I Am Invincible
When I Do My Chores
Don’t hate me, but I am ok with Daylight Saving Time. I do not love that it will be dark at 6pm-ish in NYC this week but I DO like that it is light at 6am-ish. I am a morning person, and don’t hate me for that, either.
This Monday, I woke up feeling invincible. I’d had a good weekend. I’d gotten some sleep. My kid did not wake me up at 5am on Sunday. I read a great book. I went to a fun party Saturday. I did four loads of laundry, cleaned out the fridge, got the week’s groceries, got a mani/pedi even and everything felt right in my world. I went to my hot yoga class on Monday, too, and I felt like I could Chaturanga through the mantel of the earth. Why? I kept thinking. What is different about this Monday, this yoga class, those loads of laundry, that has left me feeling this way? And how can I replicate it x infinity?
I regret to report that the reason I feel so great this week is I basically slept almost 12 hours on Saturday night. I was in bed before 9pm. The time change somehow worked in my favor, sleeping wise. It wasn’t even that I had perfect sleep. I work up before midnight with the aches and pains I knew would come exactly 12 hours after my covid/flu shot, but took some Tylenol and went back to sleep. Maybe the vaccine made me invincible. Big if true.
THEN, on Sunday, I was able to do all my chores! Food shopping, laundry catch up, general tidying. And some self-care. A mani-pedi! A run in the park! Reading a book (for work, but still—a good one). My kid was happy (with the toy I got them as recompense for springing the covid shot on them, lol) things were just working. I’m so lucky to have the space and time and ability to even have days like this.
And now I am getting to the part where this applies to writing and stuff. I attacked my to do list on Monday with said verve because I had taken care of all the other stuff over the weekend. I wasn’t thinking about my laundry. I wasn’t thinking about what we’d have for dinner this week. I wasn’t going dammit, I need to get my covid shot. Because I’d done those things. And I’d slept. I’d taken care of my body so that my brain could do the work. I am not done. I am not “caught up.” I have plenty of other things that have to be done in my life and around my house and for/with my family and my job and voting and worrying about the world and everything else. But I was able to attend to some nagging things and I was able to care for my body in the way it needed, so my brain could do other things.
I am not going to be able to replicate this much, lol. You aren’t either for so many reasons I could barely fathom them. But I am going to be able to replicate bits of it, and I bet you can too. The big revelation here is that the key to productivity might not be working harder at all. It might be self-care and rest. It might be doing the nagging chore and reading a book that lets you work harder/be more creative/get into flow later on. That sometimes the thing that helps your writing most is not writing, but taking care of yourself. It doesn’t yield faster results, but it might yield better results in the long run.
This is no magical point at where you’ve caught up on chores and sleep and rest and care, of yourself or others. One night of extra sleep did not fix all my problems. There are so many obstacles to taking care of ourselves the way we need to that it’s easy to think you’ll never get the extra stuff you need: sleep, time, money, care, space. I know. We feel like we’ll never get to the Caught Up end of this graph1 and we’re always at Drowning. It’s more true than not.
But the stuff we do to inch along counts. Little things can make a difference. Taking care of yourself, setting the coffeemaker to brew automatically for tomorrow’s you, reading the fun book, saying no to a draining social activity, being “good enough” at whatever chores you can, doing the laundry instead of writing on your Sunday so that you have socks for the week ahead. All this stuff counts as work, as part of your writing practice, as self-care. If this makes you angry, if this makes you think wow, it MUST be NICE to be able to do all this stuff, Kate, I’m sorry. That says to me you have more obstacles in your way than I do, and I wish that you didn’t. You might not have the space for this kind of advice right now, and that’s ok. I didn’t either a few months ago and early last year and in the years right after my kid was born. I may not have room for this in February when my book is due or at later times when things get rough. It’s ok. You can come back to it. I hope you get to come back to it.
If you need it, if you can use it, try this advice: the work you do to take care of yourself, inside and out, benefits the work you want to do later. It counts. It’s not selfish. It won’t delay your goals. In fact, it could accelerate them. If someone questions why you wrote three loads of laundry and meal preped on your writing accountability sheet2, tell them I said it counted.
I wish you all the ease and space and time you need. Take what you need when you can.
graphic design is my passion
Obviously I am the kind of person who has a writing accountability sheet. If you do not, that’s ok! You don’t need one. But IYKYK.