‘The battles of just one day’

Anyone can fight the battles of just one day. It is only when you and I add the battles of those two awful eternities, yesterday and tomorrow, that we break down. It is not the experience of today that drives us mad. It is the remorse or bitterness for something that happened yesterday or the dread of what tomorrow may bring. Let us therefore do our best to live but one day at a time. — Richard Walker

Last Friday, I found myself sitting in the window of my favorite coffee shop (again) with Frieda the Laptop, a perfectly-made Americano, and my stack of journals.

This was really more self-preservation than an attempt to get anything done. One of my co-workers took another job a couple of weeks ago (for some reason he wanted a living wage and a life. WEIRD), so our writing staff of four is now a writing staff of three until we can get a new person aboard. Which means that my very full plate is now overflowing onto the table AND the floor.

Tangent: Go hug a local reporter right now, you guys. We work super hard for shit wages and all we get for our efforts are complaints and accusations of being biased, fake news. It’s not awesome.

Anyway, Frieda and I were hanging out. My Americano was perfect. The coffee shop was fairly quiet. I had a window seat. The sun was shining. I had an hour to waste before my acupuncture appointment.

All of THAT is just to say that I’ve been thinking a lot lately about work-life balance and how I spend my time, about yearly goals and routines vs. to-do lists. About my girls and my husband, family and friends, and how much or how little time I devote to each. About decluttering and spring cleaning, meal plans and grocery shopping, time to read and write and introvert, and how I can keep all aspects of my life straight and focused.

And then I opened Austin Kleon’s weekly email newsletter, and the first link right out of the gate led me to the quote above.

This is EXACTLY what I needed to read at that moment. Overwhelmed and tired from a hectic week, my planner out so I could sketch a rough plan of everything I wanted to accomplish over the weekend, really just wanting to go take a nap, I immediately wrote the above into my notebook like it was a lifejacket that had just been tossed my way.

My brain is my brain, and I can’t really change the way it works, i.e. I suffer from monkey-mind, over-think everything, am high-strung, get overwhelmed by details (yet insist on them anyway), and am plagued by doubt.

This whole concept of just fighting the battles of one day is … refreshing. I woke up Sunday morning thinking, “What kind of day do I want to have?” and just focused on that. I didn’t worry about the past week or think about how I wanted Monday to go. I just thought about Sunday.

Getting caught up on laundry and reading on the deck.

Meal prep and taking a nap.

Getting all the cat hair up off the hardwood floor and writing just for me.

Anyway, my goal for this week (well, you have to think about the future sometimes) is to think in 24-hour timeslots. To sit in the present and not worry so much about the future I have no control over … or the past that’s already in the books.

I can fight the battle of just one day. Um, fingers crossed.

P.S. Another post by Kleon that I really liked is THIS one about work-life balance and how it’s basically a myth. (Well, one less thing to worry about, then.) It’s also about embracing the chaos that is life in general. Interesting to think about.

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13 thoughts on “‘The battles of just one day’

  1. Mary Ann says:

    I don’t write the long lists of things to do like I used to. I found that I was so focused on what I didn’t do on the list that I gave myself no credit for what I had done. Now I jot things down only if I’m afraid that I will forget to do them.

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  2. Roberta says:

    I love lists, because at the end of the day, I have a (crossed-out) list of what I have actually accomplished. Otherwise, I look back at a busy day and wonder what I did with my time. “Ummmm, I folded a basket of laundry…there had to be more…”

    I love your image of “monkey-mind.” That describes exactly how my mind works. And it never lets go of certain things, even things that I’d really prefer it release. My husband and I were talking about that last night — he can just let things go, and they don’t come back to harass him, and things don’t show up as he’s falling asleep to screech at him, monkey-like. I would love to let that monkey go!

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    • Trisha Walker says:

      I think it’s about just finding whatever system works for you. I’m trying to focus on routines instead of lists. My routines are pretty flexible, though — some things I do three times a week, sometimes only once, etc.

      I heard the phrase “monkey mind” from Melissa West, who has a really fantastic series of free yoga videos on YouTube, a few years ago. And I was like, THAT IS ME. My husband is also great at compartmentalizing and letting things go. I think it confuses him that I can’t do that too. But I just can’t. Even when I try. Ah, well. We’ll get t-shirts and form the Monkey Mind Club. 🙂

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  3. Diane says:

    Ah yes, I remember the heady days of being a real reporter (unlike the monthly “community news” column I now write that is, in truth, really all about me because I am the most fascinating person I know ,*ahem*. Truthfully though, because I am an introverted hermit and don’t really like interacting with real people and besides, I don’t really care what they are doing. My bad 😞)

    So, rather than hugging a “real, live” reporter, I am sending you a big {{{{virtual hug}}}} and thanks for all you do as such. I know it’s not easy!

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    • Trisha Walker says:

      Your column sounds AWESOME. I want a copy — I can totally get behind a hermit who doesn’t like interviewing people! And thanks for the hug. Rereading this I feel like a whiner but DAMN. The public is driving me nuts at the moment.

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  4. Linda M says:

    Loved the quote! Wish I had read it before I retired! My mantra of survival was a silly joke that I reworked to help me….How do you eat an elephant…..one bite at a time and on a really bad day you cover that sucker with chocolate!!! I kept trying to focus on the immediate….not the past, nor the future. Another bit of wisdom from a co-worker’s father…..work at work then home at home….do not co-mingle.
    I am indeed enclosing a hug! I am sure I will always have Monkey Brain….boo! But Someone greater than us, made us that way…so that is how we are to be and make the world a good place because of it.
    Sure hope a very talented person is hired soon to fill the vacancy. Maybe this will work out to be an answered prayer.

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    • Trisha Walker says:

      It’s actually been quite freeing to be able to wake up and know that I only have to worry about 24 hours at a time. What would make this day awesome?, I think, and then I try to do that thing. No surprise, mostly that’s just coffee shops with Frieda. But I’ve also been spending way more time with family and friends, and with my books and writing, then I have for years. THAT is how I want to spend my days.

      And EVERYTHING is better with chocolate. Love your mantra!

      Thank you for the hug — I am trying to remember that I’m not in control, nor do I really want to be (wow, so much pressure). Having Frieda has really helped my outlook in general, just because I know that I can sneak away and get my work done without anyone bugging me. I am very hopeful that our new person will work out just fine. They usually do. 🙂 Also, any time I start getting cocky or think that I do actually have control, God immediately gives me a smack, so … LOL

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  5. Jenni says:

    I also loved the quote at the top of your post, so true. I enjoyed the links you provided to the other articles also! With regard to work/life balance I recall reading an article where the author lamented that if her house was in great shape her papers were a disaster and if she was up to date with all her paperwork her house looked a disaster, I am exactly the same. So not only is work life balance an issue so is just balancing life admin duties and keeping up with the house stuff! I am starting to think this balance thing is a myth also, we just do the best we can one day at a time. Anyway thanks for your post and good luck with your job!

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    • Trisha Walker says:

      Oh, good, I’m glad you liked the links — they were truly two articles I really needed to read. And I think your author was spot-on; it seems like you can do home stuff, or you can do work stuff, or you can do family/friend stuff, but you can’t have all three at once. You might not even be able to have two at once … (Wait, what about stuff just for you? I guess there’s four things …) Who came up with the concept of work-life balance anyway? I think we’ve been tricked into believing something that isn’t even real.

      And thank you. I could use a little luck!

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  6. Jenni says:

    Also I will join the Monkey Mind club too! (And my husband just lets it all go and sleeps soundly every night…)

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