Help me make my 27th year my best year yet!
August 21, 2007 2:20 PM   Subscribe

I'm looking for ideas on things I can "give" myself for my birthday to help me make a fresh start. Can you help?

I am going on vacation in a week and will be coming back home a year older. Well, technically only a week older, but my age will have gone up a number. You know what I mean.

Anyway, I've had a rough few years in terms of gaining a lot of weight (to the point of being technically morbidly obese), being very depressed (which I am now finally working on with an awesome therapist & CBT techniques), and just not really sure about what the hell I want to do with my life. Sure, I've halfheartedly tried to make changes, but I never really had faith in myself until I started forcing myself to look at my situation rationally - that my past failures do NOT mean that everything I do is doomed. For the first time in a LONG time, I have faith in myself that if I put the effort into it, I can turn my life around and accomplish things!

Anyway, I don't have a ton of disposable cash, but I want to set myself up to come home to an environment where I am psyched and ready to work on myself. I'm hoping that a week away to relax will help matters.

So, what can I do or prepare to help psych myself up? I'm looking for projects I can plan for myself, tools I can purchase (not too expensive), charts or something I should make for myself, whatever. I want this to be my best year yet!
posted by dumbledore69 to Grab Bag (18 answers total) 14 users marked this as a favorite
If I might suggest: A notebook. Perhaps a Moleskin? At least get one with pencil-holder. And in this notebook, make notes every day of your journey.

Sometimes an outright diary may feel out of reach. If so - make an one-paragraph-a-day-diary. Just scrible one sentence a day, try to take in the gist of the experiences of the day. The essence.

So next birthday you can look back and review what you've been doing the last 365 days. It's a powerful tool. I know.

Take care.
posted by Rabarberofficer at 2:29 PM on August 21, 2007

Paint a room in your house/apartment/condo to freshen things up a bit.
posted by HotPatatta at 2:42 PM on August 21, 2007

A friend of mine cleans extensively every time before she leaves on a vacation. She leaves for the vacation tired... but she comes back refreshed to a sparkling clean home that she feels grateful to live in.

Also, you could buy a copy of You Can Do It!: The Merit Badge Handbook for Grown-Up Girls for yourself. It's like a grown-up version of the girl scout's badge book... you can "earn" badges (in the form of neatly designed retro-looking stickers) for things like wine tasting, knitting, traveling, etc. The Amazon page has a good preview of some of the badges/topics. I find it inspiring and fun to flip through. It just makes you want to get out there and do things!
posted by warble at 3:03 PM on August 21, 2007 [2 favorites]

I bought myself a bike for my last birthday, and it's helped with my weight, blood pressure, and depression.
posted by The Deej at 3:13 PM on August 21, 2007

I made an inspiration board for myself one year when I decided to focus on my health. (Who knew there was an entire group at flickr devoted to these?) Anyway, my board was full of women who kick butt, and other things that inspired me to stick to the plan I'd made.
posted by cocoagirl at 3:18 PM on August 21, 2007 [2 favorites]

I realized that through it all, music had been all but lost in my life, whereas years ago it was a central part of my life on a daily basis. I bought an ipod nano so that any moment could be an enjoyable pleasure. I also went back to playing a musical instrument on occasion, something that I had enjoyed years ago, but that had been squeezed out.
posted by kch at 3:32 PM on August 21, 2007

get an ipod and load it full of tony robbins/ stephen covey type of stuff, lectures, favorite songs, podcasts and walk an hour a day. walking is EASY and it doesn't take "faith in yourself" - but do this for 2 months (in the rain, matter what) and I PROMISE you'll feel better. use a calendar to track your weight/ progress every week/ whatever
posted by mrmarley at 3:35 PM on August 21, 2007

clean your home from top to bottom. i mean, take your dishes out of your cupoboards and wash those down.

throw out "problem foods" and stock your pantry with healthful staples. make and freeze a week's worth of healthy meals for when you get back. maybe replace your dishes--target is always a good place for cute cheap stuff.

organize your paperwork: bills, loans, etc, in a big file folder.

get photos you love enlarged, frame them, and hang them up in your home.

go through your clothes and throw out anything that doesn't fit anymore. itemize them and donate them to charity. if you have nice clothes in larger sizes, dress for success is a wonderful charity that donates work-appropriate clothing to lower-income women trying to break into the white-collar workforce. they are desperate for larger sizes.

never doubt the power of a truly awesome haircut--it's flattering and fits no matter how much weight you lose. if you can afford it, a professonal color job can do wonders. if that's outside your budget, get your eyebrows professionally waxed. it's such a tiny thing that makes a huge difference.

