Talk about shooting the messenger.
She didn’t exactly say the words “don’t do anything that doesn’t make you feel joyful” in what I read of this book, and in fact she suggests tackling things that make you uncomfortable so that you will feel more comfortable. But I do think the spirit of her work, as far as I can tell as a newbie, conveys the idea that you do not have to do everything all the time, and that focusing on what is important is the most important thing of all.
Or so I’m going to tell myself.
So why not go tonight? I don’t wanna. I did, but the more I read her book, the more I struggled with envying what I call her “wellness privilege.” I’m sure it’s been plenty discussed that she benefits from white privilege and economic privilege, but what I cannot stop seeing as I read her book with the eyes in a body that requires lots of care, is how little she seems to need to care for her body.
There is almost nothing in the book about food. She talks about holiday breakfasts and about abstaining from candy (and oh! the freedom that brings when it’s not a health necessity!), and she mentions that her kids told her they’d like something besides cold cereal or peanut butter toast for breakfast. But that’s it, as far as I saw.
For me, home and food are inextricably connected. I cannot imagine undertaking any kind of happiness project without food at the center or at least as a key component. Not because I am a chef or anything, but because I don’t have a choice.
In my world, cooking and cleaning up from cooking take probably at least two hours on a normal day. Although I’ve made a lot of progress since I started the GAPS diet in 2010 and then since I resumed eating some carbs in 2013 when things shifted with my digestion, I still have a gut that needs me to make all my food from scratch. That is, if I want to enjoy optimal wellness and only pleasant experiences in the bathroom.
My kids are healthy but need to be gluten-free too and do best also dairy-free. They came from my body, which was decidedly not a perfect beginning, and I’m pretty committed to trying to see that they don’t suffer the same health woes I did from a childhood that contained lots of gluten, dairy, sugar, caffeine, processed foods, medicines, and early-than-I-oughta-have nefarious substances.
So they always have hot breakfasts and lunch from home while at school, and usually fully home-cooked meals. Their snacks do include GF grains (including toast and crackers), dried fruit, packaged baby food pouches (at least they contain green vegetables!) and nuts.
My needs go beyond those minimum requirements.
I have made some amount of peace with all these requirements (and more), but when I read about someone who seems to exist on air and water but manages tremendous professional success and personal satisfaction … well, I stop feeling like spending the evening with her.
Last night I went to bed past 10:00 p.m. – a no-no for both me and Rubin – and then this morning slept through my two alarms and so had woken at the very late hour of 7:00. I had to pee the entire time I was prepping their breakfast and finishing the kids’ lunches.
My husband left at 7:53 to take the kids to school, and I spent almost two hours straightening up, going through mail (which usually piles up), taking out the trash and recycling, and doing laundry. I emailed my daughter’s teaching about her missing nap blanket and gluten-free snack and my brother and husband about issues related to the home and furniture.
At 9:41, I got on the rebounder and bounced for 5 minutes, followed by about that much yoga. Then I warmed up dinner’s leftovers with my daughter’s uneaten egg, took a quick shower (splashing a few drops of Clarity essential oil into the water for support), got “dressed” (still in yoga pants but at least not my pajamas), plugged in my SAD light, and ate breakfast at 10:38 a.m. Of course by this time, I was so hungry I had to go back to warm up seconds. At least NPR was there with me throughout it all.
I then checked some email and some Facebook (in part to see if anyone had said they’d go with me to the reading tonight; they hadn’t) and decided I needed to clear my head by writing this post before I could do any real work.
It is now 11:46 a.m.. The kids will be home in just over 3 hours (and that is because I am sticking them on the bus instead of picking them up, which would suck an extra 50 minutes away). I have yet to do any of the things on my to-do list regarding emails to return or editing I promised to do Monday (and didn’t do Tuesday thanks to a two-hour delay) or plans to make for my new business or for health-related phone calls or for activities related to my kids. I am once again going to fail in my promise to get the oil changed or go to the AT&T store to turn off my phone plan and get a Go Phone card so my husband can finally transition to his work phone. Maybe tomorrow, if I start the day two hours earlier.
My home is a little neater for this morning’s efforts, and I do feel a little better about that. But the more small stuff I do, the larger the big stuff looms. I doubt my husband will notice or comment o the small, but I know he’ll continue to wish I would tackle the bursting files in our office and basement. (And I’ll continue to wish he’d take the kids away for two days so I could tear it up from top to bottom without interruption).
Who knows if the progress will even last until the time he gets home. Beads, stickers, paper cut into shapes. They multiply. And I still ought to vacuum the places I didn’t get to on Monday. The thought of trying to go out to make a 7:00 talk downtown is daunting. There’s a good chance my husband won’t even get home in time, and the one babysitter on our list right now is busy tonight (I asked).
Instead of going out to take the Metro and walk in the cold just to get more jealous of Gretchen Rubin’s life, I think I would rather finish watching Downton Abbey by 9:15 and then go to bed early so that I can get up early and have a stronger start to tomorrow.
I could still “leave” the house when my husband gets home and avoid the end of dinner, pajamas, and bedtime by going to work on clutter in the basement. Or actually leave and go to the library to hang up a Holistic Moms flyer for our awesome meal planning meeting next week and write on my laptop for 90 minutes. That sounds like it might feel more productive, and more fun. And less cold.
Am I claiming my own personal joy or just wimping out?