In the world of To-Do Lists, I should not be writing this right now.
I should be recording tarot readings, or making a video lesson for my Flock.
I should be folding the four baskets of laundry that are waiting for me in the t.v. room.
I should be filling out the timesheet for job one, or the W2 form for job two, or the budget spreadsheet for job three.
I should be stocking my pill box with suplements, and ordering a book on the teenage brain, and figuring out when I can fit in a yoga class so I don’t feel like this anymore, and, and, and….
But I’m not. Because the truth of matter is this friend,
Your life is not your to-do list.
If that makes you want to throw a book at my head, I understand. I do. Once a colleague of mine told me she took a bath and a walk everyday. And even though she is the gentlest, most generous soul I know, I wanted to throw a book at her head SO HARD. A big one. Like, dictionary big. Because I had shit to do, dammit. Shit that was not optional. Like changing diapers. And finding another doctor to heal what the last one couldn’t. And ohmygod could the dog PLEASE stop peeing in the kitchen.
When someone tells you to ignore your to-do list, and you want to throw something….when an image pops up on Instagram that says “Make Today Awesome,” and the damn hipster-colored font makes you want to flip-off some Etsy designer — this is a sign that you, my dear, are out of steam. You are hungry somewhere in your mind-body-spirit. Or tired somewhere. Or some part of you isn’t being valued. Or all of the above.
So right now, before I say anything else, I want to say, I see you.
I see you trying to get your near-toddler to sleep through the night.
I see you working the night shift at the factory.
I see you working 40 hours a week while caring for your aging parent.
I see you, you know, just trying to get through what you think “should” feel like a normal day.
And it’s because I see you that I’m telling you this.
You are not your to do list. Your accomplishments are not your value.
And I’m sorry, I’m so sorry I cannot come do your laundry, or take your two year old for a walk, or make society pay you a sustainable wage so you don’t have to work that extra shift.
But what I can tell you is this: Today, when I was supposed to be doing All the Things, I made a pot of chamomile tea. I took pharma gaba, and glycine, and a foul tasting tincture called Serious Relaxer–because I know those things calm my adrenals down and make the physical panic stop. I knit ten rows on my medicine shawl, because I know the repetition rewires my monkey mind. I vent-texted with a friend. I listened to a playlist called “Poet Chill Out” that a friend gave me on CD before there was such a thing as playlists.
But most of all I trusted.
I trusted that my clients would get even more out of their readings if I did them while I was grounded.
I trusted that my community would understand if their lesson came with a (familiar) one day delay.
I trusted that my body was worth listening to when it pumped my blood full of panic.
Most of all, I trusted that I could complete the call of my life to do this work, without doing damage to myself.
(Read it again, friend. Read it again.)
I’m telling you this, the Story of Pause, not to brag about my awesome selfcare, or to show you my highlight reel with a soft-focus photo of a candle and big, white, fluffy knitting. (Though, truth be told, I did try to take the picture. But no amount of crop-and-filter was going to make it turn out.) No, I’m telling you this so we can give each other permission to be human.
Last week, I called my friend Connie and asked her to give me permission to rest. And she said something like, “Oh honey, we already have persmission to rest. Because we are humans. But maybe as sisters, we need to give each other a little big of acknowledgement and appreciation for the selfless ways we serve.” And I was like, YES! — and also, can I have permission to rest? And the rest of her texting was full of just as much yes-and-amen goodness.
So I’m telling you this story about me, and the very busy day, and the tea, and the knitting because we can testify to each other that we are working very hard. We can model permission to rest. We can say to one another — “I see you doing that hard thing. And if you can, dear girl, take a wee nap.”
How is it going to work out—this day that the to-do list filled—now that I’ve I stopped for an hour to knit, and sip, and write?
I’m not sure yet.
But I know it will.
I trust it must.
What about you friend?
Are you ready to let your to-do list be just a part of your life?
Can you find the things that calm and heal you?
Will you trust that what you are called to is not meant to hurt you ?
I think you are.
I know you can.
I hope you will
An Important P.S.
I write about these things from a position of extreme privilege. I am partnered. I am well-housed. I have insurance. My children can buckle their own seatbelts. I know that it is much easier for me to take this time to set aside the to-do list and practice self care.
If your situation is much more challenging, please know that I am aware that you are struggling. And I wish things were so So SO much more supported for you.
I offer you this one piece of wisdom that I’ve learned by listening to clients from so many backgrounds: Small is Powerful. Write for 2 minutes. Take 3 conscious breaths. Turn off the stove and dance for the length of one song. Then notice the shift in your body, and say to yourself that while much of time you live in the drive and the panic, in those more balanced moments you can say with truth, “I live here too. ” (So much love, R)
Sharing is caring. If you know someone who needs to hear this message, please pass it on! (Thanks, you.)