The Pragmatic Hybrid

A wholesomeness prescription for fortifying yourself after life kicks you in the ass

The particular brand of ass-kickery I’m talking about here is when the obstacles and annoyances and demands mount up tag-team style, and require all your energy, and all the stuff you’d rather be doing goes on the extreme back burner while you put out life’s unexpected fires.

For a time, you slay dragons valiantly. You roar in the face of the forces of chaos, and feel capable and maybe high off your unstoppableness.

Eventually you (and by you, I mean me) start to panic because you’re starting to flag.

And you haven’t even touched the Really Important Stuff in days, weeks, and you fear that by the time you get back to it it will be gibberish and you won’t understand what to do with it, or why you even thought it was so important in the first place.

When you do finally get a moment to catch your breath, the body-machine takes over and enforces a period of rest on you (maybe by giving you a cold, or chronic drowsiness, or an agoraphobic hermit-attack).

And you are so involved with floating on the enforced cloud of somnolent recovery that your ideal life seems terminally far away, and like it might belong to someone else.

Here’s some stuff I try to do, when I remember. (Please remind me when you see I need it.)

1. Give the rss reader a vacation.

Lay off the blogs and the twitter in general if it’s not helpful. If it feels like the whole world is cheerful and moving forward except you and everything everyone is doing is cooler than anything you could ever do, lay off. Give it a break.

It will still be there when you’re more resilient and mentally tougher and not everything makes you say OH SHIT.

2. Get enough damn sleep.

This is huge. The single biggest happiness-underlyer, for me, and I bet for you too. Sleep until you wake up when you can. Nap when you’re called to.

3. Move, if you can stand to.

I like to dance violently to something with a deep, strong baseline, something that sounds like sex or war.

Or headbang to Joan Jett (I don’t give a damn about my bad reputation! No No No No No No No! NOT MEEEE!)

4. Eat vegetables and fruits.

Avoid out-food as much as possible, as much for reasons of self-respect as for health. Beware the refined carbohydrates, but don’t skimp on the chocolate when it’s called for.

5. Likewise, go easy on the mood-altering substances.

This is maybe not the best time to soothe yourself with a scotch bath.

*My term for drinking likkers while soaking in the tub. I’ve never taken a bath in the actual scotch. But life is long.

6. As far as possible, keep the freakouts (Omigod, I’m not doing enough, what do I do next, what will happen, etc etc etc) at bay.

Defer them to saner times if you can. Or put the troublesome thing on your God list (a technique I stole from Jen Hofmann and love love love).

When you’re in the blue dumps, do NOT make any strategeric decisions to which you will try to hold yourself later.

7. Do only the stuff that you’re moved to do, and do it with the intention that it be easy and freeing.

Do it because it meets a need you have in that moment; not because you are driven to it by fear or panic. Like journaling very loosely about ideas and possibilities. Or meeting a friend in person. Or writing an article that urgently needs you to write it. (Ahem.)

Forget loftiness and your legacy any any ideas you have about your prestige. There will be time for that later. This isn’t it.

In case it wasn’t clear, Dear Reader, all of this is not only for you.

It’s for me.

I was talking to a friend who I wanted to put in self-care bootcamp and enforce this regimen on. (Oh, I know – the delicious irony of wanting to force people to take care of themselves, for their own good, whether they like it or not! And she smartly pointed out that I could use a drill sergeant to give me the same treatment.)

Please also note that there is no award for perfect merit, even in something as passive as recovering from an ass-kicking. :) So do with it what you will, what you can, and I will do the same.

(And yes, part of the reason I am posting this list here, even though everything above is totally bleeding obvious, is so I can come here and find it when I myself neeeeeed it.)

Comment Fu

This space is like a Quaker meeting that is happening in my living room. Honored guests, please speak as you are moved to. And let’s be awesome to each other, because graciousness among friends is why we hang out together.

  1. pearl mattenson

    this list is SO perfect. I feel like I need to read it out loud and fall asleep with it playing in my ear to truly get it in my bones. Thank you for this lovely gentle reminder said with such humble authority!

  2. Christine Martell

    This is so useful. Not that I don’t know these things, but when I am in the mania I seem to forget it all. I also fall into the trap of doing one thing and thinking that is going to solve the problems of the world. HA. It takes attention to most of the list for me. Each one slicing off another layer of the insanity, slowly returning me to some level of balance.
    .-= Christine Martell’s last blog Restarting a neglected blog =-.

  3. JoVE

    Excellent. And thanks for the link to Jen’s post about the God list. I must have read it once but it is a great reminder.

    I also like the idea of a scotch bath and am glad to hear you are not filling the tub with it. Seems wasteful of good scotch, apart from anything else :-)
    .-= JoVE’s last blog Relevance, Knowledge Mobilization & Humanities Research =-.

  4. Walter Hawn

    This one has good stuff in it. And I recommend Jen’s “God List’

    I did something like this years ago, but forgot about it because I eventually had so few unresolved things. Time to revive it.

  5. Pauline Esson

    Oh thank YOU for that.
    Wholesomeness does sound appealing in the middle of now.
    And you do it with such, such……such a lack of cheese…..I do like your brand of wholesomeness.

    And comment Fu….a quaker meeting in your living room…..again perfect and no cheese.
    .-= Pauline Esson’s last blog The Pleasure Report. Week 16. The hope edition. =-.

  6. Havi Brooks (and duck)

    LOVE this! Yeah, baby. All that and a scotch bath!
    .-= Havi Brooks (and duck)’s last blog Ask Havi #31: Business advice? Okay. =-.

  7. Amna Ahmad

    Aw, you guys! Thank you for coming to warm my first ever blog post. :)

    @Pearl — this list came out of my own latest period of suckitude. It’s amazing to me that it seems so elementary and sensible in retrospect, because at the time I most needed it, even this was seriously daunting. Wishing you plenty of whatever flavor recovery you need.

    @Christine — YES. It’s about remembering for me as much as knowing. Plus, synergies of virtue!

    @JoVE — Seriously. It will likely remain a decadent fantasy. *Sigh.*

    @Walt — The God List is amazing. Sometimes I put stuff on mine, then I glare at it reproachfully when stuff doesn’t happen fast enough. But, truly, nothing I’ve put on there has ever *not* shifted.

    @Pauline — Dairy-free all the way! Cheese causes psychic phlegms.

    @Havi — Don’t even play. I know you know what I’m talking about.


  8. Mahala Mazerov

    Dear drill sergeant. Thanks for writing it all down.
    Welcome to the internets.
    .-= Mahala Mazerov’s last blog Testing the Benefits of Meditation… in the Emergency Room =-.

  9. Square-Peg Karen

    Ok, lady – I am now going to call you Doctor A — what a FANTASTIC prescription you’ve written!!

    I laughed so hard at this: “I’ve never taken a bath in the actual scotch. But life is long.” in your explanation of the scotch bath (ok, I laughed hard in a number of places! – love, love, love your style!!).

    This is a great post — and the Quaker Meeting in your living room comments section – ha!
    .-= Square-Peg Karen’s last blog Out of Frustration – Guest Post =-.

  10. Jennifer Hofmann

    I love this list – it is full of common sense advice. Unfortunately, it’s the kind of advice that we busy (read: crazed) people think we can do without — we don’t need sleep, bah! So thank you so much for the reminder and the strength with with you do the reminding.

    That I made this list is a delightful surprise and an honor. Thanks so much for including me! Can’t wait to read what’s next!

  11. Amna Ahmad

    @Jen – Thank you! Just realized I misspelled your name up there. Doh! I’ve memorized the correct spelling now. ;)