I don't know how to live my best life. You know that, right? No experts here! If that's what you're looking for, move along; there is nothing to see. Just like everyone else, I'm struggling with this idea. Practicing self-care without spinning off into hedonism. Learning discipline without trailing off into asceticism. Observing one's own process without becoming a narcissist. This is work.
Right now, I have some not-huge-but-definitely-there questions I need to answer, in the fairly near future. As in, a few days ago would have been good. They have to do with work load and my ability to manage my time -and my apparent inability to create more time out of thin air, in spite of my clear need and worthiness ;) And, we might as well be honest, my own need to do a good job at everything is also involved.
For the past year, I have kept myself wildly busy. I did this on purpose. On the one hand, I put off my own dreams for too long. I don't have time to delay them any longer; being tired isn't a good enough excuse. And, I was very afraid that if I allowed myself very much (any) unstructured time, I would sit home and brood. Bitterness isn't really in my nature, but self-pity can be. So, keep moving-no brooding. That was my thinking.
That strategy worked, in a sense. I have made important strides. I feel better. Most of the time, I am grateful to be living alone and having this opportunity to be self-determining. Gradually, though, it has become easier (less difficult, anyway)to let some things go. I am no longer working at the yarn shop on Saturdays. I don't need the money (although I will sorely miss the discount on yarn!) and I do need the Saturdays. My thinking was that I had let some things go in the service of others. Yet, I see now that I was still leading with fear. Little wonder, I suppose, given my recent experiences. Yet, I think it's time to do something else.
I have this picture of my perfect life. It involves work for social justice (from which I am almost completely separate these days); thinking, writing, and teaching; a varied and festive social life with my friends and family; a welcoming, calm home; rock-climbing, biking, and yoga; creativity (which mostly means knitting and writing); cooking, baking, reading for fun, travel... It's a picture I acknowledge to be unattainable. It's a world where the clothes are never wrinkled, my haircut isn't two weeks overdue, and all work is accomplished easily in its appointed time. Yes, I see the problem. I am simultaneously unable to live up to this fantasy and unwilling to let it go.
People advise me to do less -lower my standards. It's perfectly valid, but I don't think it's the answer for me. Until I find the right balance, I'm going to entertain the possibility that I am also living my best life when I doubt, when I am exhausted, when I just flat-out don't feel like working this hard anymore. I can't will those feelings away. But I can try to hold the dream as a gentle thing in front of me, and try to love myself into it.
The pace may not change, but its frantic nature might. Or, love will have a gentler pace than fear. We'll see.