To give you an idea of how little I wanted to write today, I spent more than ten minutes looking at moon charts (which I don’t understand), hoping something would tell me not to write but to go back to bed (for the good of my vibrational energy, of course, not because I am selfish and tired). I feel guilty because I had yesterday off, only worked for a few hours on Wednesday, even less time on Tuesday and have only had one day of paying work since last Saturday, almost a week ago. And yet I am SO TIRED. Unbelievably tired. Not in the sense that I haven’t slept well or long enough, I certainly have, but in the sense that my mind and my soul need a deep rest. Even the days when working was sparse, I spent time and energy on emotional housekeeping in my relationship (some productive, all exhausting) and on stressing about not wanting to work. I was nowhere near as productive as I could have been on Sunday or Tuesday (Monday I edited for eight long, although rewarding, hours and Wednesday I managed to break through on research and thoughts for a guest blog post I am writing) and felt unproductive and, therefore, unworthy. Today has been an exercise in procrastination, tiredness, and general malaise. I was so excited to have a day without class in which to write, study, do good work. Instead, I lally-gagged in bed, dawdled over breakfast, and took an inordinately long time to shower, dress and show up to my computer.
Yesterday was supposed to be a day of relaxing (Thanksgiving) but that only came in starts and stops. The afternoon was filled with panic, a side effect of sharing a kitchen with my boyfriend’s well-meaning but ever-present mother. I knew from the moment I walked into the kitchen at 12:30 I would not have dinner on the table by four. No matter how quickly I tried to coax a pie crust out of dates and nuts, chop Brussels sprouts, brown onions and garlic, mash lentils and prep sweet potatoes, time was against me. The constant questioning about how long everything would take to cook did not help matters.
My boyfriend spent the day with a haggard look on his face, rushing around to check on the turkey, put a leaf into the dining room table, fetch me ingredients from our pantry downstairs and generally lend a hand to everyone. I missed his smile and his constant encouragement –he tried to be supportive and reminded me several times that nothing bad would happen if food was 15 minutes later than planned, but this was said with strain and was filled with his own stress. The holidays are horrible for turning a potentially good time (a nice meal on a dark day with family and friends) into a stress-fest. Even the best intentions can be set off-kilter by expectations of perfection (in my case, the expectations are usually self-induced).
Dinner was delicious and clean-up was easy, since I had washed as I cooked and my boyfriend gamely took the lead after dinner. Still, I had a hard time relaxing.
My ideal day would have seen me cooking at a normal, efficient but unhurried pace while listening to shows on the radio. Dinner would have been served when it was ready, sometime in the afternoon. I would have taken time for lunch, or at least a light snack. Post-dinner, a movie, perhaps, or conversation. And then, a delightful and early trek to bed. An afternoon walk would have been nice, as well.
This is not to say my day wasn’t nice. It truly was. I ran a small road race in the morning, emailed a good friend, spoke on the phone to both of my parents and my sister, I had an impeccable meal with family, there is a roof over my head and money in my bank account. Still, it was not as relaxing as I feel it should have been now when I face a day of work. In other words, I have an irrational belief that I should be so rejuvenated after a holiday that work will come easy and be filled with immediate joy. I am disappointed and frustrated with myself for not jumping out of bed with energy and excitement, moving as quickly as possible to write about affordable housing and the mistakes of our government. I do not believe I should need external motivation, nor should I be distracted by vegan recipe blogs, my current book, the radio, my cats, clipping my fingernails or any number of activities that are not writing.
This is not an atypical belief for me, but it seems especially strong today (perhaps because it has been weeks since I granted myself time to play, to do activities I love and be in the service of myself alone without guilt). Perhaps. Although I am much more willing to externalize my feelings and blame them on the rainy weather than admit I have the power to change how I feel.
Days like this I have to force myself to remember that I don’t need to be gravely ill, severely exhausted or imminently crazy to treat myself with compassion. Sometimes coffee, a good book and a cuddle with a cat or two are more productive and meaningful than any amount of real, quantifiable work.
During this season of gratitude, I am grateful for my belief (hard as it may be to comprehend at times) that self-care is not just for other people.