So. I get cranky when I don’t get a walk in the morning. Yes, that would be today.
If Selma and I remember to make the bed (a thing we got from Gretchen), everything about the rest of the day is better. Even though that makes no sense.
If someone says “really, there’s no sugar in here”, it’s good to smile, say thank you and DON’T try it. Because if there is sugar or honey or agave or something (and usually there is),
my head will explode the next nine hours are shot to hell. It’s so not worth it.
Information for the big book of me.
What goes into the Book of You:
Anything that’s useful.
All that stuff you think you’ll remember but actually you don’t.
A working hypothesis you’re currently testing (“Is it true that I feel better when I go to bed before ten or is that only true when I’m over-worked?”).
Or an aspect of yourself or your life that’s currently under investigation (“What do I know so far about what happens to me when I’m in a crowded space?”).
Why it’s helpful to have a Book of You:
It’s kind of like the dammit list.
It reminds you that you are in the process of working on your stuff. And it shows you how much you’ve already implemented.
It helps you keep that experimental scientific outlook.
It’s a mindfulness practice that isn’t annoying.
And it helps you come up with better red velvet ropes, and track your mini-epiphanies.
Some useful guiding principles for the Book of You.
That’s why it’s the Book of You and not the Book of Humanity In General That Is Also Known As The Book of All Things For All People At All Time.
All the biggified people on the internet shouting about how you have to write in the morning and you can’t have more than three projects and how you always have to do X to get Y?
They’re not talking about you. They’re talking about themselves. They are sharing some of the information from that big Book of Them.
In fact, lots of things vary.
Just because something is true for you right now doesn’t mean it’s always going to be true for you.
The Book of You isn’t about absolutes. It’s about taking various factors into consideration, and figuring out what you can extrapolate from what you know. And then testing.
How you might set up the Book of You:
Some of my clients and students like to have a pretty book to give it some formality. Some of them like a messy one with lots of scribblings to remember that it’s a work in progress.
Some of them keep a binder so they can tuck pages in and take pages out.
See what works for you. You can always start a new one. I mean, it’s your book.
Personally, I like to keep one item to a page.
That way I can add notes and exceptions. And questions.
For example, I have a page that says something like this:
“Sweetie, you are so much happier when you get a morning walk. The entire day goes better. This has been tested. Seriously. Just do it.”
But then I’ve added all sorts of things to this page. Like this:
“Okay, but what if it’s pouring rain in the morning because you live in stupid Portland? Does it help if you sit on the porch swing and watch the rain, so you’re at least outside?
Or is it better to do some bouncing to at least get that aerobic effect thing? Or is it better to just pull on rain pants and go jump in puddles for a couple minutes? I mean, what are the aspects of the morning walk that are most vital here?”
And then I experiment. And take more notes. In the big Book of Me.
And a couple other things to keep in mind.
Does eating mango always make my arms itch? What exactly is it about Dance of Shiva that clears my head? What happens if I reverse those steps? What happens if I bring in Metaphor Mouse?
Something I try to remember: part of destuckifying is having a conscious relationship with yourself, so you can bring more awareness to your patterns (detective-style).
And no, you’re not arrogant or self-absorbed if you make a commitment to learning stuff about yourself and taking notes.
That’s it. Play with me!
You don’t have to know anything about what goes in the Book of You to start.
Most people start by just taking some notes. Whatever comes into your head.
Then you see what it’s like to go through your day as if researching the Book of You was your job.
You see what’s surprising. And what isn’t.
Comment zen for today.
We all have our stuff. We’re all working on our stuff.
So. If you want to throw out anything you’re working on, noticing, observing, messing around with, that’s lovely.
If you’ve been working with this Book of You thing (or want to), yay!
You can also throw out general suggestions based on stuff that works for you — as always, we try to keep it to personal experience instead of advice.
Big love to everyone (and Jessica Rabbit kisses to the Beloved Lurkers).
Havi, this is a great idea and I’m totally going to go out and get a new Moleskin to make a Book of Me. <3 I've been making an effort to learn more about myself and take notes – that's pretty much what my blog is these days – but for some reason handwriting just sticks better for me. I like being able to blog about it, but for some reason it hadn’t ever occurred to me that I could write things down in my Book of Me and then make my blog a Best-Of, as it were.
.-= Chris Anthony´s last post … On being an adult =-.
