In the tradition of starting the way I wish to go on, I overslept by several hours this morning. Then I hopped on the exercise bike* for a while and then showered. I drank a glass of water and then had some coffee with milk.
This is all being placed under the heading of Taking Care of Myself, which is my theme of 2015.** Even the milk.
There were several bright spots in 2014, including meeting a few dear friends face-to-face for the first time (Hi, Marion, Lyra, Laura, Lisa, Amy, Dee, and Luis—and also Sherry, because seeing you is always wonderful!), finishing the draft of a novel and receiving some terrific comments on some stories I’ve written in the past.
But those lovely moments were more the exception than the rule. And I think, looking back, that this was mostly my fault.
I was anxious last year. Worried and self-conscious and depressed and burnt out. I experienced several disappointments and disappointed myself in the handling of them.
The biggest reason for this was that I kept holding myself to personal standards I could not possibly meet, and didn’t realize that my mistake wasn’t in failing those standards, but in holding myself to them in the first place.
How can I possibly care for myself when I’m too busy beating myself up?
So I’m going to try not to do that this year.
This year, I’m holding myself to different standards:
I’m going to sleep more without guilt
Who says sleeping is a waste of my time?
Behind too sleep deprived to function is a waste, too, right?
I’m going to read a little every day
Why mess with an excellent track record?
I’m going to write every day.
And whatever I write and however much I write will be enough for that day.
Doesn’t mean I can’t improve on the previous day’s efforts.
Does mean I’m not allowed to beat myself up for “falling short”.
I’m going to follow Anne Lamott’s anti-diet.
I’m throwing out my food journals and exercise journals and apps and scales*** and so on, and will be making my own decisions about what makes my body feel right.
As my nutritionist told me:
“If you need a calculator to tell you how much food you “deserve” to nourish yourself . . . something is wrong.”
I’m going to get up and move a little every day.
And whatever I do and however much I do it will be enough.
Because moving, like writing, is one of those things that gets better with practice.
I’m going to be the best parent I can be for my children—
not for other people who might be watching.
I am only beholden to my kids to be a good parent, not to anyone else, strangers or relatives.
If I get it wrong—and this is where the impossible standards will rear their smug-ugly heads, I’m sure—we’ll sort it out in their therapy sessions, later.
I’m going to be kind to others
but set my own limits.
Not because I think there should be limits to kindness, but because it isn’t kind to carry people if you can teach them to walk, instead.
And kindness given out of obligation can slide into resentment pretty quickly.
And then into guilt about that resentment.
And then . . . yeah.
I will stop apologizing for not matching other people’s assumptions about me.
‘Snot my problem I’m not what you expected.
And to be fair, I will stop assuming that I know what those assumptions are in the first place.
That one’s all on me.
And the big one:
I will stop blaming myself for not getting all of this right all the time.
Because that’s another impossible standard I can’t maintain.
These aren’t resolutions, exactly, but I’m resolved to give them a try.
*This is a lie. There is not enough grace in my body to hop onto anything, much less an exercise bike with a high, extra-wide seat (plan ahead, I always say) that has been wedged between two sold pieces of furniture. I have to hop several time on one foot to get off the blessed thing without falling face first onto my printer, but that’s not grace, that’s gravity.
**The theme of 2014 was the Year of Health. I bought and used the exercise bike and dragged myself to the dentist and the eye doctor—the latter just under the wire—and was informed that I have, as Jane gleefully put it “anti-diabetes” or “hypoglycemia” as my doctor and endocrinologist put it. So now, I also have a nutritionist who is one of the cooler people I’ve ever met.
***Except the food scale, because I use it to weigh ingredients from a couple of my British cookbooks. And also letters.