Most of us have an understanding of the things we should be doing but we don’t do them. We can dispense the best advice to other people but ourselves we let fall to the wayside. It’s a sad state to be, and I’m as guilty of doing this all the time. But something stuck out to me in an interview I was watching. It went something like this.
The minute should, could, or would, enter in, the fun of something disappears.
It’s gone. You can’ just make yourself do it, because some times a half-done effort is worse than a fully thought and articulate situation. And other times, you have to pull on your boots and make tracks. You don’t have to like what you’re doing, but you do have to have the point to get it done. You have to put in the effort to master something. You can’t sit there and pretend to practice and expect to be a master violinist.
Sure, there are times when you’re going to need to sit out and watch others have a go at something instead of forcing yourself when you have a 102 fever and your normal body temperature is under 98.6. There are practical reasons to sit back and recharge from something.
But that isn’t what you need to do day in and day out. There are things that are like brushing your teeth that you do every day, whether you feel like it or not. I like to think of them as my four corners to carry me to the next day.
One of those things for me is writing 1000 words a day. It has no constraints on anything but that the MUD files I keep for the year has 1000 words in it. (Exceptions made when I write poetry and it doesn’t always get a digital word count for a while.)
This leaves it open to all sorts of things. I can have a running commentary on what my neighbor is doing, how I feel about a certain person who’s irritated me, I can do a preliminary blog post, I can start with a story idea, I can fiddle with a dialogue that’s been floating around in my head without the commitment of making a new page in my other sections of where I store my writing that needs to be edited. It’s supposed to be a dump. After all, it is my MUD file, I had other names for it, but I liked the idea of sifting through the dirt to figure out what ideas were worth planting.
I’m a maker type of person. I like fixing things and giving them my personal touch. As such, I have a list as long as my arm of projects that I’d like to be working on, but I try to make sure that I get at least 30 minutes a day doing something to move one of them along. This keeps them from piling up and that I feel like I’m surrounded by things that half done and never going to have an end date.
At this point, in the middle of quarantine making sure that I take the time to love myself and the people I have in my life is a necessity. I left it to the wayside far too often over the years that I’ve been a grown-up. I’ve had more conversations with my sister and my mom in the last six weeks than I had most the last three years when I’ve been living halfway across the country. Granted, we weren’t close and that’s another skein of yarn to unwind at another time.
Another is taking a walk every day. Even when it rains and I have to do the circle on the building where I won’t get drenched. I get twenty minutes of moving around and not letting all the cobwebs stay where they were yesterday. Sometimes it’s about an idea I’m sorting through. Other times it’s just getting out of the house. This is just me working on making sure that every day I have a period of time that I’m breathing fully, instead of just cruising along with how the day is going.
The funny about these four things is that they haven’t been so consistent in my life all the time.
I had a streak of brilliance a couple years ago when I got the tattoo on my arm, something that hadn’t spent a lot of time brewing but I knew so quickly that I had it write and that I needed it. I’d read Eat, Pray, Love and really got something from myself out of it. I love books you can read like that, getting lost in understanding yourself in the process of someone else’s story.
It’s like having cheat codes in my mind.
But I knew then that I was at my best when I made sure that I wrote, created, or loved in a day. Those were the good days that stick out in my mind and I wanted more of them. I also know myself to know that I have a tendency to leap forward full force without the backup in place to keep up with me. It’s often left me exhausted, frustrated, and disappointed. So I decided that I was going to add a little something to that phrase. I put ‘Breathe’ in backward.
Because it’s facing the right way when you look in a mirror. Which is usually the place where I finally figure out that I have gone so far ahead I can’t catch up.
And that’s the point where I need to make sure that I don’t turn back and high tail it out of the hard place.
You know yourself.
You know your strengths, your weak spots, and your struggles. You know what you need to do just as much as I know what I need to do.
Take your own advice, and do it.
You’ll like the you on the other side.
And if not, well, you know what didn’t work this time, and there will be another tactic to try.
That’s the beautiful things about life– it’s a journey, not a destination.