It’s Sunday morning. I’ve got my earbuds in; Eric is knocking around the kitchen, making a double batch of clam chowder and carefully cutting all vegetables into perfect cubes. (He’s the patient one in this relationship.) We’re having friends over for dinner tonight and he’s taking care of the menu. Technically, this isn’t something I can eat, what with the potatoes and the flour used as a thickener, so I’m making myself a pot of butternut squash soup. Tangent, I used my crock pot to cook whole butternut squash I got at the farmers’ market (still no oven, I’ll alert the media when THAT ever happens) (oh wait, I am the media) (awkward) AND IT TOTALLY WORKED.
I’m so pleased with myself for that little victory, honestly.
Anyway, you might be asking yourself why Eric is making a meal that I can’t eat. I don’t see it that way. He has taken it upon himself to create a menu and cook the whole ordeal. Okay, I did pick up some bread, I guess I get credit for that. 😉 He is doing all that so I don’t have to. And instead of having to explain my diet, we can just be like, Hey, two soup options!
That’s such a relief.
This past week was rough. Deadlines deadlines deadlines because of holiday special sections. Coming home wrecked. (I forgot to check myself.) Feeling cranky and tired. Feeling defeated and overwhelmed before I even got out of bed in the morning because of all I needed to accomplish.
I was headed into work on Friday and thinking about how I just need … help. I was praying / pleading. Because dreading the day before you even get out of bed cannot be healthy.
The answer came rather quickly: I am collapsing under the weight of my own expectations. All the lists, all the schedules, all the planning for how the day will go. Nothing ever goes as planned, so I spend a good chunk of my day trying to retrench when things go awry. And instead of celebrating all the crossed off to-dos, I focus on the one or two that I inevitably don’t get to and how I therefore failed.
I started thinking about how I was dreading our trip to Banff and how I did so well because every morning, I set the intention to just be open to whatever gifts and lessons the day should bring. (Good or bad, the gifts and lessons don’t distinguish between the two.) And that trip ended up being amazing.
And then I thought about V’s comment on last Monday’s post about declaring this the year of less — how we might have less stuff, but not less chaos and overwhelm because we take on too much. How we don’t give ourselves a chance to breathe or really even figure out what our priorities are.
I got to work and pitched my to-do list. I went from task to task without any preconceived schedule. I had fun with my co-workers. I left the office at a reasonable time. Johanna and I went to a play later that evening that stars two-thirds of our editorial staff (meaning: I am the only reporter NOT in the play) with two more of my co-workers; we saw all kinds of people that we knew and I didn’t feel overwhelmed by the crowd.
Jo and I also had a dance party in the car during the trip to and from the venue. Our moves are pretty good when we’re sitting down.
Saturday was similar. It’s my market / chore day and I hate it. I decided to skip the to-do list. I went to the farmers’ market at opening in my PJs (well, jeans and a sweatshirt, but I didn’t shower). I came home and started prepping that butternut squash and a slew of sweet potatoes. I dried some apples. Jo eventually got up and we hit The Store That Must Not Be Named and then the coffee shop — we need to get coffee more often — and then we went to visit my grandma. She decided that she needed three bananas and some grapes, and was kind of mad at me when I refused to take her money. (“You don’t let me do anything!”)
We took our time at the store and still got out of there in less than an hour; it’s nice having a kid who shops for their own lunch items and snacks). We took Grandma her produce and she was so excited. Apparently you don’t get a lot of fresh fruit in assisted living.
Usually after all my store stops, I’m just done: No more people, no more activity, just leave me alone. But again, I did not feel any sense of overwhelm or defeat at the end of the day. And I slept through the night.
I don’t know how long my brain will let me stay in this honeymoon period. I am not wired to think this way — I am naturally deadline-oriented, newspaper gig or not, and I have years and years of routines I’m trying to overcome here. Monday will be the real test: Newspaper deadline, and traditionally they do not go well. If I can get out of there and still feel mentally and emotionally sound, that will be such a victory.
Every morning in my journal, I write out my to-do list. This week, I am forgoing that in favor of a gift and lesson list — just a recap of a few things that happened the day before. (Friday: Co-worker fun time, acupuncture; Saturday: Visiting Grandma, time with Johanna.) I’m essentially trying to replace one routine with another because I don’t think I’ll succeed otherwise.
I may never be a free spirit, but I don’t need to be my own worst enemy, either.