I still have a significant amount of work to do this month, but I find myself restless in the way I always do when spring comes and the school year ends.
It’s time to clean things up, start things anew. And the first thing I need to work on is myself.
If you’ve been reading this blog, you know I haven’t been taking very good care of myself. I’ve had so much to do, and been so stressed, that I haven’t been eating well or getting the rest and exercise I need. But those things are necessary for me. If I don’t do them, I can’t keep up with the intense schedule I’m going to have not only for the rest of the month but also this summer. (Because – well, I’ll tell you at the end of this post.)
I find that writers are not very healthy in general. Have you noticed? There are reasons for that. Writing involves sitting in front of a computer for long hours, and of course that’s not a particularly healthy activity. But also, writing is a stressful profession. If you’re a professional writer – and I mean a writer who makes a significant portion of your income from writing, whatever significant means to you (and I will be in that category this year), you have deadlines to meet, obligations of various sorts. And I don’t know about you, but when I can’t meet my obligations, when I get behind, I start feeling guilty. There are people I’m not getting back to, projects I’m not completing. And writing isn’t the sort of profession where you go home at the end of the day, with your work done. No, your work is never done. You could always do more, do better. I love that about writing, but you see the problem, don’t you? Sedentary, intense, stressful. That’s writing.
So I want to get back to a place where I feel healthy again, which for me means feeling as though my body is strong and flexible, with minimal aches and pains (there are old dance injuries that will never go away). And as though my environment is clean and restful, as though everything is in its proper place and gives me pleasure.
Step one, I’ve already started on. An hour before I go to sleep, I’ve started doing a sort of routine. I put on music, light a candle, and go through my moves: pilades, yoga, dance moves of various sorts. Trying to get back that flexibility and strength. And then at the end, I turn off the music to sit and meditate. It’s the most relaxing thing I’ve done in months.
I’ve found that when you want to do something new, it’s a good idea to make the intention material in some way. So today I went to Barnes and Noble, because there’s no independent bookstore close to me, and bought another book on yoga. More for inspiration than anything else, but it has some good moves and sequences in it. And the pictures are pretty.
(Yes, I can still do this pose. I haven’t lost that much flexibility!)
And then I went to Whole Foods, really because we needed milk but also because I wanted to pick up some healthy food: whole grains, lean meats, low-fat dairy, fruit (blueberries!). Which is a bit silly, because that’s what I eat anyway, although I’ve been eating more sweets than I should, using sugar as a substitute for sleep, which is not a good idea.
But woman does not live by healthy food alone, so I also bought some sprouted-grain spelt brownies. (Don’t laugh. They are, honest to goodness, the most decadent brownies I’ve ever tasted.)
So step one is becoming healthy again – or healthier than I am now.
Step two is going through my stuff. I’ve already started doing that, going through my stuff and deciding what to give away. Wondering how in the world I accumulate so much when I so rarely shop. But this summer in particular I will be going through a series of transitions in my life – finishing the PhD is only one of them – and I want to have only what is necessary or beautiful around me. So I’m going through the closet, the shelves, everything systematically.
Part of that process is making my environment more beautiful. At Whole Foods, I considered buying a bunch of peonies, but they already looked tired and drooping. So instead, when I came home I cut some of the purple flowers that are growing all over one side of the yard (I believe they are actually some sort of weed), and also some narcissus Thalia that were past their prime. I put them into the stoneware sugar pot, the one I bought with no lid.
I think they look rather nice, actually. As nice as peonies from the store would have. So step two is really cleaning and clearing out, and I’m working on it.
I wanted to include one more picture, but I don’t know whether it fits under step one or two. I suppose step one, because it fits under taking care of myself. But it’s been ages since I’ve had my hair cut. It’s starting to look ridiculously Lady of Shalottish.
I’ll have to find time for that. Maybe next week, before Wiscon, so when you see me there I won’t look quite so ragged. I won’t want anyone thinking that we writers are savages, you know?
(Oh, and the intense schedule? I’m going to write a novel. More on this in a future post, which will be titled something like Summer Novel Challenge. Stay tuned!)