On the other hand, why should I feel any angst about what's on my list (she says flippantly) . . . they are all (perhaps excluding paying bills and cleaning the toilet) things I truly like to do. (So calm down, internal organs, calm down.) My list contains everyday household-y things I still enjoy getting accomplished plus new, exciting projects on which I want to put effort. It's just that there are SO MANY of them. And that is the crux of what I continually battle to come to terms with and feel okay about. I should revel in the fact that I have the opportunity at this time of my life to choose what I want to do. I just need to learn how to be happy with those choices rather than trying to do everything. (That old fooler, "I can do everything. I am woman, hear me roar.") Setting myself up for defeat and discontent? Yup, sure-fired, guaranteed outcome.
With the advent of decent weather I've got about double my normal work load because of outside chores yelling for attention. But in spite of that, for the past several weeks I've noticed I've been happier, more content, more able to deal with the unexpected and unpleasant. Isn't it all in the way we choose to handle whatever comes our way? When you get right down to it, the personal stress we experience has little to do with anything EXCEPT the way in which we choose to react to those external stimuli. I've been trying very hard to focus on what I accomplish instead of what I don't. And (this is the hard one for me) to do those things that give me joy rather than those I hear that nasty, little voice telling me I SHOULD do.
I'm working with my daughter (the web designer/graphic artist/talented person/yes, she's adopted) who is helping me bring to fruition something I've wanted to do for a long time. What a stoopid time to get this project off the ground! Just when I'm starting to spend twelve hours a day outside and our huge garden will keep me run-ragged-busy until after harvest time this fall. (Actually, dear daughter and I have TWO projects in the works; the other being an end product combining our ideas and talents. It's simmering near the top of both our lists and is gonna pop up to "let's do it now" fairly soon, I'm thinking. But I digress.)
This past winter a friend around my age commented after hearing me blather on and on about all I had to do/wanted to do. He said (to paraphrase him), "Look, we've raised our families, worked hard earning some money, building our homes, contributing to society, we've paid our dues. Now's our time to pull back a bit, relax, take time for ourselves.”
Then day before yesterday as I was walking through the house, I heard quite loudly (inside my head), "Hey, lady, here you are sixty-six years old. Why aren't you starting to take it easy, structuring your life so that you don't have a To Do List everyday that would choke a horse, break a camel's back, strangulate a cow (I just made that last one up), starting to relax and learn how to do nothing?" But the thing is there are still so many things I want to do, to learn, to experience, and I don't feel any different than I did at age thirty. And I sure wasn't ready to "stop doing" then. I shared these thoughts with my husband over dinner that night and he said he's very glad I feel the way I do because he believes when you stop planning, stop wanting, stop reaching, you begin to die. Good point. (I'm fortunate in that the man I married also has a trillion interests and even though he's much, much older than I [one and two-third years], he has a zest for life and no plans for slowing down for the next forty or fifty years.)
Because of the way I've been feeling recently, I'm thinking I just might be making some real progress (can it finally be?) toward: 1) realizing what is truly important in life (stress and worry aren't worthy of any gold stars but joy and contentment are), 2) it's vital to have aspirations and dreams, and 3) restructuring my life (which may mean making initially uncomfortable changes) so I enjoy the present moment is crucial because . . . it's all I have. The past is gone and will never return. The future is nebulus and unreal because I will never live and breathe in it. All I have is today. Now is my life. I'll never get a happy ending to an unhappy journey. Besides, what is the end? There is no end. All there is is the journey.