Monday, October 24, 2011

Day 212: Introducing My Gratitude List and "Mantra Mondays"

As depressing as it feels to end a vacation, I almost always look forward to returning home.  Why?  Because I'm a lover of routines, and all of my routines revolve around home.  I have many routines.  For example, I always apply my makeup in the same order and I follow a similarly rigid order of shampoo-then-conditioner-then-bodywash-then-facewash when showering.  I also have a quirky habit of eating my food in order of healthiest/least desirable food first (i.e. veggies), with least healthy/yummiest food last (carbs!carbs!carbs!chocolate!).   (This last routine clashes with Michael's tendency to wolf down all of his food and then pick off of my plate.  Since I always save my favorite food for last, I get really, really, mad at him for stealing bites.  Argh!)

As a lover of routines, vacations can be a bit disruptive and - gasp! - even stressful.  To help manage my anxiety, I write lists: a to-do list for fun things I want to do on my vacation; a to-do list for things I want to do when I get back home; a packing list to make sure nothing is forgotten at home or left behind upon our return. I also like to write grocery lists, and list and track our budget.

Anyway, over the last two weeks I had a lot of time to both write lists, and also to daydream longingly about my routines back home.  Two awesome things came out of this.  

(1) First, I started writing one of the most fulfilling and anxiety-reducing lists I've ever kept: a gratitude list.  This list is filled with things I'm thankful for, both big ("America!") and small ("chewy ginger candies").  I've tried keeping a daily gratitude journal at several different points during the past decade, but (oddly) it never became a routine for me.   See, writing a gratitude list is easy when life feels blissful, but it's much harder when life feels overwhelming, particularly at times when I've struggled with depression.  But it's those darker times when having a gratitude list becomes particularly important, even life-saving. So I'm trying something different this time.  Instead of requiring myself to write in the journal every night before bed, I'm keeping a tiny notebook with me at all times so I can add to the list whenever I feel inspired, no pressure.  Also, since my iPhone has a built-in camera, I can just capture grateful moments in a photo!  Here are three things I recorded during my honeymoon:

I'm Thankful to See A Double Rainbow

I'm Thankful For My Bathing Suit (It Makes Me Feel Like Marilyn Monroe!)

+ ME =

I'm Grateful To See an Elderly Couple Holding Hands at the Beach - How Romantic!

As far as body-image goes, I imagine that keeping a gratitude list might help me keep things in perspective on days when I'm hard on myself.

(2) Second, after thinking a lot about my routines, I've decided to return to my former blogging routine of writing "Fun Fact Fridays"... AND I'm adding a new routine: "Mantra Mondays".  Every Friday I'll continue to share a fun, fascinating, and sometimes just plain weird fact about mirrors and/or our beauty culture. Every Monday - starting TODAY - I'll share a mantra for the week.

What's a mantra?  The American Heritage Dictionary gives two definitions: (1) "a sacred verbal formula repeated in prayer, meditation, or incantation such as an invocation of a god, a magic spell, or a syllable, or portion of scripture containing mystical potentialities," or (2) "a commonly repeated word or phrase."  I love both of these definitions, so I've merged and consolidated them to this: to me, a mantra is a commonly repeated phrase with mystical potentialities.  Isn't that beautiful?  Speaking of beautiful, here is this week's mantra:

My body is perfect; my mind is a work-in-progress.

I came up with this phrase last week, and it floated back into my head so frequently and unexpectedly that it felt like a mantra (and so became one, inspiring this new routine!).  What led me to this phrase in the first place?  Several years ago I heard an inspiring speech in which the speaker argued,
"We diet to try and lose weight, usually unsuccessfully. We buy expensive wrinkle creams and botox to fight the advance of time, but to what end?  Our bodies revolt.  They know what they are and what they aren't.  It's not easy to change your mind, but what if it's easier to change your mind than it is to change your body?  Think about it."  
I did, and still do. All the time.

What's been harder for you: changing your body, or changing your mind about your body??  Have you reached a point (or do you remember a time) where you didn't want either of these things to change??  

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  1. I think that changing your mind about your body is the hardest thing to do. I recently lost 35 pounds and still feel like that "fat" girl. But the thing is, I am not that person anymore. What has helped me overcome that mindset has been my recent involvement in Aerial Cirque Arts. I realized that I can do this. I am not who I used to be. And for the first time in a long time, I am happy with my body and who I am. Things can only go up from here!

  2. that is beautiful, the part where you share your "mantras" and am especially looking forward to hearing about the wierd facts about mirrors and the beauty culture. Thank you for sharing your story Kierjsten, I have bdd and decided I too would stop looking at mirrors for one year, this is wierd, cause I made this decision prior to hearing about you and what you aare doing! Then I found YOU, you are such an inspiration to me, and I look so forward to your updates! I almost on day 90. Good work!

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