Friday, June 08, 2007

Ms. Theologian Rewards Herself with Italian Pastries

Dear Ms. Theologian,

When you are working on a long-term project, one that has stages of completion, but which can't be considered truly done until it's done, how do you recommend rewarding yourself, or even "celebrating" the parts you complete along the way so that you don't, as I have, feel as though you must wait and suffer and wait and suffer before you can give yourself kudos for a job well done?


Dear Long-Suffering,

Ms. Theologian is not sure of the exact origin of your penchant for suffering, but she does feel for you. She has been known to flog herself for no reason other than she thinks it's what writers do to feel alive. But let's not go down that path.

Often Ms. Theologian hears this advice to break a task into parts (to avoid procrastination) and to self-reward along the way. But, what, exactly are these mystical rewards?

Rewards can be very small. They are things you enjoy, which may be self-nurturing or self-soothing. Anything that brings you pleasure. Ms. Theologian likes reading gawker. She likes Federico's, the Italian bakery in Pasadena. She likes her garden. She likes playing in the nearby creek with her dog. These are not big things though. They don't involve calling friends, going out to dinner, throwing a party, or buying something, although those are all fine rewards too. It's just that the big rewards can take up a lot of time and energy and sometimes feel less like a reward than like work.

So perhaps you just need a little reward along the way. Surely you can make room for a little pleasure?

-Ms. Theologian