This year, 2021, has made me wonder how much I should tip the USPS, UPS, and FedEx carriers for the constant deluge of brown boxes. Is that cliché or redundant or Covid? There have also been grey, navy, and white stuffed envelope bags—because I haven’t been to a mall or clothing store in two years. All the shopping I do is for essentials, gifts for others, and items for work or my six-year-old son.
I haven’t needed to invest in a new pair of black boots (my previous pair worn to nubs after having been doctored by a shoe cobbler on multiple occasions) because the pandemic has kept me sheltered in place. Outings consist of grocery runs, doctor appointments, and playdates. I’ve permanently replaced black boots with sneakers. The kind I have on auto-order, along with underwear and bras.
I vaguely remember self-care in 2019 consisting of a gym membership at the YMCA—with free, two-hour daycare. A weekend trip that didn’t consist of taking work on the road and checking with the Airbnb about their Wi-Fi capacity. It was a day out of the house anywhere that crowds were gathered. It was happy hour with mom-friends, consoling each other when the guilt of being out, away from momming for two hours, felt like a crime. What I’m trying to say is self-care should be more than maintenance trips to the chiropractor or massage therapist.
When I asked our staff and contributors what their favorite self-purchased item of 2021 was, I didn’t know I would trigger a mountain of emotion in myself. I didn’t even know how I would answer the question. My vaccination? Yes! But, I didn’t have to purchase it for myself. Therapy? Definitely. The kind that works on managing crisis anxiety, but that should be a part of regular healthcare—why should it be a privilege to seek mental healthcare when your mind is in crisis?
I realized in the past month (after my booster for Covid) I began to want things again—like new black boots, and new lipstick, and a haircut, and I thought about what had changed for me and it’s really Hallmark of me, but for the first time in two years, I have hope. Because, even though a new variant is rapidly spreading through our population, we have vaccines, boosters, and antiviral drugs approved. My friends are planning summer weddings, and I may be able to see my family again after a long two and a half years. Now I want new books for when friends come over again and run their eyes along my growing bookcase for a read they may want to borrow. Shoot, I even want new sweatpants for the days I don’t want to wear new jeans.
When I sent out a reminder email to the gang about their favorite purchase of the year, I told them to make sure it was something that brought them joy. And, with that in mind, here is a list of the GXRL staff and contributors’ favorite self-gifts of 2021.
- Cooper Gillespie: Ruth Bader Ginsburg + Woman Power Goddess Necklace. “It’s my favorite thing. I pretty much want everything from this store. So much goddess power!”
- Pallavi Yetur: Copper Cow Vietnamese Pour Overs. “They’re L.A. based and Asian-woman owned. I’m obsessed with the flavors.”
- Leanne Phillips: Typewriter Bookends. “I love these typewriter bookends I bought myself!”
- Ashley Corrine: Pride and Prejudice Book Purse. “Everybody compliments me on it!”
- Luree Scott: The Literary Witches Oracle Deck. “It’s been a joy to have guidance from women writers that have inspired me to write, as well as get to know some I haven’t had the chance to read. The artwork is beautiful as well.”
- Laurie Rockenbeck: Bob’s Sketchers Cat Slippers. “I spent a good deal of 2020 and early 2021 dealing with a broken toe and fugly shoes. These make me smile every time I slip them on.”
- Jackie DesForges: John Cage: A Mycological Foray, by Atelier Editions. “This is a delicate and stunning book about Cage’s mushroom foraging expertise. I knew nothing about mushrooms or foraging before reading it but his journal excerpts and the photos and sketches in the book are fascinating. Having art books about my favorite artists with me at home and curating this small collection has brought me joy this year.”
- Lindsay Jamieson: Velverie Heatless Hair Silk Curling Ribbon Kit. “I never dry my hair now and it’s always got the best waves. Not frizzy at all.”
- Avril Martin: All N.K Jemisin books. “Seriously. I read eight of her books this year!”
- Andréa Ferrell Gannon: Hello Fresh. “It’s meals sure, but like a cooking class in a box, plus I don’t have to think, plan, shop, or even measure, really. I only use it for two meals, but I feel better about throwing out less food, and the handy dandy recipe cards give me ideas for other meals. Bonus: My oldest is into it, so sometimes I just tap him to prep for us!”
- Gloria Harrison: My Tattoo! “The real answer is—this year I finally invested in myself.”
- Michelle Poveda: Sequin Midi Dress. “My sparkly graduation (MFA) dress!”
- Massey Armistad: Celestial Bodies Oracle Deck.
So I guess that leaves me to answer my own question. I thought about it for so long it felt almost ludicrous. What had I bought myself this year besides maxi pads, Covid prophylactics, and basic healthcare? You see, the thing I got myself this year, January 2021, has become so fundamentally a part of my day I’d forgotten all about it. And, frankly, I cannot imagine living without it now:
- Jaime Parker Stickle: Pilates with Katie and Mudge. I bought myself private Zoom Pilates classes. I never thought I’d ever be able to afford private lessons, in my home, but here I am, doing it every day and I just purchased another month like a boss.
We’ll see you all back here in 2022! Thanks for making GXRL a part of your day.