Treat Yo’ Self

The other day I was bouncing around funny articles on Buzzfeed, when I saw one titled, “If Donna Meagle Quotes were Motivational Posters.” As a massive Parks and Recreation fan, I scrolled through and laughed at some of my favorite lines repeated over an inspirational sunset background. Most were quotes you’d only know if you watched the show (and if you haven’t, please stop reading this blog and come back when you have), but the one that made me laugh the hardest was the one everyone’s heard: Treat Yo’ Self. The premise of that episode is basically that two characters celebrate Treat Yo’ Self Day every year, and it’s literally a day to spend exorbitant amounts of money on whatever makes you happy: clothes (treat yo’self), jewelry (treat yo’self), massages (treat… you get the idea). I debated hanging that poster on my desk at work, but instead took a screenshot and set it as the background of my phone. The photo doesn’t fit quite right, and it’s admittedly very silly, but every time I go to unlock my phone, that little Treat Yo’ Self makes me smile.

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My actual phone background.

Treating ourselves. What a foreign concept for so many of us! From the little things, like a stopping at Starbucks for a coffee in the mornings, to the big things, like manicure on a Monday, buying a mid-afternoon smoothie for fun, or a cab home after a particularly long day at the office, it feels really good to do something nice for yourself every once in a while. Sometimes for me it’s not stressing about getting another blog post up, and taking some time off writing to fix the other parts of my life; sometimes it’s saying it “screw it” to budgeting responsibly and spending money on something for yoga or for life that makes me happy. It’s really easy to get sucked into the same routine over and over, fixing things for other people, pushing through another day at the office, that we can forget to take a minute to feel good about ourselves and enjoy the life we work so hard to maintain.

It goes so far beyond monetary or tangible things too. Yesterday morning when I woke up, I was so tired. My head was pounding, my muscles ached from moving and assembling furniture with my parents all day on Sunday, and I did a full hour of yoga after they left as well, slower movements, working on backbends and splits instead of inversions, but still strenuous work. I tried to drag myself to the mat to do the core strength workout I’ve been “enjoying” for the past month, but as I went to roll out of bed, I was overwhelmed with the need to continue resting, resting an old injury in my sciatic nerve that was protesting all the work from the day before, and resting the muscles that have been worked really hard lately. I took a look at the time and had a choice: stay in bed for another 20 minutes and listen to my body, or push myself to the mat. There’s always an argument to push your body, especially when it comes to exercise, but I took a look at the phone background, smiled, told myself “TREAT YO’SELF” and promptly fell asleep for a brief, yet blissful and much-needed snooze.

The rest of my 2015 literally revolves around other people’s weddings, and while I’m elated that I get the chance to be so involved in these important days for the most important women in my life, it’s really fucking stressful on a number of levels. There are dates to remember and so many parties to plan, buying dresses and presents and hotels, spending, spending, stressing; and in between all of that there is apparently some kind of law that requires everyone saying things like “My friend Katie’s friend Mark met his wife at a wedding!” and “Don’t worry, this will be you someday!”  Reminding myself on occasion to take a minute for me, turn off my phone for a little while, take a deep breath before once again reminding people that IDGAF if I ever get married because my life rocks, maybe even sit and sulk for five minutes that I’m not going to have a non-wedding related conversation with some of my friends till 2016, has been transformative.

As is the case with many things in my life, now that I’ve had “Treat Yo’self” on the brain, courtesy of the phone background, I’m seeing it everywhere: in a wonderfully generous gift certificate as a thank-you from my partner-in-crime for watching her dog, overheard in conversations on the subway, on t-shirts and on random social media posts. Maybe I’m the only one with the revelation recently that to treat yourself does wonders for body and soul; or maybe now that I’ve mentioned it to you all you’re going to start seeing it everywhere too. If you take nothing else from casual reading of this ridiculous blog, always remember to treat yo’self.

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The Month of “No”

I realized recently, as I’m rapidly approaching the end of my second year in this apartment, that this is the first time in my adult life I’ve managed to find some semblance of a routine. I’ve adjusted to my budget, created a schedule that (mostly) balances work and life, and I have my little rituals that make me happy, like yoga every morning and weekly food prep on Sundays. I mean sure, I’m still pretty broke most of the time, and much as I always intend to prep food on Sundays, sometimes that doesn’t happen till Monday. Or Tuesday. Or okay sometimes I forget to grocery shop and then blow the rest of my budget eating Seamless meals all week. But for the most part, at least, I’ve found a way to live comfortably in the life that just now looks to be settling down. This routine, and the new-found responsibility* (*appearance of responsibility), all fit nicely into a goal that my lovely friend M and I set for ourselves all the way back in 2014 (aka two weeks ago). January is officially the Month of “No.”

The last year has been one of the most enjoyable times in my life. I went to multiple concerts and festivals, planned last-minute mini-vacations and day trips outside the city; I’ve been to more crazy restaurants and bars and parties than probably the previous three years combined. I indulged my Free People obsession on way too many occasions and all-too-happily handed over cash at a few tattoo parlors. And I don’t regret a single dollar spent in this year. I started 2014 newly single, slowly expanding my group of friends, trying new scenes, taking what I thought I knew about the city so far out of my comfort zone that it forced me out of the shell I’d been in for so long, challenging me to be Someone, to be LB.  The routine of my last year was there was no routine. I could plan ahead by a few days, or maybe a few weeks, but anything after that just seemed ridiculous, like I wouldn’t know enough about my life in two months to commit to saving money for that hypothetical time when I’d really need it. Things continued on this path during the holidays, spending money with little more than reckless abandon, but only because I knew it was the last time I’d really be able to do so. So once the madness of New Year’s (e.g. the hangover) calmed down, I sat on my couch with a notebook and a calculator, and planned my budget for the next year.

When you’re still in school, you plan things by the semester, or even by the month. Things are so up in the air, they’re so variable at that age; you could choose to switch a class or take a weekend road trip on a whim and a daydream. In the early years of life on your own, budgets are more like “helpful suggestions,” since as long as you can pay the rent and bills on time, why not have a little fun while on your own for the first time in your life? It’s easy to say “Yes” to everything: Yes to going out two nights in a row, Yes to taking a cab home even though it’s not creepy-subway hours yet, Yes to buying that extra dress just because it’s on sale, Yes to peanut butter and frozen vegetables for a week just so you can buy that last-minute ticket at Webster. Yes feeds into FOMO, convincing you not to skip that happy hour just in case something great happens while you were being responsible. No is a scary concept, when you’ve spent so long trying to avoid it in favor of fun.

In order this year, I will have: Nickname Posse trip to Atlantic City, annual mama/Twinster Boston trip, 5-year college reunion, the annual 403 trip with my anchor G and my soul sister E, bachelorette parties/wedding showers for Twinster and my partner-in-crime R, plus oh ya know THEIR WEDDINGS. This is in between birthdays for everyone, spontaneous nights and roadtrips, weekends where at least one day I’ll eat nothing but Seamless food and one or two Free People indulgences. This year already has so many amazing things planned that I’m taking January, my one month with absolutely zero plans, to say “No.” No to nights out, No to spending money on things for myself that aren’t workout classes or essentials (e.g. coffee and wine), No to buying new yoga leggings even though they’re on crazy sale at Rue La La (which was the hardest thing I’ve had to do ALL YEAR). I need a month to save money, staying in on Saturdays to finish whatever’s on my Netflix queue and spending Sundays buying groceries and prepping food all week. It won’t last forever – my FOMO is pretty freaking strong – but for at least a few weeks, it’s a small step towards making me feel like a real adult.