As you face the winter months, it’s a good time to consider also the winter of the soul. Slow things down. Pay attention to what you would cry for. Wait, don’t act, and see what happens.
~ David Morris
There came a day when something inside me finally screamed, “Enough!”
Yes, I would like to play Rachmaninov on the piano, see my students off to Juilliard, publish a bestselling novel, look like a Sports Illustrated swimsuit issue cover model, cook gourmet dinners, and travel the world. But sometime the middle of last week, my efforts to do all those things left me feeling like I was drowning in a sea of failure.
The bottom line? Try as I might, I can’t do it all. So I have given myself permission not to.
The first thing I did was abandon NaNoWriMo. I felt nothing but peace on the heels of that decision. So I decided to go deeper. I took a long, hard look around me. My refrigerator was empty; my house was in shambles. I had two suitcases filled with dirty clothes from my cruise and the music teachers conference; I hadn’t done laundry in a month.
Obviously, I wasn’t been treating myself like a much loved child. I decided it was time to change that.
So I set my to-do list aside for a few days. I filled the refrigerator and emptied the suitcases. I sorted through piles of clutter and changed the sheets on my bed. I washed clothes and hired one of my son’s friends to vacuum and dust and mop.
Life went on. My piano students kept coming. And this past weekend, I attended the monthly meeting of Georgia Romance Writers and Gwinnett County Music Teachers Association‘s Music Day competition and yet another Whisperings Solo Piano Concert (details forthcoming). It was a recipe for exhaustion.
Except I didn’t end up there because I consciously let go of all those other expectations I had previously held onto. I went to my writers group meeting and worked at my student event and enjoyed seeing my friend Joseph Akins and others at the concert. Then I came home and went to sleep.
For the first time in ages, I can honestly say that my house is (reasonably) clean and (most of) the laundry is washed, folded and put away. I have slept eight hours the past three nights and cooked a couple of dinners for my son and his friends. I have made soap with my sister-in-law and knitted a few rows on my projects.
The result? I feel sane. I feel human. I feel NORMAL.
Yes, I have taught those piano lessons. Yes, I have practiced: an hour a day. Yes, I have written: 500 words most days. Yes, I have exercised, walking a mile and a half in my subdivision most mornings.
That probably won’t get me to Carnegie Hall. It may not land me an agent or editor. And I can say with fair certainty that I will NEVER end up on the cover of Sports Illustrated.
But I am taking care of business. Providing a comfortable home for myself and my teenager. Looking out for my physical and emotional health while taking steps that (I hope) will provide for my personal retirement someday.
Giving myself space to prepare for Thanksgiving and Christmas and anything that might happen in between.
Life is too short to wake up with regrets.
~ Harvey McKay