Tuesday, March 17, 2015
Prior to let's say January 1, my days were defined by routine. I had my morning routines, my afternoon routines, and my evening routines. I had my food routines and bedtime routines and exercise routines. It seemed to be working really well until I began to see [and feel] the cracks. I started noticing if one of those little pieces [like not making the bed first thing in the morning] was off, I struggled with balance the rest of the day. I was living under the illusion I could somehow create perfect and then maintain it day in and day out. My life was organized and predictable and comfortable and safe and, to be honest, for the most part I really liked it that way. But those cracks in my plans began to widen and show. My body started screaming at me in ways I couldn't understand or fix on my own. My anxiety level was at an all time high and emotions on the proverbial roller coaster. I'm certain the people closest to me shouldered a good chunk of this burden, feeling the pressure to live up to my imaginary standards. What I thought was complete control was anything but and it was bleeding into every bit of my world. I started asking if maybe there was a more whole way to live - a way not racked with as many self-inflicted demands and rules.
So, of course, I hopped on my pendulum and swung in the opposite direction.
Around the coming of the new year I decided maybe it was time to try on a new look for the season. I allowed myself to sink into winter with reckless abandon [or what felt reckless to me]. What I mean is I threw out many of my routines, slept in and stayed up late, spent a lot of time cuddling in the morning with my kids, and sometimes stayed in jammies until late into the afternoon. I half-heartedly meal planned, mostly relying on last minute forages through the refrigerator, and served my kids chips with hummus and guacamole sided by some raw veggies for a good number of lunches. Sometimes we ate popcorn with dinner or watched a movie. I went to bed with the house a mess, left dishes on the counter until morning, permitted much to much screen time, and allowed the laundry to pile up to enormous proportions.
Here's what this stint in the carefree life taught me:
It's as amazing and as horrifying as it sounds.
What I found is I wasn't truly me in either scenario. Being driven by routine robbed me of the opportunity to feel spontaneous and placed a burden on me to live up to my own contrived expectations. And that way of life was making by body, mind and soul sick.
On the other hand, a life without routine seemed horribly imbalanced to me. Without any sort of expectation it was much to easy to fall into mediocrity, sort of fumbling through the day. I felt scattered, untethered, and unprepared which zapped me of energy in a way I hadn't expected. I relished the guilt-free space to do nothing, to take naps when I was tired, to plan less and live in spontaneity a bit more. But I also found that to be the best me I needed both and I had to find a way to walk the line between rigidity and carelessness.
The problem [blessing?] is, there isn't a map on how to walk this path of balance. It's fraught with mistakes and pain and over-extending. Anxiety and fear and exhaustion and complete confusion. At the same time this road is lined with so much grace and humility, forgiveness and freedom and I've found it to be truly the only way to compassion and wisdom.
But that's the work of life isn't it? To enter into the core of who we are, set dynamite to what needs to go, dig through the rubble, rebuild where necessary, and let that self shine.
And so these days I'm re-establishing my morning routine of a little yoga and energy work to shake me from my sleep and encourage me into my day. Sometimes I make the bed and other days I don't. My kids dress themselves as part of their own creative expression and I celebrate that creativity. If we're up late I sleep in and look forward to being woken by two little bodies crawling into my bed for some morning snuggles. Other days I set my alarm and embrace the quiet hours of the early morning. I meal plan but hold it loosely, understanding that at any moment the day may interrupt these plans. We still have popcorn with dinner from time to time and I can't seem to take back the hummus + guacamole + chips for lunch, although it's enjoyed far less often. I make some lists but not as many. I try to meditate daily as my soul is so full when I do. I'm slowly learning to release perfect in an effort to be fully present [as my friend Jen will say]. My body is healing and my soul finding peace. The laundry still piles up and sits for days and I continue to struggle with when to trump work with play. But I'm fumbling through, learning as I go.
And now, on most days, life feels balanced and it's an amazing thing to sit in the freedom and strength of facing and letting go of the things I held onto most desperately.
May you be empowered to create routines where you need them and release rigidity where is necessary. May you find joy in the simple, power in the struggle, and have the courage to walk a road that may be foreign but trust the journey anyway. May you travel deeply inward in order to shine outward.
And may you leave the bed unmade from time to time.