I must need to have a rebellious teenager in my life.
I come from a long line of women who don't like to be told what to do, who are tenacious, and who tend to defy expectations. My grandmother accomplished the kinds of things a woman in the 1930s, 40s, and 50s did not often attempt, and my great-grandmother left everything behind to start a new life in a new land as a young bride at the turn of the century. I can only imagine the kind of grit she had to muster to do that. After I turned 50, my mother (who is perfect, by the way) began to fess up to her own teenage rebelliousness. And my daughter wrote the book on teenage rebellion. The apple doesn't fall far from the tree. I can hold my own with both of them there, but my mother and my daughter have more self-discipline than I can dream of. They accomplish like pros.
I must have missed that gene.
Today was the day I was going to start doing all those things I think will enable me to feel the way I want to feel. I was going to go to the gym, was going to cut sugar, dairy, and grains out of my diet for two weeks, was going to spend two hours working to begin to bring some order out of my overfilled living space. I was going to make a list and check everything off and look at the list at the end of the day and feel the sweet sense of accomplishment that lets me know I've taken the first steps on the yellow brick road.
It was the rebellious teenager who showed up for work today, though. The one who does not like to be told what to do.
I spend a lot of time coming up with strategies to get things done. Take today. Having got up later than I'd wanted to and realizing my plans were not going to go as intended, especially since I still had food in my fridge that did not fall into the guidelines I had established, and I hate to throw out food, I decided to eat all my "bad" food so I could start fresh another day. To tell the truth, the food is not actually bad, it's just not sugar, dairy, and grain free. And I definitely did not feel like going to the gym, so that was easy to let go of. The start on my decluttering, though? Nope. Not that either. But I did not want the whole day to be an utter loss.
Writing in my morning journal, I noted,
"When I make these big plans, I tend to overwhelm myself and freak myself out. I need to dial that kind of thing back. Little things. Small steps. Here I am, Monday morning on a day when I was going to make a 'brand new start' and I've lost confidence in my abilities. Plus, it's hot. Already 80 degrees at 9:30 in the morning. I do need toothpaste, toilet paper, and light bulbs, though. I do need to do the dishes." And the list went on. Little things I needed to do that, if I could accomplish all or most of them, would feel like a big win.
So here is the strategy I used to get everything done.
I needed to go to the laundromat to wash my towels. I know. I know. How could someone my age live without a washer and dryer? Okay. Maybe not the best decision I've ever made, but about three years ago I decided to spend less on rent in order to travel more. I also thought moving into a tiny apartment would force me to deal with my stuff. The travel's been totally worth it, but the trips to the laundromat are a pain.
Back to the strategy.
There was a time I used to take a book and sit for two hours in the laundromat while the laundry washed and dried. No more. No more. I use those minutes to get a lot done.
And the list.
Wash the dishes. Leave to go put towels in the washer. (I have 23 minutes.) Go to the bank, stop at the store and pick up my three items. Go back and put the towels in the dryer. (I have 35 minutes.) Run home and put the store items away, replace the bulbs, and do several small tasks around the house that will clear the space a bit. Go back and fold the towels, come home, put them away.
Check. Check. And check.
In a mere two hours I'd handled all my errands for the day, some household chores, and even had a conversation with my son and planned a get together for later in the week to see Solo, which we missed a couple of weeks ago when we'd hoped to see it. All before Noon, after having got up later than I'd expected to because I was up late last night after writing in the evening and getting my second wind.
I spent the afternoon with calendar commitments and even managed to make a beautiful, and healthy, dinner while writing. In the afternoon. So I'll be able to go to bed early enough that I'll be in dreamland before my second wind comes. I made a list and crossed everything off. I feel great. It's not what I'd planned to do when I was in my extravagant mind space, but for a Monday I got amazing work done. And all without even realizing I was doing so much.
I have no idea why a long to-do list freaks me out. Or why I don't think I can do everything I want, or think I need, to do. It just feels really good to feel accomplished instead of feeling like I did not do enough.
Learning how to work with yourself well is such a loving thing to do. I think many of us put so much expectation onto ourselves that we often live unhappy, dissatisfied, disappointing lives.
Or we might just not think as well of ourselves as we deserve to.
The Summer of Self-Love is a daily writing practice birthed June 1, 2018 as a container for harnessing three months for thriving. The goal at the end is to host a dinner party. Seems like an odd Hero's Journey, doesn't it? Most of them usually are.