord Peter Wimsey and have so much respect for the feminist model of relationshipping that Dorothy Sayers presents between him and Harriet Vane, so I go back to the mysteries featuring both of them quite a bit, particularly Busman’s Honeymoon and Thrones, Dominations.

        Barbara Hambly’s works, both fantasies and murder mysteries.

        The Kencyrath series by P. C. Hodgell–such fantastic original fantasy featuring a female protagonist struggling with questions of identity and belonging, with both serious themes and comedic elements, plus fun fantasy world ecology.

        The Triad trilogy by Laurie J. Marks. Again, very original fantasy exploring trying to overcome racism and genocide as a struggle for change that takes generations among various sentient species sharing a world. I find them very insightful and inspiring.

        the Cordelia’s Honor books by Lois McMaster Bujold (while I appreciate the Vorkosigan books in general, Miles is such a jerk that I am not that motivated to revisit them frequently), as well as The Curse of Chalion, also by her.

        All of the books by Ellen Kushner and Eleanor Arnason. Mostly fantasy but some science fiction exploring themes of gender, sexuality, identity, belongingness, community, etc.

        The Foreigner series by C.J. Cherryh and the werewolf and dragon books by Patricia Briggs. There are various things I really like about these books, but they are also some of the most problematic, the former for the inherent racism and othering of modeling alien species on non-Western cultures, the latter for addressing questions of abuse and violence (including sexual violence) in some good ways but also really, really bad ways. Plus, is it really necessary for every protagonist to be raped at some point?

        Assorted Regency Romances from the 1970s and 1980s, particularly those of Georgette Heyer. And of course, Jane Austen’s works, which inspired the Regency romance genre. And the romance/fantasy epistolary trilogy cowritten by Patricia C. Wrede and Caroline Stevermer, starting with Sorcery and Cecilia.

        I could go on…

        1. Thanks to both of you! I will defs be checking these titles/authors out. (literally. from the library.)

        2. One of my favorite rereading authors is Jennifer Crusie. She writes romances, with ensemble casts, and the best banter EVAR. I’ve found some overlap in my friends who like Heyer and friends who like Crusie.

          Also Caroline Stevermer wrote some books by herself that evoke happy times for me. College of Magics is one, the others are locatable.

      3. Seconding the recommendations for P.G. Wodehouse (for TV, look for his Jeeves and Wooster played by Steven Fry and Hugh Laurie for additional hilariousness) and Ellen Kushner.

        I completely adore every word Tamora Pierce has ever written (she mostly does female-protagonist YA fantasy), and recommend her to absolutely everyone. I reread her books on practically annual basis. Start with the Lioness Quartet or the Circle of Magic.

        I really enjoy Robin McKinley’s books. She does a lot of fairy tale re-tellings that are also female-protagonist heavy. For a lovely version of the sleeping beauty story that is entirely based around female friendships and family bonds, try Spindle’s End. Sunshine is a YA-vampire-novel-done-right that I enjoy as well (though it contains much more graphic violence than the others on this list)

        Terry Pratchett’s Discworld books are a riot, though the sheer number of them can be a little intimidating to start (Wee Free Men, Going Postal, or Monstrous Regiment are my favorites that don’t require context).

        I also like Sherwood Smith’s Crown Duel – sort of a mild version of the fantasy-ish-universe politics and court intrigue novels.

        Eva Ibbotson is a children’s author, but her books are fun, silly adventures with great characters that you can read in an afternoon.

        1. Strong second for Tamora Pierce. My mother went to a talk/book signing years ago when I was too sick to go and got me a signed copy of Street Magic, and Tamora signed it “Guys rock! Feel better soon!” Since then I’ve developed 1) a chronic illness and 2) strong feminist tendencies, so both the encouragement and the reminder that yes, guys rock, and women rock, and people of all genders rock, is super comforting when I’m under the weather. 🙂 And Protector of the Small has been a very helpful narrative in terms of “it’s harder than it ought to be, and it’s not fair, but you can do it anyway.” ^__^

      4. Just about anything Robin McKinley for me. Nevil Shute, too, except for the one about the end of the world.

    1. “And when I fall down on those goals, picking myself up, dusting myself off, and not beating myself up for the weight of gravity conquering me once again, with the pledge to try again next week.”

      This is key, I think. Tell me about these new glasses?

      1. Well, part of the long-term self-care is following up with all of the medical maintenance stuff. I signed up for secondary vision insurance last year (my nearsightedness requires all of the expensive upgrades for glasses) and never got around to making an appointment to get an eye exam and new glasses. So I need to do that now.

        Plus, I’ve been working with a style consultant/personal shopper. It’s been a hilarious experience as worlds collide (Q: What is your favorite store? A: Um, thrift stores? Q: Which celebrities have a style you like? A: Um, celebrities? I don’t actually watch TV. Is that a problem?). First the color analysis a year ago (oh no, pastels! not pink and gold!), and the body analysis in November. I have the annual work conference in March, so we’ll be going on a guided shopping trip to pick out a better work wardrobe next month. I am so clueless about something coded as feminine like this. Plus, she doesn’t quite seem to process my requests for a more androgynous look. Neither do the hair stylists, for that matter.

        Anyway, she gave me a “look book” that included recommendations for eyeglass frames to complement my face. So I’ll be exploring that sometime in the next few weeks once I make the appointment. It will be challenging to reconcile my personal preferences with her recommendations and the current mode. We’ll see how it goes. It’ll be an adventure. I got a lot of compliments on the blue hair at Christmas, despite the style consultant’s disapproval given my stodgy job title.

    2. I just recently got new glasses after procrastinating on replacing a broken pair for, uh, two years. Oops. Anyways, it’s been amazing to be able to see again!

  16. How can you teach those subjects with so little actual professional film experience? Have you ever worked on a documentary or a TV doc?

    1. Oh, hey, it’s you again! Have I told you how awesome it is when you comment on my website only to be mean to me and never to contribute anything to discussions? Happy New Year!

      It’s no secret that most of my filmmaking work has been in the indie world, though I have worked on some of those things, since you ask, and have been teaching college since 2006. Can I look at your resume and reel sometime? You seem to be so interested in my career, I’d love to know all about yours. If you’re interested in teaching and you have some pro experience, maybe you could pick up a course as an adjunct. Obviously the bar to entry is pretty low, if I’m doing it.

      1. Most of your experience is with shorts. You don’t have any solo director or producer credits on any films with wide distribution or broadcast. Have you had any screenplays optioned, sold or produced? Do you have an agent? I’m not in competition with you, as I work for a production company, not an educational institution. I must have hit a sore point, judging by your reply.

        1. Everything you say about the work I’ve done (mostly shorts, though some TV news and lots of behind the scenes on corporate & commercial things) is true, including the fact that you hit a sore point…though, I’m pretty sure that you meant to do that since the ONLY comments you ever make here are “you don’t really do or know anything about movies/why are you even a teacher.”

          I have an MFA, which is the terminal degree needed for teaching college level (there is no PhD).
          I teach mostly beginning and intermediate courses, where students make shorts. I don’t teach the “present your work to get a job in Hollywood, like I did!” classes. There are other profs at the school who teach those classes. I teach “Let’s write stories and film them and edit them so you learn how to try and fail and try again” classes. For 9 years. I don’t present myself as anything I am not, to you, to the world, and especially not to students. I got tapped to teach that beginning doc class not because I am a famous documentary filmmaker (like you? For real, I am so curious!) because I am good at teaching beginners and my colleagues trust me to help them make good work and have a good experience in the class.

          What is it that you want out of our interactions? I am truly confused.

          1. Your advice about awkwardness, dating, social interactions seems to be your strength, not your work in film or tv. You are, of course, free to do whatever you want, but since you have so little actual experience in film production, I don’t quite understand why you want a tenure track job teaching ( besides the security, benefits, etc..) You have no real idea what directing, writing, producing or even PAing on a feature film, documentary or Tv show is really like.
            Your MFA is nice, but you have no real experience in the world in which you profess to be an expert.
            I’m confused by your confusion.

          2. Self-care is a new thing for me. I’m in my 30s and it’s embarrassing to say that I’ve never really taken good care of myself before. I have health insurance for the first time in years, and well, I’m going to use it. I have a long list of issues that need to get fixed and I’m planning to look up doctors tomorrow for the first item on my list. I’m also going for a run tomorrow. I haven’t exercised in years.

            I treated myself to a year of Amazon prime. There’s a bunch of shows that I’ve wanted to see and it makes me happy. I hope that this is the year I can leave my awful job, too. After reading all of the responses in this thread I’m starting to believe I can make this year better.

          3. Nice troll you have there. There are always people who think that teaching experience/ability is the least important aspect of having a teaching job. Although I suspect that wasn’t really the point.

          4. The best I can tell is that Tiffany wants you to not do what you want to do because you don’t match their idea of what a tenure-track film academic is. Which is… I was going to say ‘interesting’, but I think bizarre is the better categorisation.

            Can I congratulate you on your hilarious and extremely classy responses to Tiffany, including your decision to ban them when it became clear that nothing could be said that would stop them from taking side-swipes designed to put you down.

            I bet you’re a great teacher (if the way you interact around here is anything to go by) and wish you all the best in pursuing your career goals 🙂

    2. I’m thinking you should read through all the self care advice on this thread, as anyone who feels the need to spend time bothering someone on the internet about their film career like this is clearly deeply unhappy.

      1. I agree! Tiffany, go read a book you love or reorganize your closet or something else that personally helps you unwind and refocus. Obsessing over a stranger’s film teaching credentials is kind of unhealthy and sad.

        1. Watching docs makes a consumer, not a creator. And being an intern at 20/20 is hardly “tv news” experience.

          [5 year old resume link redacted by moderator]

      2. I care deeply about film and television, and don’t understand why someone with very little actual production experience wants to teach. Perhaps Jennifer can explain why she chooses to teach, rather than take the risk and jump into actual production?

        1. I’m really confused as to why you’re choosing to bring this here. This is not a forum about Jennifer’s film credentials. And unless she’s applying to your film department asking for a job, I don’t see how they’re relevant to you?

          Some people are teachers. Some people feel passion for a subject and go “wow, I think I will devote my life to transferring this passion to beginners in my field so they can go on to do amazing things.” You don’t need extensive experience in film production to do that–that kind of practical industry knowledge isn’t covered until upper level classes anyway, at which point they will have professors who know all about that stuff.

          What you DO need is passion and a talent for teaching–which, by the way, is a completely different skill set than actually doing the thing. It’s kind of disgusting how much you seem to devalue actual teaching experience in the face of “real world” experience. I have had some truly terrible theatre teachers with incredible resumes–resumes that didn’t make them any better at actually, you know, teaching. Teaching is a different skill set, and sometimes you learn more from the lab tech than the famous neuroscientist.

          1. Sad sack troll is banned now, but I just wanted to back this point so hard! I also did a theatre degree, and we had a couple of big-name lecturers with star-studded resumes… who turned out to be horrific condescending jerkwads who clearly thought they were doing us a massive favour just by turning up for class. Without lessons plans, reading lists and clear learning goals, most of us somehow failed to absorb their success through osmosis. Funny how that works.

            And granted I’ve never been in one of Jennifer’s classes or watched her work, but just from being a long-time CA reader, I can she has many of the fundamental skills needed for being a great teacher, including:
            1) A no-nonsense attitude backed up by lots of compassion
            2) The ability to identify lessons in even the most abject fuck-up
            3) A talent for finding succinct words to express complex concepts
            4) A sense of humour! SO IMPORTANT IN A TEACHER DEAR LORD
            5) Belief and investment in the people who come to her for help
            6) Fostering a supportive community where people learn to rely on their peers as much as their “superiors”.

            In conclusion, I would take a class from the Captain any day. Good luck with all your CV spring-cleaning/professional self-care stuff, Jennifer – you definitely deserve more security to keep doing something you are clearly excellent at!

          2. YUP. If I went to where Jennifer teaches I’d probably sign up for her class even though I have no real interest in the topic, just to experience what an awesome teacher she has to be.

          3. OMG yes to teaching being a skillset of its own. (This also feeds into my irritation at overvaluing of management and undervaluing of customer service… they are both hard to be really good at, and not everyone can or will be good at either.)

            I go to a university that wants to [sell itself as being] the best at research in our country, and consequently we have a lot of researchers being forced to teach, and teachers being forced out (we don’t have tenure, which I absolutely think is a good thing, but this still sucks). The difference is fucking huge (I’m in biomed, so bio + chem). There is a wide range of skill and passion at teaching and research but generally the outstanding researchers are… not great at teaching, and the outstanding teachers are not amazing at research.

            So yeah, even if it wasn’t pathetic to have a hard on for harassing someone on the internet, their point is completely ridiculous. I love my passionate lecturers!

        2. Hey Tiffany!

          1) I let this play out for a bit to see if you had a point in there somewhere. It seems to be “stay in (what I see as) your lane.” Ok, noted.
          2) I googled you (or who I think you are) and it looks like you’ve done a lot of amazing stuff with post. Very cool!
          3) You’re absolutely right that blogging took over my life at the expense of other kinds of work these last few years and that I have some thinking and some catching up to do (and also some resume updating to do…like I said…in the OP).
          4) I’ve worked way more on indie things than I have “professional” things. So?
          5) I’m *already* a film production teacher, and a good one. I started teaching when I was still in school, partly to try it out, and I found out I loved it. I’d like to be paid better for that work and have benefits and more institutional support while I write and direct my own projects. Maybe I’ll fail at that. Maybe I’ll fail at everything. You tried to stop me, Internet Stranger Hero. You tried to save me from myself. And you tried to save the TV and film that you care so much about from me. I’ll always be grateful for that and I’ll be sure to call you from my deathbed to tell you how it all went.
          6) I’m going to practice some self-care right now and ban you from commenting on my site. Here is a link to the University Film and Video Association, if you want to find more film teachers who don’t have what you think is the correct production experience to “mentor” and “advise.”

          1. You are amazing. This little thread is a wonderful object lesson in how to set appropriate boundaries and not be cowed by others acting badly. I wish I had your grace and poise under fire!

  17. With a baby on the way (oh god, panic), I didn’t want to set myself up for failure with some Big Resolution. So I’ve decided to do my best to do something fun, something productive, and something healthy every day, and I’m being pretty liberal in my interpretations. So far, so good! The hardest part is actually the something fun; it’s pretty easy for me to throw away a couple of soda cans if I realize I haven’t done anything yet, but I’m trying to not count hours of mindless, routine internetting as fun. So I have to go out of my way to do something, even if it’s reading for a little bit or playing a video game or whatever.

    It’s helping me be more aware of how I’m spending my time, and also a good way for me to measure my day. It also reduces a lot of stress over wasting all my time/not being a Perfect Pregnant Lady/”I didn’t accomplish anything today but I also didn’t enjoy it, what the hell”.

    I’ve also been working to reduce my anxiety via a massive to-do list. I spent a couple of days writing down everything that crossed my mind as a thing I should do, and now I’m trying to work my way through it, either by doing the thing or by deciding I don’t actually need to do it. It turns out just having it written down and not floating passively through my brain is a big help in itself!

    1. ZOMG, baby! Tremendous!

      May I recommend sparkly stickers for your awesome to-do list?

