shedding the SHOULD DO'S + doing what I WANT

Yesterday I stumbled upon a spectacular website, Hello Month.  It combines photography and loving notes to create a calendar-like set up with a beautiful reminder each day to care for yourself. (I seriously encourage you to follow the link and take a peek.)

Today’s message struck me on a personal level… Sarah writes:

Dear Me,
A day without shoulds...is it even possible?
Today, we’re going to try. Continue noticing your shoulds, and *then* practice replacing them with what you really want. Instead of “I should make dinner right now”, think about what you actually *want* to do. Maybe you want to make dinner, or maybe you just want to order pizza. Maybe you don’t want to make a boring dinner, but you *do* want to be creative in the kitchen.
Find a way to do what you want to do, rather than what you *should* be doing. Of course, if even *this* feels like a should, that’s a perfect place to start.
the You whose desires are good and noble
I primarily live my life by what I *should* be doing. Especially since I returned to college and have struggled to manage my time and efficiency with homework, work, and personal pleasures. My *wants* are only thought after (and if) I get all of that done.
I SHOULD be writing that paper.
I SHOULD layout what needs to get done for the week.
I SHOULD have read that chapter in a lot less time than I took to read it.
Even events I look forward to! Take last night. My college town celebrates Oktoberfest, so the campus puts on a weekend-long event where underage-safe activities such as craft nights, laser tag, Harry Potter-themed nights, etc. are put on.
Katelin and I thought we would brave the tie-dye event in our hall, but the day just didn’t call for it. You know, life happens: I was in a sour mood, the homework wasn’t done, and ya-ta-ya-ta. It all boiled down to: I just wasn’t feelin’ the tie-dye.
But I thought I SHOULD do it. Something fun became an obligation instead of an option.
These Should Do’s of our life come from the idea that we need to have “this, this, and this” crossed off our lists before we can be satisfied. It’s a process dependent on shame and guilt and totally sucks the enjoyment out of everything.
There’s this idea that, if I get all of this homework done in this amount of time… if I get outside and take a walk today…if I do yoga three times a week… I can feel good about myself. I can be content. I can breathe.
Today I shook that off, and let go of the Should Do’s, and focused on what I wanted to do. And no! This didn’t mean I skipped all of my homework, because that actually negates a deeper want (learning, growing, graduating).
But I did my homework – when I wanted to, not when I thought I should do it. I took my time with it and actually, GASP, enjoyed the process.
I stayed in bed, in my sweats, with fresh air blowing in the window, and just gave myself as long as I needed. I took breaks, got up and stretched, and even played some video games when I wanted.
I didn’t do yoga. I did get outside. I did have a donut.
But none of these did’s or didn’t(s) bared the burdens I so often feel. And I found I could breathe much easier.
Shedding the Should Dos gives us more freedom to do what we want, and that often correlates with the things we need to do.
Inspired by Hello Month, the changing of seasons, and the welcome of a new month, this is going to be my focus of October: to continue shedding these Should Dos and embracing the Wants.
Will you join me?



At the beginning of this month I had a very relaxed interview with a professor I admire greatly. She was looking for 2-3 research assistants for her current project, and I was one of the ten students asked to apply. 

Let me just say: this is something I have dismissed ever happening since my first semester of college! I'd go on the school website and see various headlines about research assistant experiences, and before every semester there are emails sent out about how great research assistant positions look when you graduate and looking for a "real-life" job.  

This was something I daydreamed about but never wasted too much time on, because it definitely wasn't going to happen. 

So, when I got the email asking if I was interested (at 10:00 at night late August), I freaked out. Just a little... (I ran through the house telling everyone, ran back into my room, sat on the bed and basically cried, jumped back out of bed and ran around the house to talk about it again to everyone, and then laid awake for another two hours with adrenaline shooting through me.) 

Describing myself as "excited" does not hit anywhere near the level of emotion I was feeling.

What else did I do? 

Talked nonstop about, "What if I don't get it?" 
Plus had three dreams about being told I didn't get the job... 

I was so ready to just accept the mindset of, "Well, at least I got asked," and ready myself for disappointment. Why? Because I wasn't experienced enough, she didn't know me enough, these just aren't the things that happen to me, this reason, that reason-- 

Any reason I could come up with for me not being worthy enough to get this job was imagined and accepted. 

It was a two week battle of constantly replacing those thoughts with reasons why I WAS worth the position! I had to be at the ready with positive, confidence-building thoughts to dis-empower the self-hate talk that had been waiting to launch its assault.

And you know what? The self-hate was wrong (as usual), and I got the position. 

A goal I never let formulate because it seemed too out of reach--too good--for a student like me has been achieved. 

An opportunity I assumed only available to students that had reached a level of awesome and prestige was given to me, and now I own the "awesome and prestige" I thought I never encapsulated. 

But what if I hadn't gotten the job? What if I was turned down for good reasons and sent back to stay at the art gallery? Would I be not worthy of that job? Not good enough for it? Would I not be an awesome and "prestigious" student? 


And I wish I could have seen that before holding the title of "research assistant."

I wish the understanding for how wrong my self-destructing thoughts always (!!!) are was constantly at the forefront of my mind.

It's so easy, now that I have the job, to wave a hand and exclaim, "Well, of course I would still be amazing and intelligent and all of the things, because the job doesn't make me that! It's just a cool opportunity!" 

