week 1 plan, restoration project

“What can anyone give you greater than now, starting here, right in this room, when you turn around?” ~William Stafford, from “You Reading This, Be Ready”

A few days ago I mentioned a particular phrasing of something in an article I read about hypothyroidism, of all things: prioritize restoration. That struck me and pulled together the swirling threads of thoughts and worries I’d been dealing with, like a paper cone serves to grab the spun sugar for cotton candy. [mmmm…cotton candy….]

Prioritize restoration. It would be lovely to do this in a big-old way, to go away somewhere to a retreat, to spend some time alone in a little cabin by a river, or in the mountains, to give myself that kind of space — prioritizing myself in a very central way. But like most of you, my life doesn’t work like that, at least right now. Right now, I need to be at home; right now, someone needs me in a real and practical way; right now, I do not have the means to do such a lovely thing. One day I might, but right now I do not.

barefaced me, ready to begin

I know myself, I know who I am and how I work. I know the ways in which I’m strong, and I know my weaknesses. I know how and when I’ll stumble, I know how clever I can be about setting myself up to fail (c’mon, you do that too, we all do). I know that for me, it’s important to set up my 40-day project gently at first, to make it as simple as possible that I’ll continue with it and not bail on myself. That said, it’s also important that I remind myself of the importance of doing the small things even if I’m not in the mood, even if it’s slightly inconvenient, and if it conflicts with something else, not to sacrifice myself automatically, which is the old mother trick. And that said, it’s also true that I have a somewhat busy life, with weekly unchangeable appointments, with appointments already set up for fun things with friends or with myself, and a lot of work to get done. So I’ll have to find a balance of staying true to my project and myself, which may sometimes mean being flexible about the when of things.

I started by thinking about what I want from this project, from a 20,000 foot perspective. I want to regain the centered feeling I had, I want to breathe and eat more mindfully (I’ve never been good at this, ever), I want to regain the self-possessed feeling I had, and I want to regain the feeling of well-being I had. I want to regain and expand my ability to be slow: to walk slowly, to speak more slowly, to respond more slowly, to move out from my center more slowly. I was gaining on that last summer, and somehow I lost ground.

So I begin the first week of my 40-day project simply, but with a specific regimen. Me being me, I’ve put these in my Outlook calendar as high-priority tasks, with pop-up reminders. They’re labeled “restoration” and colored pale blue. For this week, the tasks are very simple and relatively easy to accomplish mindfully.

Get up at 7am
Drink a small glass of water before anything else
Drink half as much coffee (i.e., one cup)
Write my day’s intention
Write one email of love and gratitude to someone
Dress and groom (working at home it’s so easy to stay in pajamas!)
Have one cup of green tea and begin work no later than 8am

Eat breakfast
Drink a glass of water
Breathe for 3 minutes

Walk fast for 20 minutes
Take a photograph
Drink a glass of water

Breathe for 3 minutes
Drink a glass of water
Have a cup of green tea

Breathe for 3 minutes
Have a cup of green tea

Have dinner – eat slowly and mindfully

Think about what went well during the day
Think about gratitude
Set intention for sleep and for peace

One thing that makes my life unpredictable is that two days a week my husband works until ~9pm, so we eat dinner when he finishes. I often do things with friends those evenings — and often have dinner with them — so making specific plans (or time-specific plans) about dinner is dicey. For this week, I’m just planning to focus on the how of dinner instead of the what of it. Another thing that makes dinner a little difficult is that my husband does all the cooking and he favors high-fat and/or fried foods. I’ll cross that Rubicon in the second week of my project. For now, I’m just focusing on how I eat.

Starting here, what do you want to remember?
How sunlight creeps along a shining floor?
What scent of old wood hovers, what softened
sound from outside fills the air?

Will you ever bring a better gift for the world
than the breathing respect that you carry
wherever you go right now? Are you waiting
for time to show you some better thoughts?

When you turn around, starting here, lift this
new glimpse that you found; carry into evening
all that you want from this day. This interval you spent
reading or hearing this, keep it for life–

What can anyone give you greater than now,
starting here, right in this room, when you turn around?

William Stafford, “You Reading This, Be Ready”

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