Hmmm. This is going to need some explaining.
Okay. I lived in Israel for a third of my life. And in Israel posted signs work differently than they do in Europe or North America.
Like, if you see a sign that says “entrance forbidden”, you’re still going to hop over the fence.
Everyone does. You know it’s just a warning. A … general warning. Not a warning warning.
This one time my ex-husband and I were camping somewhere and we disobeyed (eh, disregarded) at least three different signs. Until we got to the one that said ABSOLUTELY no doing whatever it was we wanted to do.
And then I stopped.
He looked at me like I was crazy. “Oh come on, only one absolutely? That so doesn’t count!”
And yeah. He was right. Once we got to the sign that said “ABSOLUTELY ABSOLUTELY ABSOLUTELY no entrance” though, we knew they were serious.
Two or more absolutelys are worth paying attention to.
Back to the Book of You.
Remember the Book of You?
It’s where you write down those useful things you’re in the process of learning about yourself, your stuff, and the relationship between them.
Mine is full of things like how going to bed late makes me kind of crazy, and what to do when I get a migraine.
And why I am not allowed to call an end to Email Sabbatical — ever, just like I need to remember not to plan to teach a teleclass the day after a roller derby bout.
So. The Book of You is a constant work in progress. It pretty much has to be. I’m always adding notes to the enormous book of Me.
That’s because you and what you know about yourself is always changing. We are dynamic beings. Our bodies and perceptions and experiences are always in flow.
So it’s not like anything in there is written in stone. And despite all that, I’ve found it’s really useful to have some Absolutely Absolutelys in there.
A couple examples from my own life.
New Yorker fiction.
In my own Book of Me (which right now is a sloppy binder and a couple of documents on my computer), there’s an entire section called: avoiding things that make you crazy!
One of the entries is all about New Yorker fiction:
Here’s a thought, sweetie. Don’t read it.
The best-case scenario is that it will get on your nerves, and it just gets worse from there.
Aside from having no point and being a complete waste of time and pushing all of your but I can write so much better than this buttons, this story will almost certainly contain psychological violence.
You’ll spend days if not years clearing that stuff out of your head.
I know you think that this time you’ll find something meaningful and beautiful like that one time.
History shows otherwise.
But then the other week I had to add an Absolutely Absolutely note to this one.
No more “this is something I’m working on and it’s better to try and avoid this” — time to say seriously, it’s not worth it.
Life is absolutely absolutely better when I don’t read the fiction entry in the New Yorker. So absolutely absolutely don’t pick it up.*
* Unless it’s a David Sedaris piece. Or Haruki Murakami. Or your gentleman friend screens it for you and tells you it’s spectacular.
Pack a sandwich for the plane ride.
This one has been in the Book of Me forever. I’ve moved countries three times. And Selma and I teach all over the place.
Traveling happens. As does crankiness.
Having food with me helps. We know this. It’s a firmly established rule.
But when I flew to Vancouver this week, I broke the rule.
You know, what the hell. It’s less than an hour on a plane. I’d have to go out to get food when I already had a million things to do. Blah blah hassle. Blah blah unnecessary.
So I skipped it.
Then the plane was delayed. Twice. And we got pulled over at customs for the special “no, why are you really here” grilling session, which took forever. By the time I actually got to the hotel, it was too late even for room service.
Dinner at ten, which is when I’d normally be asleep. Cranky, confused, bewildered me. I know how this works.
That’s why the Book of Me is full of useful stuff about why and how my routines and rituals help me stay grounded and centered.
But I blew off one of the things I know because common sense said this time it didn’t matter. And it did.
So I’m sticking an Absolutely Absolutely sticker on that one.
My love, no matter how short your trip, your sanity and general well-being Absolutely Absolutely demand snacks.
Just trust me on this one, okay?
Having an Absolutely Absolutely doesn’t mean you can’t change it later.
All information in the Book of You is open to change:
Open to conscious experimentation, open to new information coming to light, open to being edited, altered or rewritten.
Because that’s what we do with patterns. We rewrite them. We break down stuff into its components and rebuild. That’s the essence.
What is true for me in this moment won’t necessarily be even slightly true for me a year from now. My relationship with myself will have changed. My relationship with my monsters will have changed.
Lots of things will have changed.
And, at the same time, there is value in taking certain pieces of information so seriously that — just for now — they get an Absolutely Absolutely.
It lets you experiment with the things that aren’t as precarious. To use the absolutely absolutely to create some extra padding, extra safety.
Comment zen for today.
People vary. Our stuff varies. We’re all working on our stuff in our own ways. We tread softly with other people’s stuff. We don’t give advice.
