Wednesday, February 21, 2018

A Year of Self-Love

We spend the majority of our childhood years in school. We learn about math, science, english, and history. Rarely does the curriculum include the skills necessary to function successfully in society and live fulfilling lives -- how to handle finances, how to have healthy relationships, how to communicate effectively, how to manage emotions, how to cope with failure. Most of us spend the majority of our adulthood acquiring these skills. Often we attain these skills by trial-and-error. Rarely do we master them.

I enjoyed school. I was fortunate to develop behaviors that helped me do well, such as typing my papers on a word processor and saying "yes" to opportunities that came my way. While these behaviors helped me ace my classes, they paved the way for the development of unhealthy habits later in life -- perfectionism and people-pleasing, to name a few. Eventually these habits, coupled with relentless societal stresses, became toxic.

I think often about my life story. I wonder how it might be different had I learned about self-love alongside my calculus and physics classes. I would have learned about identifying my personal values and setting priorities aligned with those values. I would have learned about focusing on the things that are important to me and letting other things go. I would have learned about self-awareness and being true to myself in my interactions with others. I would have learned about listening to my body.

What I've learned about self-love has mostly been acquired in the last few years. As I've been working to shake my bad habits, I've been realizing just how much I beat myself up all those years. I want to heal what those years of stress have done to my body. I know I can't unravel the damage that has been done, but I can decide to live my life differently moving forward.

Monday, February 19, 2018

Lip Incompetence on Dollar Street

I scheduled an appointment for a routine cleaning a few weeks ago with a new dentist. As this was the first visit, the appointment began with a one-on-one consultation in which the doctor and I discussed my dentistry goals. Seeing the dollar signs in her eyes light up when I flashed my tea-stained smile, I told her I was not interested in cosmetic dentistry. (I wanted to nip that puppy in the bud right away!) Rather, I am interested in the long-term health and functionality of my teeth and their supporting structures.

For the record, this is me.
You can't see my teeth, but that's not important.

After reviewing my xrays, the dentist handed me a five-page "Review of Findings." This felt more like a meeting with an attorney, but I digress. The dentist went over her findings with me -- I had healthy gums and bone, no tooth decay, yadda yadda. When we came to the section labeled Diagnosis, the dentist looked me straight in the eye, and said, "Sarah, you have incompetent lips."

Saturday, February 3, 2018

My Philosophy on Relationships

In my mid-20s, I enjoyed poring over the Chicago Tribune ever Sunday morning. My husband and I spread ourselves and the sections of the paper across the living room floor. As the rays of the sun, which shone through the patio doors, slowly inched their way from morning to afternoon, we read every word in every section of the paper. I remember those mornings fondly.

One Sunday -- I recall it being near Valentine's Day -- I opened a section of the paper to a two-page spread. The author had interviewed various Chicagoans asking "What does love mean to you?"

Abbreviated responses were encapsulated in speech balloons and suspended across the pages.

    "Love is patient."

    "Love is kind."

    "Love is all you need."

    "Love is looking in the same direction."

As I read the quotes, a warm'n'fuzzy feeling filled my traditional heart.

But that warm feeling quickly turned to repulsion when I read the balloon that had sunk deep into the crease at the foot of the page: "Love is not meant to be shared with the same person forever."