Enjoy a blog post by Megan Reinbold, Her Art is Heart’s June guest blogger! I spent a lovely afternoon taking photos of Megan, her baby-bump, and her pupper-dups– Ruby– all throughout her ridiculously swanky abode. I felt like an uber guest, getting pampered with Megan’s pinterest-snapshot-worthy cooking. And of course the puppy love is just that…. LOVE!
See her cook, see her play frisbee! But most importantly listen to Megan’s wise words about Self-Love and how it doesn’t look for the same for everyone.
Why my self-love looks different than yours, and why that’s ok.
By Megan Reinbold
Anyone on Pinterest, Instagram, Facebook, or with any accessibility to magazines knows the basics of what self love should look like, according to these sources: first, the prerequisite that you have long, wavy, mermaid hair, perfect skin, and flowy beach clothes that don’t require a bra. Once you have these, you can set out on your self love journey. It probably involves ridiculously elaborate smoothy bowls, yoga, massages, froyo, iced coffee, pedicures, shopping trips, and stupid-expensive sushi at a trendy restaurant for dinner. After dinner of course is a candlelit bath with your Lush brand (registered and copyrighted) bath bomb, before cozying up in your hygge-approved bedroom with your Goldendoodle before bedtime.
This in theory sounds fantastic, but about 80% of it stresses me out. When I’ve gone for massages, I either get really self-conscious and try to lie still and somehow make my body skinny at the same time, or I feel like I have to talk so it’s not awkward. The feeling of it is relaxing, but I’d much rather make my husband give me a back rub than a stranger. Pedicures are the same way. Whenever I spend frivolous money all I can think about are other, practical things I could be spending the money on instead. Baths make me antsy. So while I’d like to enjoy all of these self-love things, they usually lead to more stress and anxiety than they’re supposed to relieve me of. If they work for you, fantastic! If you think all day about your nightly bath and it soothes your soul, great. But for the longest time I tried these things over and over trying to force myself to believe that if I tried hard enough, I could feel relaxed (I now know this makes absolutely zero sense). Here’s how I figured out what self-love actually looks like to me.
- Whatever it is, it’s not social media. Social media is a huge soul-sucking monster. You can try to rationalize it, but I don’t think it will ever work out. It seems like something that would be a fantastic relaxer- tune out for a while, get lost in streams of pictures of your favorite celebrities, new recipes, and get some proof that your ex absolutely failed in life after you. It really does seem good, but whenever I take time out to browse social media, I end up frantic, frazzled, and stressed out. I have more home projects than I can handle, I have a new idea of what a “perfect” life looks like (and it’s definitely not my current life), and the pretty girl from high school did marry the quarterback and they have an adorable toddler and are not in the least bit fat. They probably ran a 10k then had smoothie bowls this morning. Afterwards I’m very aware of what everything COULD be if I just tried harder and was cooler, and also at the same time am thinking about all the other things I could be doing instead of stalking people and wishing for another life. Even when I do a “cool” thing, the next step of course is to filter it and tag it and share it and hope for all of the likes or retweets or acknowledgement that yes, the thing you did was indeed cool. Social media relaxation is a lie, and it is not my self-love.
- Think of things that you notice that you like in the world. Whenever I wash my hands with a pretty soap in a restroom, I can smell it on my hands, and am often that weird person who smells their hands all night. Having little things that smell good makes me more present in the space and time I’m in, and gives everything a little 10% oomph, at least it does for me. So I have fancy dish soap. Not stupid fancy $48 dish soap from Anthropologie, but the $6.99 method soap that smells exactly like the pear Lip Smacker I had in middle school. When I do dishes (usually a chore) I’m not that sad about it, because the kitchen smells like pear and ginger after, and to me that’s good. So while the dishes would get done perfectly well with the $2.99 blue Dawn soap, I mini-splurge on good-smelling dish soap, and also hand soap throughout the house.