This is a great idea, to actually document it, write it down. Mine will be like a mystery novel with stuff being unveiled with every page…
I’ve been paying more attention lately, trying to figure out what makes me happy, and there are two things I’ve come across:
First is that I do SO much better with a schedule. Without one, I devolve into mindless lazing around which usually just makes me feel useless and unproductive and bad about myself. Give me a schedule — even a schedule that has time for a nap and TV watching — and I feel like I’m accomplishing something. Easy!
And the second thing was when the light bulb totally blinked on when I read Gretchen’s post about moderator’s vs. abstainers. It was like someone pointing out something utterly obviously about myself that I had failed to notice. And has made a huge difference on how I approach so many things.
So, that’s my stuff. Good enough to start a book with, I’d say.
.-= Laura´s last post … Just one someone =-.
I just started to get back into running. It was really clearing out my head and it didn’t hurt that the weather was beautiful for a while. Then came the rains. I stopped.
So I’m trying to figure out why it has to be gorgeous out for me to go for a run. I used to run in DC when the weather was both bitter cold and sauna hot. And I loved it. What gives?
Clearly I need to make some notes on this so I can figure out how to get my head right even when I can’t (won’t) run. Or, figure out why I don’t want to run here.
This is looking like something I might actually do, instead of just, “Oh, sweet. That DOES look like a good idea. I’ll bet it DOES work…for other people, that is.”
I think blogs sort of used to do this, before we all got worried about how the blog could or would or wouldn’t support our businesses…Ah, 1998.
You know… keeping physical track is a good idea. I regularly do the “oh, this is good to know about me” thing, and then promptly forget. Plus this sounds like an excuse to make something frilly and pretty. I’m completely for that!
My biggest thing, for the first page: I need to cope emotionally before I can cope rationally. I am not ready to solve the problem until I am done having my emotional reaction to it. I thought it would take longer, but figuring this out has sped up the whole process, because I’m not fighting against myself anymore. It’s also stopped fighting with friends, because instead of getting upset at their useful suggestions without knowing why, I can just tell them that I love them, I know they want to help and I want them to help, but I need their emotional support first.
And I need a sketchbook and decorating supplies… mwa ha ha ha…
I *adore* this idea! And oh man is it frustrating when people try to get you to live according to their books, and not your own.
Wow… what a good idea. I have had such a hard time putting together all the little facts or factiods (or sticky notes, which is what they are in my mind) about me… and i have been really realizing how not KNOWING these things about me has led to not being able to decide where my velvet ropes are… and its made seeking soverignty SO hard…
I have the PERFECT book (of course!! I have 30 of them!! :))
.-= Pam´s last post … Pam’s Dating Manifesto… =-.
I was just thinking about how I was being a Habits Detective recently, and what a good idea on how to keep track of the findings! I am not sure what format my Book of You (Book of Me?) will be in, but I love the idea.
.-= Andi´s last post … Years of Experience =-.
I like the book of you idea! I have a 4X5 foot vintage chalkboard. So I think I’m going to have the Chalkboard of Bridget.
I like Beth’s “I need to cope emotionally”. I’m the same way. I can say, “I’m okay” til the cows come home, but until I AM OKAY, no amount of rational thought will resonate.
At the top of my chalkboard, I’m going to write, Bridget likes kindred spirits, as a reminder to myself to revel in the awesomeness of all the cool people I know.
Now, where does one find fancy chalk in bright colors?
.-= Bridget´s last post … Mutable, changeable, miracle =-.
Oh, I’ve been wanting to create a Big Book of Me ever since the first time I saw you mentioning it! So far, though, it’s been happening in my mind only; bits of it may also be written here and there in my journal. Time for me to take it on paper in its own book!
I love your idea of one item per page, keeping the extra space to add notes. That’s not something I’d have done spontaneously as I have a thing about not “wasting” paper. However, that gives me a pointer about the kind of notebook that would work for me: now I know that my Big Book of Me will live in a small notebook, and that’s good information to have.
@Commentor Mice: Would you mind sharing the ideas you came up with for your own Big Book of You? I’d love to read them, and be inspired by your brilliant and useful gems. Let’s spark ideas for each other’s book! 🙂
.-= Josiane´s last post … Middle of the night musings =-.
Of course, since it took me forever to write my comment, a lot of Commenter Mice had already answered my question even before I posted it! Yay! Keep the ideas coming!
.-= Josiane´s last post … Middle of the night musings =-.
I LOVE this idea!
