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Self-Care Saturday: How’s My Self-Care Going?

I’m going to level with you: I’m still not doing great at self-care. I suppose it has a lot to do with my Queen Bee mentality, but I am finding that unless I am forced to think about myself (like, say, by my dear husband), my default is to completely ignore myself until I implode. And obviously, imploding is bad.

Some of my implosions lately, though, I feel were unavoidable. For example, I had a small implosion at the end of the day last Friday, after that conference I attended that zapped me of my motivation (or, perhaps, more accurately, did not bolster my motivation the way I had hoped it would.) And things have gotten unceremoniously dumped in my lap in ways that leave me asking, “Well, what the hell am I supposed to do with that.”

In an effort to combat that, especially with yard sale season (and my self-care routine that goes with it) winding down for the year, I have started something new. Every morning, I identify five ways that I can practice self-care throughout the day. I try to pick a variety of things, and I always write them down. The goal when I do, is not to do all of them (although that would be awesome.) The goal is instead to do at least one of them.

I find that if I have the options in front of me, it makes it easier to follow through. I have been fairly successful at it, too, but I only just started on Tuesday, so I am reserving judgement on whether or not it has actually helped. I’ll let you guys know!




Self-Care Saturday: Passion Project 

The internet is full of advice that suggests you should have a passion project, for your mental health if nothing else, but what is a passion project? It’s a creative endeavor that is supposed to bring you happiness, make you feel productive, and give you focus. The internet also suggests that this passion project also be something outside of your normal career path.

I’m not sure that last piece of advice need always be the case, because for the last four years, I’ve had a series of passion projects that were often related to my day job, and they’ve made me very happy.

That being said, very little about my job is making me truly happy right now. Don’t get me wrong, I still love being a librarian, but I’m finding it hard to bring my usual enthusiasm to it right now – projects aren’t working right, or I’m busy tying up loose ends, or I’m impatiently waiting for things to start. It’s a confluence of events that I will work through in due time, but until then, what to do?

Well, tomorrow, I am going to announce something I’ve been working on all week and which will likely keep me busy the rest of the month (at least.) Meanwhile, I want you to think about what you could be doing as a passion project. 

Flashback Friday: My Last Day of Work

What to talk about…. I’m still not ready to talk about what I wanted to talk about with last Friday’s post, so perhaps I will attempt to skirt the issue by talking about this instead: my last day of work before Baby Girl was born.

Baby Girl was two weeks overdue. My midwife was freaking out; she had never had a first-time mother go overdue, and I was terribly uncooperative. I wanted everything to happen in its own time. She kept reading me statistics, trying to scare me.

Looking back, I really did not have great luck with the medical professionals available to me. But that is a post for another time.

I didn’t want to waste any of my maternity leave pre-birth unless there was a medical reason for it.  I felt like that was the least I owed to my employer and myself and all the women who came before me who fought to be able to even work while they were pregnant. I wasn’t an invalid; I was just pregnant. However, my co-workers were… infuriating. “Why are you here?” they would ask. “Go home and rest,” they would say.

The final straw came about three days before I actually went into labor. I was in the bathroom, and one of the faculty came into library. I emerged from the bathroom (just around the corner and out of sight of said faculty member) just as she said these words,

“Oh, where is she? Did she finally go into labor?!”

I get that the people I work with took in an interest in what was going on with me, but this faculty member was not a particularly close acquaintance, much less friend. I have much better established working relationships with other faculty members. Not saying my relationship with this one is bad by any means, but I felt like this was prying.

As I came up behind her, I said, jaw clenched, “No, I haven’t yet. I was just out of the room.”

Then I politely took care of what she needed from me (reserve materials for her class, IIRC.) When we was gone, I emailed my HR representative and said that I was officially starting maternity leave. I would deal with the exact ramifications of that decision later. I needed it for my mental health.

Time Slips Away…

I didn’t even think about posting anything to the blog until right now, almost 7:30 pm local time.

