I should write a blog post every day.
I should make and follow a housekeeping schedule.
I should meal plan every Sunday.
I could watch a movie a week for the whole year.
I could stop watching TV during the week.
It’s so easy to go down the road of self-recrimination, especially when you are active online. You read blog posts and browse pinterest, and see all the awesome things other people do in their classrooms, their homes, their lives, and think “I should do that! I could do that! Why don’t I do that? I don’t do enough! I need to do more! Do better! Do faster! Do fancier! Good enough is not good enough! I need to Get More Things Done!”
We all have this voice, right? It’s not just me?
Going into Christmas break, I was so burnt, so broken, so tired, the pain of Newtown still so fresh, that I knew in advance: this break is not for Getting Things Done. I am a great one for having great plans to get great things done on my time off. Sometimes I am successful. Often I am not. And when I am not successful in Getting Things Done, I mourn. I pine. I beat myself up for not waking up earlier, not staying focused, not MAKING THE BEST OF MY PRECIOUS TIME. But: going into this recent break, I know: the best possible use of THIS PRECIOUS TIME was to heal, to rest, to fill up my empty heart. I did exactly what I WANTED to do. Nothing more. I was extraordinarily gentle with myself. When thoughts of “Oh, I wanted to clean out the linen closet” intruded, I gently acknowledged the thought, and then put it away. “Yes, I wanted to. But I didn’t. And that’s ok. I did other important things. The linen closet is not going anywhere.” I did the same thing if an obligation-laced intention crossed my mind: “Tomorrow, I should wash the floors” “Yes, I can wash the floors if I want to. But if I don’t, that’s okay, too.” The habit has continued this week in my classroom. Instead of beating myself up for the things that didn’t get done, or a detail I forgot, or a too-late epiphany about something that would have brought a lesson to a whole new level, I just… acknowledge the thought, file away the idea, and move on. “Yes, I could have. But I didn’t. And that’s okay. Maybe I will remember that bit next time.” End of recrimination. It feels… amazing.
Interestingly, this has had a curious effect: often, the very act of giving myself permission to NOT do something helps give me the motivation, the energy, to DO it. “I should get milk on the way home.” “Yes, you could get milk. But there’s still enough for a latte, so if you don’t, tomorrow will still be okay.” “I don’t HAVE to get milk, but it will only take a minute, so I may as well. Then I won’t have to worry about it tomorrow.” Crazy, right? (Huh. Let’s not get into whether this amount of dialogue WITH MYSELF may qualify as “crazy,” okay?) But it’s working. And I feel good. And more at peace. And more productive.
I should sign up for a ballet class.
I could try one new Pinterest recipe every week.
I should join a book club.
Or maybe even START a book club.
I should turn off all my screens at least an hour before bed.
I could. I can. I might.
But if I don’t, that’s okay, too.
I made a total of 3 resolutions this year. The other 2 will get blog posts of their own, soon. Maybe.