    2. ptrst, thank you for pointing out that just because something is on my to-do list doesn’t mean it has to be done. It seems such a simple thought but I have constantly stressed myself about not finishing the list and your reminder that I can decide not to do something is very timely.

      Hope all goes well with your incoming new person.

      1. “just because something is on my to-do list doesn’t mean it has to be done.”

        This is such a liberating thing to figure out.

      2. I realized upon writing down everything that was on my mental to-do list that a lot of it was vague, “in an ideal world this would be done” or “if I had an entirely different lifestyle, this is what I should be doing” items. And I was letting myself get equally overwhelmed by replacing the blinds (which would be great! but also isn’t going to happen, and doesn’t really need to) as by making a doctor’s appointment (which really, in a concrete way, needed to happen). I definitely consider coming to that realization a form of massive self-care, as well as culling all the Not Gonna Happens from my list once and for all. That way it’s a decision to not do it, not a passive failure to finish the list. 🙂

  18. I’ve got my winter mood regimen – full-spectrum light lamp, vitamins D & B, yoga – but I’m trying to carve out nights alone, by myself, to recharge. I think I’m nervous that if I spend too much time alone, or say no too much, people will stop inviting me to things.

    And yoga… I’m trying to do more 10-minute sessions in the morning. No big dramatic athletics, just a lot of moaning into the mat & writhing to unknot my stiff, stiff shoulders.

    1. I know those feels, but maybe knowing that you’ve *scheduled* nights to be alone and recharge it can free you up to say yes to some invitations. “I can do this because I know that tomorrow and the next day I’ll just relax and recover.”

    2. Oh Anna, I lol’d at “moaning into the mat.” So true! If not dramatic athletics, then dramatic vocals!

  19. I too am finally framing my art. And I decorated my living room for Valentine’s Day because red glitter hearts are the bomb.

    But the most effective self-care I’m doing right now is kind of weird: I started tipping bigger. It began on Christmas day when I tipped 150% at Denny’s. I didn’t intend for it to be A Thing, but it felt so good that I kept doing it — eventually deciding that it felt so good that I made a New Years resolution to keep over-tipping for a whole year. Yesterday I gave an extra 10 bucks to the world’s grumpiest waitress. The day before I convinced my friend to forgo dessert and help me give the guy at Applebee’s 50%. (Take that judgmental Republican relatives with your shitty “bootstraps” and border walls.)

    But it REALLY kicked into self-care high gear when I told my friends and family about it and realized I didn’t give two fucks what anyone thought about it either. Which is mind boggling. I always care too much about everything, always let judegment and disapproval defeat me. But for the first time in my life I just…don’t care. I don’t feel the need to justify it, not even a twinge, and I don’t have to work at it at all. I just…don’t care. I don’t know that I’ve ever been this confident about any decision. It’s like suddenly discovering a superpower. I am unstoppable.

    It’s glorious.

    1. That’s awesome! I live in a tip free country right now but if I’m ever back in the US (and in a financial situation to afford it) I love the idea.

    2. Neat project, both in that it spreads joy to others and reminds you that you have abundance to share. Update us later in the year!

      1. I will!

        And you’re right about the reminder of what I have to share. I’m a middle school teacher in a single-income household; it’s easy to fall into thinking that my “abundance” is pretty meager. But like a lot of people, when I really look at it my budget has some room for negotiation.

        I’m not making it rain $100 bills. I’m just reminding myself, “You can have dessert, OR you can give an extra few bucks to this guy who’s busting his ass in a thankless job just so you don’t have to cook your own hamburger.” That’s pretty easy math to calculate.

        But in the process, it’s reminded me how much of my life is my own choices, and that I do have a much greater abundance than it seems at first glance. Yes, sustaining it will require some minor sacrifices here and there. But at only two weeks in it’s already so valuable an experience that those sacrifices seem very easy to make.

    3. Yes, tipping big is the bomb. I always try and leave a $20 when I go out to breakfast on Christmas day.

    4. Cool idea! I’m sure that those waiters/waitresses really appreciate your efforts and you never know how that will spread.

      My only hesitation is that you said you talked your friend out of dessert in order to help you. If this is something you want to do, go all in! I would just pause before insisting that others join you. Perhaps that friend was going to enact some much needed self-care on themselves by indulging in dessert and they then felt unable to. If people want to join you in tipping large sums, awesome! But I wouldn’t push it on them, to do something that makes you feel better.

      1. I hear what you’re saying and thanks for pointing that out. But I am trying to avoid browbeating others into helping me. It’s my thing; they don’t have to help.

        The dessert business was pretty casual. “Are we doing dessert?” “Well, I was thinking I could have dessert or I could leave a bigger tip.” “Oooo, good idea!”

        The whole point is to rally a tiny bit of joy to counter all the selfish negativity I’m seeing in the world these days. If anything, I want to make it so goddamed fun that other people WANT to do it too. Though really, I don’t care if anyone else does it. I’M doing it. And I am enough.

  20. One of my goals for the new year is to write at least 1000 words, at least four days a week. Eventually I will want to work on editing and submitting, but this is the stage of the process I want to focus on for now.

    I’ve been enjoying my weaving sticks and my new peg loom, and I want to find new projects for them and new crafts to explore, because doing/making things with my hands is so soothing to me right now.

    With my husband, I’m working on decluttering and cleaning, because I want our living space to be more comfortable and functional.

    And I’m trying, with more success some days than others, to incorporate more fruits and vegetables into our lives.

    1. You might already have tools that work for you, but have you tried Penzu? It’s an online journal that tracks how much you write. You can set goals for how much you want to write, and it sends you reminders. Might not work for you but thought I’d mention it because I really like it 🙂

    2. That seems like a very good goal for writing – both ambitious in the long-term, and maintainable in the short term. Good luck!

  21. I caught a crud over the holidays, so I am doing things like:
    – allowing myself to be “slow” or “inefficient”
    – taking lots of breaks
    – not pushing myself to do as much as I usually do
    – sleep! as much as I need!
    – asking for help when I need it

    Thank you for this thread, and yay for self-care!

  22. Do you ever get people who want to take your classes because of your Internet famousness? Whoever is in a position to give you that tenure-track position should do so while they have the chance.

    Self-care: For the day-to-day, I’m going to try to make a little more time for reading and sleeping. Well … at least for reading. I haven’t figured out big-picture self-care yet.

    1. Ha, I have not, though I have had people who read the blog as students before. Last semester: “You sound like someone. I know you from somewhere. Ohhhhhh, wait! YEAH!”

  23. I’m trying to find some kind of joy in waking up in the morning. Every time I wake up, I have to face the fact that I’m still not dead. I guess once I get past that I can move on to something else, like finding some jeans that fit.

    1. I’m very glad you are still waking up in the morning, even if it’s hard. And I hope you find those jeans.

    2. Rattakin, I am super glad you wake up every morning. Keep up the awesome work of doing that!

    3. Rattakin, for what it’s worth, I’m glad you’re still here as well. I know what the morning dread is like, having experienced it before myself, and I’m proud of anyone who manages to power through it, you included.

      I hope you can find those jeans!

  24. I’m participating in the Month of Poetry challenge in Australia, which I’m enjoying a great deal. I’ve also dropped hours at work, continue to work with my awesome therapist on pushing back against my particular jerkbrain, and husband, kids and I are walking longish stretches every evening (it’s summer here, the days are warm and long!) Movies have been a thing, swimming with the kids has been a thing, and sleep, oh thank you God, is finally, again, a thing. All in all, not a bad start to the year.

      1. Writing them! It’s co-ordinated by an Australian children’s author, Kathryn Apel, and there’s usually about 40-50 participants (mostly Aussies but we have a few Americans and Europeans too). It’s mostly open-themed but each of the 5 Saturdays, Kat sets a challenge – either a poetic form, or a theme, or a prompt – and we all write to that. I’ve done it the last three Januaries and I LOVE it. I publish my own poems on my blog.

        Also, bc I didn’t read properly the first time – CONGRATS to you and the Gentleman Caller! What lovely news to kick off 2015 🙂

  25. It’s been a stressful winter because I was forced to move to a new apartment on very short notice. Unpacking, cleaning, and organizing the new place will be its own form of self-care, but I’m also trying not to beat myself up over the mess for now, because this situation was not my fault. Other self-care things: continuing to see my therapist, watching TV shows I love with my friends, and resolving to eat breakfast before leaving for work every day.

    1. Moving sucks even when you have lots of time to plan. May your new place have enough storage space and may your breakfasts be tasty and regular.

  26. I ordered the Hanne Blank book. I looked it up just out of interest, not thinking I’d order it, but it looks like exactly my thing. And that is what I’m doing lately: adding things that are exactly my thing.

    1. I think I said this to another commenter: The book told me many things that I already knew, but needed to hear someone say explicitly to me at this time. I hope you like it.

  27. As someone who is feeling discouraged because I ended 2014 in the same place work-wise as I began it (albeit with a rollercoaster in the middle), I just want to cheer for Captain Awkward as she does all the resume building work care things. It’s so easy to decide that where we are doesn’t suck as much as the worst possible sucky thing and not strive for better.

    1. Thanks for the cheers! It’s a big project, and I’ve put it off for a long time, but it’s been a good reminder that a) I actually accomplished and made things and grew since the last time I did this and b) maybe a change is possible. Good luck with your rollercoaster.

  28. I’m FINALLY trying to find a new job, though that’s been going on for a few months. I’m…. not good with winter at all, I get pretty depressed and my energy plummets, which I usually deal with using exercise and good nutrition. Unfortunately, a chest infection and minor surgery (hey why not do the two at once for the lols?) mean the exercise is out. So I’m sitting at home, not able to do much because I don’t want to pull my stitches. It’s…..hard. So I’m sticking with the good nutrition, started planning a trip with my husband and ordered some new workout gear. If I can myself geared toward it, I might take advantage of the temporary grit in my voice to record some songs I normally can’t sing.

    Not much, but it’s all I can do from here. Oh, and Captain, Imitation Game is AMAZING. Watch it!

      1. A bit of everything, really, some Fleetwood Mac, Bon Jovi, Florence and the Machine, depressing Irish ballads (I am Irish, and I have the voice for it) but I’m also trying to learn some in Irish and that’s proving challenging. My big problem here is confidence, so I have my own recording equipment and I do it in my own home when no one is home (and the neighbours haven’t complained). In a fit of ballsiness I set up an AudioBoom account and Put My Songs On The Internet, but I absolutely SUCK at editing so if I have to redo any of it, the clipping and changing shows.

        Never did get around to the singing…. GAH. But anyway. The day is still young and I have had very little sleep! Yay!

        1. Neat! And neat that you are teaching yourself and putting things out there while you learn and evolve. Editing gets easier with practice, you’ll be a pro in no time I bet.

          1. I don’t know….I was using Pro Tools but I found that as user friendly as a bag of rabid ferrets to be honest, so I’m using Audacity now. Unfortunately it’s dependent on mood, and not being exercise meant that I was awake until 7 am this morning. Also the chest infection means that I can’t get enough breath in (it’s also setting off my asthma so boo-urns) *to* sing, but I have plans for when I’m better. Motivation is an issue here.

          2. ProTools is best with someone (or a tutorial or 6) to walk you through it. Garage Band and/or Audacity will get it done, and there are many tutorials out there. Good luck!

  29. This is all so inspiring, almost overwhelming. Today i’m enjoying a day of solitude, the first in maybe a year. So it is delicious. I looked into the unfuckyourhabitat and thats what i’m gonna do, starting with my crafting supplies. It makes me happy to use them, and even more so when i can find stuff without having to declutter everything every time. Then i’m taking a bath. With lots of bubbles. And i also bought the book, and i will read it in the bath. And tomorrow possibilities are endless.

  30. I’m keeping a log book in a day planner, tracking how I feel, what I do, my exercise, my brain space, my work — trying to make myself more aware of my own brain BEFORE I end up down a spiral of badness. I’m running every day because it makes my body happy. I’m cleaning out my closets and relocating my office into my OTHER spare bedroom so that my long-distance SO can make the former office into his space when he moves here in 15 days and becomes no longer long-distance SO. I’m trying to write more. I’m auditioning a new therapist, because I love mine, but I think we may have reached the end of our useful relationship.

    This week is the week of the year the SO and I hate most, and last night we decided we’re going to somewhere tropical this week next year. So that, too.

    1. That kind of mindfulness and tracking can be so useful. And whoa, exciting things are happening in 15 days! That’s huge, I hope the move is smooth and happy.

    2. Hey, I’m doing that during my worst week of the year! Maybe not tropical, but…an elsewhere. I can’t wait to plan it.

  31. Three months ago I started a new job that I really love. Before that I spent almost three years in a job that was in the field I wanted to work in, but was a really toxic environment. I honestly did not realize how much energy that drained from me. I have so much more time and energy now that I’m not constantly stressed about what tomorrow is going to bring. Plus add in trying to job hunt and never hearing back… Anyway, long story short self care got easier when this enormous energy-sucking crapiness was removed from my life.

    I’ve started exercising before work because I always intend to and then never do. It’s only been a week but I’ve managed three out of four days and I’ve already noticed that it boosts my energy levels at work.

    The other thing I want to do is prioritize reading. I read a lot, but it’s so easy to get sucked in to Netflix or Tumblr and just lose a couple hours. Suddenly it’s 9.30 and I still need to do the dishes before bed and I haven’t read my library book.

  32. It sounds like the opposite of self-care, but… I’m looking for a second job. I know that adding a weekend gig on top of being a full-time employee and part-time student will leave me with a lot on my plate, but our debt and finances are out of control and rather than feeling helpless about that I’m going to do something proactive. I have an interview Friday and I’m excited to become debt free in 2015.

    I did scrape together the money to visit friend in NYC over the new year. Crashing with them and flagrant abuse of the happy hour made the trip really affordable and since traveling is something that really helps me decompress it was a much needed vacation from the stressors of the past year and helped to clear my head. I’m going back to my alma mater in a few weeks to see (and crash with) more friends (and make some not-so-subtle inquiries about a job that will be vacated when someone retires… it would be a giant leap in my career where I able to land it). I live really, really close to my parents thanks to my job, which is horrible for my mental health, so these get-aways to see some of the most important people in my life are really important to keeping me from feeling like the saddest cucumber in the sea.

    1. I’m so glad you were able to travel, and I hope all the job things work out how you want them!

      Working so much might not be desirable or sustainable in the long term, but if you know you can do it right now and it will give you more freedom, dive in.

      1. Exactly, I know I couldn’t do this forever and ever, but I’ll set some attainable financial goals, work hard to reach them, and then I know in the long run I can feel really good about myself and the foundation I set. (At least, that’s what I tell myself)

    2. If money issues are your biggest stressor, doing something to alleviate the stress, even something that is not sustainable in the long term, is still self care.

  33. I felt so relieved when I saw this thread because I’m in desperate need of self care strategies now. I’ve got my SAD lamp and Vitamin D and my awesome therapist and I’ve been reading Harry Potter and trying to balance not isolating myself with getting enough sleep but I just feel SO. Tired. and the winter ahead feels So. Long.

