Last week I saw the movie Lady Bird.
During one particularly poignant scene, Lady Bird (an 18-year-old at a religious high school in Sacramento) decides that she wants to go to college on the other side of the country, preferably in Manhattan. The movie follows her through her senior year and at one point, it shows her meeting with the principal of her high school.
“I read your college essay,” the principal says. “You clearly love Sacramento.”
“I don’t love it,” Lady Bird replies. “I just pay attention.”
Then the principal turns to look at Lady Bird with knowing eyes. “You know,” she says, “loving something and paying attention to it are often the same thing.”
BAM. Loving something and paying attention to it are the same thing.
Or, as one famous quote goes, “Paying attention is the most radical form of love.” We don’t really want fancy gifts from the people we love most, we just want evidence that they’re paying attention, that they’re listening to us, that they care.
The same is true with the road to loving ourselves. That road is paved with paying attention. Call it what you want — mindfulness, attention, awareness — but the act of focusing your energy on yourself is loving yourself.
Paying attention means listening to your body. It means knowing which foods your body loves and which foods make your stomach feel funky. It means knowing when to skip a day of workouts and when to go hard. It means looking yourself in the eyes in the mirror and noticing what your face really looks like. It means watching for moments of angst and anger and asking “Why am I responding like this?” It means being okay with skipping a social night when you feel low energy. It means knowing if you are low energy. It means being kind to yourself when you need it most. It means meditating and yoga and long runs and slow walks and tea and essential oils and baths and naps and hugs and puppy snuggles. It means asking for what you need.
I feel like someone ripped off my distraction glasses and deposited me onto a new planet.
On this planet I feel everything more intensely, simply because I’m paying attention. Join me?
Quick & Easy Stuffed Sweet Potatoes
Or “food my stomach actually loves.” Serves 1, but you can scale this recipe up by simply cooking more potatoes.
There’s no set recipe for this puppy. Simply cook your potatoes (I like to microwave them on high for 5-7 minutes, but you can also bake them for 45 minutes in a 425 oven). Then make toppings. I have tons of variations that I make depending on what’s in my fridge, but my favorite combinations are:
crispy bacon + guacamole + taco seasoning + spinach + salsa + mexican cheese + sour cream + black beans
butter + cinnamon sugar
crispy bacon + avocado + pickled red onions + goat cheese + arugula + toasted almonds
roasted red peppers + rosemary ham + swiss cheese + everything bagel seasoning