Last week, I shared with you my realization that I had been involved in a little bit of self-sabotage by not being more disciplined about my time and behavior. It was as if by shirking a tight schedule to get in everything that I desired or making choices that weren’t really the choices of my heart but were choices of convenience, I was saying to the world, “you can’t make me” and the reality is the world doesn’t care. I’m the only one missing out when I don’t make time to paint or write or stretch or eat what I like to eat or move or whatever. Now that I don’t live in my mama’s house, my defiance doesn’t hurt anyone’s feelings but mine.
That post seemed to resonate with a lot of readers. I had friends mention it to me when we spoke on the phone or in person and had emails about it. My friend, Stephanie, wrote, “Anyway, so I read your blog and got it. So got it. I remember you recounting that trip to the grocery store when it happened and swear I saw the same stars and smelled the pluff mud right there with you. So whether it’s teaching, writing, painting, a pedicure, you are right. We have to be disciplined to get the freedom we need.”
So, since having that aha! moment with Erin, I’ve been living my life with greater discipline so that I can get the freedom that I need. What does that discipline look like?
I got off the sauce. Sauce? You say. What sauce? Well, my sauce of choice is a Coca-Cola to get me through the day. I don’t drink coffee and usually only drink water outside of the Coke that accompanies my lunch, but I was getting to the point where I needed that Coke as fuel to have the energy to get through my afternoon. And every now and again, I’d have a Coke at dinner, too, to power through some after bedtime for Happy work. I decided to get off Coke as an energy boost in hopes of actually boosting my own intrinsic energy. My goal is to be off the sauce for January and then work Coke in for special occasions or as an accompaniment to meals that I just like washing down with a Coke- like Mexican or Japanese food.
So, if I am off the energy boosting benefits of my mid-day Coca-Cola, what is getting me through the day energetically? One thing is getting my work out in first thing which requires a couple different disciplined behaviors. The first thing I have to do is go to bed at a decent hour and so the new rule I follow is the television goes off by 10 pm and the lights are off by 10:30 pm. Because I’ve had a couple good books on the bedside table of late, it has been easier and easier to turn the television off earlier and reading really does relax me for sleep far better than television watching.
The other thing I am doing is waking up at 6 am and enjoying that first hour of wakefulness as a quiet hour for myself. BF is usually up then, too, but he’s either off walking Lola or working out. I was starting Every Last One, a novel by Anna Quindlen, last night when I came across this passage on the first page: “I hate the early mornings… but it is the only time I can rest without sleeping, think without deciding, speak and hear my own voice. It is the only time I can be alone. Slightly less than an hour each weekday when no one makes demands.” Although I don’t hate the early mornings, the rest of that passage rings completely true for me, and so I’ve given myself the gift of the early morning. I use that time to work on this novel that I’ve had on my computer for a bit, read, plan, journal, complete a Beautiful You exercise, whatever. It’s mine, and I don’t worry about making it terribly productive. By 7 am, BF is back from his workout or walk, and I slip out of the house for my own workout. If I can watch the morning news- and actually hear it- while I workout then it feels like a bonus. By 8 am, I am back home, taking over Happy as BF runs out the door for work. And, already, though it is just 8 am, I am energized by what I have done and given myself in the first two hours of the day.
There are other bits of discipline being incorporated into my days– Pilates classes at the Y a couple nights a week, running again– because these things energize me and also give me time to my self for quiet contemplation and consideration. Cooking at home because it brings me joy. Turning away from the computer after dinner to enjoy my family unless I’m on some deadline I haven’t met (which has not been the case in the new year). By next week, when the snow no longer has us homebound, I’d like to be attending a weekly yoga class during the day that I haven’t allowed myself to attend since Happy started preschool because my MUST BE 100% PRODUCTIVE EVERY POSSIBLE MINUTE tendency doesn’t allow me to have any fun while Happy is at preschool. Seriously, that girl needs to stick a sock in it and let me go to yoga. And since that girl is this girl, well, she’s putting a sock in it, because, may I remind her, that I deserve a little bit of tenderness.
So far, that is what being disciplined and freedom look like for me. How about for you?