    I guess the only immediate advice I can ask for is: What are your favorite comfort reads? Cause Harry Potter will be over soon and I need more! I enjoy comedic chick-lit kind of stuff, not so much into fantasy beyond HP and LOTR.

    1. I know you said you’re not super into fantasy but Tamora Pierce’s Tortall books are my favorite comfort reads. They focus on girls in a sword-and-sorcery sort of setting but have thematic focus on friendship, individual empowerment, and protection of others. Plus humor, cute animals, and well-developed characters from different social classes. For HP fans, I think they’re a great fit.

      For comedic chick lit of the non fantasy variety, I love anything by Jennifer Cruise but especially Bet Me, Facing It, and Welcome to Temptation, as well as her collaborations with Bob Mayer, Agnes and the Hit Man, Don’t Look Down, and Wild Ride. I also highly recommend Connie Willis’ To Say Nothing of the Dog if you like time travel/the Victorian era.

        1. I definitely second the Tamora Pierce suggestion! I reread those every couple of years. On the Comedic Chick Lit side – Janet Evanovich’s Stephanie Plum series are laugh out loud funny.

          My personal comfort reads are anything written by Nora Roberts or Beverly Jenkins because they write romances that are engaging and interesting and with female characters that feel like I could be friends with them. I like romance because the ending is predictable so it’s not a really stressful read, but the path they take to get there can be different every time.

    2. Do you like mysteries at all? The Sue Grafton series (A is for, B is for) is pretty entertaining, and I enjoy the main character a lot. She is happily single and without children, kicks butt, and the whole thing takes place in the 80s (even the recent ones) which is pretty amusing. Travel agents! Fax machines!

      1. Ooh, that could be fun, I think my parents have a bunch of those I could probably borrow, too! Though, does it have a lot of violence? I’m extremely squeamish about that kind of stuff.

        1. This is always a hard question to answer because everyone’s idea of violence/gore is different, so don’t mind my rambling.

          In general, the books follow one crime (either a murder or missing persons case), so it’s not like a police procedural where somehow they are always on the trail of an active serial killer. Overall, they don’t have a ton of “action sequences” and when they do it’s more likely to be someone trying to run the heroine’s car off the road than it is a lovingly described fist fight. There is usually at least one important action sequence per book (the climax, as you might have guessed) and sometimes a briefly gory description of a body. Even then, IMO it’s shorter, tamer and less “glorifying” than other books I’ve read.

          If you do pick some up, I actually don’t recommend starting with A. It’s like the first season of an animated show – the voice actors sound a little different and the timing is slightly off. If you want to start very early in the series, B is for Burglar or E is for Evidence have most of the kinks ironed out without spoiling too many early episodes. Some of my personal favorites are H is for Homicide, L is for Lawless, and S is for Silence.

          1. Thanks for that detailed response! It really is a hard question to answer, I’ve become very picky about whose recommendations I’ll take because I have some friends who will be like ‘Eh, Breaking Bad isn’t THAT violent” or “Silence of the Lambs isn’t a horror movie!’ That sounds like a level I can deal with though, I’ll check those out! 🙂

        2. I hear you on the violence thing. It’s not that I’m squeamish, but more like I’ve hit my lifetime limit of violence against women as entertainment. I don’t need to consume more of that, really. And violence in general also feels like it takes a cumulative psychic toll, no matter how imaginary it is.

          1. Totally. I tend to be really self-deprecating about it and call myself a wimp and joke about because my hippie parents never let me watch violence I never got desensitized like everyone else, but in reality I don’t WANT to be desensitized to violence. And I work in the social justice field professionally and volunteer for organizing around causes like police brutality in my spare time, so I am overwhelmed by information about real violence on a daily basis– I don’t need to entertain myself with it at home.

        3. The Agatha Christie books are great if you don’t like violence! She never goes into details about gore- it’s just a locked room mystery, or a mental mystery. All her books are great. I’d start with Death on the Nile, or Murder on the Orient Express, if you’re new to her.

    3. So my favorite comfort reads might not overlap but worst case scenario you can just chuck any ideas you aren’t interested. Good Omens by Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman, The Kusheline Legacy by Jacqueline Carey all 9 books (although I prefer the first six, except for about a third of book three), Eloisa James writes my very favorite historical romance, Terry Pratchett’s Discworld novels start out a bit shaky and then they are so much fun. Everything else on my bookshelves is on borrowed time. Those books I will always keep for comfort reading.

      1. Thanks so much! I’ve actually been meaning to check out Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett but I always forget to!

      2. Paddlepickle, I just read of your distaste for violence; The Kusheline Legacy is pretty heavy on the violence so you might want to skip that recommendation.

    4. Pamela Ribon might be up your comedic chick lit alley. Running In Circles, Why Girls Are Weird, Why Moms are Weird.

    5. Try Maeve Binchy. I’ve only ever read Scarlet Feather, but I really like it. You could try the historical fiction of Barbara Hambly (I enjoyed Patriot Hearts). I don’t really read that much chick lit as such except the occasional one-off while traveling. But I do enjoy mysteries and historical fiction of various flavors. Authors in those veins that I like: Caroline Roe, Lindsey Davis, Judith Tarr (though most is fantasy), Anne Perry, Martha Grimes, Elizabeth Peters, Agatha Christie.

    6. My favorite chick-lit authors (and very popular so you might’ve read them): Emily Giffin (not her newest one, though), Sophia Kinsella, and Jennifer Weiner.

    7. The ‘Tales of the City’ series by Armistead Maupin are the ultimate comfort read for me. I first stumbled across them at the end of a six-month trip travelling on my own when I was 18, and really homesick. They feel like a hug from a fabulous, glitter-covered man at Mardi Gras. Seriously though, they’re warm and affectionate and laugh-out-loud funny with flawed, beautiful characters, and they paint such a fun picture of San Francisco in the ’70s and ’80s (Maupin produced them in serialised form for the San Fran Chronicle for many years).

    8. I know you said you’re not much for fantasy, but I really, really suggest you check out Garth Nix’s books. The Abhorsen trilogy is absolutely fantastic and is one of the best worlds I have ever seen in literature. I myself need to reread the trilogy because he just came out with a prequel 10 years after the final book of the trilogy was released and I am BEYOND EXCITED about it. These books are also monsters, almost 500+ pages for each one in the trilogy, so they will keep you busy for a while. These are books I consider very formative to my growth as a reader when I was young, so they have a very dear place in my heart.

      The first book, Sabriel, is about a girl named Sabriel who must find her father after he disappears. This is a big deal because her father is the Abhorsen, a good nercomancer whose job it is to keep the Dead from coming back to the land of the living. Oh, did I mention that when you die in this world, you aren’t actually officially dead? Souls enter the River and must pass beyond nine Gates before becoming actually dead and unable to return to the living world, so it happens that many souls fight the tide of the River and make it back to the living world to cause havoc. So now that her father is missing, there is no one to control the Dead and stop them from coming back, so she must take up her father’s necromancer bells and stop the Dead and find out what happened to her father. Also, these Dead aren’t just zombies in the way we think of zombies – some are extremely powerful and have retained their entire mental faculties because they have returned from the Seventh or Eighth Gate. Also, I thought the coolest thing was how necromancers control the Dead with bells – each bell does a different job, but the wielder must be careful because the bells are “alive” and may ring of their own accord and actually harm the necromancer.

      So basically kick-butt female main characters, excellent and interesting world building, and engrossing story line! Mogget is my favorite character, though, and I think you’ll see why (spoiler: he’s a sarcastic talking cat).

      Also the Keys to the Kingdom series is excellent. It’s about a sickly kid, Arthur Penhaligon, who sees this weird guy in a wheelchair when he is having an asthma attack during a run during gym class. Suddenly, he sees this GIGANTIC House across the street from his own that no one else can see. He is brought to the House and is suddenly declared the rightful Heir to the Kingdom by the personified Will of the Architect. The Architect is the being who created the House, which is full of inhabitants called Denizens who are supposed to watch and observe everything that is happening in the Realms, which are various worlds and places also created by the Architect (who is referred to as “She” which I thought was great considering Her many parallels to God, who is almost always male). However, the Will was broken into pieces by the traitorous Trustees, whom the Architect left in charge when she departed. Each Trustee, named after a day of the week, is now overcome by one of the seven deadly sins and their regions of the House that they are in charge of are in complete disarray. So now Arthur must defeat each Trustee and gain their Key to their region to become the sole ruler of the House and see the Will fulfilled.

      Again awesome world building and just a super cool story line.

      Hope these interest you!


      1. Oh man. Hello there, kindred spirit. I love the Abhorsen Trilogy to bits and always recommend it to people, as well as Keys to the Kingdom! Re: the prior, I always thought the idea of a good necromancer who puts the dead to rest was SO COOL and such a unique idea. That and the system of magic is just amazing, what with the Charter and all.

        Sorry for the words-dump. Just super excited to find another Abhorsen fan. 😀

  34. I love this question! Congrats everybody!

    I joined a gym and roller derby team (YAY!!), got a new haircut, started therapy, got appointments with my ob/gyn, dentist, etc.
    I am also taking photography lessons, spending more time with friends and I will start working in a new place very soon. VERY HAPPY TIMES 🙂

  35. Recently my self-care has involved a lot of hot drinks. Chai lattes, soy nog, my sweetie’s famous vegan virgin “I Can’t Believe It’s Not Hot Buttered Rum!” and plain old herbal tea.
    It’s 0 degrees where I live today, so another important part of self-care has been designing wacky outfits that will keep me warm on the way to work. Today’s involved two pairs of socks, a sweaterdress, a giant fuschia scarf, and a faux leopard jacket under my parka.
    And finally, reading light fiction. Right now it’s _Palace of Spies_ by Sarah Zettel, a fun historical YA.

    New adventures – I’m taking a class at my temp job, and also working on incorporating more of the CA dating advice to heart as I think about finding an additional sweetie. Next month, finding a permanent job at the awesome place I’ve been temping is on the agenda.

    Wishing everyone here a safe and happy New Year 🙂

    1. As a fellow resident of Ice Planet Hoth, I applaud your dedication to layers and nog. I hope the job thing works out.

  36. I’m a single mom of three little kids, with full custody. No family within a 6 hour drive, and we moved here post-divorce a year and a half ago, so still building up a friend network. Slowly, because I work 40-50 hours/week, and frankly I hardly have time or energy to do things with friends. I like people in general and have lots of friendly acquaintences, but not close local friends on whom I could rely if I needed a real favor. My mom lived with us for a while until last October, which made for fanastic savings on childcare, but it was a high-stress situation for me, because Living With Your Mom As An Adult. I hid the stress and did my very best to be visibly appreciative and pleasant (and I did pretty well overall), because I knew it was a situation with a definite end.

    Since she’s been gone (and we do miss her in many ways!) I have decluttered my house significantly, which was huge. I’m one of those people for whom clutter dramatically increases my stress level. I got rid of old furniture that she liked (I figured, she spent more hours in my home than I did, taking care of my kids–she should have surroundings she liked) and replaced it with new stuff I like. I’ve begun working with the kids on them taking age-appropriate responsibilities and doing small household chores–my mom, god bless her, did everything for us all, which was wonderful but left the kids without a path toward developing their own self-care and community help competencies. I’ve decluttered some more. My work/life situation is inherently high-stress, but will ease up a bit next fall when the youngest enters kindergarten.

    Until then, I want to remind myself that it’s okay to keep taking my weightlifting class on Tuesday evenings. It’s stressful coordinating it–the timing of leaving work, picking up three kids at three different locations, the logistics of getting food for the kids on the road, and not being late for the class is tight–and the kids have go in the program’s Stay and Play program while I’m there, which they have mixed feelings about. But I tell them it’s the one thing I do for myself and it makes me feel good and makes me healthier, because in addition to it genuinely being important for my mental health, I think it’s important to model healthy self-care actions for them.

    I also want to get myself books to read for pleasure on a regular basis. Maybe one/month. I was living in poverty before my divorce and it’s still so reassuring that now I have an actual decent job and can afford small pleasures like that occasionally. And when it gets warm enough I want to get back to running regularly–running is so important to me and I haven’t been able to find time for it very much in the past few months. I love running at night, and my oldest is, I think, old enough that she can be in charge of the younger two after they’re asleep if I go run for 30 or 40 minutes after their bedtimes. So that’s something to look forward to.

    It was such a stressful fall that I kind of fell apart and went into a coma for a full week and a half over Xmas when the kids were with their dad. And that’s with an ostensibly smoothly running daily/weekly schedule where homework gets done and looked over, beds are made, dishes and laundry are washed, relatively healthy food is bought and prepared, bills are paid, work goes well for me, etc. So I think I need to find ways to recharge a bit more on a daily or at least weekly basis so this coming rest-of-the-winter and spring aren’t so demanding that I slowly drain first my regular resources and then my emergency reserve resources, as I suspect happened this past fall. I’m not sure what those daily/weekly recharging activites will or can be, yet, besides weightlifting once/week and making some time to read now and then. I need to figure that out.

    I like reading about what others here are doing for themselves! It makes me feel good that you all are doing these small pleasurable things. I hope to join you. 🙂

    1. Has anyone told you lately that you are AWESOME? I am so full of admiration for the way you are modeling boundaries and self-care for your kids, and the way you are bouncing back after what must have been a very hard year and journey. Wild applause.

      1. Thank you. Like so many others here have said, it’s cheering and energizing to be told this. By you, and also by the others below–thank you all for your friendly comments!

    2. I just wanted to say I’m super glad that you are able to do these things for yourself and for your kids, and I hope your weight lifting class is awesome! Your comments out clutter resonate for me, so I’m extra happy hearing about your successful decluttering.

    3. You are doing amazing things, and modeling great things for your kids.

      If you have room in your brain, I have advice on making friends in the new place: ask for and accept help. People like to feel useful but not taken advantage of, which can be a delicate balance, but the thing that made the most difference in my life was seeing who my kids liked to hang out with, asking if they could do it more, and if there was anything I could do in return… It helped me to jump start the karmic balance, or something like that, to ask for a favor and ask almost simultaneously how it might be repaid.

    4. You are such a hero for setting up a good life for yourself and your children, and especially for including self-care in it

  37. I finally got my self a new therapist to work through my feelings about quitting grad school and actually start job hunting! I’m reading (sci fi written by women!), going to yoga, and cooking for myself with lots of fresh fruits and vegetables. I got my instrument back from the shop and am playing again after nearly a decade! I’m ramping up my meditation practice to more actively deal my my anxiety. And I’m letting myself date at whatever pace I feel like, no matter how overwhelming or guilty I feel about the OKC messages piling up.

    1. The best thing I ever did with OKC was turn off all notifications (email, app, all of it). I later deleted the app from my phone, just to enforce the distance in my own mind.

      I did learn this after a very foolish 10 day period where I went on six or seven first dates. It was also Christmas/NYE time. I can’t remember exactly how many because I clearly blacked out a week in and didn’t come to until March.

    2. What instrument? How exciting!

      And dating can feel like work at times, so you are very smart to pace yourself.

      1. Clarinet! My ultimate goal is to teach myself Klezmer and find a local group to play in, but I’m still working through my beginner books from middle school. It’s coming back quickly though, like riding a bike!

