Life path

Getting the Shoulds Out of My Vocabulary



It can get so old spending a tremendous amount of time in my head.  I think far too much about these assignments from the 52 Weeks: 52 Ways to Love Your (Wild) Self.  I wonder if these exercises are giving me a new perspective or is it adding to my never ending stress due to my perfectionistic tendencies?  Or is it because I’m so stressed that these exercises seem to add more stress?  Is this a chicken and egg question?

My extra long week of avoiding a bunch of shoulds was, for the most part, successful.  On Sunday, I knew I ‘should’ go to bed early because I was driving on my daughter’s field trip to a museum and that I ‘should’ be awake for it BUT then I picked up a book I put down last month and after finally getting into it, I couldn’t stop reading until midnight.  Telling myself I should go to sleep instead of reading was probably more reasonable than staying awake and suffering from exhaustion at the museum but it was a week of getting should out of my vocabulary.  So I suffered for the sake of no shoulds.

Instead of buying the flowers from my favorite wholesale, open-to-the-public nursery, I looked into a company called The Bougs Company.  I found the florist in the pages of the Oprah Magazine.  I decided that although I should not spend the money on a monthly bouquet sent to my house, I was going to do it anyway because it brings me joy to see flowers on my table.  Flowers add life to a mostly sterile environment.  I love watching them transform from closed buds to open blooms over the passing days.  Everything about ordering the flowers made me feel good.  I can’t wait to see my first bouquet in person.  The first order arrives next Tuesday.

Writing suffered from the removal of shoulds, too.  I felt I should write in my blog but I also knew I didn’t have anything interesting to say (as if I do now!).  I spent the time writing to a friend instead.  The emails were long and although I wasn’t writing in my blog, and I cannot share my insights here, I was writing every day which the Live to Write — Write to Live website suggests.

Thank goodness the week of no shoulds is over.  I can get back to my guilt induced life.

The first thing on my list is I should learn how to work the camera I bought from my daughter this week.  It taunts me from the desk where it has sat for nearly a week.  I bought it in order to take better pictures for this blog.  Although I’d love to take a photography class in person, I have a photography class waiting for me online at  I love the idea of learning new things by watching videos created by people who know what they’re doing.  I love–I’ve learned a great deal from the site and continue to learn daily from their short posts sent to my inbox.  If I want to know more, I go to and pick out other things to learn about like decorating a cake professionally, creating a font, changing a tire, designing a backyard retreat, etc.  Anything I’d ever want to know is on

This week’s homework is to practice pleasure.  Hmmm…that sounds intriguing.  What Judy Clement Wall means is to be absolutely present to enjoy all things one does like writing, yoga, exercising, playing with the kids, getting a massage, gardening, sewing, creating, cooking, baking, making love…”relish what feels good.”  In other words, garden fully focused on how much you love it, really feel the dirt, really look at and take in the beautiful colors of the flowers.  Make it almost a meditation of sorts.  Don’t text, check Facebook every five minutes, or do two things at once, just focus and “relish” the sun on your back, the birds in the trees singing, the worms, the bugs, and how great it feels to be outside after this winter.

What are some things I’m planning on relishing (I always think of actual relish, the food, every time I write that word)?  Driving is one, meditating is another, lying motionless in a sauna, and a massage I’m getting on Friday night.  I love to drive and I love my car.  I don’t pay nearly the attention I should to how wonderful it is to feel my car respond to the slightest touch to go faster.

I have been trying to mediate every day and for some reason, I cannot find 10 minutes (yeah, I know, it’s bullshit).  I made it to six days in a row on Headspace and then stopped.  This week I will not only find 10 minutes every day but I will practice meditation and notice how it makes me feel afterward.  Using Headspace is a great way to practice mediation because somebody with a great and soothing voice talks to you during almost the whole time while he is guiding you in the practice.

Trips to my sauna are the most lovely thing.  I don’t think I will have a hard time relishing my time in the box because I already really enjoy it.  My routine is 15 minutes lying on a bench, inhaling the heat, and then I spend the next 45 minutes on a chair either setting my intentions for the day or chatting with someone else who’s ventured into the sauna.

Friday night’s massage will also be an easy one.  I get goosebumps every time I have a massage so there’s definite pleasure there.  Maybe I will have to throw in a more difficult thing in this exercise like cooking.  I don’t like to cook but feel terribly guilty when I don’t.  This week’s main assignment for me, then, is to find the pleasure in cooking.  I’ll savor the experience while I’m chopping the vegetables, and hope after a week of this experiment, will find daily pleasure with making meals.

Will you join me in practicing pleasure?  What brings you pleasure?  Is it hard for you to focus on one thing only?



4 thoughts on “Getting the Shoulds Out of My Vocabulary

  1. Hmm, well, you haven’t thought much about loving yourself before (from what I gathered from your blog) so I think that these exercises are giving you a new perspective on things.
    From what I’ve noticed, the key to following the exercises/suggestions seems to be applying them to our lives. Like for example, “should go to bed” was definitely reasonable instead of being tired the day after staying up reading 🙂
    I’m thinking that calling bullshit on should was a way for me to prioritize when I was doing the 52-52 challenge, and reading your post now I wish I had thought of adding more flowers into my home (I can’t really though, because of Pixel kitty reasons). Also, because there are obligations one can’t get out of, you can always re-frame the way you think about these things. So you’re onto something when you say you’ll savor the experience and see if you find something pleasurable in cooking.

    1. The flowers I bought via The Bouqs Company arrived yesterday, and they are definitely bringing a whole bunch of pleasure. This practicing of pleasure thing is far easier than getting the shoulds out and has turned it into “I should buy flowers a couple times a month just for ME!” We have a lot of nurseries around here in coastal San Diego County and the flowers are so cheap. For the price of two cups of coffee, you can have a really beautiful bouquet.

      1. That’s awesome, send me a picture! (And use it in your next blog post.) How great that flowers are so cheap there, wish it was the case here as well.
        And yes, definitely! Some shoulds are good to keep in our vocabulary 🙂

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