Learning Weeks

The past few weeks have been learning weeks for me, with two main courses of study: time management and choice, and learning–again–to listen to my body over others’ opinions.

First Course of Study: Time Management and Choice

First off, I had to take a good, long look at how I spend my time, and the ways in which my time expenditure can bring anxiety and sleeplessness.  What I learned:

  1. There really are only 24 hours in each day, 7 to 8 of which should be spent sleeping, and, Monday through Friday, 8 of which must be spent at the office.
  2. Time also must be allotted to eating (preferably healthy foods), moving my body in some way, bathing, meditating, washing and moisturizing my face and body, brushing my teeth, and generally taking care of my physical, emotional, and spiritual needs.  I tend to fall apart when these things don’t happen.
  3. Every week I have to work in grocery shopping to have healthy food to eat (fresh produce doesn’t last very long) and  should work in time for cleaning so my living space does not become overwhelming or laden with indoor allergens, plus straightening up my car for similar reasons.
  4. I also have to have some free time to just be, some unstructured time to check in with myself and do relaxing or fun things, like spending time outdoors, reading, just listening to music, watching a movie or one of the few TV shows I follow, writing, or playing around with art supplies.  If I don’t, I get cranky and become nearly unbearable to live with.
  5. On the heels of Nos. 1 through 4, I simply cannot do everything I want to do, and therefore must choose what I want most, or what I think will be most beneficial.  For instance, this recently manifested in my choice–after much careful consideration–to do only one of the many wonderful e-courses starting up now and in the next few weeks.

Since the observant will notice, I did sign up to do a page a week in The Happy Book with Jamie Ridler‘s book blogging group, The Next Chapter.  I’ve been sporadically doing pages in it anyway (a total of 3, to be exact), as I have a copy already, and a dose of happy is good for me.  Likewise, I’m going to get back on the horse with Flock‘s book group trip through Keri Smith’s How to Be An Explorer of the World, also setting a goal to do one “Exploration” every week.  Seeing the world a bit differently is a good thing, too.  Neither of these are big time commitments, and, from what I’ve seen of both books, a page or an “exploration,” in most cases, can be done in a half hour or less, so they’re easy to work in.  If I feel them becoming a burden, I’m stopping.

Basically, I want to spend as much of my time as possible doing things that I enjoy.  I don’t want my life to feel like a chore.  I mean, I kind of expect it to sometimes, like in the office, but outside of my day job, it’s all a matter of my choices, and I’m choosing to let go of my old habit of trying to do too much and chase every single passing interest.

Second Course of Study: Listen to Your Body, Not Others’ Opinions

I knew this before, but I forgot.

This past week, the lesson to listen to my body and not others’ opinions came in the guise of skin care.

I let myself get duped into going back to wearing making almost every day during the workweek, and just when my skin was doing really well on its own.  There’s implicit pressure in my town and line of work to wear makeup unless you literally have a perfect complexion, or you abstain for religious purposes.  (And who, over 18, does have a perfect complexion?  Very few people, the few who are extremely genetically gifted.)  Recently this pressure has most often come in the guise of contemptuous looks from clients and workers in other offices with whom I must sometimes interact face-to-face.

(Sadly, as a sidenote, the vast majority of this pressure comes from other women.  As in 99% in my experience.  Why do we do this to each other?  Seriously?)

Wearing makeup almost every day again has brought on the worst breakout I’ve had in months.  And I was using the gentlest makeup I could find, with not a thing in it that doesn’t occur in nature: mineral pigments, aloe extract, and vitamins C and E.  Plus, it was a powder, so it should have just set on top of my skin.  Still, here I am, broken out with patches of redness and itchiness.  The only change in regard to my skin care routine was wearing makeup almost every day.  I stopped over the weekend, and it’s already looking better.

Clearly my skin doesn’t like the stuff, for whatever reason.  So I am back off the near-daily makeup-wearing wagon, and back to wearing it for special occasions only.  Occupational prejudices be damned!  I’d rather get contemptuous looks from the prejudiced than deal with the discomfort and itching of a breakout, or–Heaven forbid–cystic acne again.  The Court of Public Opinion and its standards of beauty just aren’t that important to me.

The Takeaway, for Me:

  1. Don’t try to do too much at a time, and, as far as free time goes; do only what makes you happiest and/or benefits you the most.
  2. Listen to your body; it knows better than public opinion.  (Disclaimer: However, when in doubt, and in cases of serious health matters, one should pay attention to medical opinions.)
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