  38. I have the fibro. I’ve had it for at least 6 years. I have had a good deal of anger about what chronic illness has stolen from me. I’ve decided that I am going to my best to do the things that will mitigate the fibro. I am doing my best to do a half hour to an hour of mild to moderate exercise. (Of course I got a bronchial infection almost immediately.) I have unspecified autoimmune illness; we do know that my white blood cells attack me, we don’t know why. I’m going to start testing again and see if we can get a diagnosis and then a treatment regime. I am allergic to wheat, I’ve known that for 6 years as well. Abstaining from wheat hasn’t actually helped me feel much better. So I am going to consult an allergist and a HAES compliant nutritionist/dietician. Hopefully we can work together to find a way of eating that is delicious and doesn’t make me sick. The net nanny has already cut down on my aimless net time. Now to reintroduce books to my daily routine! I used to read books almost constantly but at some point in 2014 they just faded from my everyday life.

    1. That is a lot of health stuff to slog through, good for you for digging back into it. I hope you find some answers and some things that work for you on the regular. And books will be there for you! They’ve been waiting, and people have been making more of them in your absence.

      1. Oh and Congratulations! I hope it is what the two of you want it to be. Also, I forgot my most exciting/terrifying resolution: I’m doing at least one thing per month that I have never done before!

    2. Ooops, lupus/fibro brain. I left out a sentence. It should say “I am also on Topamax for fibromyalgia pain” at the start of the second paragraph. Sorry! It’s late. 🙂

      1. I don’t see it, perhaps it has been caught and stolen by goblins. Also, I understand fibro fog and how it can interfere with expression.

  39. I’m working on my job as well. My therapist essentially said the best way to recover would be to quit and absent myself from the toxicity so I’m searching pretty hard right now.

    I cancelled all my appointments with everyone including the therapist. Treatment only helps when the idea of going to another appointment and missing more work and being yelled at more doesn’t make you have a mental breakdown. I am still going to physiotherapy in the hopes of curing my whiplash from another stupid car accident though. But physio is nice. It feels nice and I get to read quietly and it’s after work so it’s fine.

    I quit my awful medicine and feel 8000x better now that the side effects are gone. Instead I have committed to a strict diet and what exercise I can manage through the whiplash, which will accomplish the same goal as the drugs and not make me want to drive into oncoming traffic.

    So. That’s me. 😛

  40. For the past few months I’ve been trying to build 10-15 minutes of yoga into my morning. I picked a sequence that included one position I struggle with (my balance sort of sucks) and it’s been really, really satisfying to get better and better at it. I just recently added some core work, as I think my weak core muscles might be contributing to the occasional backaches I get. Interestingly, “don’t be in pain” has been 8000% times more motivating than “maybe your stomach could be flatter”.

    My other new thing is throwing crap away that I don’t need or want. I was raised in a particular type of frugal, “waste not, want not” families, the kind of people who freeze every overripe banana, even though they live alone and don’t especially like banana bread. In the middle of an incredibly stressful week right before Christmas I baked cookies with friends and one of the recipes I chose didn’t work out. My cousin suggested icing them might help, so I took the batch of cookies home and wrote “ice cookies” on my to-do list. This is how my family does – if some recipe doesn’t work, you *must* eat it, whether that means figuring out a way to salvage it or just toughing through the gross food. My aunt probably would have made a mediocre pie crust out of the terrible cookies.

    The next day, looking at my giant to-do list, I had this sudden flash of insight – I didn’t give two shits about saving these cookies. The ingredients had cost about $5, and the main enjoyment had been had already – baking cookies and drinking wine with my friends. There was no reason to invest more time (and ingredients!) into something that would become passable at best. So I pitched the whole batch in the trash. Then I pitched the frozen bananas, a bag of 3 years of frozen veggie scraps (stock, theoretically), a bunch of frozen pumpkin that never tasted like much, hair products that smelled gross and made my hair look terrible, and 7 little notepads I had used 5% of and never touched again. It was pretty damn liberating.

    1. This is great! Fuck those cookies and half-eaten bananas, man. Sunk costs cannot be recouped sometimes.

    2. MuddieMae, I laughed heartily reading your comments because I have similar difficulties throwing stuff away and have a huge bag of frozen veg in my freezer at this very moment, despite the fact I rarely get around to using whatever stock I make. There is, in addition to the veg scraps, a large container of frozen stock cubes that will also probably never get used. I’m psyching myself up to donate some clothes that never fit right (difficult because they were gifts from my mom) and throw away the ones that are falling apart (difficult because They Don’t Make Em Like They Used To And I Will Never Find a Pair This Great Again).

    3. MuddieMae, that was *amazing*! I, too, come from a “banana bread!” family (aaaaany day now, aaaaany day…) and am grappling with similar issues about Waste, Which Is the Greatest Evil. Recently I’ve been learning to throw away underwear with more holes than it needs and replace it with nice shiny new ones, and life is improving. Thanks so much for posting ^__^

  41. I’m trying to learn to use tampons. It’s not going well, because I am squeamish and nervous and I keep triggering dry heaving but I’m going to keep trying because I want to be able to go swimming 24/7.

    I had to drop out of dance this year so I’m seeking out different fun fitness opportunities.

    Loving reading all the cool stuff everyone else has going on!

    1. Whoah. Flashbacks to my own attempts to learn how to use them. For the same reason. I feel your pain my friend.

      May I suggest a terrible movie, the kind that makes you argue out loud with your TV, as a possible distraction/relaxation technique? Watching Heavy Metal 2K (I don’t necessarily recommend this movie as it’s pretty gross/awful) on the sci-fi channel helped me get over my squeamish feelings back in the day.

      The idea is not to think about what you’re doing. If you’re not the type to argue with TVs maybe comedy or a concert tape would help. Cirque du Soleil tapes are always fun.

    2. If you gave trouble with tampons May I suggest diva cups? Less dryness to deal with and you can still go swimming!

      1. I second the recommendation of the diva cup! Tampons made me cramps worse & I didn’t want to go back to conventional pads at the time. Now I use a combo of diva cup & cloth pads.

    3. I also had trouble learning to use tampons, and one thing I eventually learned was that I find the ones without applicators a bit easier to deal with, because they allow more control over the positioning. Plus they look smaller, which helped with the nervousness. Certainly not everyone prefers them, but they might be worth a try. I’d particularly recommend the ones with the “silk touch” covers as easiest to use.

      (I’m sorry if this was TMI for the comments here.)

      1. When I was learning how to use tampons, I found the ones without applicators easier to manage for the reasons you described! That said, a lot of my tampon-wearing friends are afraid to try them for squeamish-related reasons, so different people’s mileage may vary on that one.

    4. Um please free to delete this if its too gross/graphic…I’ve found that the same things that help me relax and get other objects in my vagina also help me get a tampon in. For me that’s breathing/mindfulness, lube, and masturbating. I have totally masturbated rather joylessly for the purpose of preparing myself for tampon usage. Your mileage may vary, of course.

  42. Guess the spam filter ate my (perhaps overly long?) first comment, but it just occurred to me that maybe I’ll splurge a bit and get some teas that I like from the Republic of Tea. I like everything about tea: I like that I can pick what kind I’m in the mood for that day. I like black tea in the morning and herbal tea at night. I like the warmth of the cup in my hand. I like the scent and the steam. I like sitting down for a few minutes to drink it. I like my mugs. I like milk in Earl Grey. I like the small pretty pinch bowl my dad brought back for me from his travels that I put my used tea bag in.

    1. Republic of Tea Earl Grey in a mug my friend made for me is my morning go-to. :clinks a virtual mug with you:

  43. I have decided that this is the year I’m going to do some financial self care. So I’m going to take my savings and find a decent place to invest it, where I like the investor person, and they don’t treat me like a waste of time because my nest egg tends to be on the robin’s egg side, rather than like an ostrich’s egg. And I’m going to revisit my bills to see if there are lower priced plans or bundles or services out there…and I’m going to get one of those “keep the change” apps to start saving a little bit more every month. I am sick of stressing about money. It will feel really good to have a plan!

    1. Tell me where you find to invest! I want to start building up my … quail egg? Hummingbird egg? towards retirement, but I would like my investment peeps to treat me with respect too. 🙂

      1. Hey there – this reply is for both harvestkitchena2 and w1dna – so after poking around and calling friends and doing research, I’m thinking about Ch@rles Schw@b. I keep hearing things like, “they spent two hours on the phone with me and never once made me feel like an idiot” and “they didn’t talk down to me like the financebros at that other place” and “their fees were totally reasonable.” So I’m pretty sure I’m going with them. Good luck to you both!

    2. seconding the “please share!” – i need to start thinking about planning for my financial future, but money for me is so tied up in memories of dysfunctional family dynamics that it’s very stressful for me to think about it, and i haven’t been able to make myself do it. if there’s a “gentle financial planning for people with emotional issues related to money” resource out there (as opposed to the typical “tough love” style financial self-help stuff) i’d love to hear about it!

      1. I hear you. For me, savings = independence from controlling family members. At least, I keep telling myself that, hopefully one of these days the feelings of shame and ineptitude will start to fade.

  44. Muddy Mae–I’ve been decluttering my house like crazy over the past few months and it has been SO liberating. My enjoyment of my own house has soared. I hope it does the same for you!

    I also have the same “waste not want not” thing in my head, and while I’ll always be a person who highly values efficiency and deplores unnecessary waste, I now try consciously to realize when I can reasonably cut my losses and throw something away. My mom will take a ratty, stained kitchen towel and keep it for use as a cleaning rag. Totally fine for her–but for me, I don’t use cleaning rags, and I’d rather not be self-guilted into keeping old ratty kitchen towels. I am now at a place where I can afford to buy new kitchen towels. I have this flash of feeling like a high-powered executive when I make a decision to throw something away that’s useless to me. Even when it’s something as small potatoes as a ratty kitchen towel. 😉 But, hey, it’s the little things. I guess that’s the whole point of this thread…

    1. Isn’t it great? The food thing ended up being such a chore for me – each thing that I put in the freezer was basically an assignment. I only have a small apartment fridge, so it also ended up taking up valuable freezer space.

      One concept I found really helpful was actually in my microeconomics class this semester: trade-offs. There’s always an opportunity cost to something – if you take job A, there’s an opportunity cost of not taking job B. You can save money making your own stock out of vegetable scraps if you want, but that is an actual loss in time. The opportunity cost of making stock is whatever else you could have been doing with that time.

      That’s not to say that saving your vegetable scraps and making your own vegetable stock is a bad choice, but it’s not a free action, which is how a lot of “lifehacking” tips tend to treat DIYing.

    2. I joined a “minimalism challenge” on Facebook in November. It’s like The 12 Days of Christmas for decluttering (Day 1=1 item, Day 2=2 items, and so on…for 30 days.) I only made it half way through before getting overwhelmed at the daily totals, but I did get rid of a lot of stuff. Next month, I plan to make up my own challenge, with more sustainable rules (like a couple of items per day, max).

      1. Courtney, the most active thread on an uncluttering forum I read is called “A Thing A Day”; I used it to reduce the amount I needed to move a year ago, and it’s astonishing how fast things moved over the course of a couple of months. (If you get stuck, taking the trash/recycling out counts: the important part is keeping the momentum going.)

  45. Way to bury the lead, CA, and congratulations, if you’re not busy planning somebody else’s wedding with all that you have going on. And thank you for all of the words.

  46. I’m making sure that I actually eat real food, at least twice a day. I’ve lost some weight over Christmas break? And that’s really bad, since that means I haven’t been eating enough for weeks? And I set an alarm on my phone to remind me, every night, “Hey, it’s definitely time to get off Tumblr because you actually want to sleep enough this semester, go brush your teeth.” And sometimes I take a little time to mourn the (recent) breakup with my boyfriend that loved me and who I still love a lot, who moved 17 hours away to be with his family.

    Self-care is kind of simple right now.

    1. Eat a food and get some sleep! That sounds like one of those extra sucky reasons to break up, like, you can’t even be mad at him. I hope time does its healing work soon.

  47. The last year has been extremely challenging at the Shinobi household, and the last month particularly so. The cumulative stress of increasingly awful unexpected events has taken a brutal toll. So nothing new is being added to the to do list, just, trying to maintain a state of “I’m not actually crying right now.” Right now we are watching LOTS of re runs. All the re runs. Because new stuff is hard and stressful and we are sad.

    We are also going through all the frozen meat in our fridge to see if it is edible, day by day. The answer on today’s chicken is !?!. So, fun. And hopefully today I will be going back to my Bellydance classes which I something I love and miss.

    Sometimes self care is just about getting back to the status quo which I think is where I am right now. Though god do I have so many things I want to clean right now, anything that is not laying in bed or on the couch just seems too hard.

    1. I do the re-run thing with a few movies (Gosford Park, A Room With A View) and also with certain books. NEW THINGS = TOO HARD, GIVE ME PRETTY THINGS I ALREADY KNOW.

      I hope it gets better soon, and that the chicken du jour works out!

      1. Oooh I LOVE Gosford Park, maybe this weekend I will watch that. My usual re watch is the full BBC pride and prejudice. But I’ve already done that twice this year. And Cold Comfort Farm.

        I actually just started re reading one of my favorite books from high school, I was hoping to re read the whole series but I can’t find it anywhere. (The Harper Hall trilogy from Anne McCaffery’s Pern series. So great.)

        Sadly the chicken did not work out, but on a snowy day that is what GrubHub is for. BRING PIZZA TO MY FACE.

        1. Shinobi, which Harper Hall book are you missing? That is my all time favorite comfort reading, which means over the years I have acquired multiple copies of all three. I would be happy to mail you the one you are missing!

          1. OMG Awkardeers are the BEST. I found a half price books I”m going to check. I actually need the first and second ones. (I have the second but the cover is missing and half the first chapter, well loved to put it mildly.

    2. “Right now we are watching LOTS of re runs. All the re runs. Because new stuff is hard and stressful and we are sad. ”

      Boy do I hear you on this!

      1. I actually just read an article that explained this to me and it was like OMG THAT IS WHY I AM DOING THAT. Which was nice. Also re watching the show Leverage which I find delightful.

        1. I love Leverage! Somehow I missed that the show’s creator also created the new show The Librarians, so I mean to check it out but haven’t so far. My favorite Leverage episode is the Rashoman one. And while I’m here, I’ll just say that the American Duos episode is my favorite episode of Psych.

          1. The first episode of the Librarians was, sadly, practically unwatchable. Rebecca Romijn was… wooden at best. And they were just trying to do SO MUCH STUFF.

            I wanted so much to love it but was a sad panda.

            There is also an online series with Parker in it called Caper, I think one of the writers from Leverage was involved, which I only watched a bit of but looked promising.

        2. I agree. Leverage really is delightful. I find every single pairwise relationship between Parker, Hardison, and Eliot completely charming. ❤

  48. My self-care for this year is giving myself full permission to be a bit shit at life. Or, as muse142 put it further upthread put it, “slow” and “inefficient”. I was coming into the New Year with a list of resolutions as long as my arm and I was so stressed about it that I started grinding my teeth in my sleep again. I realised this was maybe not the healthiest way to start 2015.