You’re more than welcome to share your own likely entries for the Book of You. Or stuff you wonder about, want or need.
Big love to everyone. And kisses to the Beloved Lurkers.
Hmmm. The Book Of Andrew
~ Honey, you live in the tropics. If you feel thirsty, drink a LOT of water. Otherwise? Headaches and pukiness. I know you don’t feel THAT thirsty, and you drink way more water than anyone ELSE that you know, but, you know, that’s the way of it.
~ Angel, you need to eat something every two or three hours. All sadness, annoyance and irritation outside this timeframe must be tempered with this understanding.
~ I know you love buying books, and airports are both exciting and boring, but no book you buy in an airport is ever going to get finished. Doesn’t mean you can’t buy it, just understand that it will get clutter cleared pretty quickly.
~ If you’re out writing for the day, bring your iPod cable and your Kindle cable, so you can buy new music/audiobooks/books that you absolutely must have NOW.
~ Inquiry works for you. When you’re stuck, do a wee bit.
~ I know you want to read and comment on every nice person’s blog, but it ain’t never gonna happen. It’s sweet of you to think you can, though.
~ LinkedIn just isn’t your thing.
~ You absolutely absolutely don’t need any more books/tapes on how to learn either Chinese or Spanish.
~ Decisions on abs crunches must abs(!)olutely, absolutely be taken much slower than you’d like. Remember that January where you were on your own and you had to crawl on the floor for a week after doing 30 minutes of crunches a day? Yeah, so do we.
~ Whatever occurs to you that it’s finally time to do just before leaving the house is NOT what you are meant to be doing. You are MEANT to be leaving the house.
~ Something is better than nothing. If you want to do something daily it must be tiny. TINY, I say, TINY.
~ Estonian lace knitting is too complicated.
Oh, god, just realised that this isn’t my blog.
Got carried away, there, sorry!
@alightheart That was funny, and full of truth. 🙂
I wonder which ones of my rules need an absolutely absolutely. I hesitate to put it onto: yoga in the morning, but it is kind of getting to the point where my days are noticibly suckier when there’s no yoga. Like the whole day loses at least 10 points of awesome.
Sometimes it’s just not practicable though. What if one of your absolutely absolutelys runs into an immovable object? Won’t that just generate more stress and frustration?
I know of another country where rules are taken as a general indication of a potential course of action: The Netherlands! I think you would love Amsterdam :). Many yoga people, theatre people, and great canals. Come give a yoga class!
.-= Hannah´s last post … Hannah_savannah: is looking for interesting celebrities to follow on twitter =-.
I had one of these this week. “Oh I’ll just buy a snack when I get there – no need to take one with me.” – I’ll be making this an Absolutely Absolutely in my bok today.
Rose, it’s always better to take food and water with you when you walk in the sun. You know things run smoother when you have every base covered.
Thanks for posting this Havi. It’s a good way of framing the absolute-must-do’s, kind of similar to the damnit list [which I keep in my Book of Me now :)]
.-= Rose´s last post … Insights & Pleas =-.
Loooving the Book of Me! I think I started keeping a book of me in my head around this time last year. It included:
– Don’t read the blog about your neighborhood. It’s a landmine of triggers you don’t see coming.
– Eat breakfast! At home! Waiting until you get to work will absolutely not do, as you will end up sick on the 45 minute subway ride there.
– Don’t skip therapy more than once in a month. It will take forever to feel like you are back in it.
And now it also includes such gems as:
– If you know you are going to get lunch to go, or that you and GFF will be going out to dinner after work, decide where you are going BEFORE you get hungry for that meal. Otherwise, you will sit around in indecision for hours, not only not going to eat that meal, but not getting any water, going to the restroom, or – indeed! – even leaving your desk, crushed as you will be under the weight of the decision: “tuna salad sandwich here OR mixed green salad there???”
– Almost nothing is so fun that it would actually be advisable to NOT go to sleep on the same day you woke up. Before midnight is pretty much a drop-dead going to bed deadline. Even though you hate being in sweaty crowds, loud music, and not being able to hear the people you went out with, it sometimes seems like going to a queer dance party is going to be reeeeally fun THIS time. But so far, that has never ever (even a little bit) been the case. So have a drink with your friends beforehand if you have to, but then come on home and go to bed while they are just getting started.
Wow, so lovely to write this stuff down!