Going on the first page (because I always, always, ALWAYS forget this):
My boyfriend always wants me to come to his friends’ parties (which is great, I love that he wants me to be with him) and he says, “We’ll just stop by,” so I go, “That sounds OK, we’ll stop by.” It turns out, for him, “stop by” means “spend three hours there” and three hours around people I don’t know that well speaking a language equals emotional shutdown for me. Then he thinks I’m being antisocial and rude and we get in a big fight. So instead of hanging out with his friends at parties, I just need to suggest that we meet at a nearby bar for drinks, so I can slip out unnoticed when I’m satisfied with socializing.
Also: I need to put my clothes away properly as soon as they are off of my body. Having them piled on chairs and the floor makes me anxious.
Whee! I feel better already…looking forward to this project!
.-= Christina Gremore´s last post … There’s No ‘I’ in Team =-.
I believe this is my first time commenting here (shy, introverted type) but I’ve been dipping in to your blog for a year or so now.
This post really resonates, cuz I have exactly the same kind of book/process (being a person who makes a book for virtually every topic in life). Only I call mine, Notes from Self.
Book of You is fab title.
I started my Notes from Self because it’s hard to keep track of everything on the inner and outer realms all at once.
I needed to have reminders like: exactly HOW did I write a book, (so I can do it again), how do I feel when I eat wheat and cheese, how many days I should stay for a family visit, etc. Otherwise, I keep having to repeat things for a 100 years until I embody the learning.
And, you know, we just don’t have that luxury of time.
Anyway, I’m glad you shared this. What I love about this blog thing is that we find our tribes people and realize we’re not so weird after all. Or, ok. We’re weird. But we’re not alone.
What a fabulous idea! But then you are always so FULL of fabulous ideas, my genius girl.
I have a running “Book Of Me” in my head and I have random notes strewn here and there but I love the idea of an actual book with maybe pictures and drawings and recipes of all the things that make me really, really happy.
For example: Making my bed in the morning never makes me happy, so I never, ever do it!!
Thanks again for magical project!!
Adoring you as always,
.-= chris zydel´s last post … Are You Ready To Be A Dangerously Creative Woman ( Or Man)? =-.
Thank you, Havi. As one of your longtime lurkers, just felt that I finally needed to say THANK YOU for all that you do. This post really struck a chord with me – I’m slowly, but finally, learning that it’s not selfish or wrong to take care of my needs. So, thank you.
Aw you guys are so wonderful.
@Christina – ooh me too with the parties and not wanting to be anti-social thing.
@Lisa – hi! I have your book! And Notes From Self is brilliant. What a perfect thing to call it. LOVE.
@Chris Z – big schloppy kiss, my dangerously creative friend!
@Bridget – that chalkboard sounds amazing. I hope you take pictures.
@Beth – me too me too me too, that is such a good way of putting it. Thank you for that.
@Chris A – oh I like that. And one of the first things in your Book of Chris can be “handwritten sticks better for me”. Nice.
@Ed – *waves enthusiastically* Thank you. That is a sweet thing to hear and it means a lot.
How coincidental. Just Thursday I was saying to my therapist that I’m freaking out with anxiety now that we’ve had the Time Change (end of the SAD season for me), but my husband says I always freak out for the last two weeks of March, but I don’t remember that I freak out, and if I remembered say, March 1 that I will freak out March 15-31 and pretty much be OK by April Fools Day, maybe I’d a) refill my Valium Rx ahead of time and b) schedule a real vacation for one of those bad weeks and c) NOT plan any big work deadlines, etc. All of which i failed to do this year,and therefore: Freak Out.
And maybe if I remember that this is how it is for me EVERY March (and my mom does confirm it’s always been that way, as spring break was always a huge freak-out for me), then maybe it won’t be so bad because it won’t feel like such a huge surprise monster attack.
I think I have a good topic for my Book of Me. And other excuse to buy a pretty notebook.
.-= lynn @ human, being´s last post … I did it to myself. Again. =-.
Havi, thanks for sharing a great way to incorporate deliberate practice into your life. I’ve been tracking (and ignoring) a to-do item to engage in more deliberate practice. As I read this article and the comments I realized that I haven’t done anything about it because I never figured any specifics around how to do it. Time to block out a section of my Moleskine 🙂
.-= Mike Stankavich´s last post … Time For A Change. Career Change, That Is. =-.
When I was in grad school, I had this “book of me” epiphany and told my advisor, “I’m a big idea person, not a detail person.” Still true to this day. Helps to know that about myself so I don’t beat myself up for my disorganized office. My ideas are great, though :-).
.-= Susan´s last post … Are We Connected? =-.
