On Tuesdays we've been Practicing Pauses - exploring moments of rest, why they're important, and how we can better find them. Last week I wrote about little things that bring me a moment of joy - this week, little things that are more lastingly beneficial.
In the same Hope*ologie podcast in which the Nester mentioned that the things you use should be beautiful, the concept of "treating your future self" arose. Pre-Adam, I never had a problem with buying myself flowers (ok, I still do that), taking myself (and a book) to dinner, or even seeing a movie by myself if there was no one to see it with, but the word future thrown in there threw me.
But after they explained it, I realized that it's already something that I do. "Treating your future self" simply means doing something that will continue to do you good beyond the present moment. For example: a couple of months ago, Kristen Welch announced that Fair Trade Friday had a new option - in addition to the beautiful boxes that you can subscribe to (those are a bit more than I can afford, and filled with things that are, while lovely, not things that I need), they were offering a just-earrings option. For less than $15 a month, a pair of earrings made by a fairly-paid woman somewhere in the world, tucked into a lovely little bag, arrives in your mailbox. Yes, please! Realizing that I probably won't be over the moon for every pair, I've already resolved to use this as a way to get ahead on Christmas gifts, while also augmenting my own curated collection.
Another way of doing that is to predict and prepare for possible future frustrations. I keep a notebook with me at all times, so that if I end up having time in a parking lot with sleeping babies in the back, or Tobin decides on a pre-bedtime marathon nursing session, I can redeem the time. However, I write best when I have a visual for inspiration, and that isn't something that's always within reach. So I made a little matchbook album of photo prompts* and tucked it into the pocket in the back of my notebook. It was quick and easy to make - once these twelve pictures cease to spark creative genius, I can make a new one.
image from She Reads Truth
Honestly, study and memorization of anything that inspires you, but especially Scripture, could also fall into the category of "treating your future self," by providing your mind with ready encouragement that can be recalled in a time of need (also, when sitting up in the dark with a teething toddler, near-verbatim memorization of the story of Esther and of The Hobbit can come in handy for outloud story-telling).
Who you are right now determines who you will be in the future. So if I'm worn out and stressed right now, that's going to affect me tomorrow, and next week, and five years from now. But if I begin the practice of pauses - of being still - of disconnecting from distractions and reconnecting with God - then the positive effect will be exponential.
*specs, if you'd like to make your own: the matchbook is a strip of patterned paper 2.25" wide and 5.75" high, and the bottom tab is folded up one half inch. The inserts are 2" by 2" with an extra half inch of white space at the bottom where they'll be stapled - I made a template in Publisher with margins and layout guides adjusted to create the size I wanted so I wouldn't have to measure each picture and so they would all fit on one page, then cut out my pictures, tucked them into the bottom fold, stapled them, then folded the top of my matchbook down, tucked it into the bottom fold, and creased.
What can you do today that will benefit you in the future? A class, index cards with memory verses written on them, a subscription, a jar of bath salt (purchased or homemade), a planned date, frozen cookie dough balls, a new yoga mat... there is no thing too simple or silly - if it helps you, that's what matters!