My book of Me:
remember your long-time habit of drinking lots of water? Yes, you even sat an entire gallon by the desk in the morning … you worked so hard on that one. Now, do you also remember the years of exhaustion at the end of the day? From now on (absolutely absolutely!), please remember — and I know it’s hard to add a new habit to such an old, established one, but PLEASE remember — to add sea salt to the first glass of water for the day, and also add salt to that mid-afternoon-lull glass of water. Otherwise, your exhaustion will return from electrolyte depletion from all of that water. That is how your body works!
And Lorraine, a big overall meta-remember: Question all of the rules out there for health, nutrition, sugar, diet … You are unique! All bodies and metabolisms are not alike and what works for others may not work for you! Always test and FEEL your own truth in your body before accepting a new diet rule, no matter how much logical sense it makes, trust YOU instead.
And … just to remind you of a few specifics:
* corn products devastate you,in both body & mind
* sugar is fine if its only ONE good dose a day
* rice products are exhausting physically. Though energizing mentally, you will pay for it later
* No matter how much people extol the virtues of sprouts, they make you physically ill. Absolutely absolutely do not consume them, unless it is something that you would eat completely raw anyway (beans & grains sprouts, NO; cabbage & radish sprouts, YES). Remember the bad sick day — this is an absolutely absolutely absolutely rule!
Thank you, Havi, for reminding me to WRITE my book of Me. Keeping it in my head is hit-and-miss. Seeing it on paper is a whole new level of clarity! (wow, weird, I teach that rule in my classes and yet I forget … wow, another new rule for the book of ME …
I love that so many of our absolutely absolutelys center around bringing snacks. Maybe the world would be a better place if everyone brought healthy snacks with them wherever they go!
Some of mine are:
~ Make sure you eat regularly. Don’t try to tough it out till dinner and get all stressed out and blood-sugary.
~ Take naps when you need them. Everything looks better after a nap.
~ Do just a little bit of Shiva Nata regularly so you stay in the groove.
~ Go to yoga at least twice a week. Trust me.
.-= Serena´s last post … What the…? =-.
@Hannah: that’s true. Probably because the Dutch regulate too much. Most of the rules make no sense or contradict. It’s even an item at election time: deregulate, lose all the superfluous signs in traffic. In the city where I learned to drive, a traffic light was said to go ‘green, orange, dark green’. Always, always watch for traffic, even if you get the go sign.
Some random items in the book of me:
– You don’t have to invent everything yourself. It is OK to ask people for help, such as how to do things or where best to look to find the answer to your problem, as long as you don’t expect people to do your work for you or give you free services.
– If you have to call strangers: they will not bite you or hate you forever and ever just because you call them.
– Don’t promise people that you will call them, because you don’t like communicating by phone. Tell them you’ll contact them to arrange a meet-up.
– Just do that small thing now. It takes longer to make up an excuse why it’s better done tomorrow than to just do it now.
– It is OK not to answer unexpected door bells or telephone calls if you don’t feel like it.
I grew up in the most anarchic city in the world–Bombay–where traffic lanes are mere suggestions and every sign on a wall that says “NO URINATION ALLOWED” has someone peeing on it.
So the Book of Me is an idiosyncratic, constantly evolving understanding of what works for me right now, rather than a collection of rules for life.
I’m pretty clear about needing to eat small amounts of protein every 3 to 4 hours to keep my blood sugar on an even keel.
And I know the kind of exercise I need each day, although this has been a constantly shifting balance between necessity and the accommodations required by my body post-hip-surgery.
Daily spiritual practice is so much a part of my scaffolding that I don’t decide to do it, any more than I decide to breathe.
Here are some other things:
When there’s a period of intense focus and work coming up, I prepare for it by giving myself extra-early nights, lots of rest, play and ease ahead of time. Then, build in support during the tough time. Massage. Healing. Support! And plan on days off afterward.
Being in Nature makes me happy. As in essential-for-my-well-being happy.
Leave lots of room between activities. Spaciousness = ease.
Naps transform everything.
If a book doesn’t engage me within the first couple of chapters, put it away. Come back to it another time. If it’s poorly written, give it away. Life’s too short to waste on bad writing.
If a book is wonderful, buy several copies and give them away. Spread the delight.
Don’t talk on the phone when I’m tired. Do what I need to to stay happy and healthy.
Appreciate the people, places and things that make my life radiant. Let them know.
Send flowers. Often. And just because.
.-= Hiro Boga´s last post … Laps, Sailboats, Surfboards and Tides… =-.
Andrew’s ~ Whatever occurs to you that it’s finally time to do just before leaving the house is NOT what you are meant to be doing. You are MEANT to be leaving the house?
Yes. Yes. Yes. I should probably write a VPA to myself about this one.
