Since I’m all for gifting oneself early and often, here are some non-stuff-based items you might want to think about bestowing on ye:
–Up your nutrition. It seems that certain foods suit particular body types or constitutions more than others. This and a lifetime of eating habits that may or may not include Doritos and hybrid cola-wild cherry slushies adds up to the need for some professional dietary input. Book an appointment with a good nutritionist, preferably one whom you’ve heard good things about. Alternately, you can look up a U.S. dietician at Eat Right, the site of the American Dietetic Association.
Another reason to see a nutritionist: food allergies. Marsha McCulloch is a registered and licensed dietitian in the Des Moines area and owner of In The Aisles who has a speciality in this area. An expert is needed to diagnose food allergies, which may be the culprit behind an array of physical issues you experience, because, according to her site: “Identifying which foods are problematic can be challenging since sensitivity reactions may be delayed by hours or even days after consumption.”
A meeting with someone who can customize an ideal eating approach for you will serve your life more fully than any pretty bauble or pair of shoes. (Ah, but you haven’t seen the shoes…)
–Dispose of subpar shoes and garments. Go to your closet and play “These Things Don’t Belong.” Pull out at least three items that have passed their expiration date in terms of fit, style or condition. As in: The item doesn’t convey anything positive about you in its cut or characteristic, or it just looks used and abused. Remove and dispose of the items immediately. You deserve better.
–Step into another language, even a little. You’ve been wanting to learn Italian forever. You want to speak fluent French. Say a few things in Japanese. Book a month of conversational language classes or meet up with a group that gets together to chat in a chosen tongue. The Foreign Service Institute has online language instruction in 40-plus languages, courses that were developed by the U.S. government and are completely complimentary.
–Forgive yourself. Give yourself a nonrefundable, nonretractable pass on something from your past that, up to now, you haven’t quite been able to.
–Eat better, dine in. Get re-acquainted with your kitchen and use it more often. Make it a more welcoming, useful place by cleaning and organizing. Throw out old spices or items that you don’t use. Get rid or stow appliances that you seldom use and are taking up counter space.
Chef Doug Silberberg of Los Angeles does something along these lines that I think is completely useful. He will meet you at your local grocery store or farmer’s market and teach you how to smartly and coherently shop. You will learn how to assess vegetables, differentiate and select cuts of meat and so forth. He also offers a kitchen consult, where he comes to your home to help orient your kitchen for maximum use. I can think of no better gift for certain bachelors and bachelorettes, and a few college types too.
–Do yoga. The most comprehensive path to fitness on Earth, I am convinced. In one shot you tone, stretch and strengthen your body plus calm and discipline your mind. I’m sure there are other virtues involved, but these are personal tops. There’s a yoga style and studio for everyone. Look in your town for one that suits your sensibilities and go.
–Personalize your postage. Upload a favorite personal image onto a U.S. postage stamp and you’ll be more motivated to keep in touch the old fashioned way, with a pen and paper, which happens to remain the most civilized way. The more stamps you order at Stamps.com, the better the price.
–Supplement daily. Find a supplement to fill your nutritional gaps, perhaps with the help of that nutritionist I mentioned earlier, and integrate it into your daily regime. You will feel and look better for it; but daily consistency is key. Supplements don’t necessarily have to be straight vitamins, either. A gal I know, Lynne Reynolds, swears by Juice Plus+, which she described to me as something like a salad bar in a capsule. Judging from the gorgeous glow of her skin and her enviable energy, it works.
–Book a date…with you! Go somewhere local and fantastic by yourself or, if that’s just not your bag, bring along a friend. (Make sure he or shares your idea of fantastic.) One of my memorable recent solo dates was sushi at the Biltmore in downtown Los Angeles followed by a chamber music concert in one of the historic ballrooms. If you happen to love chamber music, historic places and live near Los Angeles might I recommend the excellent series, Chamber Music In Historic Sites.
Dole out these self-gifts on a monthly basis, adding a few of your own to the list. If you’re a planner, map out each month’s gift in advance to make up a year of fine and luxurious gifts that are most certainly not stuff.