And it is a SUPER cool opportunity, but had I not gotten the job it would have taken me a little longer to claim myself as "awesome and prestigious." And I still wouldn't describe myself or my college career as "prestigious." (I really hate that word.)  

Because I have been taught to downgrade myself, and so have you. 

You and I haven't been shown how to look at ourselves as worthy of everything we want. 

And I might recognize these perverted facts, but it doesn't mean it makes it easier to feel the worth I own. 

I must be active in seeking out that knowledge.
The knowledge of my whole and absolute worth. 

I must be critical of what words I describe myself with. 
The words I speak to others. 

I must remember such words in the times that I am turned down; the times I don't get the position. 

And I must remember that I can totally achieve what I think I never will, because I just did it. 

I want you to remember this, too.
Because I wholeheartedly believe in you.

What dreams are you ignoring? What are the goals you secretly have?  


Weekly Reads 9.19.13

(Oh, yes. Here I am doing my weekly reads,
two weeks late and at the middle-end of a random
week. Because college has taken over me from
the inside out, and Thursday night felt like a good a night
as any to put up some fantastic reads for you. Enjoy~) 

This is a post overflowing with encouragement
 at going for your biggest goals! It's like a big 
hug and warm drink of coffee. 

A needed reminder to CELEBRATE. Even when
there's nothing to necessarily celebrate.

My Women's Diversity course is offering me the 
best readings, including this. As a white woman 
blogging most often on image this was particularly

Source: Getty Images

Mindful eating?! Yes, yes, YES. 
This post answers the question "If I stop dieting, 
will I gain weight?" Per.Fect.Ly.

Source: Getty Images

I am unabashedly obsessed with Everyday
Feminism right now. Including their 

Jen wrote on a self-reflection project she 
participated in, and I am so planning on doing
one for myself! 


Girl's Get Periods

I had an epiphany today. 

It happened as I scurried back into class thinking, "Another crisis averted," and sat down still slightly embarrassed. 

See, ten minutes into my Women's Diversity class this morning I was almost positive that I had gotten my period. A serious situation that needed to be handled ASAP lest I wanted to become Amelia from 10th grade who got her period in a white skirt and left a pool of blood at her desk. 

I mean, I wasn't that far off. It's flaming hot today, so I'm in light work-out shorts, and those suckers are not about to absorb the onslaught coming at them. I was about to be Amelia from 10th grade while my professor talked about patriarchy. Sick joke, right? 

So, there I sat, ten minutes into lecture in a classroom full of girls, and I couldn't bring myself to get my pad from my backpack and go to the bathroom for two minutes. 

In a room full of girls (maybe two guys), I was embarrassed to be seen walking out the door with a pad in my hand. 

Just chew on that. 

If you have the biological reproduction organs of a female, you (generally) get a period. You know what a pad and tampon is. You understand that blood gushes from your vagina, and it's disgusting, and painful, but it's totally normal. You understand that every other girl goes through it, too. 

But we don't talk about it. We are SHAMED by this NATURAL OCCURRENCE. 
We are embarrassed to be seen with a little bandage-thing that sticks to our underwear! 

I was about to let myself bleed through one of my favorite, coziest shorts just so a bunch of girls didn't see a pad...and know I was going to use it. 

I know I'm not the only one who tries to hide my pad in public places or who doesn't feel comfortable talking about periods in public. 

And this is not okay. 

Girls shouldn't feel like they have to hide their periods. The pain of cramps should not be devalued, because some days I cannot go to class or work my cramps are so freaking bad, but do professors and bosses understand? Eh, sometimes... if they're women. 

It was totally ironic that this happened during talk of patriarchy, because this habit of hiding something our women bodies do is a consequence of our male-valued society. 

I know there is more talk today than ever about periods, but there is such a lack in this department...

 Because I don't enjoy having my uterus shed itself in the middle of class and feeling like I can't or shouldn't do anything about it. 


Dear Self

Dear Self,

You screw up a lot. You yell a lot. You have a bad temper. 

You bear a lot of hurt and deal a lot of hurt in return. 

You are often anxious about the current situation and need a hug, but instead of asking for one, you find yourself snapping at loved ones and getting anger back. They are human, too, and have a hard time reading your fluxing emotions.  

Because of all of these things, you don't feel worth being told nice things; you don't feel worth great opportunities; you don't feel a whole lot like loving yourself. 

No, you feel like curling into yourself, wrapped in everything you fail at day-after-day and letting them define you. You want to tell everyone you meet everything you've done, so they know you're not worth their time. 

But, self... 

You are worth being told you are amazing, because you are amazing. 

You are worth being told you're beautiful and sexy, because you are beautiful and sexy. 

You are worth all the good things you want and dream of. You really are.

Even now as I type this to you, you doubt such words. 

That feeling is a lie. 

That feeling will only hinder you in the places you deserve to go farthest. 

That feeling is horrid to carry around: it's heavy, sticky, and has no love in it. 

There is so much love for you out there, ready to replace the doubt and unworthiness you currently encapsulate. It is within you already; and all you have to do is see it, and feel it, and believe in it. 

Is it so hard to believe in it? Is it that much harder than believing how much of a mess you are? 

I don't think so. 

So, take it, self. I'm showing it to you, I'm giving it to you, and I'm feeling it for you. 

This love I hold for you is part of you and much bigger than any hate that you hold for yourself. 

I love you so, so much, self. You deserve it all.