Backyard Feeder

Backyard Feeder
photo taken through porch screen

Sunday, August 09, 2009

Do Something Nice for Yourself

If you have trouble doing something nice for yourself because you feel like you don’t have the time, don’t have the money, or don’t even know where to start—STOP!

You are looking for fun in all the wrong places. You don’t need to steal resources from the family in order to treat yourself to a bit of happiness. Having done parenting, poverty, and general insanity I feel somewhat qualified to offer a list of ideas to get you started in finding ways to put on your own oxygen mask first—how to give to yourself so that you have something left to give to others.

1.) Nature therapy: go out into a yard or park and actually look at the flowers and the birds and the small animals—it may help you to focus if you have a camera or if you take a sketch pad, but those things are purely optional. A walk in the woods is calming if you have a woods nearby. A walk on the beach is nice too, if there aren’t a lot of people there.

2.) Create a nature sanctuary: a bird feeder or bird house to attract the type of bird that makes you smile could be a very worthwhile investment. You can always make one yourself or find one at a thrift store or yard sale.

3.) You can plant a garden and grow things to eat with your family. Or just grow pretty flowers.

4.) Art/Craft therapy: grab the camera, the sketch pad, scraps of materials, a notebook, yarn, whatever you enjoy working with. Start small or make something that you’d buy otherwise if money is an issue.

5.) Performance art therapy: Sing, dance, play an instrument. Whether it’s karaoke night or guitar lessons or just singing loudly in the shower, perform with all of your might.

6.) Bake: cookies, bread, cakes, or crème brulee. Get creative in the kitchen. I hate having to cook a family dinner every night, but I have fun doing special things. I’ve even invested in some specialized equipment for the kitchen.

7.) Read: The library is a nice source of free books, and there are thrift shops and yard sales where you can grow your own library with pocket change. I used to find books during the library story time—while the little ones were busy listening to stories.

8.) Don’t buy the tools and materials for your next project, borrow them. Check out and share books, small appliances and tools with other people in your area. Just looking at the list of things you can borrow in your neighborrowhood might inspire you to try something new.

9.) Go to and create a whole new life for yourself. You can even create a new YOU. Travel the world at the click of a mouse button and meet interesting people or see the sights on your own.

10.) If you enjoy a nice long hot bath, try adding some nice bubble bath and a few candles around the tub, then lotion and powder for afterwards. Watch for sales on bath and spa items and create an oasis in your bathroom. Watch for after-Christmas sales for supplies. You can find nice sets to do your own manicure and pedicure—much less expensive than paying to have it done.

11.) Pet therapy: if you have a pet in the house, take some time to talk to the animals—petting or brushing a cat or dog is very relaxing (unless you let things get out of hand or you take a long haired dog for a walk in the woods) and even a goldfish will listen politely to all of your problems, never argue with you, and keep your secrets.

12.) Devotions: even if you do a devotional with the family, try getting up a few minutes early or carving a few minutes of time somewhere else and spending the time in prayer and Bible reading. You can get calendars or join an email list to get a verse or two every day.

13.) Write pages: I started doing this when I read The Artist Way. Write three pages every morning of stream of consciousness stuff. This gets all those mangled thoughts and worries out of your head and onto paper so you can deal with them or forget them. I don’t think there is any magic in the three pages that she assigns, but it is long enough that you have to write something more than: “Here I am writing my stupid pages again. I can’t think of a thing to say. Why did I ever decide to start doing this?”

14.) Develop any passion that you might have. You don’t have to make a career out of it, but don’t rule it out. Just take one small step toward your impossible dreams and remember that nothing is impossible with God. Take one class at the local community college, read a book and actually follow the advice, talk to others who share your passion. Tomorrow you can take another step.

15.) Call or visit an old friend. I just found my best friend from grade school online and have been getting reacquainted. It’s easy to lose track of people we care about when we get overwhelmed with our own life. Take a few minutes and look up that old friend and have a nice chat. Or make a new friend—call someone interesting from church or work or the neighborhood.

16.) Listen to music that makes you feel good while you work around the house. Most of the radios in the house are set to my husband’s favorite type of music, but I know where my stations are and I also have some recorded music.

17.) Hang the laundry on a clothesline. I call it my solar-wind powered clothes drier. Nobody bothers you while you hang laundry because they are afraid you’ll get them to help. It’s quiet and outside and it saves on the energy bills. Nothing like a little fresh air and exercise to make you feel alive. My mother always liked mowing the lawn—nobody bothers you when you are mowing the lawn.

18.) Take a nap in the afternoon. The world will probably keep revolving all on its own.

19.) Make a list of things that YOU like to do and find ways of doing them like I am doing with this list. I’m sure there are things that would make you happy that wouldn’t work for me or that I just haven’t thought to include. Make a list of ideas and keep it handy.

20.) Do nothing. My last vacation was spent at home doing nothing. I’ve never enjoyed a vacation more. I watched birds, splashed in the backyard pool, read books under a tree, and ate salads and sandwiches and things my husband cooked on the grill—on paper plates.

Bonnie Rice

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