I enter the warm car on this cold morning, sit on the heated seat, notice that the front and back windshields are clear and defrosted, lean back, sigh and feel gratitude. This is a ritual I experience most winter weekday mornings. Starting my drive off so nicely each morning helps me to be more patient and generous with other drivers, and that care helps me arrive at my workplace with a smile. How lucky am I to have someone in my life who runs out in the cold 10 minutes before I need to leave for work, just to turn on the car, the defroster, the heaters and even drive the car from the end of the driveway to the garage door to make it an easier walk for me? Do they even realize how that act sets up my entire day for success?
I then think back to 10 minutes earlier when I ran out in the frigid cold, pried open the stiff, icy car door, perched on the edge of the cold seat, drove up the driveway squinting through frost-laden windows, saying to myself before leaving the running car to sprint back into the house to finish getting ready, “This is going to be so worth it in 10 minutes. I am really going to thank myself.”
And I do thank myself! I look for opportunities to treat myself well. And I feel true appreciation for the kindnesses I bestow.
There are so many ways to be kind to yourself. Many years ago I was with an older colleague as she left herself a reminder on her voice mail at home. This was before Siri and Alexa were in anyone’s life and before we carried our phones and notes with us everywhere. As her voice mail beeped to start recording, she started speaking beautifully to herself. She left her reminder but made sure first to greet herself in a lovely way and to wish herself a wonderful day at the end. I was so tickled by that idea that I started doing the same thing. It’s not often these days that I need to leave myself a voice mail message but if I am checking to make sure my “away message” at work sounds good, I won’t hang up on myself. I will leave myself a message that will be the first thing I hear when I return from vacation. It might sound something like, “Good morning, you beautiful woman. I hope you are feeling rejuvenated and refreshed because you deserve it. You are amazing, smart, strong and fabulous, Diana, and I’m wishing you the most beautiful day. I love you so much, gorgeous!” I have a pretty bad memory, so it’s always a happy surprise when I do receive these messages and there is a wide smile on my face as I shamelessly enjoy this love-talk. I might listen more than once.
Even some of the overwhelming tasks can be embraced if we view them as kindnesses we’re giving ourselves. It occurs to me this week as I cleaned my home for guests that I am actually the one who is enjoying my efforts. Taking advantage of my motivation to have a nice house, I ran out quickly to finally buy a new lamp shade for the unique lamp I’d been wanting to place in the living room. For more than a year I had been putting off this chore that took less than an hour or so, in the end. And now I finally was also able to move the matching bedside lamp into my bedroom. My guests won’t care about any of that. I am the one who is gleeful about this change every time I look in my living room and in my bedroom. I’m not sure why that wasn’t motivating enough initially, but that instead had to wait until the desire to impress someone else inspired me to beautify my home in the way I wanted.
I also realize this week as I do my errands and chores that these are all for me. Every time I organize or shop or fix something, I am being kind to myself. Every time I pay a bill or send a response to an email, I am doing something for myself. Every time I attend a meeting, service or life cycle event, I am connected to others, doing something for me. But I need to recognize and name this reward in order to reap the full benefit. I have been practicing welcoming my errands and chores, instead of feeling resentful. I love my drawer of now-organized socks that can actually close. I am grateful for everything I bought as I pay my bills. I am relieved that all of the dishes are clean and put away and bask in the feel of my uncluttered kitchen.
As I make my bed every morning, I am doing a favor for my night-time tired self. It feels decadent to get into such a beautiful bed. When I leave my nightstand light on, I am doing something kind for me. It feels warm, inviting and conforting as I enter my room. Every time I clean or straighten something, it is a favor to myself. I have so many opportunities to do good deeds and an equal mount of times to say thank you. All by myself.
A couple of days ago, as I did last minute shopping, I saw beautiful bouquets of flowers. It had been some time since I had received flowers and I looked with longing, wishing that someone would buy me some. I walked away. And then I returned. I stood in front of those bouquets for quite some time until I gave myself permission to purchase the most beautiful one for myself.
I was at first going to put the flowers in the middle of my dinner table but then I decided that I’d prefer to see this natural beauty as I wake up every morning so I switched them to my bedroom. They make my whole room bright and beautiful! As luck would have it (or the energy of treating myself kindly without waiting for someone else to do it) as I opened the door to my guests, guess what they were holding? The perfect bouquet to put in the middle of our dinner table.
If we love ourselves, it doesn’t matter what anyone else thinks. It’s also actually more likely that we’ll be attractive to others. If we don’t love ourselves, it certainly doesn’t matter how anyone else feels about us. I am happy to model for others how I deserve to be treated, by treating myself that way. My opinion of myself matters most. If I can look in the mirror and think positive thoughts, then I am creating my own joy. I am not going to wait for someone else to be kind to me. I am going to treat myself well first, and then I’ll use all of that appreciative energy to spread the wealth and treat others beautifully.