Yesterday I woke up and decided to take a personal day off. I claimed the day as “my day” to do whatever I wanted to do, within my means. Having spent the last two weeks preparing for big day of entertaining, I awoke to an awareness of self in the silent void that fills our home after a party. Still full of the previous day’s cake and the warmth of old and new friendships, there was suddenly an emptiness; a pause where nothing urgent was anticipated. It had been a busy two weeks, where simple things like cleaning the house and mowing the lawn were complicated by a sprained ankle, a massive three day sinus headache incurred at the pool, and an irritable monthly cycle.
So I wasn’t feeling physically strong. But instead of cancelling our party plans and staying in bed with ice packs on my ankle and head and a heating pad on my middle, I worked every day with this thought: each task is my opportunity for creativity. Instead of rushing through decorating and seating arrangements, I savored the process. Then, I repeatedly challenged my inner critic who told me that my work was amateur, imperfect and cheap. I told the critic that I’m not perfect and that no one expects me to be perfect. Perfection makes guests uncomfortable.
Real is comforting.
The party was a great success. We were all enriched and loved and entertained. A new life is on the way for a very loving young couple and being a part of that hopeful expectation was a privilege and a gift.
And just like it happens with visits from family who eventually leave to go back home, the space that our friends filled was once again, space.
How often have I said the words “today is mine to do as I wish?” So rarely that I am unable to recall the last personal day. Even my husband who works at a large company is allowed several PTO’s. I suppose it’s a very tricky thing for me to take a day off when I live in the same place I work. Taking time off is something that only seems to happen if I leave the house for a day or a weekend trip. But what happened yesterday was a shift and a challenge to that perception. There is a way to detach and reframe. Isn’t it true that since I’ve been given a life to live, every day is my personal day?
Because it’s the only life I have to live?
Today is mine to live as I wish, as is tomorrow, and the next, and the next after that. And if what I’m doing no longer serves my basic needs for survival or my spiritual longings, I can make changes.
This leads to the question of how much I “own” my life. How much of each day is mine to choose, and how much is dictated by my responsibilities? What portion of my time is spent in the service of others, and what slice is left for solitude or creativity?
Perhaps this is a first world problem. People in slavery and bondage don’t have these choices. Prisoners and people in debt don’t have these considerations. Parents with young children might not be thinking that this is a realistic goal. My husband looked directly into my eyes and said “this is impossible for me.”
But is it?