These are random musings of my life journey, the people, animals, places, and events which have woven, and continue to weave, a tapestry that is me. We all know there is no real destination, only the ongoing experiences which blend together, creating the trail. Each step gives a glimpse of what is to come, without allowing me to see the end result. It is exciting. I have a home base that is mine, that gives me a place to rest. This is it. This is where my heart is, no matter where I journey...................

Thursday, June 07, 2007

Thoughts For Thursday

  • learn to do things for yourself
Think about that statement a moment before reading on. What does it mean to you?

That is another of those lines from the little book of Instant Karma that I quoted in a post a while back. This line caught my eye this morning, and it occurred to me that it might be interpreted two ways.

One way of reading that phrase is something that many of us, probably most of us, have difficulty doing ... taking care of one's self, doing nice things for one's self, being OK with self-gratification. Our society is still based these days in much of the Puritanical system from centuries ago when our nation was just a foundling. I know that seems odd when we have the amount of sexual freedom, unmarried cohabitation, etc., as we do. Our lifestyle is pretty hedonistic, at least on the surface. And for several feet down! But if you think about it, that underlying concept that it is not good to please one's self still runs deep. We have been so deeply trained to be focused on helping others and putting our own needs and desires aside that it is almost an innate trait with us.

To put others first is noble. I won't argue with that. However, we do so to a fault. We tend to ignore our own needs because it has been made to seem evil to put one's self ahead of others.
In my professional training we were taught the initial steps of overcoming that idea. We were told to care for ourselves because, very simply and quite accurately, we can't help others if we are damaged or sick or exhausted ourselves. I believe that, but it doesn't begin to overturn the age-old threads of turning everything outward.

If you recall, I bought myself an easel the other day. Self-indulgence, for sure. I didn't need it, at least not right now. But it felt awfully good. And I try to be sure that I have some "me time" every day. Now, I live alone, so I have lots of "me time," or one wold assume, but if I don't take a block of time and make it specifically for quiet introspection and self-stroking, that alone time turns into TV time or cleaning time or I call someone else to see how they are doing in their personal struggles. Yes, I still do those things, but not during the designated "me time." I'm also trying to get better about asking myself some of the questions that I ask others to support them. So I care for me. But not without some angst in the process, because I have to fight against the urges to be "doing something," or putting that energy into someone else. That is just the way we are.

I've come to recognize that some people who are self-indulgent, especially to a fault, attempt to rationalize it away. They become defensive about the lifestyle of self-indulgence. The biggest problem is that we haven't learned how to balance self-indulgence with indulging others. We seem to be at one extreme or the other, and we're feeling some degree of guilt if partaking of the former, or a pious indignity if the latter. I'm working on my own balance of self and other. I think I'm doing OK, but I'm not sure how other see it. Not sure it matters what others see, but there you have it .... that old innateness lives in my innermost self and I feel a bit guilty when I put me first.

The second way of reading that line is something I've had a crash course in over the past couple years. I'm referring to learning new skills, things I didn't need to do before because there was always someone else on that task. The thing is that the joy and sense of accomplishment I got with each newly completed success was amazing ... and self-stroking! Knowing that I have learned how to do something for myself was/is very empowering, and gives me a much more comfortable space in which I live. I have more ownership with each of these self-assuring steps, ownership of my surroundings, my emotional status, my place in society. My self-worth goes up. Again, this relates back to the old ethics of my ancestors, specifically in the area of "work ethic."

Every new hands-on skill I've tackled has encouraged me and given me a greater sense of control in my life. I have a better feeling for who I am, how I want to relate to others, and most of the time, I feel more confident in my relationships. I am less at risk for being taken advantage of in dealing with contractors, because I have enough understanding to know if I'm getting a good deal.

So learning to do things for myself is invaluable in making my life better in both interpretations. Whether it means taking care of my physical needs or the more aesthetic needs, it behooves me to learn. So tell me ... did you have a different take on any of that? What does it mean to you?


  1. I think more people have trouble taking care of themselves than they do each other. I know I do. I'm getting better though

  2. It took my little one to make me learn that lesson. If I'm 'whole'...she gets more. So I've learned to do things that get me closer to whole.

  3. When I was in my twenties, I didn't know how to not be in a relationship. I suppose I felt I had no identity if I wasn't with a man...Something I learned from my mother I presume. It wasn't until I hit thirty that I was alone for the first time, and I have loved it ever since. I love my "me" time, and I treat myself good. (My credit cards show this..Ha ha!)
    I had to learn on my own that I could take care of myself, and that I was capable of being happy without being part of a couple.

  4. I learned at an early age to do things for myself. I knew if I didn't do something that needed to be done, it wasn't going to get done unless I did it.

  5. Self-sufficiency is a good thing. Knowing how to get things accomplished, handling it without drama, taking care that life's mundane chores run smoothly -- and that crises are handled as efficcently as possible so that they become non-issues promptly.

    I love doing nice things for myself. It is my reward for being self-sufficient and not having a guy taking care of things for me.

    Taking care of others in a healthy way is a balance. And it works, for the most part when my boundaries are good. Loving and self-respecting simultaneously.

  6. I have a problem of doing something just for me. Which sounds a little unlikely considering my lifestyle but believe me when I say it. You first have to take care of yourself, love yourself before you can pass that on to other people. I am still learning how.

  7. Pepper - No, that makes sense to me. Your lifestyle actually is almost a buffer from having to take care of yourself. Think of it this way ... if I lived next door to you I might be saying, "Now, Pepper, you do (whatever) for your mom, (whatever) for the kids, (whatever) for (whoever else). When are you going to do something for Pepper?" But see, you have just yor mom to nag at you!!

    I hope you do work on that. It is so important to being happy and healthy. Good travels!!

  8. Boy, I'm apparently a "keyboard mess" today. I had a reply for the rest of you before I did Pepper's, and I guess I didn't send it.

    sighhh. It's gonna be a looooong day, I think.

    Patti - It doesn't cme naturally, I think. As I said, I think we are socialized to disregard ourselves, even though it isn't intentional from most parents. And there is a fine line between being self-neglectful and self-spoiled. Is that a word? Well, now it is!!

    Jenn - Oh, don't our babies make differences in our life-decisions? I remember my decision to quite being a party girl was when I looked at my little boy and knew that he was more important than the good times. I still didn't "get it" in total, but I did move over out of the fast lane.

    Jen - I think a lot of us, maybe most of us, could say the same thing. I'm glad you're indulging yourself; there are many who don't ever get to that level but just keep seeking that perfect partner. I think one of the coolest parts of my journey in the last year has been becoming comfortable with being "Just Me."

    Daisy - The best part of that is this ... no one can ever do things quite as you want them done, so this way, you get it right! Yay for you!

    Annie - You're right. The key is the balance with good boundaries. So many people never get that, but rather live on the side on one extreme or the other. If you think of a pendulum, it can't stay at either edge without something propping it there. So when some of the props that hold folks in those extreme positions move, it shakes the whole system and the pendulum has to find a new prop to maintain itself. Yes, balance is good. I don't want to be propped up by someone else, but swinging in balance with my ever-changing needs.


If you have something to say about it, just stick out your thumb, and I'll slow down so you can hop aboard! But hang on, 'cause I'm movin' on down the road!!! No time to waste!!!