Has anyone else been inundated with way too much stuff to do recently? I make a plan, have a to-do list, and then bam – something else demands my attention and I’m able to accomplish a tenth of what I originally set out to do. It’s immensely frustrating, because like a million other people, I used to measure my worth by the amount of stuff I got done in a day. People would really ask me where I found the time and the energy and usually, it came easy to me. But it doesn’t, anymore. This life – and this chronic illness, post-cancer diagnosis identity – require me to reframe the question of what is it, really, that’s necessary to complete during a day. Turns out, leaving the dishes in the sink overnight isn’t going to stop the turning of the Earth; sleeping in is a matter of necessity and not laziness. (A loaded term I may someday detangle here, but not today.) I am asking you to do the same thing I’m trying to do each day: be gentle with yourself. If you are alive, fed, and have taken your meds: you’re doing great.
Here are some bonus activities, if you’d like to seek them out for yourself.
Eat: One of the most simple, deceivingly easy fancy things I can suggest making is pickled red onion. Hear me out, pickle haters: this isn’t like the dill or bread and butter you have already made your minds up about. This mellows out the bite of the red onion and gives a tangy sweetness to them that may actually change your mind about the strong taste of these layered root veggies. I made a recipe this week that called for them and made extra since they’re great on, well, everything. I personally love them on avocado toast, in tacos, or on a sandwich. The best part? They take minutes to make and last for a couple of weeks in the fridge.
See: I recently had some tasks to do that required that level of “on, but doesn’t need my full attention.” (Ages ago, I learned the need for this level: watching Mad Men was impossible to do while painting my nails, since it needed my full attention for the visually crafted subtext.) I opted for a series Netflix had been pushing my way called Fisk. Let me tell you, it was the perfect watch. The show is about an Australian woman who has separated from her husband (the pitch-perfect joke? “He left me for a much older woman.”) She is now starting over at a new law firm, one that’s obviously populated by characters. Check it out if you need a low-commitment watch: it’s only 6 half-hour episodes.
Do: Last weekend, I went to a museum with a dear friend. She purchased a large book of pieces from the museum’s collection. It’s the kind of book that seems overwhelmingly large to purchase – it’s more like a textbook, she noted – but the idea of taking it piece by piece was really exciting. We flipped to different pages to learn about the art at random. It reminded me of when I purchased a large volume of poetry by Mary Oliver. I read a poem every morning with my breakfast or my tea, and I was really able to savor the words that way. A long project can be just as enjoyable as one with a shortened timeline, and you can make it into something you look forward to each day.
Have a bright pink, Australian, textbook kind of weekend,