Monday, May 7, 2012

Book Review Inclusion / Finding Joy [Part Three]

I'm going to try to develop this blog a little bit, versus delete it and start a new one, which is my general inclination when I want to start a new project.

One of my new "resolutions" (yes, resolution, Gretchin Rubin) is to write for 30 minutes daily (in addition to any academic writing I do). I want this blog to better reflect what I'm thinking about and processing, especially as I start to work towards some long-term writing projects. We'll be realistic and understand that I probably won't actually update every day, but that's the goal.

I've also been taking the time to import all of my book review from Goodreads to this blog. As I've been going through, I realize that many of my so-called "reviews" are something along the lines of:

   "I really liked this book."
   "I did not like this book, what a terrible author."

Many of these reviews show poor pen(wo)manship and a lack of good reading, so as I think more about writing, and thus think more about reading, I plan to review every single book I read (besides the dozens of baby and children's books I read each week, of course) and actually do some sort of worthwhile review. This may not be interesting to anyone besides myself, but I need to be more engaged and take away more from my favorite pastime.

As a note, my first actual post on this blog was on June 8th, 2010, labeled "Laundomat Woes."

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Now, on to the business at hand: Finding Joy [Part Three]

The prompt of the day from Shelley Sealle's article on Finding Joy is:

Ask, “What do I love about myself?” We rarely ask ourselves this; instead, our self-dialogue tends to be very critical. Write down all the things you really love about yourself, and refer to it to battle self-doubt, criticism and guilt.

This is one of those very difficult questions to address, especially on a public forum like a blog. I shall attempt to be as honest and straightforward as possible.

  • I love that I can be and am easily pleased, and small things make me happy.
  • I love that I am fairly aware of what is going on internally, and can usually find a way to address what is bothering me. For instance, after the baby was born, something that was (is?) contributing to my postpartum depression was loneliness. As lame as it sounds, I joined, found a great moms' group, started attending several weekly events (even though I hate meeting new people and am shy), and have made two friends and have ten or so other women that I enjoy seeing on a weekly basis.
  • I love that I get excited about taking on new projects. 
  • I love that I am curious and always want to learn new things. This is reflected in my working towards my master's degree (even though it can be a drag sometimes and difficult to actually buckle down and do the work), and learning German, for fun!
  • I love that I have curves, no matter how much weight I gain or lose.
  • I love that I can carry on adult conversations, even if I've been sitting at home with a baby all day thinking about diapers and talking to someone that can only babble in response.
  • I love that I am a really good cook; most of the time I step into the kitchen, I produce a really tasty meal or treat. I think this is rarer than I sometimes assume.
  • I love that I am always wanting to improve not only myself, but my relationship with Ian, and now my relationship with Felicity.
  • I love my freckles.
There are some things that I think I like about myself, but I'm not sure if they're entirely accurate or not. For example, I wanted to write that I'm a good friend, but when I stopped to think about it, I'm not sure that I am. I forget birthdays, am not good at correspondence, and even if I have a good friend down the street or across the hall, I'm not good at initiating spending time together, even if I'd really enjoy it. However, I think I am the sort of consistent friend that will always support you and be there for you, that will celebrate your progress and joys in life, and grieve with you when you have a break-up or there is a death in the family.

My communication skills are something else I wanted to put on the list, but then second guessed myself. Overall I feel like I am a good communicator, especially in my marriage. But then I actually think about it, and although I am good at many things, such as saying "I'm sorry," reading Ian's and my emotions and moods, and working through issues verbally with him, I'll sometimes (more often recently than not) build up resentment for little things during the day and then get angry but not want to talk about it (this is not an effective technique for improving  your relationship, by the way), or sometimes I'll have an emotion and express it, but when asked for evidence for why I feel the way I do, I will be unable to name a source, which makes me defensive, and I shut down.

This isn't to say that Ian and I fight a lot, because we really don't. We don't even argue all that often. But we do have misunderstandings and are constantly trying to make sure we're on the same page. Since Felicity's birth, this has become much more difficult as we're both getting less sleep, have less time for ourselves and as a couple, and perhaps because I have been struggling with feeling really low and thus am unmotivated and/or cranky, and so extra sensitive.

Isn't it interesting how I managed to look at the negative with this exercise? And here I was supposed to be thinking about and focusing on the good things I love about myself. I am a good partner. I am a good feminist. I am a good mother. I am a good human. I am a good scholar. I am a good daughter, sister, friend, and daughter-in-law.