How to know it’s time?
A lethargy. Or feelings of distraction. A sense of spinning. Or a dead stop. The desire to fall asleep and wake up when it’s over. Not knowing what “it” is. Bafflement. Walking in circles—metaphorically or literally. Crying. Or not being able to cry.
There are whole books to help. I like the title of this one by Valorie Burton: How Did I Get So Busy? The 28-Day Plan to Free Your Time, Reclaim Your Schedule, and Reconnect with What Matters Most. But I probably won’t read it.
The chapter titles are enough. If I were still a blogger, I’d blog all 28 concepts, or at least these 11:
1. Assess your situation
2. Hurrying up is slowing you down
3. Make a heart-to-heart connection daily
4. Work to live, don’t live to work
5. Have fun at least once a week
6. Eat good food, preferably sitting down
7. Get good exercise, preferably standing up
8. Address your adrenaline addiction
9. Create deliberate daily rituals
10. Allow space for what you want
11. Stop striving, start trusting
Rumi had something to say about that last one, and it’s what led me, most recently, to make a self-care plan, or say I was going to make one. “Stop weaving, and see how the tapestry improves,” Rumi wrote. I liked that. It reminds me of why I love to read a poem a day. There’s wisdom in poetry. The kind that can follow me around, or lead me. It sticks in the memory, more than a list of chapter titles.
The day I told someone I was going to make a self-care plan, I realized I was doing the first thing on the list above: assessing my situation. But when that day ended and I was to send the promised plan (sometimes it helps me to promise), the plan was not a plan at all. Worse, I had hoped to write about the grand plan, to assist others in their desires for self-care. But somewhere along the line I must have crossed midlife, and I wasn’t up for the structure and predictability of planning.
My father visited recently and shared news with me of a next wife. The sensible me would say this is senseless. A sixth wife? At age 76? Only months after losing his fifth? But the sensing me would say this is sense-full. Their “plan” is to “live life as an adventure.”
So, on that day I was to make a self-care plan, what I ended up doing looked more like a quiet adventure—a simple list of the things I love, and an intention to look at the list maybe weekly, to see what quiet adventure I want next, without having planned much at all.
In fact, that very day, I went to the swing my girls once rigged in the pine, and I discovered it takes a lot of work to swing, so I got my exercise (sitting down, not standing up—sorry, Valorie). I got to breathe deeply. (Both swinging and breathing are on my love list).
Other things on the list: birds, cheeses, herbs, waterfalls, stories, butterflies, spices, raw honey, mashed potatoes, walks, wildflowers, naps, proximity, solitude, perspective changing.
Have you ever laid on the floor and looked at your chairs from ground level, stared at the ceiling, felt the smoothness of wood or carpet, and noted how different the world looks from there? I recommend it for changing perspective. That, or you can swing under the pine, where you have not spent your time, but if you do you will feel like a child and remember how you used to lay down in the fields of wildflowers, and you will recall that the fields were where butterflies were naturally drawn. It might cause you to later go to the basement and unearth the unhulled buckwheat you’d thought to do something culinary with (Sprout it? Grind it? What was on your mind?) and scatter the grains on the bare part of the south side of the lawn, so it will grow and flower and butterflies will come.
This, then, is the grand self-care plan. Unhulled buckwheat. Butterflies. A list of things you love. Maybe you will plan to look at the list on Saturdays and pick something from it to do or to have. Or perhaps you will make a new list every Sunday; the act of saying what we love can center us.
With such a simple self-care plan in hand, you could live life as an adventure, quiet or bold, with Rumi rambling across your mind.
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