Havi, I’m forwarding your post to my husband, because he’s going to get a kick out of your explanation about Israeli signs. (During our stay in Israel last fall – our first – there was a point where we were flummoxed by a “Do Not Enter” sign on the path to somewhere we were headed…)
The “absolutely x 3” currently in my head at the moment is not to buy shoes with heels higher than an inch. Even the ones where the heels are chunky wedges. Even when they don’t hurt in the store – they never hurt in the store, which is how I seduce myself into thinking “this will be the pair…” *grimaces at the sandals I wore yesterday*
.-= Mechaieh´s last post … new poem up at Goblin Fruit! =-.
It is absolutely, ABSOLUTELY OK that I comment here even though I don’t have a Twitter name or a blog (yet)! I am one of your beloved lurkers — Kisses right back atcha! What I love most about this post? Even your double absolutes have exceptions!
Ok the Book of Me…
*you don’t have to like facebook, really you don’t. You can poke your head in from time to time so the FB obsessed don’t believe you to be deceased
*you like sleep, you really like it stop beating yourself up about doing too much of it. You know you believe heaven is a perpetual moment of that blissful stretch between the sheets as you are just returning to this world.
*you need solitude. It’s ok you are not a people person
*you can make an indelable mark without getting famous
*you don’t have to chat on the phone. You don’t like it never have.
*ditto to the forums food needs except also remember no gluten for you, it makes you swell up and miserable and NO SOY do you want to feel like you have morning sickness?
*listen to your inner voice more I’m here for a reason
@Hiro LOVE the idea of sharing favorite books with friends just because what a glorious statement!
.-= Meg´s last post … 5/15/10 It will begin!! =-.
oops one more
*use spell check because you need it
I meant indelible
.-= Meg´s last post … 5/15/10 It will begin!! =-.
Oh, these are marvelous! What fun to read everyone’s exceptions and absolutely absolutelys.
I love it!
@Andrew – the Book of Andrew is WONDERFUL. And Estonian lace knitting IS too complicated.
@Willie – oh absolutely! I mean, built-in exceptions are also okay. That might be your absolutely (as in, I absolutely absolutely need flexibility with this). Because really, I am quite silly with the idea of absolutes because nothing ever is 100%. Even the absolutely signs aren’t hard fast rules because they can’t be.
Everything is always changing and moving, so even the absolutelys do too. It’s more that there is that extra “HEY this one is really important!” there.
So some things need to get negotiated in the how. Like, if I know that yoga makes my day better, but I don’t have time, doing one or two poses is a symbolic statement of “look, I am being with my body and doing what I can right now”. Sometimes yes sometimes no. And then more experimenting.
@NancyJo – mwah! Of course it is. Yes, I adore exceptions. 🙂
@Hannah – Amsterdam! I was only there once for a day but just loved it. Will definitely be back. Thank you for the reminder.
Hugs all around. These entries in the Books of Us are so so beautiful. Yay.
it is okay to say that I cannot go to a concert (or anywhere, really) on a Sunday night (unless it is ABSOLUTELY ABSOLUTELY a once in a lifetime event – ha!), because I have enough trouble sleeping on Sundays and if I don’t sleep well on Sunday the rest of my week is off.
it is okay to say that I have to eat breakfast. So even though you, traveling companion, do not, we will make arrangements for me to have a sufficient breakfast.
it is okay to say that I have to eat meals at regular intervals, because if I don’t, I will ignore the hunger pangs and then it will be instant OMG MUST EAT NOW and we will fight or I will cry. So even if you do not, friends and/or travel companions, and want to skip lunch to keep going, I will say that I need to eat and I will ignore the stifled sighs.
it is okay to say that I have to get sufficient sleep, and no, 4 hours is not sufficient, and while you can drive all night and get home at 2 in the morning and still go to work the next day, this is not a viable option for ME. Unless it is for the most wonderful thing in the world in which case I am allowed to make an exception.
it is okay to say that I am not going to do a major grocery shop right after work and then come home and cook the food we just bought because this means I shop hungry and then don’t eat until 9pm, which kills my evening. So we will eat beforehand or we will get takeout on the way home from the store, no matter how contradictory this might seem.
this is an awesome thing.
Havi! The last two posts have been extremely helpful. Just the things that I’ve been working on and needing some sharper focus with. Big thanks.
I’m working on the book of me all of the time, but I think I may actually put it down as an actual document. With folders and files, and that will be fun.
And the post on loss. Very very helpful… and that’s all I have to say about that.
So thanks again m’lady
I like this book of me idea a whole lot.
Snacks while traveling or really any time I may not have access to food is always a good idea.
