Buy the Paper Plates

By Alexa Rittichier, Prenatal Yoga Facilitator & Doula


“My advice to you is to buy the paper plates,” Jenny said as I sobbed on the phone. I was in the middle of a painful divorce and all I could say over and over through my tears was, “I’m just so tired.” She told me the story of her own divorce and having dirty dishes overflowing her sink because she couldn’t bring herself to wash them. She punished herself for the sink full of dirty dishes every time she looked at them. And she still didn’t do the damn dishes and she wouldn’t buy paper plates. “It might not be buying paper plates for you. It might be something else, but wherever you need to give yourself some compassion, do it. Buy the paper plates, Alexa.” 

“Buy the paper plates!” has become a kind of mantra for me in the years since. It is my personal reminder of equanimity and self-compassion. It is the way I tell myself to do what I can when I can. Can I acknowledge my state and my needs without judgment? Can I meet myself where I am? Sometimes in yoga class that means taking an extra prop. Sometimes in life that means using an extra prop like paper plates. 

The dance of life brings seasons of great change, for me they have been things like divorce, pregnancy, parenthood. In these seasons I have found an enlarged need for self-compassion. I hear my own voice, the voices of societal expectations, the voices I imagine judging me, and I often am not very nice to myself in those moments when I need it most – when I am not capable of doing more than I already am. One of my teachers, Christina Sell says, “It is a violence to ourselves to expect ourselves, or anyone else for that matter, to do anything more than we, or they, are capable of doing.” Adjusting expectations of self can feel like failure, but framed in this way, it is the path to equanimity. Recognizing my limits and operating within them is an expression of self-compassion.

We live in a society of more is more, of telling others exactly how they “should” live their life, of access to research around the absolute “best” way to do everything. There is an overwhelming amount of information available in the click of a button or swipe of a screen. It is so easy to get distracted from the present moment and one’s own desires and needs. In the moments when it feels like everything is closing in around you, where you don’t even know which voice is your own anymore, I implore you to reach for self-compassion – take a deep breath and buy the paper plates. 

Alexa J. Rittichier is an artist, mover, maker, yoga and movement teacher, birth doula, anatomy lover, and pre/postnatal exercise specialist. She has been dancing her whole life and practicing yoga for over 20 years. Teaching, tutoring and mentoring have been part of Alexa’s life since 2005. She has taught visual art, creative movement, drama, dance, and yoga in a variety of settings to all ages from 3-years-old and up. Alexa has been training yoga teachers since 2016.

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