A woman once told me that I need to learn to be kind to myself.
I was reentering the world after a deep depression, and finding a life that I didn't know I'd had. I was in the process of both beginning and ending relationships. I was no longer panicking daily. I was beginning to store memories again.
She knew all this, and I told her I was doing better. She laughed, and said "you still need to do it."
I called (or maybe emailed?) her and asked what she meant. I don't remember her answer, but that that night, I stopped by a bakery and bought a slice of chocolate cake.
I ate it at my university-issued desk in the dorm room I once hated. The window was open. Someone in the courtyard was playing Joni Mitchell.
This past few days? They were hard ones. Pedestrian culprits - long hours, insomnia, crap food hoovered in inconvenient places. I came to the end of the week depleted.
My work follows a cycle that peaks in March. My hours will go bonkers, rhythms thrown out the window. My stress levels go up, sleep goes down. I read less, workout less (though my job itself becomes physical), eat worse. I once described this season as "hell, but so great," because even though it's hard, it's powerfully rewarding. That being said, this weekend is the last entirely free weekend that I'll have in a while, and I'm savoring it.
I went grocery shopping yesterday afternoon, and the teenager who rang me up sang "My Girl" under his breath. I was so delighted (right up to the point when he pointed at the frozen pizzas and asked if I have teenagers. Kid, I'm 24!) I nearly cried.
Today, my plan is to be nice to myself. This sounds so self-indulgent I almost can't stand it, but I think practicing simple kindness towards myself will do me good.
I'm going to cook. I have a fridge full of fresh food (finally!), and I'm going to give myself time to follow a detailed recipe I clipped from a magazine several years ago. So rarely do I enjoy creating a meal.
I'm going to read. Amber Dermont's The Starboard Sea is captivating, but I'm also craving my weathered copy of Anne's House of Dreams. Since I was eleven, I've read all eight books in the Anne of Green Gables series in the spring. Last year, I didn't, and it felt like I leapfrogged something important.
It's rare for my days to feel loose and open. Even when I'm "free," I border my time, hem myself in with private plans. You know what feels radically kind today? To not do that.
The sun is out. Last night's dusting of snow is gone, and tomorrow, the temperature is supposed to reach the 60's. (And Minnesota said amen!). Two years ago (two!), I bought a candle that smelled so good I put it into a drawer. I placed the candle underneath my favorite piece of artwork (a drawing someone gave to my grandparents on their wedding day), and lit it. In my cupboard, I have cookies that taste best when they're eaten one at a time.
Too often, I catch myself thinking "why can't it all be easier?" Sometimes, it is.
Yesterday, I put pink tulips on my table, because when I was a little girl, my mother painted a border of tulips along the molding of my bedroom. I loved their pink, purple, and yellow. In the spring, I would try to pick them.
Kindness, sometimes, is easy like this.