My cell stays off when I don’t feel like answering it, but do remember to turn it on once or twice a week to check for messages.
Smell soaps, shampoos, conditioners, lotions…anything I will put on my skin before buying it to make sure I’m not allergic to it. (AA)
Eat or snack when hungry. Don’t put it off too long. Conversely, don’t snack if you’re not actually hungry.
Good music is key.
Do knee stretches (actually quad and calf stretches) every day. You can skip a day, maybe two, but then it will feel like your old knee injury is returning. Same deal with shoulders. (AA)
Blue skies w/ or without clouds bolster my spirits. Remember to look.
.-= claire´s last post … Slippery slope =-.
Havi, I need to remind myself that same thing about the New Yorker fiction. I get all psyched up reading profiles and articles about people who are doing interesting things and changing the world with their actions and ideas, and then the fiction is almost always a cold, cynical slap in the face: “You will reach middle-age, sad and alone, with nothing but dysfunctional relationships, a soul-crushing job, and impotent guilt about living conditions in third-world countries. You will recognize the depth of your own mediocrity, and you will be terrified of living out your remaining decades.”
Seriously, it’s just SO depressing! This is going in my Book of Me, fer sure.
.-= Christina Gremore´s last post … There’s No ‘I’ in Team =-.
My book of me ..
Sweetie, when your puppy is not feeling well, do not google random symptoms. It will not make you feel better. I know you remember the one time it did ease your worry – but trust me, it is not going to help. This has been proven over and over and over. (And over and over.) You would do better to meditate for a little while and then give him your time and attention.
Drink water. I know you like to wait until you are thirsty, but then it’s too late. I know you don’t like the taste so do whatever you need to do to make it palatable, but drink. Juices and teas do not work. This has been tested.
.-= Elizabeth´s last post … in my head, i see =-.
I am absolutely (absolutely!) loving the whole concept of the Big Book of Me. Here are a few pages from mine:
–My day gets off to a much happier start when I have the luxury of waking up gradually. If that means setting the alarm early so I can lie in bed for a little while, then so be it.
–I have been writing daily morning pages and taking weekly artist dates since the summer of 1994. They are important, soul-nurturing practices, and not to be skipped or skimped. I will not allow myself to be pressured (internally or externally) into thinking that there isn’t time for these things. There is always time. I will make time.
–I can put up with a lot of things as long as my very personal spaces — my studio, my desk, my car, my side of the bedroom — are clear and clean and uncluttered.
–When I’m feeling panicky or scattered, it helps to focus on textures — to touch things, and really feel them. That brings me back into my body, and back into myself.
I love all the ideas that everyone else has shared here, too — lots of inspiration!
.-= Kathleen Avins´s last post … When the going gets tough… =-.
I was having trouble thinking of things that fall in the absolutely-absolutely category until I read Mechaieh’s thing about shoes. Yes!
* Do NOT buy uncomfortable shoes with any sort of heel. From now on it’s hiking boots or Danskos, but preferably the former. Or flip flops. Those will work, too.
* Stop buying clothes that aren’t 100% perfect with the intent to return them. You hate going back to make the return, so save yourself some hassle by only buying it if you’re in love with it. Because we both know that even the things we’re in love with it at the store sometimes need to be returned after all.
* Always always absolutely absolutely bring some sort of snack with you. You just never know when you’ll need it, and it’s not pretty if you’re caught without. Especially since you are stubborn and will refuse to eat something unhealthy or expensive.
(Wow, this was fun!)
.-= Victoria Brouhard´s last post … I Did All That Work for Nothing =-.
@ Andrew: “Whatever occurs to you that it’s finally time to do just before leaving the house is NOT what you are meant to be doing. You are MEANT to be leaving the house.” Fantastic, I may stick this on the door for my husband.
Some things that would go into the Book of Me:
Leave on time for whatever I am doing. So if I am with someone who is always late, I need to leave by myself and don’t let myself be stressed out.
Have early nights. 10.00/10.30pm to 6.30 am is my current ideal rythm.
When I have really full days at work I need to keep my evenings free, or at least one in two (or two in three).
Hermit time absolutely necessary after full-on time with friends or family. And necessary anyway. And a quiet hour in the morning makes the day.
My back asks for a bit of yoga every day, even when I am tired and ready for bed.
@Caryn: are you my long lost twin? All your things can go straight into my book, unedited. Awesome!
Heh, I thought the brief post & lack of comments was a new zen thing you were trying out. Nice to read the whole thing. 🙂
.-= Sonia Simone´s last post … The Law of Anti-Attraction =-.