Seven days: three lessons learned

And on the seventh day, He rested. Regardless of belief or religion, that line from the Bible makes sense. Review and reflection are part of recharging, and of smart planning. I’m writing this a bit later today, and my gift for myself today and every Sunday is just that: time to look back on the week, build on the lessons and throw out the trash. So, here’s what I’ve learned so far.

1. We are way, way too quick to punish ourselves, and severely at that. We would dismiss the thought of withholding water from a child who didn’t finish her chores or force a puppy to hold its breath for mistaking your homework for a chew toy, but when I think I’ve forgotten an email, a school note or some other detail, I hold my breath. When I’m frustrated at my lack of energy to plant the garden, paint the furniture, clean the house and cook a fully organic meal, I forget my water and dismiss my five-minute bounce as too time-consuming. I hadn’t made ┬áthe connection between my negative thoughts and my self-denying habits before. Now I have. Last night, I stepped back from the stove and drank two glasses of water. Within minutes, I felt calmer. Maybe I needed water, or maybe I just needed a bit of self-care. Whatever, it worked.

2. We ask: How can I do more? or When can I fit that in? when we should be asking Why Do I Make the Choices I Do About What I Do? The answer will shed more light on why there is no time for the good stuff than an overpacked calendar will. I found my day filled with disconnected appointments of things I felt I had to do. No joy, no choice, just obligation. Am I volunteering for an event I detest because all the other parents are doing it? Then, that will fill my time and drain energy from the walk I want to take. It’s not the fault of the school, the parents, the government, or the economy that I have to volunteer: it’s mine for saying yes. It’s a slow switch in mindset, but I’m working on it.

3. Little things do add up. Little negative things build over months and years into anxieties and frustrations. Little positive things, even in a week, can bring a moment of brightness to the dark. Can a few glasses of water and extra veggies, with a bit more bounce and few naps really change anything? Well, I’m still tired, still frustrated at my lack of energy and still get that knife of anxiety in my gut when I think about work, but I have also enjoyed this past week much more than those in recent memory. I have worked outside, read more, and today, for the first time in a long time, I wanted to write. Wanted to, not had to. And for seven mornings, the first thought in my head was not ‘how am I going to get through this day?’but ‘what am I going to do for myself to help me enjoy today?’

Thanks for reading. See you tomorrow.