I am really hard on myself. I would say that I am my worst critic -though not my most imaginative one (saving that story for another day). I didn’t even know how bad I was to myself until some people I didn’t know well, pointed it out to me. So I decided to do something about it. I started taking notes about what I liked about myself, what I wanted to change, and what things I could live with. It’s been a considerable journey – I filled up a fairly large notebook with my findings.
Once the notebook was filled, I kind of forgot everything I put in there – so I started condensing the notes and writing the good stuff onto post-it notes. Then glued them to where I would see them. You know that I already have a thing about lipstick mantras – if you don’t know, I write mantras and words of wisdom in lipstick on mirrors. Sometimes they stay up for months at a time, sometimes they last for about 10 minutes. They serve the purpose of a quick reminder to check my attitude. But the post it notes – they are reminders that I’m fairly awesome, or need a little work to get to awesome depending on where the note is located. For instance the note in the bathroom reminds me to compliment my nose – because someone once told me my nose was globular – and Ive kept that with me, and now I’m a tad insecure about it. But enough about my nose.
On my music stand is a reminder of how far I have come in a year. It has a date on it only. Next to it is another note that tells me I can accomplish whatever I want as long as I go slow. And behind my chair, plastered to the wall is another post-it that says “communist”. Its not about my political leanings. Rather, its to remind me of time when I was a fierce performer, and that I could steamroll any challenge that came my way. It’s there to tell me that I am on my way back.
I have post-its in every room. I change them according to what I need to hear. They are not to do lists (those are for the phone), They are simply a nudge to remind myself that I am pretty great – and that it takes a little work to be come truly excellent.
Do you do anything like this to give your mental health a boost, or a kick in the pants – depending on what you need in the moment?
First it must be said, I am not a great fan of family holidays. They bring a lot of anxiety for me. Christmas is especially rough. Most years I try to just ignore it. But this year, if feels like people have been preparing for this holiday since August. And while I am not exactly on jumping on board the Christmas train, I thought I would make the teeniest effort this year.
My apartment building does not allow natural trees, and I will never purchase a fake one. So I usually go without. This year, due to my lack of bookshelf space more than anything, I decided to make a book tree. It looks a bit haphazard and lopsided, and that it may collapse at any moment, but I assure you it is structurally sound. Besides I kind of like a quirky and not perfect tree. If you want perfection, go search pinterest– there are plenty of examples that will meet your needs. But for me, a little chaos and a whole lot of imperfection suits just fine.
If you want to know how I did it – here is the breakdown.
- Sort your books into 4 piles, large hardcovers, medium and small hardcovers, large paperbacks, and medium and small paperbacks
- Put your largest book in what you imagine is going to be the centre of the tree. My largest book is the Random House dictionary from196? Its humongous!
- Put your next largest books in a circle with the spines outward- make sure there are spaces in between each book – so that the corners of each are only touching
- For each layer, lay the book in between the two below it
- Use your largest books for the first few layers, and then move onto smaller and lighter books the further you go up
- After you have created a sort of wall around your centre book, put box on top – that you can build your tree around
- When you have finally reached the top of your tree, you can add a topper -I think most people use a star or an angel
- Wrap some lights or garland around the tree – remember that if you choose to use lights, that paper is flammable, so make sure you keep an eye on it. Don’t leave the lights plugged in for long periods of time.
What I love about my book tree, is that not only does it free up much needed shelf space, and gives me a constant reminder of my very large to be read list (currently at 57 books), but it helps to remind me that its ok to take some time out for myself, and read or do some other solo activity when Im feeling anxious and overwhelmed. Plus it lets me display my grandfather’s christmas ornaments from when he was a boy. The snowman that sits on the top of the tree once belonged to him. He is missing his nose, and there is a sort of noose around his neck – which is how he is usually hung on the tree – but I wouldn’t change him. I love him, just how he is.
I have a lot of books left over, so I think I might rebuild the tree tomorrow, and make it quite a bit taller. Which will give me an opportunity to restring the lights, clearly I need some practice in that area.
In celebration of reading 100 books this year, I rebuilt my tree – so it now consists of all the books I own. And now it looks like this: