A gathering of dishes in the sink. The yard begging for water under a scorching desert sun. A litter box of pits and dunes, crusty nuggets buried amidst the mounds. Dust bunnies slinking across the floor in a race to the front of the room with the blast of the orange industrial fan at their backs. Sparrows swinging on an empty feeder outside the window.
These are the dailies.
These things I get caught up in consume my whole life if I let them.
The P.I.C. started a new job last week, and I’d told myself I’d finish that podcast course, order the equipment and have my setup up squared in no time. I’d start recording that audiobook and find an editor, further my latest manuscript every day and edit the one that’s been shoved to the side once again.
Instead, I did the dailies.
Swiffered those dust buns, made the bed and washed every dish throughout the day. Grabbed groceries. Made meals. Spent the last hours of fading light watering the garden and pots and red brick planters I’d stacked by hand that now sagged into each other after three years of water wear and gravity acting as a natural binder.
Life expects so much of us before we even sit down to work.
A few leftover dishes greeting me first thing in the morning was enough to tug me down a rabbit hole of todos. And I had let them, for more years of my life than I could even admit to myself. After five years of “just writing”—I felt there was little to show for it. A manuscript, sure. 42 blog posts. 171 micro blogs—99 of which will be launched as a collection in two months' time. Undoubtedly, the writing had improved.
I like the writer I’m becoming.
But I still feel this aching pit of starving inadequacy for not having more accolades, a bestseller or a large following. I often feel invisible, like a greedy gnome joyfully obsessed with knitting socks day in and day out until its tree-trunk home is packed to brimming with booties of every color—spilling out the tiny arched door and bursting from the windows like meat tendrils through a sausage press. So, many, socks. Out in the forest, never to be seen or worn, only to be gazed upon indifferently by woodland animals. Meanwhile, the gnome has buried itself in its own creation.
Without breaking the seal of sharing, creation loses its value.
Or does it?
I had hundreds of journals that held within them everything from food tracking to poetry, the deepest, most cutting personal experiences . . . I kept them because they showed me the progress I seemed to have a hard time acknowledging. Their reflection was invaluable.
Countless creations exist just for us, and that’s enough.
My journals also clued me in on how much has remained the same. Like this desire to Just Write. To make a living writing. To experience a level of success that financially supports me in continuing to create. To transcend Hobbydom and get fucking paid.
Gawwwddd, the breakthrough seemed slow in coming, the chores endless and the speed of time faster. And here I was . . . still writing about chores!
That was fucking life, though, wasn’t it?
A million tasks involving pet care, body upkeep, food prep . . . and if you’re a plant person—forgeddaboutit! If you have kids—I honor beyond honor you for the time deficit in which you operate.
Life requires tons of tending.
Where does that leave one who dreams of a sustainable, financially supported creative life?
It feels more stressful than freeing to ditch the dishes altogether or not address the dailies that keep life manageable and the space clear enough in which to create.
The constant overwhelm of life itself can be the greatest, most present challenge for those of us that feel this world so deeply, that read into every nuance . . . whose sensitive nervous systems are taking on much, much more by merely being alive in our bodies.
The better I’ve come to know myself, the more my sensitivity has strengthened. I’m more in tune with my Self and every element of my experience, which heightens my creative capacity and also makes life more affecting. Little things feel big. Everything feels big.
This way of being calls for gentle diligence to return to simplicity.
Engaging in social interactions that serve, uplift and nurture (versus superficial ties or obligations that drain us) with careful attention to what settings feed us best: one-on-one, intimate groups, etc.
Nourishing with healthy, clean food.
Carving alone time.
Incorporating spaciousness (aka downtime or decompression) in between over-stimulating activity and indulgences like eating out and large gatherings.
Reducing the dailies required to keep one’s life running in order to accommodate the need to do nothing or produce less.
Planning ahead so the calendar is never full, leaving time for merely living.
This is the work.
Self-care becomes a way of life for the sensitive to shine.
That’s why I’m still writing about chores! Because it takes me that much more self-awareness, focus, redirection, tweaking and tending to simply operate and move forward, to function in a way others may consider baseline “normal”—for me, a world of work goes into reaching this place. The place where I can create something of substance, that’s aligned with my soul, beyond the dailies that keep life livable.
At some point, we have to give ourselves permission to do what works for us, regardless of how it measures up to society’s standards or compares to anyone else.
Sometimes I get snared in the comparison trap (This is instant when I dive into any social media feed.). I hide out. Shut down. Avoid. Procrastinate.
It all seems really big and bad in my head. Like, You’re a loser that can’t get your shit together. How are you still doing the same damn things that keep you stuck in the same damn cycles? You’ll never be able to do what you want to do because of the way you are. Shit gets dark.
Then, a little movement. I get outside. Type some words. Walk. It doesn’t take much for life to feel very, very different from the tragedy I constructed by beating up on myself.
I don’t know it all. Fat pockets of experience are foggy or confused—what do they mean, what am I missing, what’s the higher perspective? It all takes time to realize. Regardless of what’s piled on the plate, there’s no other way but through.
We must inch along, doing it badly, learning slowly, repeating what feel like fuck-ups. Cuddling ourselves, forgiving it all and fashioning a life that embraces our sensibilities so we can make them work to our advantage. Because there will always be dailies that demand our time and energies. Just as the pull of our soul will be felt and we must be ready to let it take us. We can still do it tiny, tip-toeing and at the speed of molasses.
It counts, it matters and we’re getting there.