    I fall into the trap of being an all-or-nothing person (certainly related to the perfectionist, but not quite the same) where basically if I feel like I’m not doing something enough, there’s no point in ever doing it all. This gets compounded by the guilt cycle, which means all my resolutions tend to work out unsustainable and the stress of trying to maintain them far outweighs the benefits. Because realistically, I don’t have time to run three times a week and also yoga three times a week and write 500 words every day and continue working on my second language and cook healthy wholesome meals for myself and give time to my relationships and also continue to pay rent and maybe sleep occasionally. Ce n’est pas possible!

    So my self-care is constantly reminding myself that one slow ungainly run per week is better than no run per week, and even if one run per week doesn’t happen, fuck it, it’s not the end of the world.

    That and watching tonnes of cartoons. Anyone have any recs on that front? I’m up-to-date on Adventure Time and Avatar: The Legend of Korra. I love stuff like Samurai Jack, Avatar: The Last Airbender and basically anything Dwayne McDuffie ever had a hand in. I crave more of this ilk!

    1. Can’t help you on cartoons, but I know those all-or-nothing feels and I’m fighting them hard myself. To ungainly runs (walks, swims, dances) some of the time!

    2. Gravity Falls! It has a quirky sense of humour, is slightly more kid friendly but has this super mysterious and sort of dark overarching plot. And cyphers to decode at the end of every episode. Or Google, if you’re lazy like me.

      Mostly it makes me laugh so hard I can’t breathe. Husband and I quote it all the time.

      1. Thank you! I think I saw half of one episode of Gravity Falls once and it didn’t really hook me, but a solid rec is all I need to go back and try again!

    3. I recently had my more-or-less annual rewatching of Cowboy Bebop. It has the sadly usual anime T&A character, but she’s written with some depth and gets some really good stories, and the English dub is one of the best.

    4. Phineas and Ferb?

      One of the most important things I’ve gotten out of Pilates was giving myself permission to be absolutely crap at something, where other people could see it, and go back to do some more. So run badly, with small animals overtaking you! And if you reach the point where it makes you want to punch the walls, maybe find another kind of movement you like better! My awesome doctor said “The best kind of exercise is the one you’ll actually do”, and I think she had a point, there.

    5. you should try bob’s burgers! it is wonderfully funny and loving to all of its characters. it’s an adult show but has heart and feelings of a kids show, and it’s a really really great cartoon. it’s on netflix and my favorite happy time show.

    6. I love Teen Titans. Raven’s sarcasm heals all things. Archer is awesome, though its jokes can be on the crass side, so it may rub people the wrong way.

      For shows of the more anime persuasion, I got a whole list. However, I will warn you that my taste in anime is dark, dark, dark and a lot of shows have mature themes and may cause many sadfeels (which I most definitely got). I highly recommend Glass Reflection’s review channel on YouTube for anime reviews – I basically found these shows because of him and he has TONS of reviews so you can absolutely find a show that you like and find out where it is available. But here are three I’ve watched recently that are just awesome.

      Mahou Shoujo Madoka Magica (might also see it as Puella Magi Madoka Magica) – deconstruction of the magical girl genre; excellent battle scenes, excellent characters, excellent premise; only 12 episodes long so you can marathon it like a boss; available on Hulu

      Steins;Gate – adaptation of the visual novel of the same name; story is about time travel, which is a tough subject to do well; hilarious characters, conspiracy theories, lots of cool science sprinkled in there; might find it a bit slow at first, but STICK WITH IT YOU’LL THANK ME; available on funimation’s YouTube channel

      Bokurano – deconstruction of the mech genre; cool battles, heartbreaking stories, though VERY VERY SAD; I’ve watched this show at least 3 times beginning to end; available on YouTube if you search for it.

    7. dropping in to rec STEVEN UNIVERSE for cartoons! it is very sweet and cute and also BEAUTIFUL.

  49. A lot of great ideas for self-care on this thread! My main self-care thing is being alcohol-free, which I’ve been doing for almost 50 days now (and planning to go to at least 100 days, possibly longer). In addition (and also kind of partly as a result of not being drunk, hungover, drinking, or wondering if I should stop drinking), I’ve been trying new teas and sodas and reconnecting to a sense of joy (and not duty and self-hating-goal-setting) while working out. This morning I went on a run! In which I spent a lot of time walking, but it was good because wtf cares? I was sweating and panting, so it worked well enough for me at my current level of fitness. Plus yoga.

    1. Wow, congratulations on breaking that habit for so long, that is huge! What’s your favorite tea or soda these days?

      1. THANKS!!! Chamomile, pomegranate, Earl Gray for tea. In March my yoga studio is going to have a workshop about pairing cheese with not wine, but tea–so I’m REALLY excited about that, because I love cheese, and wine with cheese is just too typical! 😉 As for soda I like to mix grape or cranberry juice with diet Coke or Sprite, I love Izze as always, and I’ve discovered at this one cafe in my area this kind of strawberry sparkling juice that is delicious.

    2. Congratulations! I did something similar 2 years ago after realizing I was getting drunk and being an asshole to BF way too often and it was really liberating. I drink now, but I’m way more conscious about it and have solved the being-an-asshole problem.

    3. Congratulations! Your new beverage adventures sound fun. Have you tried Dry soda? I’m not sure if it’s available in your area (it’s made locally here in Seattle), but they have neat flavors. I love the lavender, vanilla bean, and juniper berry. They’re a little more “grown up” in that they have cool flavors and less sugar than normal soda. Super yummy!

      (Oh hey – I just checked and you can order them on Amazon. Cool!)

  50. I really, really need self-care, because of crises that have happened around my family. Some of that involves writing (I’m trying to do 500 words a day, and 1000 words a day on weekends), especially since I’ve sold my first story! I don’t want to rest on my itty-bitty laurels, so I’m also writing more stories and submitting more while telling myself not to self-reject (which is hard as a WoC author). I have a huge hope for one story, especially, since it had a rather clueless and racist critique, and I want it out there, not only to prove said critiquer wrong, but because it’s a damn good story.

    I’m also trying to use up the yarn in my stash by knitting lots of sweaters, since it’s cold up here (wind chill is roughly -19 last I checked), and also knitting things for friends. And I’m trying to be more proactive in using my words instead of stewing in anger.

      1. Thank you! It’s a big thing for me, since I never thought I’d be able to do it because I was a WoC, or because I was too “old” (I’ve now realized that this is a fallacy). So excited for the anthology to come out this year, since there are a lot of awesome folks on it too!

        1. If you’re willing to share, I would love to know what anthology and what story in said anthology to look for. If you don’t want internet strangers to find out your real name connected with your handle there, though, I totally understand!

  51. Yay, I’m so happy for everyone who’s starting or continuing self-care stuff! It took me a while to realize that “just tough it out” was not somehow morally superior to being happy(??), so. I’ll be thinking of you all as we go forward in the year. 🙂

    My current form of self-care is my decision to hold out for a job in my preferred setting and location, even if there are other positions available in my field. My parents are slightly confused but supportive, and I’m currently living with them and one of my siblings and working at my old part-time job that does not require my shiny new degree (although it did help me get a raise, yay!). We’ve done the four-sometimes-five-adults-in-a-not-that-big-house successfully before, so I think it will be fine. And I’ll be excited and grateful when I find that job.

    Another major self-care project that I’ve been (very slowly) working on for the past year or so is accurately identifying my emotions surrounding a long, intense friendship and then figuring out what they mean for that relationship going forward. This has required facing uncomfortable truths about myself and all the ways I am not the endlessly-patient, endlessly-caring, endlessly-accommodating woman that I imagined myself to be, and, in fact, reconsidering whether those are actually traits I want to aspire to. (Spoiler: Nope.) It has also required me to Say Difficult Things Out Loud, which has isn’t my strong suit in the best of times. I’ve been listening to This Wild Life’s “History” on repeat to remind myself that nearly a decade of, well, history doesn’t necessarily mean I have to stay and that hard emotions don’t necessarily mean I have to leave. Like I said: It’s a work in progress.

    In more straightforward news, I figured out in the fall that I am happiest when I can go see live music that I am really excited about once a month or so. (I knew this back in high school and then somehow erased it from my understanding of myself, probably due to completely inaccurate ideas about what it means to be Grown Up[TM]) Preferably a balance of the sit-down-and-nod-your-head and the YES-LET’S-ALL-SLAM-INTO-EACH-OTHER-and-release-all-those-unnameable-emotions varieties. With that in mind, I’ve recategorized concert tickets from “frivolous expense” to “whatever category visiting friends is in.” And I’m all set to go see one of my favorite artists with my best friend from Place I Just Left in just over a month. I can’t wait.

    Oh my gosh, this is getting long. Final words: I’m listening to music I love (currently: Hozier’s self-titled album on repeat) and writing (currently: kink!fic for my tiny little kink community, which is all kinds of fun) and I’m just… hopeful about the future. It’s been a while. It’s a good place to be. Thanks for providing the forum the celebrate it with all of you. 🙂

  52. Hooray for everyone on this thread. Look after your fine selves. Have an internet prop from me!

    In the past few months, books had faded from my life too (as someone eloquent upthread put it). I was literally just reading the CA archives on my phone….until I reached the post with all the book recommendations (this one: ! I proceeded to type like 20 books into my library request list and have been reading them voraciously ever since. Now I want to find someone to TALK to about the books, so I’m going to put a thread on my facebook and see if any of my friends have also read them.

    Captain, I’d LOVE to hear your take on The Imitation Game and Selma. My crew went to see The Imitation Game last weekend (we’re huge geeks and there’s much to love in the concept of the movie: Benedict Cumberbatch! Alan Turing!! Bletchley PAAAAAAAARK!!!!!!!). We all enjoyed it and found it very inspiring and well-done. I thought BC’s performance was excellent–although I understand there are some critiques, but we saw it as a movie not an accurate depiction of history, you know? He did a good job. HOWEVER, honestly, the best part of the movie was the trailer for Selma that ran beforehand. Can’t wait to see it!

    Really best wishes to you and The Gentleman Caller. I hope you can plan and enjoy exactly the kind of celebration you want to have and that your marriage is long and prosperous. I got married last year and the wedding planning and execution were actually tons of fun. Marriage is presenting its own joys and challenges. Blessings to you both!

    1. The Friends of Captain Awkward forums might also be a good place to start a discussion thread on some of those books!

  53. I am working on that unicorn of self-care, Learning to Say No:

    * no to leadership positions in my volunteer groups; I have to trust that other people can run things too (often better than I could)
    * no to my trainer when she started talking about my sugar intake; I am there to be strong and not to have a food flipout
    * no to the things I would really love to do when I need the spoons for other things; I’m trying to do smaller things (teaspoon things?) so I’m still happy but not always anxious

    I’ve done all three this week, so I’m cured, right? I never have to say no again? 🙂

  54. My self-care defaults right now are knitting and reading fluffy books/fanfic. I love getting into meatier nonfiction and literature but when I’m feeling stressed or overwhelmed it’s wonderful to have a wealth of lighter fiction to read.
    I am trying to build up my mental/physical energy stores so I can get back to defaulting to cooking and taking walks as ways to relax and be good to myself, but it’s been hard lately. I did take a walk yesterday and was reminded, as I always am, of how good I feel when I’m climbing hills around town. But lately I’ve not been feeling my best and that makes it harder to find the motivation, even though I know it’ll help me feel so much better if I can just get my ass in gear.

    Another self-care goal is to get better at tackling some General Life Stuff I’ve been having a hard time with; I have a few weeks’ worth of mail in a pile that I look at with growing dread every day. I need to sort through it and make sure I’m not missing a bill but I have built up this huge mental block around it and it’s making me feel pretty ridiculous.
    I also want to plan some travel to visit friends/partners in the next few months but again, I have a hard time planning travel for vague reasons I can’t always identify or articulate; it’s just HARD even though it’s something I want to do. There are these things I KNOW will make me feel better and I’m becoming increasingly frustrated with myself for putting them off.

    Thanks for the update! It’s nice to hear what’s going on in your life. 🙂 Best of luck in your wedding planning and career-goal-achieving.

    1. Well hey, writing it out was the kick in the pants I needed to tackle the pile of mail, which had no outstanding bills BUT had some checks for me, soooo that was a good choice.

      1. Hurray for tackling mail! That used to be a huge stressor for me, and at several points in my life I had to have mail amnesties where I sorted out only personal letters and dumped the rest unread – it was bad enough trying to keep up with the incoming stuff, but I could not face the backlog. Getting caught up on bills and obligations made tackling mail much easier – now I know that there’s nothing in it I can’t handle, and if there is an unexpected bill, I can field it, so it becomes a major annoyance instead of a frightening event.

        1. I feel better just hearing that other people also fear the mail pile! Maybe I’ll even nudge mine today….

  55. Forgiving myself, again and again and again.

    I’m pregnant, and its way, way rougher than I had anticipated. (And my husband and my medical staff and I had figured that I’d have some challenges – I’m hypermobile in all of my joints, and pregnancy only makes that worse. I’ve had to be off my chronic pain meds for the whole time and until I stop breastfeeding. Etc, etc) We hadn’t predicted the hyperemesis. Its super hard to function when you can’t keep food down. Or water.

    So a lot of my self care is forgiving myself for everything I’m not doing. If all I can do today is keep myself out of the hospital, well… that’s good then. And it is good enough – I’m healthy, the baby is healthy, we’re in the third trimester and I’ve managed to actually, finally gain some weight from my starting point (and that mad first drop where I lost a bunch really quickly) The house is a mess, we have none of the baby gear we should, I haven’t put in a full week’s worth of work from the office since about week three, I have friends who keep requesting proof of life, even with the drugs keeping dinner inside is only a 50/50 shot… but this is good enough.

    I’m good. Reminding myself of that is my self care. And keeping all of my doctor’s appointments.

    1. Fistbump of solidarity!

      I’m due… sooner than I like to think about (so many baby things!) and completely unprepared. Even without chronic medical issues, being pregnant sucks; I feel like I’m operating at 60% capacity most of the time, and getting basically nothing done, so serious props to you for doing whatever you can. Healthy is the ultimate goal, I think, for you and the baby both. (Hell, I had very limited morning sickness this pregnancy, and I’m also not gaining what the doctors want me to. People keep complimenting me on it and I want to scream “No it’s not a good thing! My doctors are not happy!” But I digress.)

      1. Fistbump!

        I keep reminding myself that tiny newborns don’t actually need all that much stuff. They need food, they need to be kept warm, they need cuddles, they need to be kept clean…. But they can sleep in a drawer if they have to and I have amazon Prime for basically everything else. Would I like to have a prepped nursery with cute sheets and all these carefully selected and researched things? Yes. Does the baby need it? Not really. The baby needs some onsies and diapers and snuggles, and we can handle that.

        1. May I recommend the nightgowns with the draw string on the bottom? Great for overnight changes while they are tiny. No trying to feed tiny feet in and out of jammies while you are half asleep. And they typically come with fold over cuffs so you can protect their faces from those razor sharp baby nails.

  56. I love Hanne Blank! I love both her writing, and just her whole outlook on life. She has a wonderful combination of compassion and doesn’t-take-shit-from-people-ness (That’s totally a word; I was an English major so that gives me the authority to make up words). Many years ago, when I was getting over an abusive ex and I really wanted new clothes that actually fit the size my body was right then, Hanne mailed me a box of clothes because she had been helping someone clean out their attic and she thought they would be my size. We’re on some of the same social media sites and I’ve met her in person a time or two, but I’m not super close friends with her, so knowing that she thought of me was one of those little things that meant so much to me, especially at that time in my life. I still have some of those clothes.

