Sunday, July 17, 2016

Giving Myself Permission

For my entire adult life, I've carried the Protestant work ethic, without even knowing it. When I was home with my kids when they were small, I always felt that I should be DOING something. If they were in school or napping, I felt guilty if I sat down to read instead of cleaning the bathrooms, kitchen or some other household project. Down time felt wrong. I remember a woman from a study group I belonged to, who was probably close to the age I am now, shaking her head and telling me that all those things could wait. "Take care of yourself!," she proclaimed. I hadn't the foggiest idea how to do that.

After they were grown, the trend continued. Weekends were meant to do all the things I didn't or couldn't do during the week. Sunday's were especially chore-filled. "I have to go back to work tomorrow! I must do xyz," which often included school work. My time for reading or thinking came at bedtime, which didn't amount to much as I was tired. I found myself overreacting to small things because I lacked the time or skills to process them.

As you know, on this part of the journey, I'm trying to live intentionally. I recently made a small quilt for my impending grandchild, and I could feel the difference. I wasn't trying to do five things at once. I concentrated on and prayed for the child that will one day lie on this quilt. It was a peace-filled, almost meditative project leaving me wanting for more.

Of all the bad things that happened at my last job, one of the positives was learning the practice of mindfulness. For ten minutes after lunch, the schedule allowed for a time of quiet and centering for the students. I used many techniques that were shared with me by a great colleague, and I often used a website called I did it at first for the the end of the year, I needed it just as much as they did.

Mindfulness teaches you to live in the moment and to let the other "stuff" float away for a bit. Oh how I have needed that this summer! When I start to feel anxious about the unknown future, I take a cleansing breath and realize that it will work itself out as it is meant. That is how life is. It also lets me answer the self-doubts of past decisions with a phrase I now call, "Yeah but...." "Yeah but" let's me answer those doubts with positive things that wouldn't have happened if I hadn't done the other thing.

So today I woke up already tired. We had friends and family over last night and it took some energy to get our not-cleaned-up house up to snuff, in addition to buying, planning and then conversing with dear people. Add that to the fact that I dream like crazy right now and I was back taking a nap about two hours after I got up. The rest of the day I finished my novel, worked on the NYT crossword puzzle, played in my gardens, and had a glass of  wine in mid-afternoon. Not once did I feel guilty, (okay not much anyway), that I wasn't producing or running errands or being physically productive.

I consciously kept bringing myself back to the moment and realizing that it is okay to do what brings me pleasure when nothing else is pressing; reading, gardening, thinking, relaxing, and just being in the moment.

I wish I had known this back in the day. My friend was right; everything will wait a few minutes. Enjoy the moment; even if it is only just that long.

1 comment:

  1. Enjoy Yourself, it's later than you think ... Enjoy Yourself, while you're still in the pink. As you approach your Golden Years, stop and smell the roses; relax and enjoy everything pleasurable and ignore everything else.