Later this week is my half-birthday. I'll be twenty-five-and-a-half. Half-birthdays are just a silly thing, like congrats on being halfway through another rotation around the sun, right? Well, this half-birthday marks the threshold of being closer to 30 than 20. I'm deep into my mid-twenties. 30 is just four-and-a-half years away. No big deal.... right?
Instead of having that quarter-life crisis and freaking out about getting older, like we all do, if we're lucky, I'm trying to enter this new era gracefully. I'm taking this opportunity to reflect on the first half of my twenties and see how much I've grown. I'd like to share a few things that I've learned about myself along the way.
The biggest thing I've learned in my twenties so far is how to take care of myself, and I think this is a lesson that will serve me well as I creep closer to thirty and beyond while being a mother, a wife, and a woman. Self-Care is kind of a buzzy topic right now, and for good reason. And right now, you're probably thinking... "but Paige, this is a creative process blog! What are you talking about?!" Well here's the thing. To nourish a creative mind, you must take care of your BODY and keep your life in good working order.
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This is what self-care means to me:
Obviously this doesn't mean you have to be rich, just be aware of what your income is, and budget accordingly. Get a credit card, but only use it to buy things that you actually have the money for, and pay off your balance as soon as you can. A good credit score is so important. Try to save money, at least a little. Talk with your credit union and find a plan that works for you. Know when your bills are do and pay them on time. Know what resources are out there to help you when you need it. There is no shame in getting a hand-up and learning to be financially responsible and independent. This is especially important if, like me, you're a solo-preneur small business owner. Click the photo below to learn about Intuit QuickBooks Self-Employed, the program that seriously saves my ass when it comes to tracking expenses and income for my business.
Be Mindful of What Your Body Needs.
Drink water, eat healthy, get regular exercise in a method you enjoy. Don't procrastinate making doctor and dental appointments, and seek out resources to help you afford healthcare. Actually take the vitamins, medicine, and supplements that your doctor recommends. Use products that work well with your body, not just what some magazine advertises or some influencer on instagram recommends.
Minimize Your Carbon Footprint.
Try to use as little plastic and chemicals as possible. Carpool more and drive less, if you have the opportunity. This is important to your body and everyone else's body, of all species. Use ecofriendly products in your home. (I have some recommendations below). Pollution directly affects you. Humans are bio-accumulators, which means that any toxins in the environment are taken into our bodies and stored in our fat. Humans that eat meat are also susceptible to biomagnification, which means that the toxins stored in other animals get concentrated in our bodies at a higher rate. Read more here.
Rest & Go Your Own Pace.
This is where the self-care that you probably visualize from popular media comes in. Have some wine and cookies after a hard day. Take a bath. In other words, treat yo' self. Also, remember that life generally isn't a race, and don't compare your beginning to someone else's middle.
Ask For Help When You Need it.
You are not alone on this planet, stop acting like you are an island. Whether it's getting extra help with your kid for a few hours a week, asking your spouse to take one of your chores for the day, or seeking out public resources, do it. Take every opportunity to make your life easier, and do the same when others ask for your help, if you can.
Work Hard, Play Hard.
Bust your ass at your job so that when you have time to relax, you can enjoy it with minimal stress. Learn the art of batch-tasking. Use a planner. Make a grocery list and only go twice a month or so. Set your paycheck to direct deposit and all your bills to autopay. Do meal prep on sundays so you don't have to pack a lunch every morning (or forget and have to buy food). Make large batches of meals you love so you don't have to cook every single night. Do whatever else you can to streamline your life and create more time to have fun.
Learn about Yourself.
This is pretty open. It can be anything from trying new hobbies or taking a class that interests you (like the cool ones on craftsy!), or reading your horoscope and using it as a chance to reflect on where your life is at this month. Take the Myers-Brigg personality test, learn your love language. Learn all you can about yourself and how you communicate. Life can be less frustrating if you're aware of where your baseline is.
Surround Yourself with Beauty.
This is all about the concept of karma in the universe and reaping what you sow. Be around people that make you feel good about yourself. Nurture house plants, a garden, or fur babies. Be equally kind to strangers and people you love. Clean your house and work space and decorate it with objects that are not only functional, but bring you joy. If your home is messier than you'd like, use the KonMari method to de-clutter. Spend time in places that you find beautiful.
Do More of What Makes You Happy.
Simple as that. You can read about how I learned this lesson in this previous post.
I've also learned kindness in a major way. I used to be so rude to people and I have no idea why. I wasn't kind to myself, and that hurt everyone in my life that loves me. My mother and my husband told me this for years and I never believed them. Thanks mom and Josiah, for looking out for me. You can lead a horse to water but you can't make them drink... or you can tell your daughter or wife that she is loved and beautiful and smart and has so much to offer the world if she would only TRY and be kind... but you can't make her believe it. What really shifted things for me was having a child. I know you should really try to get your life in order before being responsible for another human being. I know. But for me, having a daughter was what I needed to kick my ass in gear and finally just take care of myself and be a good person. I wanted to be the mother that all daughters need. I wanted to be healthy, for her. I wanted to be a brave, confident female role model for her. So I manifested all that energy into finally being a version of myself that I'm happy with.
I try, now, to sprinkle kindness around like confetti on new years. Kindness costs nothing and I think we should all practice radical softness to ourselves and others.
I'm in a way different place at 25.5 than I thought I would be. I didn't predict that I would be a stay-at-home mom juggling a small business, elbowing my way into the fiber + textile arts industry, living in a small town. I'm also not surprised that I ended up here.
In the first half of my twenties, I was an absolute mess, for most of it. I never took the easy path, for some reason. I graduated with a BA and went onto grad school. I was and still am so in love. I got married. I had a baby. I struggled with mental health and vices. I worked several different jobs and didn't feel passionate or happy or meaningful in any of them. I was on a rollercoaster of highs and lows, and I can see now that it was mostly my fault, a result of short-sighted decisions and not getting help for mental health and in general, feeling so lost and unsure of what I wanted, while pretending I had it all figured out. I didn't know how to take care of myself and that made my life really difficult, and I take full responsibility for that. I wasn't a bad person, not everything in my life sucked, but it wasn't peaches and roses either. It's all relative and I'm so grateful things weren't worse, and that the biggest problem I had was myself. Life isn't wild anymore and let me tell you, IT FEELS SO GOOD.
I'm so glad that I found this path. I still feel lost sometimes. I think we all do. Now, I know when to ask for help. I know that I need to take care of myself. I still don't always know what I want from life or where I'm headed, but it is so freeing to not feel like I'm a failure if I don't have it all figured out. I'm a real person.
The reason I share my journey and all the ugly bits is because I know that other people still struggle. And if you're struggling, I want you to know, that the only way out of the darkness is THROUGH. Be kind to yourself and trudge forward.
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In other news... I'm writing a quilt pattern for Make Modern Magazine's July issue, and I've been sharing sneak peeks on social media! If you're interested in subscribing, please use the banner below-- I will collect a portion of the sale, which helps support my pattern writing endeavors.
One last thing... if you didn't click the link about about practicing radical softness, I really recommend giving the article a thorough, saturating look-over. I read this last June and it changed my perspective on femininity and helped me embrace the radical softness within myself, and harness the power of womanhood. Here's the link again: UNCONVENTIONAL: Radical Softness as a Weapon, by Amy King.