    For my self-care right now, I just took a trip to see some chosen family, people I haven’t seen much since I moved away for grad school.

    I think that the year 2014 wins a prize for being about the worst that my depression has ever been and I withdrew a lot from a lot of people. Plus I’m in a small-ish college town in the Middle of Nowhere, and therefore it is complicated and expensive to travel to and from here. So when I was booking tickets to travel and see my parents and siblings for Christmas, I looked to see how much more expensive it would be to add a side trip to the itinerary and see some friends on the trip back. Flying from my parents’ place to my friends’ place to here wasn’t all that much more expensive than just flying directly back from my parents’ place to here, so I splurged and did that.

    I’d really missed seeing the people who are on Team Me, even if I was only there for a couple days. Okay, now I’m crying just typing that all up. My DepressionBrain had been telling me that nobody really liked me, and after a year of hearing DepressionBrain say that, I was starting to believe it. Seeing old friends really helped challenge those negative thoughts.

    Also, I haven’t been a very regular commenter, but reading Captain Awkward and all the smart, compassionate commenters here — that’s been one of my self-care things, one of the things that helped me stay strong when my DepressionBrain was saying mean stuff to me. Thanks, Captain.

    Also also, congrats on the upcoming wedding!

  57. In the winter holiday (yay for still being in uni) I took a lot of time for self-care and it was wonderful. I feel more at ease at myself now. I have been watching series non-stop: The affair: very good, the characters felt very fleshed out to me. The 100: entertaining mess. Pushing daisies: super cute and can recommend it to everyone that needs something happy and quirky. And stargate atlantis which is okay. I also did some sewing and started with a new project on a historical inspired gown. I’ve also realized that I should stop being around people that get the worst out of me. I feel super happy and energetic when being with some and negative and drained with others. I feel some people just constantly surround them with others to forget about loneliness.
    Since a few months I stopped with alcohol and I love it. I love partying sober I’m so aware of everything I’m doing.

    Captain I think that documentary project is really awesome! I worked with highschoolers on a documentary project and it was great fun. I’m in my last year of art school and I want to make a documentary about abusive relationships because I feel it’s a problem that is hardly ever discussed and there are so many issues surrounding it(like victim blaming). I’m just worried about making a mess of it. I’ve educated myself a lot on the topic(besides own experience and other peoples stories) but turning something into a documentary is a different story. Still considering if I should give up or try and maybe fail but at least learn from the experience.

  58. I got a fancy-pants stand mixer for Christmas (still can’t believe it’s MINE), so I’ve been making bread, which is super satisfying. Next is figuring out how to distribute the bread that my 2-person household cannot consume.

    I’m also working on cross-stitch samplers as wedding presents for friends and family (one completed/delivered, one in progress, one in planning stages), which gives me something to do instead of tumblr endlessly and checks some of my caring-for-loved-ones boxes.

    This one is a tiny thing, but I’m making sure to stock masala chai spices to make tea with. It’s a major comfort food for me, and it can be tricky to get a hold of the kind I like (sucks to live somewhere with no Indian community).

    I’ve also been working with a personal trainer 2x/week for 3 months now. I hate the gym with a fiery passion (it’s college gym; so filled with grunting bros and stick-thin sorority girls, which is not exactly helpful for the self-esteem) but I’m starting to notice myself getting stronger and gaining endurance, which makes it all worth it. I completed a 4 mile walk with my mom while I was home – 6 months ago I could barely do half of it!

    1. Fistbump for working with a trainer and getting stronger! I also loathe traditional gyms. I’ve found that small-group personal training (5-6 supportive people) as well as one-on-one training is the way to go for me, as well. I wish I had discovered many years ago that it isn’t that I hate physical fitness, but I hate it in settings where people are judgmental or where I’m expected to be self-guided. Left to my own devices, I’m not very good at picking out exercises for myself or getting motivated.

      In order to work out regularly, I need an appointment, which holds me to a schedule and motivates me to get out there, and I need someone telling me what to do and pushing me to try my hardest.

      One thing you might like as well (that I’ve surprisingly found I really like) is boxing with a dummy, which: 1) Makes me feel like a total badass, and 2) Is a great outlet for frustration.

  59. I’m struggling with self-care right now, because: 1. living with parents 2. so much anxiety about my last exam + report 3. cold as fuck, holy hell 4. tired, o laws, so tired.

    So here are my kind of crap things:

    1. Situps. I am doing in the neighborhood of 300 situps a week right now. This is very private exercise thing that I can do (walking/running is not happening right now because of the icy local sidewalks and because the treadmill is in my dad’s mancave and I want my parents to have no input/knowledge about my exercise activities.)

    2. Kitty/puppy volunteer time. I volunteer at the local humane society mostly because it makes me feel less like a useless horrible blob-person. Also the cats and dogs give me happy feels.

    3. Extraneous travel. I have four days in my layover city on the way in and six days in a different layover city on the way back to my exam (long, stupid story), and I will get to see at least one friend and maybe more than one friend during various stages of said trip.

    4. Sleeping. I feel bad about this one, because I am an actual sloth and would sleep all the hours it is dark if I had a choice, but, well. When I’m sleeping I’m not sad or anxious, so it’s as good as anything.

    5. I knit a lot because it is the only creative activity that seems well-suited to my anxiety levels right now. And then I have presents for other people! Yay!

    None of these are really the self-care activities I meant to be doing or that I would feel the best about, but they’re what I have time and energy and headspace for.

    1. Self care is not an epic goal, its about giving yourself what you need. I think private exercise and knitting are awesome examples.

      I may be biased, as I have a tiny pilates machine next to my yarn stash. (Okay, some of my yarn stash.)

      1. Thanks for the kind comment. 🙂 I guess the problem for me is to figure out what I need when I’m in the grip of winter numbness. Self care is going to be weird and hard until the feelings come back (usually some time in March-April.)

        It’s also so hard (for me, anyway) to do self-care in manageable chunks that don’t just become part of the impossible list of things I Should Have Had Done Yesterday (one of many reasons most exercise* has fallen by the wayside — a combination of guilt avoidance, exhaustion, and extremely poor time management skills.)

        *ARGH FUCK ICE PLANET HOTH. FUCK IT AND ALL ITS ICE PLANET BUDDIES. AND FUCK EVERYTHING ABOUT MY HOME AREA THAT MAKES IT IMPOSSIBLE TO COMMUTE ON FOOT OR BY BICYCLE. I am the sort of lazy goof-off that needs exercise to be part of my normal day (walking to class) for it to happen regularly. Sigh.

      2. Also GO KNITTING it is great for worried people who can only justify a few minutes of not-doing-whatever-I’m-supposed-to-be at a time.

    2. I used to do situps and obliques when I lived with my parents, for what sounds like similar reasons. I wound up adding in a few pushups every once in a while, too–if you like them, they’re nice, because I found that I got stronger fairly quickly. Like, I started out being able to do 5 or something. By the end of the first week or two I could do 10, and I worked up to doing a mostly-daily set of 25 over a longer time period. They’re fantastic for arms, shoulders, core, abs–pretty nearly your whole body. Definately not a replacement for running (ah, I miss running when it’s icy and frigid out…) but… it’s something, and it’s quiet and can be as private as you like.

      Also, knitting fist bump.

  60. 2015 is mainly going to be a year of doing what I did in 2014, only trying to be a little bit better at it, because I picked up a number of new habits and kept up good old ones and did an awful lot right – there’s room for improvement, but I’m not driven to make big changes. And that’s a damn nice feeling.

    I’ve been clearing out a lot of crud, including not just physical items, but old obligations – books I felt I should read some day, things I wanted to do some day – and am concentrating on the things that I can and want to do. Last year, I acquired access to a number of online courses (I spent some money on it, but not more than I could afford, and most were free or in the cinema ticket range); over Christmas I’ve started to actually work through them, with the goal of either deciding that I’m not interested (score), watching them in the background while I waste time playing games (I’ll still learn _something_, and I feel less guilty over playing games), or actively following them. So I’m not only improving my programming skills right now, I’m also learning the basics of 3D modelling properly, ten minutes at a time – that’s a skill I’ve wanted to have for a long time. And that’s one of my goals for this year – to dabble more in the things that have always interested me, with the goal of having fun with them, but without the ‘either you become an expert and put in all the time in the world or you needn’t even start’. (The London Awkward meetings have been really good for me: it took courage to just delve in and mess about and make bad art.)

  61. Like S above, I found out that I have to move, which came totally out of the blue and I have been really stressed about finding a new place, Luckily the tenancy laws where I live really favor tenants, so my landlords have to give me two months notice and a month’s rent. Still, an incredibly stressful way to start the new year.

    In better news, this thread encouraged me to do a thing I have been saying I would do for a few months now – send an email to find out more about queer boxing classes in my city. I am hoping this will be an awesome way for me to exercise in a safe, supportive, body positive environment (and reconnect to the queer community, which I have been missing for the last few years).

    Also, Captain, I really love how you reply all the posts in this thread. It is amazing helpful it is to have an external presence saying “Hey, you! You’re doing a good thing!”

    1. Your landlords have to give you a month’s rent? That’s fantastic for you! Do you mind telling me whereabouts you are? I used to live in Montreal, where the laws very much favoured tenants, but I’ve never heard of that before!

      1. Also in Canada – Vancouver. It’s the only silver lining to the depressing housing situation here.

  62. I was sexually assaulted by and broke up with my partner a week before Christmas, so self-care was super important to me in surviving this really hard period. Here’s what I did:

    I wrote myself a list on how I could make Christmas Day easier on myself (which included taking a valium, having a sexual assault hotline number in my phone, giving myself permission to not stay till the end of the day). And actually, performing the process of thinking about how I can make a situation easier (be it my work week, home life etc.) and putting down concrete steps has been an invaluable tool that I have kept using – both as a self-care act in itself, plus leading to ongoing great self-care actions.

    I’ve surrounded myself with trustworthy friends I can speak with freely, the support of whom has been absolutely incredible and has stopped me from feeling so alone and lost. One friend came over the night after with greasy takeaway and cuddles and we watched ‘Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries’ (a fabulously funny, over-the-top crime series set in 1920’s Australia with a strong female lead). I’ve deliberately sought out stories with strong female leads – including The Bletchley Circle, Happy Valley and Miss Fisher. In the latter, Miss Fisher is a very spunky, gorgeous, sexually liberal, progressive lady detective who floats through a lot of the show, except there’s one episode where she encounters an abusive ex and there are flashbacks to her younger self as a far more cowed, sad person. Weirdly, seeing a character I admire recover from – yet still clearly be affected by – abuse by a partner was so helpful. I’ve got pictures of her around my bedroom and her fashion sense is one that’s resonating with me a lot, so when I put on clothes that have some kind of connection it almost feels like pulling on some of that strength.

    I’ve managed boundaries with people who I don’t feel safe telling, including family.

    I’ve seen my regular therapist twice plus sought out a specialised sexual assault counsellor, and the professional help was so great in terms of putting a label on what happened and stopping running the experience over and over in my mind.

    I’ve given myself a huge break from dating and when I date again, I’m thinking I’ll be dating women (I’m bi and the thought of dating a woman again is something that makes me feel nervous due to societal crap, but also excited and hopeful). I’ve put all the focus back on work, hobbies, wellbeing and pleasure. I’ve given myself time to feel sad, hurt, betrayed and angry. I’ve given myself time to say ‘fuck it’ to major decisions while I recover from trauma. In that space, though, I’m already seeing things emerge – that I want to do more work for the company I’m with part-time, that I want to develop certain skills, commit more to creative projects, form a regular and fun exercise habit to tire my brain out and assist my mental health. That I want to go back to uni and finish the degree that I dropped out of due to mental illness a few years ago. That career and education questions don’t feel like a huge disastrous stressor, but a gift to myself that I can open when I want to.

    I’ve realised that I handled this awful experience amazingly well, that I sprung into action. That even though I haven’t handled things perfectly, that it’s OK. That I like myself. That’s HUGE for me, as someone with a history of depression and anxiety and low self-esteem. I actually *like* the person I’ve shown myself to be coming out of this trauma, which feels like the . Almost like I’m my own friend – I care about this person and I’m rooting for her and I feel proud of her when she’s doing well and compassionate for her when she’s having a hard day, and I want to protect her and make sure she has a shot at all the great things she deserves.

    1. This line of yours:

      …when I put on clothes that have some kind of connection it almost feels like pulling on some of that strength.

      really resonated with me, and I’ve remembered why: Hayley Atwell was Tweeting about some of the products she wears on Agent Carter, and someone wrote “blah blah distracting women with makeup wake me when we talk about how she disarmed that guy”. Several kind people pointed out that there were plenty of blogs discussing that, and the guns she’s using, and the experiences of women in the military all over the planet during the Second World War —

      — and one of my favorite Avengers comfort fic writers replied that she has reproductions of Carol Danvers’s dog tags, and she wears them when she’s getting ready to go up against something hard, because it makes her feel as if Captain Marvel’s got her back. So if wearing Peggy Carter’s lipstick lets someone else face a difficult thing with a little more steel in their spine? That is not to be sneered at. (Also, gatekeeping is not on.)

      1. Sounds amazing – what’s the name of the your comfort fic writer if you don’t mind my asking?

        I really like rageprufrock’s (un)covered as a NCIS fic that looks at clothing as something really emotive and personal and powerful. Also I enjoy the way clothing interacts with gender in an Avengers gender-fuck fic Graded on the Sanctity of Patience by blackeyedgirl.

        Just rec-cing in case they’re your jam and can form part of an easy hour’s self-care reading 😉

        1. scifigrl47’s work is at AO3; the first story in what’s become known as the Toasterverse is “Some Things Shouldn’t Be A Chore” in which Tony Stark tries to engineer his way out of his share of the housework in Avengers Tower.

          The whole thing kinda romped away from her after that. 🙂

          (NB:the author does not welcome unsolicited spellchecking. This makes some people, including my partner, hurt in their souls — most of the people I seem to know at this point in my life are professional writers/editors — to the point that they can’t read the fic. I do not know if you are likely to have this reaction, but I offer it in the spirit of friendliness. Me, I am too busy screaming with laughter at the results of putting Thor and Roombas in the same space to worry about it.)

          There’s a link on her profile page to her Tumblr, which is where the Agent Carter discussion happened.

          I have previously enjoyed a great deal of rageprufrock’s work — “One Life To Ascend To” and the “Summer House” crossover are on my Nook — so I will check those out, and thank you!

    2. “I actually *like* the person I’ve shown myself to be coming out of this trauma, which feels like the . Almost like I’m my own friend – I care about this person and I’m rooting for her and I feel proud of her when she’s doing well and compassionate for her when she’s having a hard day, and I want to protect her and make sure she has a shot at all the great things she deserves.”

      WOW. You are so awesome. Best of luck!

  63. I really like seeing the self care threads! It’s great to find external validation for some of the things I do as self care already, and to also see some things that I hadn’t thought of, or that might not be for me right now. I like seeing how much can be included under the umbrella of self care.

