Friday, June 12, 2015

Today I Should . . . Of Blogging and Babies and Breathing Calm

 I sat down at my computer this morning, 5:40, with my glass of hot water, lemon juice, and honey (I'm trying a new regime, not yet convinced it's worth delaying my tea for, but we'll see). Started transferring iCloud photos to jPeg files in folders I could easily pull into Blogger. Some of that was taking longer than I wanted, and I was sidetracked for a while by trying to thin the iCloud photos. An anxious eye on the clock in the lower right corner of the screen because soon a sleepy daughter would wander in from the guest cottage, carrying a just-fed babe and an already energetic 2-year old. Guest cottage, I should note, sounds much grander than it is, all 200 square feet of it, but it's so nice for the little families to be able to have their own place. And for us -- we get a good night's sleep inside and are relatively fresh to help out in the morning.

 To be fresh and energetic enough myself, though, I realized, I need to step away from the computer and sit calmly with my cup of tea, refilling the bucket rather than draining it before the day's even started. I was feeling rushed to get a Friday post out, especially since I'll be away for the next week, working on the iPad mini and my iPhone, neither of which allow the best blogging.

I also realized that I was feeling anxious about posting out of a sense of obligation, that I was preparing to feel guilty if I didn't get a certain kind of post up. I mean, I have at least ten of them in my head, and I "should" have written them ages ago. I'm inclined to chastise myself because, after all, what else have I been doing. And then I realize that despite being almost retired, I've been damn busy, even if so much of the busy-ness has been pleasurable.

And, of course, eventually I realized that every one of you would tell me that it's ridiculous to feel guilty about not getting a post up every two or three days, and that it's even more ridiculous to get those posts up but then beat myself up because they're not the posts I "should" have written.

 It took me a while, but I made my way, eventually, to some calm. And I thought I'd share it with you, while I wait for those little ones to come through the door.
 'cause that should -- I should hold those little ones, catch a moment or two of their headlong rush toward their next birthdays, and their next. I should breathe in their sweet smells and coax smiles, perhaps even giggles, from their earnest wee faces. I should let their Mama pad gratefully back to the cottage for an extra hour of sleep. . . .
Have you thought about what you really "should" do today? Or this weekend? So often, the "shoulds" turn out to be so very different from what we think they are. Happy Friday!

29 comments:

  1. For me personally, this is the exact struggle/dance of retirement. At first I had too many shoulds. And funnily enough, ones own shoulds are just as stressful, even more sometimes, than external ones. Then I tried having no shoulds. But in all honesty for me that road leads to television. Upside, I can now recommend binge-watch worthy series. Downside, I'm only 58. Surely this can't be all life is for;).

    Even getting the blog routine down doesn't quite create balance - although it helps. Because one can always do better when the metrics are self set.

    You have grandchildren though, and 3 kids still living nearby. And an ocean outside your door. It's quite possible that these natural forces will provide you that extra bit of balance, as you say. Thank you for sharing the process.

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    1. It's true. For some of us, at least, our own shoulds can be just as stressful as the external ones. At least certain of the external ones are clearer; you do them and they're done OR as with caring for young children, you keep doing them and they're never done, but you simply surrender to the process. The sorting and the decision-making and the giving oneself permission to prioritize, or something, makes the personal shoulds a challenge for me.
      You describe the situation well, trying one approach, then the other, and then letting go and that not really working either. I suppose I/we'll adjust in some ways and just accept some discomfort in others. We'll see. The grandchildren and the kids and the ocean and some travel will help, I know. As you say, a process. You're welcome. And thank you!

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  2. I love these photos of your living room - beautiful colours. Not to mention the snuggly baby - I hope by now you have settled into your morning, with no more thoughts of blog posts!

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    1. I did, rather, which was good because that was the only calm of that day!

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  3. Should. My most hated word. Ever. No matter who says it, when it is said...it is a big drain of a word. Would and Could are much kinder. A world of possibility. But should just implies failure. And when you apply should, you know, deep down, you just don't want to anyway. Otherwise you would have. Wouldn't you? If you could?
    Rant over. Beauteous lamps, BTW.

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    1. Love your wordplay, thank you.
      Rant on, Annie Green, rant on!
      (and glad you like those lamps -- we were thrilled when we found them and they continue to please us. . . )

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  4. This post was most charming, and it had a most calming effect on me. Such colors, such flowers, such a sweet stretch - a fine morning indeed!

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    1. I'm so glad that my choice of calm was contagious. . .

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  5. One of my favorite cheeky little phrases: "Don't should all over yourself." :)

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    1. That's great, Leah! and it's definitely cheeky!

