I went for a run this weekend and I really wanted to stop about halfway through. Usually, I hear my high school track and cross country coaches mystically yelling at me from across the 16+ year abyss: “Work it up the hills!” and “Keep up the pace!” This wasn’t that. This was me, tired after a long week of medicating a sick cat, disciplining a boundary pushing child, and a commitment immediately following school every day of the week. I wanted to walk for a little bit.
So I did it.
And it was fine!
No it wasn’t.
I hated it and I felt like a failure because I do NOT like to walk when I run, but I made myself do it anyway. I talked myself into it because I’m in my mid-thirties and I’m getting to the point where I no longer want to feel as though I have to do things that don’t make me happy just because I think I should. Or, for that matter, if I SHOULD do everything I want because even when the things I’m doing are amazing, I get overloaded.
I’m tired of feeling overloaded.
I’m tired of feeling like everything’s going to hell if I don’t do things the same way I’ve done them in the past.
I’m tired of feeling like if I don’t do _______ it will make me a crappy teacher/wife/mom/human being.
So, here’s what I decided on that run. Everyday, I’m going to think of ONE THING to say no to. To drop off. To ignore. To let go. On Sunday, I walked for a little bit in the middle of my run. I hated every second of it, but only because I felt like I was failing myself (false)- not because I wanted to start running again because I sure didn’t (truth). What it did do was allow me to take a baby step toward giving myself the freedom to release my self-imposed expectations.
The thing is, I’ve had a lot of heavy talks with a lot of beautiful friends recently. We’re doing so much, so often, that we end the day expecting to finally have time to read, to watch a movie, to relax, and we see the clock and realize we’ve worked our way directly into bedtime. It is the reason I’m writing this blog 30 minutes past when I am supposed to be asleep. There was dinner to be made, and a child to be tucked in, and dishes, and clothes, and pets, and… and… and…
So I’m saying no to ONE THING a day. Maybe:
- leaving the wet clothes in the washer overnight
- letting the dishes stink up the kitchen sink for one more day
- shoving my son’s clothes into his drawers instead of folding them all neatly because when he digs through them that business is happening ANYWAY
- reading one bedtime book to him instead of two or *gasp* not reading at all for a night
- skipping the floss
- getting takeout
- taking Isaac to another program at the library when he’d rather stay home and play a game with us anyway
- putting off clipping the dog’s toenails for another day because she’s still going to act like a complete idiot on the wood floors even after I do it.
START SMALL! Build up.
I’m consciously telling all of these things, “No,” because choosing to set them aside is empowering whereas trying and not getting to them feels like a failure. I’m choosing to tell myself that all is not lost if I don’t get the chickens fresh water tonight (because it isn’t). The world will not end if I refrain from vacuuming the damn cat hair off of the couch today. Letting these things go does not make me a terrible anything. They are mini-practices for saying no to work or personal commitments I either truly want to do or just feel obligated to do, but shouldn’t be cramming into our already busy schedule. When I have time to read, to run, to do yoga, to write- these are things that make me a better EVERYTHING. I’m choosing just ONE THING a day to refuse because my time is precious and I’m tired of spending it looking in longingly from the outside. I’m saying no. (And I’m learning to be okay with it.)
What’s your ONE THING?