| Angie Counios
Then: April 3, 2015
I have ten days off from the official teaching gig during Easter break. I won't have to go anywhere or do anything between today and the day school starts. I don't have to get to class for teenagers. I don't have to take care of anyone’s needs but my own and my time will be spent the way I want. There will be no official responsibility, expect to myself.
I debated a holiday on the beach somewhere hot and sandy before this moment. I find the beach good for my soul but I know that writing and feeding my creative spirit is just as good for me as sand between my toes. And if I do indeed want to accomplish my long term goals, this will happen with doing, not just sitting around hoping and wishing.
I have essentially ten days to waste or use. It would be a ‘shame on me’ scenario if I let the time pass and didn't spend it in a way that I felt worthwhile, given how often I wish I could just stay home and write. Don't get me wrong. My job is a good place to go, but, if I had a choice, I would carve my days out differently.
My carving tool for this week: the schedule.
I made a list of things that would make me feel good physically, mentally, spiritually.
- Physically: yoga, running, working out, walking
- Mentally: housekeeping
- Spiritually: meditating, journaling
- Creatively: writing, making art
Housekeeping is just as important as the physical, and spiritual. It’s hard to focus on things I want to do when there are those annoying little tasks forever compounding into these endless lists, so this week is an opportunity to get some of those things done. It’s spring, so the garage, the basement, and the car are on the agenda.
I’m going to check in at the end of the week as an act of accountability to see if I have accomplished the things I wanted to.
Now: April 14, 2015
My carving tool worked.
The schedule was efficient and successful, albeit not an hourly Pavlovian ding-a-ling that had me shifting gears from subject or group of humans to another but I was aware that I had so many hours in the day to work, eat, sleep, and play (shout out to Elizabeth Gilbert—sort of).
I came to the end of my ten days without sand between my toes but with a very solid feeling of accomplishment and more importantly, I feel good.
Here’s how it looked:
Every spring I have this self-imposed fear that running outside will be so very hard after a passive winter inside on a treadmill. It was tough. But I also felt better getting all that fresh air in my lungs and clearing the cobwebs out of my thinking while I ran. I developed a love/hate relationship with a woman named Chalene (the star of my Piyo DVD) that my sister and Dave introduced me to. I don’t like her much which means that she’s doing her job and my muscles thank her. I alternated Piyo with yoga every other day.
Yoga practice fell under the category of mental, physical and spiritual. Who doesn't love something so efficient?
For me housekeeping is mental. And I don’t mean crazy-looney bin-nutso but oh so good for my head. Cleaning my house is satisfying. (No, I won’t come and clean yours. It’s not the same thing.)
I found myself going through photo albums in the basement, sorting through images I didn't need to keep anymore and personals that would do much better in a fire.
I organized my camping gear which led to the happy idea of the summer camping season. I went through my books and picked a stack to give away. I came up to my living space and did more sorting there too. Every level of my home was cleaned and organized: basement, studio, living space. I even cleaned the car, so no matter where I roamed I was dust and clutter free.
I had a bonfire and ritualistically burned some things from my past that I no longer need and no one else can use. Up in smoke and a chimenea with a belly full of ash. A mental decluttering.
It was Greek Holy week. I attended church for Palm Sunday, Holy Wednesday, Holy Friday and Holy Saturday. I lit candles. I sat in silence. I prayed.
I also mediated and practiced yoga.
I journalled daily which for me is also a place of prayer (and creativity).
In cleaning, I found a juicy pile of images and distracted myself with glue and scissors and markers playing in two sketchbooks.
Dave and I met and bashed out some more content for the book we’re working on. He also dropped off a book with some chapters to read and I hit a few more pages of our current work.
In the End:
I socialized. I ran. I stretched. I wrote. I cleaned. I prayed. I sorted. I burned.
And this has all led me to my certain knowing that I am driven. You see, secretly I had a fear that if I were to write full time I would waste it and I'd see no product at the end of a year.
If I was to leave the teaching life, would I see moments and hours lost without that rigid schedule? Am I so bound to the routine of teaching that if I didn't have to get up at a particular time would I sleep in and regret it?
The answer is no.
I am focused enough and care enough about my physical, mental, spiritual and creative self that I face it with pleasure when my time is my own.
My ten days were important, efficient, and just as good for my soul as sand between my toes.