Do you make the time in your life for the things you do just for you?
I don’t mean the “you” things listed in glossy magazines. Looking at you, candle-lit bubble bath. And yoga at sunrise. And dinners at fancy restaurants where I hold hands with my husband and gaze all googly-wobbly into his eyes, and we talk about anything but our children.
(For the record: 1. My tub is too short. I guess in 1962, when it was installed in this house, nobody was into lounging about in tubs for any length of time, or everyone was a lot shorter. Also, candles do not provide enough light for me to read by, and a long soak without a book is just torture, not relaxation. 2. Sunrise can just keep happening on its own without me. 3. If he’s holding my hands, it’s so he can get the last jalapeno popper. And who can pass up the chance to discuss the kids without said kids hanging on every word?)
We all have things we Must Do in our daily lives. We work. We clean. We grocery shop, do laundry, prepare meals and clean up after them. We pack lunches and sign permission slips and attend meetings and make to-do lists. We facilitate. We organize. We make events both grand and small come together and blossom. We fret. We occasionally remember that we don’t climb trees for a living and sit down and trim our toe nails.
Last weekend I spent a delightful hour going through my mother’s old recipe box. I didn’t have time for that. People needed transporting, grades needed to be discussed, floors needed mopping and we were perilously close to running out of clean underwear for the entire household.
But I looked through 3×5 recipe cards written by my mother, my grandmother and my Great Aunt Pearl. I ran my fingers over ancient stains. I read that Winnie Chase recommended a recipe. I saw A H As, and finally figured out that these were recipes my mother got from the American Heart Association. I found her recipe for bran muffins, which have a ton of fiber in every muffin and, frankly, taste like it.
I’m not going to reproduce Little Granny’s steamed Christmas pudding any time soon, but could compare her handwriting to that on a more updated version written by my Mom.
Sorry for the segue into nostalgia. My original point (yes, I had one) was that I spent an hour plinking around with old recipes, something I do just because I like to.
I also like to make earrings. And put together scrapbooks. And crochet. And lie on the couch with a cat in my lap and read. I like to listen to George Winston. I have an on-line series of cooking classes that I bought last January, and I’m maybe a quarter of the way through. I don’t expect to make steamed clams, what with living in a landlocked state, but I appreciate learning new techniques. My knife skills seriously suck, to the point where it’s a wonder I haven’t lopped off a finger yet. But I never do sign up for that knife-skills class a local catering company offers.
I don’t buy mani-pedis on the social marketing sites because I know I’ll never make the time to actually go in and have them done. Ditto facials and massages.
None of these things are necessary to my daily life.
But they make me happy.
What brought on this maudlin hand wringing?
Last night, I attended a high school orchestra concert. The chamber orchestra did an abbreviated version of the Legend of Sleepy Hollow by Richard Meyer. The orchestra director had asked for a parent volunteer to write a brief synopsis of the story that could be read before the performance.
Of course, I volunteered. How hard is it to summarize a short story? And one that everyone is vaguely familiar with, at that.
They had a high school student dressed rather like a Dickens character read the summary before the Chamber played the piece. The audience laughed when they were supposed to. The kid did a good job, although I still haven’t figured out why they made him use a fake British accent, and he called the author Washington Irvine.
But I sat in the audience, in the dark, grinning like a fool as I heard my words read aloud.
It made me remember why I write. Not necessarily to have my words read aloud, but to get my words, my stories, into the hands of other people. To make them laugh. To get a reaction. To know that something I wrote in some way was consumed by another human being who enjoyed it.
Part of the reason I’m feeling so bogged down lately is because I AM taking care of business. But I’m not making the time to write, to work on my fiction, to polish my words and tell my stories.
I have no one to blame but myself. Writing makes me feel just that much more alive. How is that I periodically lose sight of that fact? Why do I periodically neglect the part of me that creates?
Does everyone else have enough hours in the day? Are you finding the time for yourself, all the parts of yourself?