It will surprise nobody to hear me say that I am an overachiever.
This was really driven home for me recently when I was reading through the archives of In Good Company, a collection of stories about depression and anxiety. In one of them, Goddess Leonie’s, there is this passage:
My love, the Simple Sage,
took me to the cafe
to stage a Perfect Mother intervention.
He took out a notebook
and a pen.
“Write down for me what you need to do everyday. What you want to do everyday.”
And so I began.
Take care of Starry.
Write three pages.
Cook three wholesome meals a day.
Made out of organic food that I gardened.
Do gardening. Have a very large organic vege patch and fruit tree patch.
Read to Starry. Give her as much eye contact as possible.
Do 30 minutes of yoga.
Spend time with the dogs.
Watch no TV.
Spend time talking to Chris.
Work and reply to emails and do my business.
Go to sleep early.”
We exchanged lists.
“Be a good dad and partner.
he said to me.
“No wonder you feel so overwhelmed. It’s too much Leonie. Just go easy on yourself.”
“How is that even possible?”
“Leonie, I’ve loved you for ten years. And what I know about you? All you really need to do is love me, love your daughter and make art.”
That’s what makes you happy.
In all the time I’ve known you,
you haven’t gardened everyday, you haven’t meditated,
you haven’t done all that stuff everyday.
And you like watching TV, for pete’s sake!
You’re so hard on yourself.
You feel so guilty.
What would life look like if you were easy on yourself?”
Wow. Reading that was like a slap upside the head. My own list of what I want to do every day looks something like this:
- Get 9 hours of sleep
- Feed the cat
- Morning ablutions
- Do sitting meditation and daily spiritual work
- Do some Shiva Nata
- Do my Morning Pages
- Take my medication
- Eat a healthy (organic, homemade) breakfast
- Pack a healthy (organic, homemade) lunch
- Tend my container garden
- Go to work
- Go to Aikido (or do some other form of exercise like weightlift or go for a long walk)
- Eat a healthy (organic, homemade) dinner
- Get some bookbinding done, or other work for The Book Roadie
- Clean the apartment
- Spend time with Nate
- Spend time with friends
- Post stuff to Twitter
- Go to bed early
So really, it’s no surprise that I feel like I never get enough done.
What would life look like if I were easy on myself? What would my “do every day” list look like?
- Do one kind thing for myself
- Do one kind thing for someone else
- Be present for a moment
The Solstice is coming, a new year is about to start. It’s a time for leaving darkness behind and stepping into light. Can I take the second set and let it be my daily “did I?” checklist instead of the first?