So I’ve known for a while that I’ve wanted to change some things about the overall shape of my life. I was fried too much of the time. I was accomplishing a lot but never felt at ease or rested. I had pulled back some from 2011’s two speeds of “dead run” and “asleep,” but I still wasn’t feeling like I could ever get out from under a “must-do list” longer than my lifespan.
The first helpful thing I did was to phrase this in terms of things I wanted – not just things I was running away from. I don’t think I ever wrote this down (though maybe it’s in a journal or on a scrap of paper somewhere), but it was along the lines of:
- Reclaim my time from the obligations of my job, and the obligations I’ve imposed upon myself
- Feel tranquility around me and within myself
- Re-find and occupy my center, so I can move deliberately when I choose to do so
These things were, by and large, things I wanted to feel, not things I wanted to do. Though I did want to feel like doing certain things, too:
- Feel like cooking is a pleasure and a conscious act of nourishment, not just “preventing hunger”
- Feel like I can do things because I want to do them – “leisure activities” instead of “work” (including work at home)
- Feel like engaging with other people, not just hiding from them because interacting takes so much energy
- Feel like exercising – not forcing myself, but actually wanting to do it
And there were some things I wanted: this house, fittings for the house, and now gardens and fruit trees. (Can you believe I went an entire year when the idea of putting plants in the ground didn’t excite me? Or even felt like “just another duty”? Yeah, I was that wiped out.) Even just admitting that I wanted things and that it’s ok for me to want things was kind of a leap.
So…I feel like I’ve done a lot of this stuff. I’m “over the hump” at work, and each subsequent hump will be smaller than the ones before. We bought and settled into the house, and over break I was able to draw a line around “enough” in terms of what the house needs to be functional and “done” for now. And then we also finished those things – the smoke detectors, the superfluous but very pretty heat register covers, etc.
Now I’m past the vacation, and going back to work. And the interesting thing is how I am watching myself heading right back to my accustomed way of doing things. Those customs don’t actually fit anymore. I no longer have to spend disproportionate amounts of my energy at work – but I have to remember how to move more slowly, and with less dire urgency. As that energy has returned, just coming home, making dinner, and reading all evening doesn’t feel like enough to be doing each night. Before, it was fine, because each evening, I was also trying to replenish my depleted stores of rest and energy. But now, I can tell I’ve got some energy left, and some inclination to use it for…something. That’s a big change.
And that’s the topic for another post.