Thank you for this very good idea. There are so many things I seem to have to keep rediscovering, or maybe re-convincing myself of, over and over again. It will give me a good use for one of those blank journals people give me that sit on my bookshelf, unused, because they seem like they should be saved for something *important*.
Oh, what a lovely, affirming, comforting post for me to read on this difficult day that I’m having! I take field notes on myself in my journal on a regular basis, but I like the idea of having a dedicated book set aside. Or maybe I could keep putting it all in my journal, and use a highlighter…hmmm…
.-= Kathleen Avins´s last post … An open letter, from me to me =-.
Okay, this post is inspiring me to not be a Lurkeress anymore. (Well, I did actually post once, last summer….)
Speaking of last summer–that’s when I started my Field Guide to Almah. I was in the grips of some extremely intense survival anxieties and had to write down some of my tried-and-true techniques for self-calming.
I’m going back over those notes right now…interestingly enough, “read Havi Brooks’ blog” is actually what’s on my “Nest o’ Nourishment” page. I totally forgot that!
Latest entries in my Book of Me:
* Writing is more likely to be flowy and fun if undertaken the first 2-4 hours after I’m awake, and a couple hours after my afternoon nap. Do not attempt, Almah, to write–especially START a writing project–right after lunch. Just suicidal.
*Drinking my favorite tea helps blunt sugar cravings.
*I feel uncentered and CRAZEE if I don’t have at least one day in the week dedicated to staying home, hanging out with myself, reading, napping with the cat, puttering, etc. and without obligations to others/errands. This is really non-negotiable now, no matter how much cajoling and guilt-tripping and social peer pressure comes my way!
*Coaching myself on paper is really alchemical…insights arrive in a way they don’t when I’m just “in my head.” Dialoguing with my fears with pen in hand works for me without fail…if I can rouse myself from my anxiety coma to go get a pen.
I love this idea. The first page in my Book of Shawna will say: “Darrrrlin’ (remember I’m originally from Oklahoma; y’all should hear me drawl that word out:)), darrrrlin’, darrrrlin’, you cannot write in the morning to save your life. So don’t try, just get your coffee and say your prayers, do some shiva nata and write morning pages. May be go for a swim. Nothing’s coming out of you until after 11:00 anyway. And we both know it will probably be sometime after noon before those creative juices kick in.”
.-= Shawna R. B. Atteberry´s last post … Company Girl Coffee: It’s My Birthday Edition! =-.
Ooh, I super like this idea. I am going to play with it. Thank you, smartie jones!
.-= Sonia Simone´s last post … The Law of Anti-Attraction =-.
Oh, I adore this idea. There will be things like this in my book:
– Not to forget that going to bed early and getting up early is the rhythm that works best for me and my energy level. Keeping in mind that going to bed late or even after midnight generally totally ruins my next day.
– Not to forget that I need regular hermit time
(@Almah: fully know what you mean with that feeling of uncentredness if you don’t get to hang out just with yourself)
And tons more to explore.
I’ve been creating the “inside-my-head” book for a long time, but leave it to Havi and Selma to figure out that it’s even better to make it a physical book, not just multiple journal entries spaced out over decades… Brilliant!
A couple of things I’ve added to my book lately:
– Three nights in a row with all-work and no social interaction make me REALLY CRANKY. The new policy is to get out and do something fun and social at LEAST every third night. (And the cool thing is, by following this new policy, I’m actually getting out and doing something fun and social more often that that, which is so much better it’s beyond good.)
– Going on a walk with a pocket journal is ALWAYS really, really good.
– I am SO much happier when you get to yoga twice a week, and three times a week is more than 50% better.
– Staying up late in front of my computer is almost never a recipe for goodness (Yet I almost always do it… Hmmm..)
Looking forward to adding more.
.-= Melissa Dinwiddie´s last post … Lean In: Poem by Emily Long =-.
Oooo, this very much appeals to science-ey, experiment-ey, stationery-loving me. Going to play with this, thanks bunches!
This is just the reminder I needed today. Right now. Last night before going to bed (when I was on the brink of tears from exhaustion, no less), I ate a square of dark chocolate. And then could not fall asleep despite the exhaustion. I know from past experiences that chocolate keeps me awake, even the tiniest bit. But I had forgotten because I didn’t have a Book of Me to remind me! Chocolate will be the first entry in my Book of Me. Thank you, Havi, for always being so wonderfully gentle about it all.
.-= Kylie´s last post … rain gear for the rainy days =-.
crazy thing — i read your post yesterday. went for a walk this morning. feel better now.
thank you SO MUCH for the reminder. it really is the little things.
hope you are enjoying your walk, or swing, or puddle stomping!!