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  6. Woulda, Coulda, Shoulda? Just enjoy! Your living room is very inviting and calming.
    I have lots of "shoulds" on my list and have actually done some of them this week. Things that I have been putting off for no particular reason. We beat ourselves up over the oddest things. Thank you for taking the time to write your blog, I always look forward to reading and seeing what is happening in your part of the world. It's so different to where I live.
    Enjoy your family.
    Cerena

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    1. To be fair, I find "should" a useful concept, but once it gets the upper hand . . . It's good to know you enjoy the blog. Honestly, most of the time writing it is very enjoyable for me as well -- I rarely feel it as a demanding "should"

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    2. Yes your right, "should", keeps us true to ourselves, a check. Our conscious self making us think...a little more. Hope that you had a fantastic weekend.
      Cerena

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  7. Lovely early morning photos. Enjoy your family and never feel you should be writing for us. We won't go away

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  8. You have such a cozy home,full of light, and the baby is beautiful!
    There are duties which have to be done no matter what,duties we have to do,but they are pleasures and pleasures that are pleasure and we are blessed if we can see the difference. Blogging should not be in First category
    You are a very organized and disciplined lady,so I have no fear that you have chosen well. Time goes by,we are happy if we can catch a moment and have time to enjoy. So,just now it is time
    Thank you for sharing
    Dottoressa

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    1. Thanks for the encouragement, Dottoressa. I think you're right; it's important to see the difference between those things that must be done and those that we want to do -- The pleasures get spoiled if they become duties, and I'd never want that to happen to my writing here.

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  9. Those flowers are GORGEOUS. I can see how they'd restore your focus on the important things.

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  10. After reading your post and the comments, I did NOT proceed to item no. 1 on my to-do-list! Instead I took my lemonade outside and sat on the porch for half an hour to watch the waves on my little lake. It is saturday, after all! So thank you for helping me to get my priorities straight.
    As relates to your "shoulds" and all that, may I suggest you give yourself some time to adjust to your new situation? It appears to me (judging only from observation) that retirement is quite a prolonged process which - quite apart from all the accompanying activities like clearing up offices and saying goodbye to a number of people - takes up quite a lot of energy by and in itself. And it is very generous of you to share this experience.

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    1. Glad I inspired you to inspire those "shoulds" for the day, and I think you're right. There is more going on with this retirement business than is easily obvious, much more emotional work than I'd expected. Thanks for understanding.

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  11. I too, suffer from the "I shoulds..." I retired three years ago and it took me two years to adjust to a more flexible pace of life. I now revel in the freedom to potter about in the garden for as many hours as I choose, a rare morning of "sleeping in", or a day of accomplishing very little except the most important thing- enjoying my life. The only "should" that you should respond to is enjoying that beautiful grandchild and spotting his Mom so she can enjoy the well earned luxury of a sleep in! I hope you grow to love this new pace of life.

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    1. Sounds as if you've found a rhythm that suits you very well and enriches your life. I look forward to finding mine and it's useful to know that it took others a while to get to that. Thanks for sharing your experience.

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  12. Had a conversation about "shoulds" with a few of my retired teacher buddies just the other day. We agreed that it's hard not to feel guilty about how you choose to use your time in retirement. Hard to talk about what you're doing, or not doing, with those acquaintances and family who say "Must be nice" in that tone which implies how lucky you are and how hard done by they are. And you can't really come back with "I worked 50 hour weeks for 30 years, volunteered my time for free to coach, sit on committees, run after school clubs, spent my own money buying special things for my classroom or for my department when there was no budget for it. And we saved our money for years and years and didn't buy new cars every year, or big mortgage laden houses so we could afford to retire and travel when we did. I've earned this." Nope you can't say that. Just gotta smile and say, "You're right it is nice. And I'm very lucky." Oh dear. Guess I'm still not completely unaffected by the "shoulds." I should work on that:)

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    1. This is interesting, Susan. So far, I'm just trying to justify my relaxation in retirement to myself. I hadn't really thought about justifying it to envious others, but I can see that might be on the horizon. . . Oh well, one step at a time, right?

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  13. No shoulds in a baby's life. I wonder when we first acquire that sense of obligation. It's probably earlier than we think.

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    1. I suspect it's surprisingly early...and, of course, a certain amount of 'should' is very important to the social contract.

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  14. I do believe that the self-imposed "shoulds" are the hardest, for me at least, but that is partly because we've spent a lifetime internalizing all the mores and obligations and expectations that family and society impose. I've tried being stricter, and I've tried completely giving up obligation, but like LPC that path leads to the television and with it a complete devaluation (for me at least) of self worth. Since I am reading backwards, I love reading about your exploration of the process, and think it is one of those things that evolves and takes new forms over time. But increasingly I think that when we start to let go of obligation and make our own choices is when we truly start to live our lives to the fullest.

    On a different subject altogether, I too am entranced by the photos, especially the first one of the seating area with the light and the curtains. As a person who has eschewed curtains in my houses prior to this point, I am reconsidering, thinking that I don't like the expectation of curtains, but in certain places they may be just right, even for me.

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    1. Yes, exactly, with the Shoulds. I regularly have people tell me I should let go but I need to do enough to feel some kind of self-worth, as you put it. Hoping to be able to find a place where I can feel worthy without quite so much stress or fatigue, though.
      As for the curtains, we lived without them for years. But in the winter, the room felt stark with that surrounding darkness. Orange velveteen curtains from Ikea imparted a warmer sense of cohesion and I liked that so much that when we took them down the next summer, we decided to try these light coloured ones. Now, I really look forward to changing curtains and cushions twice a year. . .

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I'd love to hear your response to my post. Agree, disagree, even go off on a tangent, I love to know you're out there, readers. Let's chat, shall we? I apologize, though, for the temporary necessity of the Word Verification -- spam comments have been tiresomely numerous lately, and I'm hoping to break that pattern.

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