Last week I was with a friend of mine and I couldn’t stop admiring her makeup. Girl looked good and we were going to work out! At one point, I told her how good her makeup looked and then I said that I am not good at doing my own makeup and feel like I wouldn’t look as good if I tried. When I got home, I kept playing this conversation back in my head (as my Virgo brain tends to do) and couldn’t figure out why I said I wasn’t good at doing my makeup (which I am) and that I don’t look good when I wear makeup (which I do). The only conclusion that I could come to was for the past few months while I was adjusting to my new role as a mom, I hadn’t been wearing makeup because I didn’t think I had the time to do it. Shouldn’t new moms be doing things for the baby instead of wasting precious time putting on eyeliner (which we all know takes forever.) And who was I really trying to impress? The baby? He doesn’t care what I look like as long as I’m there to feed him. And yet, my friend who also has a new baby and and 3.5-year-old and has even less time than I do managed to make time for it and looked (and probably felt) awesome because of it.
And here’s the other thing, pre-baby-Joelle really LIKES DOING MY MAKEUP. It’s a lovely little ritual that I enjoy doing and it makes me feel good, so why had I been depriving myself of that? It dawned on me that there’s been a lot of stuff in my life that I haven’t been doing recently because I didn’t think it fit in my life anymore, even though they bring me joy. Like my to-do lists, for example. A few weeks ago I was feeling overwhelmed and had a strong impulse to make one of my to-do lists. Then, I very stupidly thought to myself how much of a fraud I would be making a dang to-do list when I wrote a whole blog about how I wasn’t making to-do lists anymore. That’s right, dear readers, that’s how seriously I take this blog— my word is gold, these posts are basically etched in stone. Except they’re very clearly not (just FYI, the night I published the blog about not being stressed about staffing season, I was anxiously up all night). But, I was doing the same thing with my to-do lists that I was doing with makeup; depriving myself of something I enjoy and makes me feel good because that’s what I thought I should be doing. How silly.
Life is constantly evolving and some things that may have worked for us before may not work now, and some things that didn’t work initially, may now work perfectly. So how do you determine if something is working or not? For me, it’s asking myself that question: do I enjoy it and does it make me feel good? If the answer is yes to both, then guess what? It’s serving me and I’ll keep doing it. But, if the answer is no, then it’s time to move on. Life is too short and nothing teaches you how to prioritize better than having a child to take care of.
Using these questions as a guiding force, I’ve found myself to be much happier and less stressed. I’m not worried about what I should be doing or living within these false parameters I’ve created for myself. I’m staying present and following my instincts. It’s about seeking what I need, instead of what I want. And that is a much better way to live.
Obviously things won’t always be so clear-cut— there are going to be times in my life that I have to do something that I don’t enjoy and doesn’t make me feel good, but hopefully those things can be fewer than the ones that do. And sometimes it’s all about changing perspective, really. I used to hate working out and dread having to do it. But after realizing how good I feel after I work out (as well as finally finding the kind of exercise that works for me), it’s one of my favorite things to do. This also happened with nighttime feedings— the ones that occur in the middle of the night. No one enjoys being awoken by a crying baby, and it doesn’t particularly feel good to have your precious sleep interrupted, but now when my little one starts to stir, I remind myself how special it is that I get to nourish him and try to focus on how adorable he is all swaddled up and still trying to reach out for me (it’s really freaking cute). So, while it’s still not my favorite thing in the world, I don’t dread it as much.
If you live your life with a guiding principle (like: “do I enjoy it and does it make me feel good?” or any principle that suits your needs), it makes it a lot simpler to find and sustain joy. Don’t deprive yourself or force yourself to do anything that doesn’t serve you. And for the love of G-d, if you want to put on makeup because it makes you feel good, by all means, do it!