    1. I found a therapist who has experience working with PTSD, using both affect management and EMDR, and started working with them. I’d been trying to make do with the once every four weeks, then once every six weeks, now once every EIGHT weeks sessions with my insurance covered therapist, but it’s better for me to work more frequently, with someone experienced.

    1.5 OMG, I survived interviewing a therapist. And asked my Sweetie to come with me to be of support, and they did.

    2. I’m working to build lists of positive experiences with people who aren’t mean, full of anger, and entitled as all get out. I had a scarring interaction with a former friend who can’t handle disagreement without resorting to nastygrams and creepy concern trolling, and I’ve been affected by it very deeply. I’m taking small steps here and there to try disagreeing, having an opinion, and existing in public in more healthy spaces, and wow – over time, I’m slowly building up a set of experiences that are allowing me to reframe the former friend’s behavior as problematic, and not a reflection on my worth, and NOT what I can expect anytime or anywhere I dare to disagree or call out problematic behavior.

    2.5 OMG, building a list of positive experiences to counteract the giant horrible experience that has been coloring my thinking for months is awesome.

    3. I’m walking and running and doing yoga and other exercise regularly, and I love it.

    4. I’ve decided to stop drinking alcohol for a while. It was pointed out to me that it’s a powerful depressant, and as a person who suffers from depression, I’m removing the additional depressant from my body. I don’t know if it will help, but I’m curious to see what happens.

    5. I’m trying to be patient with myself. This is a time of recovery for me, and a time of starting to look at how to try things that historically have been scary and difficult. I’m moving more slowly than I’m used to, and that’s likely for the best. I’m trying to practice patience with it and really value how difficult the things I’m doing are for me. They might not be for other folks, but I’m me, and I need to respect moving at a me-friendly pace. This one is hard.

    1. I like your points 2 and 5 especially. They are really smart ways of improving your life. I might steal them.

  64. Thanks for starting this thread, and congratulations on your upcoming wedding! I hope the planning goes as smooth as it possibly can and I wish you zero static from opinionated family members, and a joyous many, many, many years with your young man.

    My self care plans for now include:
    * going to bed on time at least five nights a week
    * giving myself lots of time to just allow myself to feel my feels
    * spending time with friends who don’t make a lot of demands on me
    * spending _less_ time with friends who _do_ make a lot of demands on me
    * finding a new therapist.
    * going to yoga at least every other week
    * one other exercise thing, tbd
    * enjoying my new TA position to the fullest, and really losing myself in helping others learn
    I’m hoping these will facilitate me crawling out from under the haze of grief I feel a lot of the time right now.

    Last semester was incredibly difficult for me. Three of my close family members had major health crises and two of the three died as a result. During all of that my wonderful and amazing therapist closed her practice because she also needed to deal with a terminally ill family member. All I want from 2015 is space to grieve without another crisis, and lots of time in the sun and in water come summer.

    1. So sorry to hear this, Jake. I hope 2015 is a lot better for you! Take care of you. I hope you find a healthy, happy exercise, get lots of good sleep, and heal.

      1. Thanks Jane. I’m trying to strike a balance between forgiving myself for not being very productive and not allowing myself to fall into a depressed listlessness.

  65. **Hey, Cap, I messed up on my previous comment and entered a name that is not my preferred internet alias. Can you delete that comment and post this one instead? I’m sorry. D:


    So, I guess my self-care is:

    1. Pack lunch every day to avoid falling into the trap of buying expensive cafeteria food at the office.

    2. Stop stressing about taking a shower in the morning before work (I am very much a night person and even making a normal eight-a.m. start time is really difficult for me) and just take one in the evening without using it as Evidence of All the Ways I am Not Normal.

    3. Continue going to therapy. Tell doctor the medication is not working and hopefully find a medication that does work.

    4. Avoid reading people’s summaries of what they did in 2014, because I accomplished a lot less than… basically everyone else, and it rattles me. Even the Captain’s summary of self-care was kind of overwhelming, to be honest (I know that wasn’t your intention, and I’m happy for you!).

    5. ???

    6. Profit!

    1. Night showers are totally a thing! A common and beloved thing by many, including many morning people. This is not abnormal at all!

      Also, I feel you on #4. I did the Facebook Year in Review thing, and apparently the only things I did this year were get a haircut, eat lots of delicious food, and paint silly things on my nails. Which is… probably about right, to be honest. But doesn’t quite stand up to all my friends’ grand live accomplishments. :/

      1. I agree. I bet I could count the number of morning showers I’ve taken in my whole life on both hands. Night showers all the way.

  66. oh self care….. I studied a medical protocol from Dr. Tullio Simoncini and removed a tumor from my forehead & sinus that had bothered me for a decade. I could not get a diagnosis, so have to cut myself some slack, too. If you do not know what is wrong with you, it is very hard to get cured! And now that the worst is over, I found a naturopath to help me with testing the rest of my body to see if anything else is wrong, something I had put off until now.

    I have been eating probiotics like Kim-chee, kefir and kombucha to rebuild my biome to a more healthy state.

    Keeping my ‘no contact’ rule with my ex and getting more and more distance for my own sanity.

    Decluttering and feeling wonderful about that!

    Planning to remodel my bathroom after the grossness of intense medical care at home, so I suppose this is my reward for going through pain and suffering to have a chance at a healthy future.

    “And now that you don’t have to be perfect, you can be good” Steinbeck

  67. It’s *so great* to read all of these personal experiences and ideas for self-care. It’s very inspiring (I care for someone else right now and am too tired to come up with my own ideas, but I’m going to borrow a few from this post. I am so vicariously happy just reading this page right now.) Wishing strength and stamina to those who have to carry the load longer and further, and joy to all of those who have something to celebrate right now. Peace and wellness to all this year in this very lovely community.

  68. Congrats on the engagement! Good luck with wedding planning.

    The past month or so my asthma has been out of control. So the #1 self-care thing I am doing is going to see the allergist tomorrow. Hopefully she can figure out what triggered this month-long miasma of me not being able to breathe properly. I am also trying to forgive myself for not getting as much done in December as I wanted with my writing…I didn’t have as many spoons as I anticipated. So I keep reminding myself, I did the best I could with what I had.

    Other than getting medical care, I have been knitting, doing some reading and a bit of writing. Though the writing can be difficult because I need a lot of concentration.

  69. Hey, lurker here. Love this site and all you do–it actually helped me during a very difficult time last year when I was learning how to redefine the boundaries of relationships, especially when I realized that the friendship between me and my now-former best friend was incredibly toxic. Going through that realization and figuring out a plan to break ties with him without blowing a hole in my tightly knit nerdy social group back home was really stressful. I finally decided to pull a slow-fade and send him an e-mail asking him to take a break from our friendship and contacting me. But I probably would not have made many of these sound decisions without proper self-care, which includes:

    -Writing on a regular basis. Whenever I had really strong thoughts, I poured all that residual pain and anger from my toxic friendship into a journal so I could help along the healing process. It didn’t matter how ridiculous or repetitive they sounded–journaling gave me a safe space to scream and be absolutely candid and emotional so I could continue with my everyday tasks without feeling like I was stifling any of my feelings.

    -Going to therapy. I was really lucky to find a therapist at my school whom I really clicked with, and I had grown a lot from talking to her. She also created a safe space for me to ask questions and be candid, so I wouldn’t be overly intrusive or dependent on my very busy friends for advice.

    -Taking a social break when necessary. I realized that at the beginning of the semester I had tried to overload myself with schoolwork, activities, and social things just so I could feel accomplished. I still accomplished a lot this year–but sometimes I noticed I just said “yes” to things simply to distract me, and not because I enjoyed them. Though I’m an extrovert, sometimes I feel overwhelmed when I feel like I have to be around a crowd 24/7. And that felt kind of stressful. So, I didn’t go to parties for one month and instead tried new, less social bomb-y things, like practicing acting with my RA, doing NaNoWriMo, sketching people on my floor, or working on school projects in the warm comfort of my dorm with a bowl of cereal and a hot cup of tea. After that month, I felt rejuvenated and ready to enter the larger social scene again.

    -Dancing alone in my room. It’s amazingly therapeutic.

    -Cooking and crafting. Two of my favorite hobbies, which make winter break fun and rewarding. There’s nothing more satisfying than eating a big, warm delicious meal that you took the time to carefully and lovingly prepare.

    -Cleaning my room. It has a calming psychological effect on me, especially when I get rid of old artifacts that reminded me of my FBF and make everything nice and neat and comfy.

    -Naps are always nice. 😉 But if they last longer than 1.5 hours then they’re not productive anymore.

    -Making lists of goals and plans for the New Year and figuring out how to reach them. One of them is to make a large paper decoration for my dorm filled with quotes and advice.

    -Watching stand-up comedy. Humor is surprisingly powerful because it gets you through a lot of tough times and lets you see the funny in a situation.

    -Reading Captain Awkward. 🙂 This was the place that taught me how to write scripts for situations that I was unsure of so I could envision the outcome of a possible interaction. And that’s how I learned more about how to define my relationships and stand up for myself when needed. Thank you.

  70. (Hi everyone! I’ve lurked since 2012-ish and appreciated the many helpful posts on here. I figured now was a good time to dip my toes in. Not sure if everything I list below counts as self-care, but they’ve combined to dissolve the knot of tension in my chest that’s been there for a long while.)

    1) After six years of planning, I’m finally in a position to apply to law school (a perquisite to accomplishing my activism and career goals), so I’ve been spending the past week working on applications.* Several schools I’d love to attend have sent some highly encouraging emails and fee waivers my way. I was so nervous about applying at all because of the little voice that says “not good enough yet,” but now I’m confident that my applications are as well-written and closely proofed as they can be. This makes me much less anxious about finishing the process.

    2) I just acquired a set of matching china dishes (I’ve always used plastic plates before) and bought myself a cookbook, so I have printed recipes all in one place instead of in a bunch of bookmarks folders on my computer. This has made cooking and eating so much easier and more fun.

    3) I’ve been getting my nails and eyebrows done as often as I think they need to be, although that might change once the semester starts. Those subtle touches make me feel so much more “together” and confident.

    *Hopefully-not-defensive note: I’ve done substantial research regarding debt and employment prospects, and my decision makes sense both numerically and personally. And I’m almost exactly at the median GPA/LSAT for my dream school, so fingers crossed!

    PS–Captain, I’m so glad you’re going to see Big Eyes soon, because that movie was, from my non-technical perspective, the literal best.

    1. I’m also a longtime-lurker-turned-recent-commenter. Welcome! The grass is green over here and the people are friendly. 😀

      I just wanted to say congratulations on working on the law school stuff. That sounds amazing. Best of luck working on that!

      I also wanted to say that I love getting my eyebrows done, too. Thanks for the reminder – I really need to text my usual wax lady and make an appointment. I’ve been putting it off for money reasons but the feeling after getting it done really can’t be beat.

  71. A partner of a few months who I was starting to fall in love with and who, if I take what they told me while we dated and at the end at face value, was also starting to fall in love with me, broke up with me right after the new year. They were feeling stretched very thin and didn’t think they had the resources to give me the emotional support they thought I would need as our feelings grew, and while they were very kind and gentle and were acting out of care for me, ultimately it fucking hurts that they didn’t want to have a conversation about what we could do to meet each other’s needs and try to make it work. The day after that a good friend of mine removed themselves from my support network, and that was fair and valid and very hard.

    So self-care has been the name of the game and also something I’m very new at and feeling out. Some things I’ve been doing are:
    – having lots of funny conversations with my good friends and telling other friends about it because my friends are brilliant and hilarious and it helps remind me that I have them in my life and I’m grateful for it
    – letting myself engage, privately and in a way where I don’t impose on anyone with it, with wishful thinking for a limited period, because it helps me feel a little better in the short term so I can get things like dishes and laundry done
    – talking to my friends and therapist lots and lots about the wishful thinking so it doesn’t become maladaptive
    – spending lots of time with my fur companion
    – talking to friends about their breakups, because breakups are both the most particular, specifically hurtful situations to find yourself in, but also something people can universally relate to
    – the first 80 hours after the breakup I ate the equivalent of less than one full meal; now I have my appetite back so I’ve been treating myself to lots of amazing food from nearby places
    – but if I lose my appetite again out of sadness I will not shame myself over not eating very much
    – letting myself wear frumpy clothes if I want to
    – letting myself get super dressed up for no damn reason if I want to
    – taking it easy when the only working out I can do that day is a leisurely walk around my city
    – trying to work out every day
    – reminding myself it’s okay if it takes a while to stop hurting, even if the relationship wasn’t that long

  72. Towards the end of 2014 I started setting a boundary of having one weekday evening a week completely free to relax with my partner. This worked so well I’ve made it a resolution for 2015. It doesn’t sound like a big deal, maybe, but we’d both got into the mindset that evenings had to be spent doing something “useful” – if you’re not out at a meeting of some voluntary group, then clearly you should be typing up the minutes from a different meeting, or drafting a consultation response, or responding to emails… Because don’t you know terrible stuff is happening in the world and it’s absolutely your job to spend all your free time fighting the bad stuff or it’s all your fault????

    It was a recipe for burnout and setting that small boundary has really helped already. It doesn’t really matter what we do in the free evening as long as it’s nothing worthy or tedious! Further boundary-setting is planned as the year progresses.

  73. I’ve been doing a few “poke around the edges” things by way of self care – some cleaning & purging as a first pass at unfucking my living space. I went to the gym on Monday and had a great work out. I’m getting better at sitting on my hands when I would otherwise volunteer for too many things.

    However, the biggest self care thing I have been doing lately is feeding myself. I have started eating breakfast again. I have also been packing lunches during the work week and eating them away from my desk. I’ve started cooking dinner at home more and eating out less.

  74. Self-care an ongoing projects are a big thing for me as well as the new year soldiers on.

    1) Over December, helped my wife practice and refine her resume and interview skills so that she could get the promotion/massive-pay-raise she’s been trying to get since August, and she got it! Really Stressful December has now become Financially Stable January.
    2) I’m finally getting everything ready to launch my podcast, and I’m paying a good friend to help produce it since she’s really, really good at it.
    3) Finally seeing a doctor to help with my depression.
    4) Trying to both read and write more.
    5) I love theatre, and I love doing theatre, but I’m going to take a self-imposed hiatus for a while to focus on more personal stuff, like aforementioned podcast and writing.
    6) Wife and I are planning lots of awesome trips this year! Dubai! Iceland! Mexico! Maybe even finally doing our honeymoon in Morocco next year!
    7) Wife and I are also planning to run a small food booth at a local Night Market and serve food from my wife’s grandma’s village in China. It’s exciting but we are starting to drown in the logistics.

    This is gonna be a good year, I think.

  75. My biggest project has been a piece of Life Care entitled I’M GOING BACK TO COLLEGE!!!!!!!! I got into the January Freshman program at St. John’s College in Santa Fe as of this Monday. I leave in a week!

    I’m crazy amounts of excited. I got enough financial aid that I probably won’t have to take out private loans. The school is near mountains and I’ll only be six hours away from my partner, who will be able to come see me at least once a month. The program is a wonderful fit for me. Its based on reading the Western canon and discussing it, yet you get plenty of foreign language, science, math, and music. I get to read books I’ve always wanted in a structured, supportive environment and they’ll give me diploma aka socially desirably piece of paper at the end. It could set me up to do anything from going to tech school for medical imaging to doing search and rescue to getting a PhD in economics. I’m going to get a rigorous academic education, yet be away from the Ivy League school that was an awful fit for me.

    While I was waiting for my application to come back, I also played tons of video games. At first I was totally side eyeing myself for being so escapist. Then I realized I was doing it mindfully, it was helping my depression during a risky time, and it was my mind/body’s way of resting after putting in my college application.

    Now that I know I’m going to college, I’ve mostly been letting myself work through the gigantic mountain of paperwork and prep I need to do at a comfortable pace. Its a little bit torturous because it feels like everything needs to happen now, but I’ve managed to convince myself its okay to do one thing at a time.

  76. Well, 2014 was an _interesting_ sort of year. I started out in January with quite a bit of optimism and drive to a) finally Find Love via online dating or whatever means it takes, b) get a job* or at least do more of the freelance-ish stuff I’ve been doing, and c) sort out my back problems, improve my health. (And, in minor details, build/maintain a workable friendship with the next-door neighbour who rejected me romantically but showed quite a bit of interest in being friends; being rejected by her, actually, is what gave me the confidence to try online dating, paradoxically.)

    When none of those things had yielded much progress by about March/April, I got pretty depressed – which probably had been brewing for years but it all came together into moderate but unquestionably clinical depression. Well, I basically sat out May just riding the mood-swing roller coaster, and then there was a fair bit of travelling in June/July/August with family and/or visiting family that I’d already committed to which at least helped distract me.

    So since late August I’ve been seeing a therapist, taking antidepressants**, and trying to push forward on the points above (social/romantic, work, money, health, etc.) without pressuring myself much, and while I’m still FAR from where I want to be in life, my God am I doing better than I was in July. And actually, in terms of seriously facing up to my mental issues *and tackling them* I’m in a better place than I’ve ever been, ever, I think.

    So, TL,DR: Therapy. 😉

    * part-time – I’m another one of the chronically ill/disabled, have never actually had a job as such as I got ill in 2009/10 partway through my PhD (which I didn’t finish) and had been sort of drifting aimlessly for most of 2012/13, since my last major attempt at Doing Something.
    ** causing my “big pharma is evil, homeopathy totally works” mother to freak out a bit when I first told her. I actually quite enjoyed that freakout, and really enjoyed telling her “you know what, I DON’T CARE” when she said she was uncomfortable with me taking those meds. I should add that other than that, my parents have been extremely supportive and we get along very well, mind you!

  77. Big Self-Care Thing I Am Doing Now:
    –January is the month of doing only the things I feel like (mostly; I’m still negotiating that since grandma-care is now also a thing). This does include productive shit like cleaning, but it also includes just kinda chillin’ and wondering where the day went. And that’s OK.

  78. I’m not answering my phone right now, especially if it’s family. I have an excellent excuse in that I lost my voice Christmas Day and still don’t have it back. I’m also indulging in designing and making a costume I’ve wanted to create for a long time. (What would a witch wear? Undyed chemise, Italian Ren linen dress, Birka-style viking coat with knotwork embroidery, knitted hood/hat, quilted all black bag with hag stone embellishment.)

    Also, SOUP. Bread soup, chicken soup, dumpling soup, lentil soup, all the soup.

  79. I love this thread! And I love that we all have good news, and/or are making our own.
    You have helped me a lot with other things over the years, and I am very glad to see you in such a good place.
    Best wishes many times over to you and your sweetheart, Jennifer!

  80. Coming up on a year in my new place, and I still love it SO MUCH! The Brom and I have decided to work on the last 20-odd boxes, many of which are “Your mom really thought everything you made in kindergarten was a treasure, didn’t she?” sorts of things: if we follow through on our plans to move again in another year, I don’t want to pay to move boxes full of stuff neither of us want any more.

    This is the year I completely rebuild my wardrobe: I’ve committed to one new (at least to me) piece of clothing a month, and am working from some of the ideas over at the Vivienne Files, particularly the “Common Wardrobe” and “Starting From Scratch”.

  81. I love this thread a lot. Congrats on all your brilliant projects and plans and on the upcoming love-fest!

    Recently I’ve:

    I broke up a 4 year relationship with a person who was making me feel unworthy and unloved, and while he’s yet to move out of my apartment, I have bought lovely soft sheets and a doona cover and rearranged my bedroom to feel like ‘mine’ again and claw back some peace.

    I worked with my doctor and a nutritionist at the gym to put together a food plan (no diet-y details, not going to be *that* insufferable person) that will work with my newly diagnoses coeliac disease, bolster my immune system and hopefully make my feel a lot better than my current eating patterns.

    I took up a long, involved Korean skincare regime and it’s doing wonders for my skin, but also has become a sort of meditative way to ease into every day by doing something nurturing for myself, and a quiet wind-down that is helping me sleep better at night.

    And most importantly – I’ve applied for overseas exchange, and if things go well, I’ll be upping sticks and moving from Australia to the US to go to school there for a year. Hopefully this time next year I’ll be exploring a cool new city and campus and learning to drive on the other side of the road so I can take some roadtrips!

    1. Good luck with everything, and especially with adjusting your diet to get your medical condition under control. I hope it improves your quality of life!

      If you’re willing to share, I’d love to pick your brain about your skin care routine. My skin could use some pampering, and I’m totally overwhelmed by all the different products and info out there, so if you’re willing to chat about it I’d love to hear it!

  82. My Significant Otter asked me at the end of 2014 if I’d like to live together by the end of 2015. My immediate reaction was “Yes, absolutely!” My almost-immediate reaction was “Crapcrapcrapcrapcrapcrapcrapcrapcrap PANIC,” because every time I have lived away from my parents, with or without a roommate, I have failed spectacularly. I am very fortunate, in that I have loving and supportive parents who will give me a home for as long as I need it, but living with them means that I will always be their daughter first, before I am anything else. Life is easy and comfortable here, and the world outside is difficult and scary, but there are bright and shiny parts of me that need a challenge to come to life and right now they are slowly withering away in the darkness.

    My self-care is focused on giving myself the kick in the pants that I need to get moving. I’m doing yoga four times a week to strengthen my body and renew my spirit. I’m learning what I can reasonably expect to accomplish in a day, so that I don’t set myself up for failure. I’m keeping my parts of the house clean and tidy and taking part in meal planning and preparation. Every day I make a list of things I need to do and I cross them off when they’re done. When I cross off all of them, I get a star and when I get seven stars, I get a little reward that I’ve planned for myself. When I am tired and frustrated and I feel stupid and small and I just want to curl up in bed and let the world pass me by, I take out my origami paper and fold a Lover’s Knot. It’s a fold that I can get right every time, but it takes concentration. I focus on lining up the corners and strengthening the creases, and for a few minutes everything else falls away. When I’m finished, I put it in a jar with all the others I’ve folded and remember that I’ve felt this way many times before, that I have kept going, that what I am trying to do is not impossible, that I am not any of the things that my JerkBrain says I am, and that there are people in the world who love me and want me to succeed and that I am chief among them. Then I go back to the list, pick something to do and cross off, and I’m one step closer to what I want to achieve.

    2015 is going to be a good year.

  83. I really like this thread! It’s given me some great ideas for what I want to do in terms of self-care, but I’ll just say what I’m actually doing. I’ve lurked for a year or so and read a bunch of the archived posts as well.
    – I made a collage as part of a school assignment and really liked it and found it inspiring, so it is now my desktop display on my laptop.
    – I took a day off the day after my birthday (my birthday was Thursday) so I didn’t have to worry about going to work after I went out with BF and some friends. Did a lot of simple cleaning and organizing yesterday with the free time and am feeling really good about the apartment right now.
    – My parents are coming today to celebrate my birthday and while I’m happy they’re coming it’s making me really anxious. BF’s mom gave us these heatable aromatherapy pillows and I’m currently laying with it on my chest right now. It’s helping a little. BF and I also brainstormed some possible conversation topics that don’t include politics or current events, since that *always* ends badly.
    – BF and I are going on our 1st vacation in 4 years in February – 5 days in the Dominican Republic. It’s expensive, which stresses me out, but I think its going to be SO good for us.
    – My main new years resolution has been to stop ordering takeout so often (my goal is once a month vs. my current once a week). It’s such a money suck and I never order healthy stuff. I’m also trying to cook more so that I can bring lunch to work instead of getting takeout there.

  84. I’ve been flossing and wearing sunscreen every day. I’m not joking- those have been huge hurdles in my adult life, and I want to take care of this body of mine. It’s been a short time, but since I decided to do so I’ve been able to keep it up!

    1. Yes! Especially to the sunscreen part. It just started wearing it every day too, and it feels very good to know I’m taking care of my very very fair skin – this Australian sun is no joke!

  85. I’m joining Captain Awkward for self-care!

    Seriously, I’m working on reading/joining the internet communities which interest me and building up a little online stability in preparation for a real-life move where I will have to settle into a new (exciting but still new) workplace, break in a whole new set of doctors, learn my way around a new city and all those other moving things.

    I’m also sitting on the floor more, which is better for me physically but leads to huge social awkwardness. I’ve finally got my current co-workers adjusted to the concept and am starting to strategize the scripts I will need for this and other workplace accommodations at my new job, most of which are very minor requests but not things commonly thought of as accommodations.

  86. In 2014, my entire life basically went by the wayside as I threw my all into taking care of an unreasonable workload at my day job. By the end of the year I was burnt out, depressed, either irritable with or isolating myself from those I loved most. I felt like I had given up a year of my life to my employer and gotten very little in return.

    So, this year, I am taking care of myself by:

    1. Getting a good night’s sleep.
    2. Working hard, but leaving at reasonable hours so I have time to eat nutritious and happy-making food, get abovementioned sleep, move my body, and spend time with those I love.
    3. Taking driving lessons so I can finally get my driver’s licence, which will enable me to see a therapist so I can begin addressing the fact I am basically a walking case of complex PTSD.
    4. Training with my local roller derby league to meet people and use my body. Leaving work on time to make it to training.
    5. Saving and planning for an amazing holiday so when the year ends I can feel like I did something that I really want to do in my life – travel.

    Yeah 🙂

  87. Congratulations to the good Captain on the engagement!

    I was going to say “I haven’t really been doing much self-care lately”, but then I realised that I’ve actually been doing quite a bit, almost without noticing. Hooray!

    Things I’ve been doing:

    – Therapy to deal with Relationship Breakdown Stuff, which has been really helpful.
    – Writing down Good Things from the day and saving them to read at the end of the year.
    – Journaling: I bought myself a 2015 page-a-day planner to use as a journal, and have so far written a page each day. I’ve found that having the structure of a page devoted to a specific day/date, as well as the knowledge that I only have to fill at most one page, has been really helpful.
    – My best Christmas present this year was Thomas Pavitte’s The 1001 Dot-to-Dot Book: Masterpieces, which I’m really enjoying as a soothing/calming/mindful practice (with the caveat that the numbers are quite small, and I have yet to complete a picture/puzzle without at least one mistake!).
    – Doing what I’ve taken to calling “playing the Three Things Game”. When I’m feeling really overwhelmed, especially if I have a huge to do list, I like to just find three things to do, do them, and then repeat as I feel able. They can be really really small things (put that pen back in the jar; straighten the sofa cushions), but often doing three tiny things gives me enough of a boost to do three slightly larger things, and this can then snowball into Getting Important Things Done, which is great.

  88. Thank you so much for mentioning “A Girl Walks Home After Midnight” – I barely watch any films any more and have no idea which films are current, but that sounds like it’s right up my alley!

    My self-care thing is avoiding someone who has made it clear they dislike me, and who was quite unpleasant to me a couple of days ago. Five years ago I would have been all a-fret about WHYYYYY they didn’t like me and HOWWWWW could I make them like me because I NEED EVERYONE TO LIKE ME. Now: nope! I have taken to heart the Captain’s advice of “think of someone you really, really dislike. For some people, that person is you!” It is oddly empowering. 😀

  89. Loooooong time lurker, but this was such a great thread. I wanted to add that I’ve started running again. I’m running not because I feel guilty for not running (anymore), but because I finally MISSED doing it. I trained for my first marathon and hurt my knee while I was running it (finished though!) and since then I’ve really struggled with allowing myself to really and completely heal. I’ve also picked up a new hobby that is both engaging and challenging, but every single minute and stitch add together to make this beautiful picture. I’m planning on finishing my PhD this year, so I know that 2015 is going to be a balance of self-care and woooooork. Thanks for opening this thread, I may bookmark it to come back to during those really stressful times!

  90. I’ve recently learned how to crochet (for a math class, incidentally) and after this class’s project is done I plan to make a super-soft blanket blanket for myself in time for Valentine’s Day, because I love me and totally deserve it.

  91. I took one vacation day for a long weekend and visited a friend’s cabin in the frozen north where I eliminated screen time, worked on sewing projects, slept, read, moved my body and recharged my soul.

  92. 2014 started as a completely horrible year because a 14 year relationship ended and I was jobless because I moved home. So I spent all of 2014 clawing my way back to job and living on my own again. But by the end of it I had gotten a job, moved to a new city and started making new friends so it ended fairly well actually. And the end of the relationship still sucks in a number of ways, but it is the right thing for both of us. And now it’s beginning to look like our “we’ll still be friends” noises were right and we will be and that’s a Good thing because he’s been there for me through so much that I hated thinking I’d lost it all.

    However, self-care became completely critical over the last year and here is my plan for this year:

    1. Get my credit card under control, and even try to pay it off completely. This will involve cutting expenses and may be very difficult, but that card hanging over my head stresses me out and it has to go.

    2. Hot showers and many of them.

    3. Reruns of Top Gear, Murder She Wrote, Miss Fisher and other shows as they appeal to me. Two Fat Ladies was last week and I know own them all

    4. I have a gift certificate to get my nails done. I love getting my nails done and will be doing that soon.

    5. Push Ups in 2015!

    6. Recording the happy things that happen in my day in a day planner so I can look back later.

    More stuff will come to me I’m sure, but that’s a solid place to start.

  93. Am I late to the self-care party? 2014 was really a difficult year, because I ended an abusive relationship of 7 years, and, like lots of people in this situation, I didn’t have much. Thanks to my family and friends, I am getting myself together. I got a dog, she’s a rescue and the sweetest thing. I’m getting to exercise, to read as much as I want, and I am getting to sleep better. So, all of those things are part of my routine now, and I am happier.

  94. Paper, ink, and words! I got a new journal and a fountain pen for Christmas, and it’s set off a whirlwind of writing for me. When I’m not writing, I want to be writing. As ridiculous and cliché as it sounds, I keep thinking to myself, “I have ink in my veins.”

    2015 is going to be a year of words for me, I can feel it. And that really excites me.

  95. I just got a facial and mini-massage for the first time in my life. I thought it was going to be awkward (because of semi-nakedness/being touched by a stranger) and probably a waste of money, but I LOVED it and my skin looks awesome. 10/10, would go again – and will, just as soon as I have a spare $50.

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