.-= Michelle Marlahan´s last post … Flashback =-.
Sarah Bray sent us over here 😉 since she’s busy filming herself…
Enjoyed this post–my plans to comb through my past decades of morning pages now include to glean bits for my new Book of You research and development project …
I’ve got a few tidbits in my food journal as well (*rawr hiss*)
And I just left Portland behind and am in sunny weather–fairly new runner–though it IS the midwest (argh, *contented sigh* don’t mind my Libra sun Gemini rising twins love/hate) but it’s Very Close To Minneapolis which definitely aint bad.
Best. Post. Ever.
That’s why it’s the Book of You and not the Book of Humanity In General That Is Also Known As The Book of All Things For All People At All Time.
.-= Jennifer´s last post … Give me evidence =-.
That’s a great idea!! I’ve been keeping a journal for most of my life, but I’ve never really tried to use it as a workbook before, and it just makes so much sense. Everytime I start a new journal, though, I give it a title. The last one was the Book of Loon, and the current one is Mental Gymnastics. I’ll be doing flip flops and back handsprings with this post for a while. Thank you!
Ooooh I love this. And I think the first entry in the “Book of Me” is that the Book will be written on the computer and not an actual bound journal. Because journals freak me out. They are so pretty and imposing and I feel like I have to write something “worthwhile” even though they are just for me. And I think so much faster than I write that I get all jumpled up and blocked. And my handwriting!! Gah. Grad school did NOT help.
Also I started a little tiny Shiva Nata blog so if anyone wants to come hang out and throw out ideas stop by. 🙂
Missed this post somehow. The Book of Them is so perfect.
.-= Sandra´s last post … Akihabara escalator: going up, and over, and up =-.
Just how many times can I read this post?
Love everything about it!
I even got some great ideas for my book from other commenters.
.-= Tami´s last post … Song of the Day! =-.
This is a great idea! Cunning Minx did an episode of Poly Weekly called RTFM (meaning ‘read the ____ manual’) which was about creating a guide to important things for others to know about you so they could avoid pitfalls that would make you unhappy, but of course it makes even more sense to have one just for you. Especially since I have more pitfalls of making myself unhappy than other people making me sad.
Thanks for putting this in words I needed to hear.
.-= DDog´s last post … Trans(re)lating 006: A Response to Trans Film with Nobilis Reed, Part 1 =-.
This is a Keeper of an idea. Yes, with a capital K. By the time I read through all of the excellent comments and their fabulous ideas, I had run in circles in my mind about how I’ll use this.
I’m taking advantage of this idea to do more than one thing:
1) Book of Me. Excellent. Something I should have thought of much sooner – thank you for thinking of it for me!
2) Get over my fear of “wrecking” a beautiful paper journal & actually write in it with purpose. Yes, this is important enough!
3) Ignore my desire to make sure it is perfect. As you point out I am a work in progress, therefore my Book of Me is, too. There is no final word, no unchangeable perfection. It is all perfect in its imperfection and partially completedness.
These all fit with learning to get to know, work through and get past fear. Yup. Gonna do it. And have the most beautiful journal for it, too.
Hugs and butterflies,
.-= PicsieChick´s last post … Pulled along through your streets, you draw me in =-.
Havi, I love this idea.
I guess my journal works as my book of me. I used to feel self-indulgent about being so interested in self-exploration, testing out and taking note of ‘me’ but it’s so helpful to check in with myself in this way.
It’s strange how we forget things about ourselves such as what makes us feel good (me too on the morning walks and I’ll add to that,intimate conversations)+what makes us uncomfortable and cranky.
It’s also difficult to communicate new discoveries and epiphanies to others. People close to me often guilt-trip me when I changed my mind and have the cajones to say ‘no, actually I don’t think that’s going to work for me’ due to a new discovery or really take note of the book of me.
That bit is tough because you feel as if you’re letting them down when you’re just not doing something that isn’t right for you.
.-= Nats´s last post … Thinking about doing your ‘thing’ but not doing it much? What to do? =-.
This is awesome! I just bought a new book “for no reason” and now I know why!
Things for my book…
*caffeine often does bad things to you…like make your heart buzzz. so it is best to avoid it
*you feel better all day when you get up in time to sit and do morning practice for at least a half hour in the morning
*clutter makes you anxious. it is better to take the time to tidy up than to struggle to get the work done around it.
*you sleep better if the blankets are flat and tidy and if you have one of the fluffy comforters on the bed.