Yesterday I had plans to do 12 sun salutations when I woke up, go to work, come home and go for a walk to enjoy the warm, sunny day. That would be followed by making dinner and lunch for tomorrow, call a friend to make plans, prepare a workshop, prepare some applications for courses, update this blog, and about 6 other items on my ever-growing to-do list, finished of with a half hour of yoga.
I managed to wake up, go to work, take a short walk, eat dinner, call a friend (who wasn’t even home – so that cut down on time used up!) and research some applications. I felt frazzled – because I hadn’t accomplished anything that I felt I really needed to. Then I felt cruddy – because I hadn’t completed my list. Then I felt guilty – because I don’t even have toddlers to care for and I still couldn’t get much done so early in the week. Then I felt cruddy again – because if I really were a superwoman I’d have toddlers – or atleast a cat.
But I did manage to sit in meditation for 5 short minutes – just long enough to quell the growing anxiety in my chest. In that quiet, I asked myself: who am I competing with that I have this anxiety about having it all together?
We are fed this socially air-brushed ideal of what our daily life should look like. We should all be happily married, economically secure, accomplishing everything in an organized and optimized fashion, eathing perfectly balanced meals, and filling our day with perfectly balanced activities and goals, and of course looking quite perfect as well with no interruptions, dramas, or emotional reactions to anything or anyone.
If that’s not the photo of our daily life, we must be doing something wrong. Or so we’re led to believe.
Real people develop real character and life experience for the very reason that their life isn’t airbrushed. It’s brushing up against imperfection that gives us our wisdom, strength, compassion, stories and laugh lines.
Give yourself a break. You don’t have to do everything, and you don’t have to do it perfectly. No one is watching. No one is going to evalute you. Do the work that takes care of you and those you have in your care. The rest of the to-do list will get done – you know it will. Commit to not doing it with anxiety. Every morning and evening I light a candle, do some relaxing breaths, remember what is important to me, what I’d like to accomplish, what I need and what I am grateful for. Sometimes all I can manage is 2 minutes, sometimes I have time for a 30 minute meditation. The point is that it calms my centre, refocuses me on what is important and what isn’t. The calm beginning and end to my day assures me that everything will be ok, that I’m doing fine.
In the fashion world air-brushing has been exposed for the unrealistic expectation-maker that it is. Jessica Simpson is celebrated on the cover of this issue of Marie-Claire sans make-up or retouching. We should keep in mind to not try to live up to air-brushed expectations of daily living as well.