Ideal Self

Sorry, no audio recording for this post. It's NaNoWriMo (read more about that under My Writing Life) and I must write!
woman by the Mississippi River

I had intended to head towards an idyllic destination. I think I caught a glimpse of it behind the trees. But when I reached the clearing, nothing around me looked like what I’d imagined to find by this point in my journey. Images and feelings floated above my head like dreams I couldn’t remember upon waking….  

~ Maery Rose

I have an idea of what Ideal Self looks like and the life I’d be living if I was her. This probably isn’t healthy, but bear with me. From what I understand, Ideal Self is someone I imagine myself being in the future, that is, if I change.

So who is Ms. Ideal Self? It’s easy to list off a few key characteristics. She’s patient and doesn’t lose her cool when frustrated or stressed. She’s a good friend. She always knows the right thing to say and do in difficult moments. She is overtly kind and loving, unafraid that others will reject her love and friendship. She knows if she is rejected, it’s not because she’s unlovable; she just isn’t that person’s cup of tea. You can tell by my run-on with this whole rejection thing, it’s a big concern of mine.

Yes, Ideal Self is uninhibited and free, ignoring worries about what people might think or say about her. She securely knows she is innately worthy of love. Criticism is considered, but it doesn’t destroy her. 

What part of myself created this idyllic excuse for a human being? And why is she made up of exactly the things I perceive I lack? Why can’t being funny, weird, awkward, restless, anxious, magic-believing, goofy, and a writerly-bookish-introverted person be Ideal? Maybe minus the anxious part…

I listened to The Happiness Lab podcast titled “Why Living Without Regret is a Bad Idea.” The podcast suggested that our regrets often come from the moments in our lives when we haven’t lived up to the values and image of that darn Ideal Self.

I started to list my biggest regrets and what choices I imagine would have changed the trajectory of my life for the better. Maybe I could make sure I wasn’t still doing things that were sending me down the wrong path.

But I soon stopped my list making. Sure, maybe it would paint an image to move towards. But would it fit with my Real Self? And if it didn’t fit her, would I be creating Another Self that I’d end up stuffing into one of my drawers, longing for the day when my body fit into her, with the zipper actually pulling all the way up?

Magical Self Care

Wearing witch's hat

I’ve been reading The Witch’s Book of Self-Care by Arin Murphy-Hiscock. There are recipes for bath bombs, baked macaroni and cheese, and incense in there! I’m not one to believe that crystals have power, or Tarot cards can predict the future, or that uttering a few words is going to bring a sudden windfall of fame or money. However…

I believe in the power of herbal teas. I believe that carrying stones is grounding and walks in nature are magic. And I believe performing a ritual to set an intention or mark a moment can change how I look at myself and the world.

As Arin Murphy-Hiscock stated, a grand gesture to get you back on track often makes things worse. There went my plan to collage a vision board and create an artsy binder in which to put all my projects, ideas, and plans… Instead, I went outside to hang my freshly laundered clothes.

Being Present

clothes hanging on clothesline

I felt the combination of chill in the air and warm sun on my skin that comes every autumn. The smell of decaying leaves rose all around me; their crunch and rustle sounding under my feet. I sank into the rhythm of lifting damp clothes from my basket and securing them with clothespins to the line, burying the underwear and bras amongst the towels and shirts to block them from the neighbors’ view. 

A crow flew over and called to me, “Remember who you are, Maery. It’s not as far from who you want to be as you believe.” 

A View from the Potting Shed on Change is a post I thought you might also enjoy for a glimpse of past Maery. I wrote it in 2012 on my desire to change in big ways and instantaneous stuff like a haircut.  

Other Stuff

Cold Weather Camping

In October, I did a two day, one night camping trip to Banning State Park. Temperatures have been dropping to freezing (32℉) and colder, and I wanted to see how helpful running a small electric heater in my van might be. When I say small, I mean small in size and low wattage, so I can run it on my auxiliary battery. 

At the evenings coldest (32℉ outside) my van was 48℉ inside; it felt colder towards the floor. It would be better if I had insulation in the floor and walls of my van, but the heater helps. I also have a small butane-heater, but because of the carbon monoxide hazard, I have to crack open a window and only run it when I’m awake. 


As always, Halloween is a big deal where I live. Below are photos of yard decor, the Halloween parade, and a series of drawings I did to celebrate the month of October.

In My Writing Life

typing on laptop
Photo by Glenn Carstens-Peters on Unsplash

If you are a writer, you may know that November is NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month). For those who have never heard of NaNoWriMo, every November, a group of people set out to write 50,000 words towards a completed book. In reality, what people write is nowhere near what they need for a publishable book, but it gets the ball rolling. Despite having gotten off to a rough start, I’m joining in NaNoWriMo 2022 to complete a novella I started in September.    

Three Recent Reads

Fever Dream: A Novel, by Samanta Schweblin

You will probably feel lost as you read this story (I know I did), which is why I’m giving so much commentary on this book. The thing that kept me reading is the way the author tells the story. If you’re a writer, I think Fever Dream is a good book to read and study. It’s classified as horror, but I found it more on the eery scale. As a mother, I very much clicked with the protagonist’s fears for her child and what she referred to as the ‘rescue distance’, referred to in the quote below.  

Samanta Schweblin is an Argentine short story writer, who has previously published collections of short stories. Fever Dream is her first novel, and Netflix adapted the story into a movie of the same title.

From the publisher: “A young woman named Amanda lies dying in a rural hospital clinic. A boy named David sits beside her. She’s not his mother. He’s not her child. Together, they tell a haunting story of broken souls, toxins, and the power and desperation of family.” 

“’Right now, for instance, I’m calculating how long it would take me to jump out of the car and reach Nina if she suddenly ran and leapt into the pool. I call it the ‘rescue distance’: that’s what I’ve named the variable distance separating me from my daughter, and I spend half the day calculating it.’

~ Samanta Schweblin, Fever Dream: A Novel

Mexican Gothic, by Silvia Moreno-Garcia

Obviously, in October, I was in the mood for horror, and this book was definitely creepy and descriptive enough to send some bad visuals into my brain. For me, that was perfect for this season—not bloody-gory but very chilling. The story takes place in an isolated mansion called High Place, in the Mexican countryside. The protagonist goes to High Place after her father receives a distressing letter from her cousin. Of course, there are many secrets for the young protagonist to solve. Once she does, though, the question is whether she’ll be able to escape.

“Old would have been an inaccurate word to describe him. He was ancient, his face gouged with wrinkles, a few sparse hairs stubbornly attached to his skull. He was very pale too, like an underground creature. A slug, perhaps. His veins contrasted with his pallor, thin, spidery lines of purple and blue.

~ Silvia Moreno-Garcia, Mexican Gothic

The Radiant Lives of Animals, by Linda Hogan

It was very difficult for me to pick one quote from this book. The chapters where Linda Hogan, an indigenous writer and environmentalist, writes about her relationships with the animals and nature around her pulled at my heart, especially when she wrote about her horses. Those words brought me to tears. I miss having the sound, sight, touch, and yes, even the smell of horses right outside my windows. No matter how old I am, how many years go by since my last horse left this world, I’ll never forget how special those ties were to me.

“The horses are outside my open windows. We speak to one another, especially in the evenings. I sit where they can hear. They are beautiful, shaking their manes, animals that smell of herbs and earth.

~ Linda Hogan, The Radiant Lives of Animals

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  1. Thanks for that blog post, Maery. It really resonated for me. And you always make me smile, even while you manage to discuss pretty serious stuff!

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