Criticism or celebration?

I was walking to the corner store to buy candy with my meagre allowance one bright summer morning, skipping cracks because who wants a mother with a broken back, and when I looked up, I was fifty-two.

There’s a lifetime in the gap, but I forget all too often the history in my history, focusing only on the ugly bits, which, excluding the eating disorder which was an enormous time suck, account for scant minutes in the overall accounting of my life.

It’s interesting to me how we own the dark and ugly so easily but write off, with the work of an instant, the things we did well or that made us happy.

I don’t think this is a mental illness thing: I think it’s a failing of human nature. We sweat the small stuff and discount the sweet, neurotypical and divergent alike.

I keep my copy of “Find Your Glow, Find Your Soul” by Emily Silva open on a bookshelf. Each time I wander by, I flip to a new page for a reread and some inspiration. Maybe even growth and personal development. The other day I landed on Cultivate a Spirit of Celebration, which got me thinking about the aforementioned spirit of hair-shirtedness we’re so keen to embrace.

“Let go of the fear and judgement and open up to the idea of celebrating your list of wins.” Sure, why not? After I’m done, I’ll walk up the street naked to collect the mail.

Sometimes, I think I’m fear and judgement made flesh.

I also avoid celebrating the wins I pretend don’t exist. It’s easier to wallow in “nobody likes me, everybody hates me, I’m going outside to eat worms” if you avoid reality.

I’m also Queen of the Disclaimer, a title I suspect I share. I may have done something right, but I make sure that I qualify my accomplishments so that anyone crass enough to be judging comes to the correct conclusion regarding my basic worthlessness. I may do, but in my version of events, I do it badly. This is another belief that becomes hard to sustain in the face of truth. Annoying stuff, truth.

Take a moment each day to be proud of something you accomplish. I’ve recently started making my bed again after nearly six weeks of conscientious objection. Or laziness. Or illness and recovery. I’d thought I didn’t care one way or the other. But, when I make it, when I put on the shams and the decorative pillows, when I toss the matching quilt and blanket across the end (thank God for bed-in-the-bag), I feel good. There’s even a welling of pride. It’s a small thing, the work of fewer than five minutes, but it makes me feel good every time I walk into my room. The effort I put into whining and procrastinating suddenly seems pointless.

Celebrating the wins is a behaviour many of us have lost, and it’s a shame. My mother does it well: she always remembers to send cards and thoughtful gifts on the occasion of passing your driver’s test or scoring that first babysitting job. Unfortunately, she, too, fails to celebrate the self.

The book also suggests hosting a celebration of the self. Ring the bells on accomplishments that went unnoticed or were minimized. You could invite a friend or several to join in. You could even invite family, assuming you like them. Celebrate the accomplishments and successes. Add wine and streamers, and you can call it a party.

Writing a list of every accomplishment is also a good time. You’ll be surprised by what you’ve done. You might consider using a small notebook for the list-making: a single sheet will fill up in no time. I started with “learned to ride a bicycle” and carried on from there: nine other of my reasons for self-celebration carry on below.

  • I learned to ride a bike;
  • I learned to swim;
  • I learned to put up a tent;
  • I learned first aid;
  • I learned to drive;
  • I graduated from high school;
  • I graduated from university ( a couple of times, but now I’m just bragging);
  • I landed good jobs;
  • I learned to be a good parent; and
  • I learned to keep moving forward.
photo credit: Inc. Magazine
Copyright Emily Silva

10 thoughts on “Criticism or celebration?

  1. Thanks for sharing the worm song. It was brilliant. Though, I do want to run to the corner store to get gummy worms now.

    It’s a good topic and reminder. I definitely focus more on the negative than the positive. However, I don’t discount it entirely, so I guess I’m not THAT bad. Yay! A reason to celebrate!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Excellent post! I was telling the hubs just the other day that I rarely stop to celebrate anything before pointing out the things I need to watch out for within said victory. This is an excellent reminder. You are speaking the truth here! Very nice.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you. It was a call to arms for myself as well: in my mind, my efforts are imperfect and thus insufficient. Giving myself props at the end of the day feels better.


    1. I’m glad you liked it 😊. I often wonder what it would be like to be neurotyoical. To not have to remind yourself to prop yourself up (because to not can be dangerous). I bet they really don’t appreciate the amount of brain work they avoid.

      I feel you on keeping at it. Even phone reminders are eventually tuned out.

      Liked by 1 person

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