toast & tea: the self-improvement episode

“Time for you and time for me, 
And time yet for a hundred indecisions, 
And for a hundred visions and revisions, 
Before the taking of a toast and tea.”

- T. S. Eliot

We're baaaaaaack! photos by emily owart

We're baaaaaaack!
photos by emily owart


HOW DO I LEARN TO FEEL COMFORTABLE SPENDING TIME ALONE?

Dear Party of One,

I think carving out time to hang with yourself is one of the most important and healthy things you can do, sharing camp with voting for Hillary Clinton and eating chocolate 1-3 times a day. For this reason, it’s definitely something with which you should learn to be comfortable. Because whether we choose to or not, spending time alone at some point (or many points) is inevitable. But if you’re someone who doesn’t inherently love spending time sans other people, here are some good ways to forget you’re solo and slide into a velveteen snuggie of time well-spent:

  1. Read. Apart from the many brain-expanding benefits of picking up a book, reading is a great source of companionship. No better company than the company you make up in your head. Find a series everyone is talking about (or better yet--no one is talking about), and dive in. You’ll get so lost in another world, time, place, etc you won’t even recall you just spent hours staring at several pieces of stained paper. Recommendations to start: Harry Potter, The Neapolitan Series, The Chronicles of Narnia, The Millennium Series.

  2. Write. In a diary, on the wall, in the sky. Nothing better than putting pen to paper if you need to pass the time, while also figuring out what you feel about all topics ad infinitum. Maybe you’ll get to the bottom of this uncomfortableness? No promises, except that you will.

  3. Exercise (?) I don’t know much about this, but I’ve heard it works for some. Stretch first!

Wishing you comfort and good distractions from the echoes of your own thoughts,

T


HOW DO I DEAL WITH ADULTS WHO STILL LEGITIMATELY BELIEVE IN CLIQUES?

Dear Kanye West circa 2012,

My first reaction is… Run. Anyone who enjoys a clique probably peaked in middle school. And if you enjoyed middle school, you are not to be trusted.

But, if you do have to deal with these people every day, you must make like Michelle Obama. When they go low, you go high. It may be uncomfortable at first, but make a habit of avoiding their gossipy antics at any cost.

They start trash talking, you don’t participate. Or better yet, maybe stick up for the person they’re bad-mouthing! They don’t invite you to hang out, be glad that you don’t have to be dragged down by negativity. Treat yo self to a drama-free evening with your friends on Netflix. They do invite you to a function, bring friends along! Show those fools that more is merrier.

If this is in a workplace, I recently had a friend mention to me that he was changing his negative and self-serving company culture one step at a time. He started writing thank you notes to mentors and members of his team every time they helped him out or scored a big client. His coworkers were so pleasantly surprised, they started writing notes to others as well. Be that first ripple of a potentially much bigger change in your world.

The worst that can happen if you refuse to stoop to their level is that you’ll be excluded from a group that, if you think about it, you probably shouldn’t aspire to join any way. The best that can happen is you make change happen. You never know until you try. And I wouldn’t blame you for leaving them all behind if you can’t affect, or avoid, their negativity. Make your own life what you want it to be, and don’t let others rob that from you.

Shroud yourself in a beautiful lil bubble of positivity,

S


HOW DO I MOTIVATE MYSELF TO GET FIT WHILE REMAINING BODY-POSITIVE? THERE ARE SO MANY FEEL-GOOD MOVEMENTS OUT THERE BUT SOMETIMES THEY ENCOURAGE UNHEALTHY LIFESTYLES.

Dear Workin On Ur Fitness,

As someone who hardly ever (okay, never) goes to the gym, has a major sweet tooth, and also wants to somehow magically stay in shape, this is something I struggle with too. We live in an age of dichotomies. Tech varies from texting on your Apple Watch to chatting with Mom via an iPhone that’s bigger than your whole head. Diets range from “see food and eat it” to Gwenyth Paltrow eating approximately two nuts a day (ones that she grew in organic soil and picked herself, of course).

So how do we balance the long-held standard of rail-thin “beauty” with the growing popularity of body positivity movements? I personally am a huge fan of embracing - and publicly advertising - all body shapes, sizes, and colors. But what happens when some of the body positivity turns into an excuse for laziness, or unhealthiness?

Being positive and happy with your body shouldn’t mean that you fuel it with utter shit. That’s counter-productive. A preservative-heavy cheeseburger a day does not keep the doctor away. I am too guilty of promoting gluttony (#junkfoodloveaffair…oops) because it’s typically prettier to Instagram than a salad. But if you truly love your body for the temple it is, you should treat your diet with the utmost regard for nutrition and moderation.

So, I advise you to avoid following too many models (but Chrissy and Barbie are the best) on social media. Or comparing your body to those of your peers. Focus on yourself. That’s what body positivity is truly about. I firmly believe that comparison is the thief of joy and self-improvement is the best motivation for any sort of success in life.

Eat your greens. And your proteins. AND your carbs - they are a necessary part of your diet. Exercise for at least 20 minutes every day. It doesn’t have to be big - just walk or bike instead of driving! Go up and down the stairs a couple extra times. Make FLOTUS proud. And don’t forget to eat dessert occasionally.

In Aspiringly-Healthy Solidarity,

S


SPEED ROUND (AS TOLD BY T):

I am in a relationship with pizza. Got any new topping ideas I can use to spice up our love life?
     Pineapple, basil leaves, your lover (another slice).

How much trail mix is too much trail mix?
     Whatever amount that is at risk of becoming sentient. So, like, a pound?

How tall of a hat is too tall?
     Any hat over a foot tall is not a hat. It’s a call for help.

Which came first, the chicken or the egg?
     Definitively: A chicken mid-lay.

Write me a poem about the stars.
     I am a star
     You are also a star
     
We are stars
     This is nice