- Farmers markets. So simple. So hygge. So Goop. Growing up as an only child, I learned to self-monologue a lot. Most of these featured me on some sort of tv show or interview where obviously everyone was really interested in what I had to teach them. Going to a farmers market or farm stand helps me to set the story for these grand adventures so I have a more interesting fake-monologue later. I am insane, true, but it’s one of those little extra things that make simple meals more interesting, and makes me feel like I’m taking part in something just a little bit more special than everyday. It works for me.
- Not magazines. Magazines for me are like social media. In theory they’re great, but what actually happens is that I don’t have time to read any of them, and they gather for months and months on end in my entryway, until I have literally 30 magazines that I’m supposed to read in order to make the investment worthwhile. So what actually happens is that I either speed-read through them, desperately searching for a tidbit or picture to rip out, then throw them out, or just throw them out, guilty over the wasted money. Magazines to me are not self-loving.
- A good speaker. I’m a music nerd, for sure. I love reading composer biographies and textbooks, and when I do that, I love to listen to music from that composer, to really immerse myself in the experience. When I do dishes, I like to put on good sing-along music to make a drudge-y task more fun. For this, I’m absolutely in love with my wireless speaker. It’s not a Bose, or an Apple, but it was more than $10 and sounds so immensely better because of it. I very much do believe that if there’s something you use regularly, it’s worth spending the extra money on because every time you use it, your experience will be just better enough to make it a pleasant instead of annoying use. That’s why I don’t buy 79-cent shampoo, my mascara proclaims that it’s better than sex, and my speaker was not from the stocking-stuffer bin. Music can so easily set and change a mood, and hearing it through a good speaker is something that matters to me, so being able to give myself that experience is totally worth it.
- If there’s any idea that’s pervaded our recent culture other than hygge, it’s wanderlust. We see it printed on Target t-shirts, across journals that we’re apparently supposed to have time to regularly write in, and all over social media. We see late teens and 20-somethings somehow able to jet to Bali and Coachella and whatever city is trendy right now. I even have a few friends from high school who I stalk on social media (see, bad!) that seriously must have been hit by a really expensive car, because why are they drinking out of a real coconut in places where real coconuts grow? How? My underwear comes in packs, how is that life possible for them? Comparison truly is the thief of joy. BUT, I do really enjoy pure travel experiences, so I’d say that is my big self-love splurge. I had a job for a few years that allowed me to accompany my boss to New York City, which I now absolutely adore and can’t wait to go back to, Chicago which wasn’t my favorite but it was cool to say I was there, and Las Vegas. Each time was as a real adult, so any downtime was for me to do things like go on the subway and visit the Met in the afternoon, then see Holly Golightly’s brownstone and hit up Bleeker St. for dinner. It was fantastic, and something that I’m incredibly proud of actually accomplishing as someone who had never before been on public transportation.
I also recently went to Acadia National Park and got to pig out on lobster rolls and climb an actual, real mountain. I visited Toronto, which looks like a scene from a dystopian young-adult book that got turned into a movie. It really does. But I also had ramen in Toronto, which seems pretty cool. Those not-at-all-unattainable trips and a few fantastic concerts are experiences I know are big things for my budget, and aren’t things that happen every weekend, but they’re experiences that I can gather in my head and heart, and remember. Now that I’m pregnant, I know that solo weekend trips like that aren’t going to be possible for long, and while I’m excited for the baby, there are definitely a few small trips I want to take before it arrives. Thinking back on eating wild blueberries along a mountain trail, putting my hand in a real waterfall, and discussing the merits of Warby Parker glasses with my very favorite band are fun stories to tell, but they make up images in the Instagram of my mind (aka my memory) so that when things are hectic and I’m throwing up because how dare I enthusiastically brush my teeth in the first trimester, I know I’ve had a lot of good adventures.
For a long time I felt pressured to experience self-love in the same way I saw it portrayed to me. Wearing tight clothes, because eff your beauty standards! Read a magazine in the bathtub! Get a massage!
For me, self-love looks a bit different, and that’s fantastically ok.