I’ve been running with my new commitment to writing three handwritten pages every day – Morning Pages, as Julia Cameron calls them. It’s not a chore; I WANT to write, after all. I admit to skipping a day here and there. Life gets busy, obligations cut into my morning writing time, and sometimes….well, sometimes I just forget.
That’s okay. What’s the big deal with a missed day or two?
I’ll tell you what the big deal is. I’m kidding myself. A few mornings ago, I poured a cup of coffee, grabbed my favorite pen, and settled down to write. I glanced at my last entry – and was shocked to see it was dated six days ago.
Six days! I thought it had been two, maybe three at the most. It seems that the most believable lies are the ones I tell myself. Have you ever read those studies where they ask people to estimate the amount of calories they eat in a day? With few exceptions, it turns out that the estimated amount is far below the consumed amount – sometimes off by as much as 50%.
My writing life is like that.
Scratch that. My life is like that.
I want to write. I want to be healthy. I want to have a happy, meaningful life. Yet, you wouldn’t know that from my choices. I go days without writing or exercising. I eat ice cream for breakfast. I freak out about stupid things — like I did this morning when I threw a conniption fit because someone put an empty ice cube tray back in the freezer — even though conventional wisdom tells me I’d be happier if I could just learn to Let. It. Go. (Cue the music here…)
I’ve thought about it a lot, this disconnect between my intentions and my behaviors, both in writing and in life.
I’ve come to a decision: I’m going to give myself a pass.
Duh-duh-daaa! PLOT TWIST.
I may overestimate my efforts, but that doesn’t negate every improvement I make. Eighteen months ago, my most significant creative effort went into writing my grocery store shopping list, and now I’m re-writing an old novel, starting a new one, and writing a flash fiction story every week. I don’t care how many Morning Pages I “forget” to do, or if I ever publish anything or not — that’s progress.
The same is true with my personal life. Prior to Ash Wednesday, I got approximately zero minutes of exercise a day. Let’s see, zero minutes, times seven days a week, multiplied by 52 weeks a year, gives a grand total of…zero minutes a year. So, while it’s true I haven’t broken any fitness records in 2014 (you won’t see me on the cover of Women’s Weekly at the checkout stand with my new and improved body!), I can state with certitude that I’ve improved my healthy behaviors.
Disclosure: I will still eat ice cream for breakfast when I can get away with it — try it! It’s fabulous!
Which, at the risk of sounding like a Negative Nellie, brings me to my last conclusion: Some things are never going to change, so why fight it? Those empty ice cubes trays are always going to drive me up the wall. (C’mon — someone took the time to put the tray BACK IN THE FREEZER, but they couldn’t take 7 seconds to fill it up first?) It’s always going to irritate me when the toilet paper spindle is left empty, and don’t even get me started about those people who take up two spaces in the parking lot. I will never stop fussing over those sort of things. I know I’m nobody’s idea of a Little Ray of Sunshine, but WHATEVER. As that wise sailor man once told us all, “I yam what I yam.”
Wow. That was cathartic. I think I’m ready to re-focus now. Time to get another cup of coffee, grab my journal, and write my Morning Pages.
Or maybe I’ll have a bowl of ice cream instead. Who can tell, really? I’ll just have to dive in and see how the rest of the morning plays out…either way, I’m good.