Yesterday was The Day We Go Away. Historically, this isn’t a good day for me. Historically, it’s a day when I push myself too far. When my perfectionist tendencies go into overdrive. When I am paralysed by the need for everything to be Just So before we head out of the door. A reality that has never yet materialised because, well, we’re not perfect. And the kids are inherently chaotic and messy and disordered. And so am I, particularly on The Day We Go Away.
And, as is so very common for this time of year, I was slightly under the weather, a teeny bit worn out by all the pre Christmas events/costumes/planning/shopping. And I had a slightly grubby house, a ton of unwashed laundry and packing to get done, and a niggling tension in my right shoulder. In the past, my internal monologue in these moments has been along the lines of suck it up, push through it, keep ploughing on, even if you feel like you’re gonna drop. Which always ends up with me feeling unwell, yelling a bit (or a lot) and us all falling out the door tense, disgruntled, with me feeling unappreciated and overwrought.
Some things about the situation were no different this time. The mess. The finite amount of time and energy available to me. That, I couldn’t change in any meaningful way. But the rest – well, it didn’t take a rocket scientist to work out that it just wasn’t working out too well. For me or for anyone else in my house.
So I had a go at trying something different. The more weary I got, the more deliberate I got. As the day went on, and my energies waned, I turned to a list I’ve made of the things that make my heart sing and my soul rise up (thanks to the work I’ve done on a wonderful Oprah/Brene Brown online course) A list so important to me that it sits on my fridge door, ready to be turned to in moments when I’m flagging and depleted. A list that helps me make more conscious choices about what I choose to give my attention to. Instead of drowning myself in caffeine, and listening to radio programmes that make my head busy, irritated and anxious, I chose music that does good things to my heart. I hydrated in a non caffeinated way. I created clear surfaces, that help me feel like I can breathe again. And I did it differently. I was peaceful more than I was not. And when I wasn’t, I returned to my list to help me get back on track, and looked at the word ‘peace’ that I’d written on my chalkboard to remind me of my goal. Note, I didn’t write ‘perfect’. I wrote ‘peace’.
The goal of perfection gets me nowhere. The goal of perfection only gets me ratty, and makes me a difficult person to be around. The goal of peace does something so much better. When I aim for peace I write. When I aim for peace I make things. I get creative. I am calmer. More joyful. More grateful for the little things. And I can pack up my house and my family with less drama. And a lot less shouting.
And the imperfections mattered so much less. The house was far from show home immaculate. There was still laundry to deal with on our return. On arrival, it turned out I’d left behind both my make up bag and my laptop. But I’d say it was well worth it.
But, this is not a how to. This is one teeny little success story from my own life. My need for de-caffeinated drinks, soothing music, clear surfaces and a word on a blackboard may not be yours. You may be far calmer than I am on The Day You Go Away.
My reason for sharing is purely a reminder to you to look to those things that make your heart sing. And choose them. Especially when you’re strung out. Especially when you’re depleted and lacking in resources. That’s your cue to look to your list. To choose deliberately and consciously what you give your time and attention to. And who knows what little miracles you might create. For me, it was leaving the house, packed, calm and at peace.
For you, it’ll probably be something completely different. But do it. Make a list. Look at it. Try it.