This weekend, the first of 2011, I’ve been catching up on writing deadlines. I don’t normally work weekends; they’re my time to kick back, hang out with my honey, catch up on cooking, gardening and other household tasks I don’t have time for during the week, see friends, and get outside for some fun. I had imagined we might go cross-country skiing this weekend, until a cold front slid into our region bringing Arctic temperatures and wicked winds. Call me a wuss, but that blast from the far North–and the sub-zero temperatures brought by the wind-chill–made curling up in front of the woodstove and catching up on my writing seem pretty attractive.
This afternoon, having written two columns–one for Colorado Central Magazine and my “Whole Life” column for Zone 4–and reviewed Rosalind Creasy’s new version of her classic book, Edible Landscaping (more about that below), I took a break and walked downtown with Richard to eat brunch with friends. On the walk home, mellowed by a mimosa and a great meal at Laughing Ladies Restaurant (thank you, Elise and Kent!), I thought about the intentions I articulated on New Year’s Eve.
(On New Year’s Eve, Richard and I each speak aloud two or so things we’re proud of from the previous year, two or so we’d like to leave behind, and two intentions for the coming year. Then we each light a candle symbolizing our intentions, and leave those small flames in a safe place to burn through the night.)
One of my intentions for the year involves a coming-of-age mystery novel I’ve been playing with, and the other–the harder and more tangled one–involves finding more time for me.
I’ve been feeling like I’m stretched pretty thin lately, my enegy waning like the moon in the photo above. (Perhaps not coincidentally, I’m physically pretty thin too; I now weigh less than I have my whole adult life.) Between helping Richard recover from two brain surgeries in less than 12 months and helping him do what he can to prevent the brain tumors from returning, and helping with my mom’s hospice care, I struggle to find time and energy to do the things that help me keep my balance: write, do yoga, get quiet and hear myself think, spend time in the garden and out-of-doors.
Walking home today, I realized that what I’ve been seeing as a balance issue is really more of an expectation issue. I expect myself to be able to perfectly nurture and support Richard in recovering and staying healthy; I expect myself to be able to wisely guide and tend my parents as my mom’s body fails, sending them into a transition neither of them is prepared for; I expect myself to keep up a full schedule of producing inspiring writing, inventive and delicious cooking, insanely great gardening, plus playtime and socializing… Do you see the problem here?
I do: There’s only one of me. And, though it pains me to admit it, I’m not actually perfect. Which means something has to give. The easiest thing is my own expectations. The way to make more time for me is to expect myself to achieve less. It’s trite, but true: I cannot do everything–at least not all at once. So I’m going to pace myself, and recognize that some days will be mostly about caring for others, and that’s okay. But I’ll balance those days with days of caring for me–writing, reading, sitting quietly, resting, walking, doing yoga, working in the garden, spending time with friends.
What I realized today is that my intention isn’t about finding time for me. It’s about giving me time for me. Which involves not expecting myself to be perfect. Huh. That should be simple… Not! But at least I see what I need to practice now.
Garden catalogs are arriving in my mailbox, and even though there’s a lot of winter weather ahead, I’m thinking spring and planting. Which is why it was a pleasure to read and review Rosalind Creasy’s brand-new edition of Edible Landscaping. Here’s a sample from that review (read the full one at Story Circle Book Reviews):
While the original Edible Landscaping was inspiring; this new version goes all out. It’s a gorgeous volume packed with lush photos that’ll have your mouth watering and your fingers itching to re-design your entire garden…. Edible Landscaping is a must-read, a delicious call to re-envision our outdoor domestic spaces as both beautiful and bountiful.
Happy New Year!