I come from a perfectionistic, uptight family of over-achievers. I love my folks and I'm glad they've instilled a little ambition in me, but as a family we can be very critical of ourselves and others, always wanting things to be just right. I think I also have a bit of a complex because I'm a writer, while my dad is an engineer and CEO and my mom is a doctor, so I tend to think that my job is not good enough or smart enough in their eyes. Blah blah blah... What does this have to do with my list?
Well, every morning I start the day armed with my impressively long to-do list that contains everything from work items to house chores and admin tasks that need to be tackled. For example, today's list has everything from, "write last three freelance stories for ***** website" to "hem jeans", "phone Telkom to get ADSL at home" and various other unappealing things that need to be done. Currently, the list is two pages in length.
The problem is that it never diminishes. Things just get added. For instance, yesterday, when one of our church elders called me and asked me if I could host two visiting pastors tonight, chores like, "sort out medical aid details" were immediately superceded by "change all bed linen in spare room" and "fetch extra single bed from Stephen's house". Blah blah blah...
And what, dear rambling journo, does this have to do with poor TSC, you may well be wondering?
Since my man has started varsity, he has had a very long day (he leaves at 6.30am and gets back at about 5pm on most days and then still has to do homework and study for tests). And trying to be a lovely, understanding wife (and usually failing miserably at this), I am doing my best to make life easy for him by doing most of the chores, even the ones he usually does. And that, of course, adds to my blasted to-do list.
Most of the time, I'm glad to do it, because it means that we may have a little more time to spend together. But sometimes, if I feel like what I'm doing hasn't been acknowledged or I'm being taken for granted, I get angry or upset in typical female fashion and throw my toys out the cot. and I don't throw like a girl.
See, truth be told, I have a long day too. And once in awhile, I would like to have five minutes to do something I feel like doing instead of tackling something that needs to be done. And it's not TSC that's making me do these things - it's me.
I know I only work half-days at the office (although usually I stay a bit late), but then I take my freelance work home and do that, along with all the admin for the life group we lead, the welcome teams at church (we head up that section), the house stuff that still hasn't been sorted out (like our gate intercom that STILL doesn't work. Growl) and various other things. And don't get me wrong... I don't mind doing any of it - I choose my commitments carefully and only pick those that I'm really keen on.
But I can't remember the last time I came home and picked up a novel or a a magazine, or took out my easel and did some painting, or lay on the bed and played with my cats. Yes, I do a lot of stuff that I enjoy, like gardening or baking, but it's all for a purpose (gardening for veggies and baking for life group or for birthday presents). It's like I can't let myself do something that won't benefit someone else or give a tangible result because that might be a waste of time. And it shouldn't be like that - I shouldn't have to justify doing something nice for myself!
So today I got to thinking that maybe I need to write a list of some of the things I'd like to do just for me. Not because it will make the house look better (I've spent many evenings fixing old furniture, hanging pictures and unpacking the last boxes). Not because it's a good idea (I spent last night picking all the pepperdews, de-seeding them and bottling them. My fingers are still burning from that. Will wear gloves next time). Not because I should do it (weeding the garden, washing the curtains or sorting out my old bank statements). But just because I feel like it.
Here's my list:
- Take a long bath with some yummy bath products.
- Read one of my magazines that have been sitting next to my bed waiting for free time.
- Start reading a new book.
- Catch up on some poetry writing.
- Spend time playing with my kitties.
- Nap. Without feeling guilty.
- Drink a cup of creamy hot chocolate while curled up on the sofa.
- Make jewellery (haven't done that since we moved).
- Explore my recipe books.
- Drink a cocktail on my veranda with TSC.
- Paint my toenails.
- Do some crafts.
- Write letters.
- Sit still in my garden and watch the birds.
I'm going to try to do more of these things, starting from today. I'm not going to stop doing the other stuff that needs to be done, but I'm going to make time to do things purely for pleasure, and not to feel guilty about it.
What do you do for you?