Tonight, after a very successful meal yesterday of Greek keftedes (fried meatballs), couscous and veggies, I am making a very simple throw-together meal called Cheesy Chicken Spaghetti Casserole, which is not terribly healthy, but promises to be delicious.

Getting this dinner on the table was a breeze- while Baby Girl was napping (and I was having my lunch), I baked the chicken and boiled the spaghetti. 35-40 minutes, easy to do during an hour lunch break (provided you can get home in the first place). Then, about 50 minutes before dinner time, I threw everything together and put it in the oven. I was going to clean up the dishes while it baked, but the husband was busy and Baby Girl wanted to me play. It wasn’t too big a deal, though – only a bowl, a fork, and a couple of measuring utensils, easily done with the dinner plates.

Now it’s time to rest and relax until bedtime!

Organizing The Organization 

Today was a very slow day in the library (as most summer days are, since we are an academic library), so I spent most of the day in my office, working on organizing binders.

We’ve talked before about how I have binders for everything. My work binder stays on the shelf for most of the summer – except for checking the Birthday Calendar and Tuesday Staff Meetings in June. But my home binder – the big, 3 inch binder that still seems like it isn’t big enough- needed updating at least enough to get me through the summer. I printed meal planners and schedules and even some date night planners (wishful thinking, I’m sure) for now until September. We do our grocery shopping on Sundays, as I’ve mentioned, so each week starts out there. All in all, I have 9 pages per week. I try to print double sided when I can to save space – and trees!

I’m notorious for getting out of routine when I’m on vacation, so it was nice to be able to work on my binders on the first Monday back from my vacation. I did some real work, too- mostly sending emails.

Have you been working on your binders like I asked back at the beginning of this blog? What planner pages do you still need?

Letting Go of Things

I am really terrible at letting go of stuff. Mainly control, but other things, too. I have, for lack of a better term, a responsibility complex- I feel that I have to be responsible for everything at all times, from the state of my house to the state of the nation ( why didn’t I campaign for Hillary?!) and it is overwhelming.

But today, I slept in after Baby Girl had me up not once but twice last night, and when I got around to checking my email (which I still do on vacation, as we talked about here) I had two angry emails from a coworker , both of which were timestamped for before our branch even opens. Though I felt she was being unfair,  I politely apologized and explained that I’m out of the office until Thursday . Then, I got down to the business of sorting out the actual problem…

Only to find out my employee had already taken care of everything. It was weird.

So I was forced to let this thing go, just based on timing. And really, my coworker needn’t have involved me in it at all. 

Do you have things at work you could let go of? What’s stopping you?

Bad Moods

Some days, it is hard.  Even if you don’t have a clinical diagnosis, everyone has bad moods, temporary depression, or days where nothing seems to go right.

I tend to have these kind of days when I’m on extended vacation. Week one is spent relaxing and enjoying myself, and week two is spent chiding myself for not getting more done. And because I’m upset, I get even less done. And… well, you see where that goes.

I felt this way even before Baby Girl, but it gets worse when I can’t even relax because I’ve spent my entire vacation watching her.

So I’m compiling a list of things that will improve my mood, and maybe if you’re having a bad time, you can use some of them to improve yours as well.

  1. Drink more water. I am perpetually somewhat dehydrated, and nursing has not helped that! I was honestly concerned I wouldn’t be able to keep up my milk supply because of it (but apparently my body would rather feed her than stay hydrated.) Drinking just 16oz of water over my normal liquid consumption improves my mood dramatically.
  2. Go for a walk. You can do this one with the kids and spouse if you want, or grab some headphones and turn Spotify or Pandora on. 
  3. Get some alone time. This is probably the hardest on the list to accomplish, but have your spouse, relative, or good friend watch the kid(s) and get in a zone by yourself- even if you just stay in your bedroom reading a book.
  4. Clean (or do something else productive, preferably with tangible, visible results.) It may be difficult to get yourself focused and moving, but completion of a small project can be immensely satisfying, especially if it’s something you have put off a while.

I will be returning to this list and updating it as I come up with things that work. For now, I’m off to improve my own mood.