a massage is always great. even if you are self-conscious about your body, masseuses are usually nonjudgmental and it is always great to have a caring touch.

make a list of everything that's bothering you or that you need to take care of when you get home from vacation. leave it on your kitchen counter, and then try not to think about any of those things while you're on vacation.

have a great trip, and happy birthday! may you have lots and lots of best years ever!
posted by thinkingwoman at 3:55 PM on August 21, 2007 [6 favorites]

I was going to suggest pretty much what thinkingwoman said. Clean the house and dye your hair :) The other stuff is all great too :)
posted by jesirose at 3:56 PM on August 21, 2007

I have recommended this fantastic book a few times here before. Don't be put off by the "Feng Shui" part of the title, it's a really sensible and practical book that will motivate you to get rid of everything you don't love or need and make room for new stuff in your life.

It sounds like you may have a bunch of unfinished projects from the past hanging around, getting rid of all the physical evidence of that stuff will give you a lot of energy.
posted by tomcooke at 4:03 PM on August 21, 2007

How about planning some outings for yourself? Call up some friends, set up some lunch dates, maybe sign up for a class -- commitments that will be part of your new life. This may be for you, or it may be the opposite of what you need, but I mention it in case it would represent a change.
posted by amtho at 4:07 PM on August 21, 2007

I recently got one of these - I've been making an effort, for the first time ever, to keep a calendar/event planner. The company that makes them has calendars specific to major metropolitan area (they are calendars with maps and lists of local restaurant and attractions) all over the US. If you don't live in a major metropolitan area, then just get a pocket calendar. (You may already be a calendar person, I don't know).

Anyway, these things are great because they are portable and because once you write an activity down on paper, you are more likely to do it, I find. If you write down a project in your planner/calendar (read a novel, write a novel, hang out with friend X, go to the gym, work on that boat you are building inside a bottle, etc.) and then get into the habit of checking your calendar when you get home from work (rather than, say, turning on the TV), you may find it easier to stick to your long term goals rather than give in to your short-term desires.

Good luck!
posted by taliaferro at 4:52 PM on August 21, 2007

I'll second the bike. When I'm down I ride to work instead of taking the bus, and it totally does the trick.

Maybe buy stuff to start an indoor garden? A few pots, some dirt and seeds (wildflowers? spices like cilantro and basil?).
posted by salvia at 7:50 PM on August 21, 2007

I love the Deej's bike idea. It's a great way to save money on transportation if you don't live far from work, good exercise, and a nice way to explore your neighborhood for free. Plus, it's just plain fun.
posted by fermezporte at 7:53 PM on August 21, 2007

If you're doing CBT you've probably changed some of your behaviors, right? Formed new habits? Pick and object specifically related to one of these habits. For instance, if you're changing your eating habits, buy a few fancy smaller plates, some silverware, place mat, etc. If you are journaling, buy a moleskine as Rabarberofficer suggested, and a really nice pen. Treat yourself to something that will reinforce the positive changes you have already made.
posted by lisaici at 9:21 PM on August 21, 2007

How about treating yourself to something like a day at a health spa? You'll get the present bit, and the "I am being treated with respect" bit rolled into one.

How about something like a piece of art that represents your future? I was kinda wading through life, so I bought myself a poster. On it, there is a photo of the base of a huge pine tree, and right in front of it, in close up, is a 2 yr old pine seedling. The caption underneath reads "Determination. It is the size of one's will that determines success." Every time I look at that, I get reminded by how much I want to be that big pine tree.

Do you have a spare room that you can use as a "doing" room - have it set up so that every time you go in there, it's to do something, like write a letter you've been putting off, or exercise, etc. Eventually, going into the room will become Pavlovian, and you'll automatically start to achieve in there.

Try picking up a new hobby, something that you're interested in and that will help push you through life.
posted by Solomon at 2:03 AM on August 22, 2007

Think about giving to others, too. If you are eligible, donate blood.
posted by Carol Anne at 6:26 AM on August 22, 2007

Congratulations on your fresh start. I'm doing something very similar. I'm turning 39 in a few days and I've recently decided to ditch my bad habits and negative thinking and start working on making things better for myself before I reach the big 40. One thing I've found to be helpful: Get up early. I am NOT a morning person, but I've started getting up about an hour earlier than I used to. I use the extra time to accomplish things that had been nagging at me the previous day. I also take an extra long shower and think about the things I want to accomplish during the day. Then I use a PocketMod to write them out. Good luck to you!
posted by Otis at 7:04 AM on August 22, 2007

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