Lighten Up is about peeking at life through a new lens and examining the lighter side of things - world events, family and friends, job stress, pet ownership - for relief from the challenges that weigh us down. Even though we don't shy away from the tough stuff here, we value the humor, the joy, and the absurdity of life. Most of all, Lighten Up promises some thought-provoking conversation, a little laughter, and just a pinch of reality thrown in for flavor.
Last night I heard myself telling a new writer friend that I'm bummed to be getting a haircut this Saturday afternoon "because I have nothing to do, nowhere to go, no one to see afterward." In my world, haircut day is pretty much a guaranteed kick ass hair day. And since even mediocre hair days are a rarity lately, I hate wasting a really good (costly but worth it) hair day by going home to clean my apartment and walk my (center-of-my-world but totally uninterested in my hair) Schnoodle. The irony is, I am usually totally uninterested in my hair, too. I've never been a high-maintenance girly-girl. I'm a wash-comb-style-spray woman who avoids mirrors at all costs and can barely be bothered to slap on a little mascara on my way out the door every morning. Which is why I think this is probably about more than a haircut - a good thing, I guess, since emotionally stable epiphanies and business-as-usual conversations don't generally make for very blog-worthy posts.
I'm thinking - as I explained to my new writer friend, who had just finished sharing the sad complexities of her ongoing custody battle from her first marriage - that this is really about a sort of vague, planned, scripted existence. For the past two years, I have used my marriage to my recently-completed Masters thesis to justify what has actually been a decades-long sort of self-imposed isolation. Like a character out of an Oz of my own creation, my days involve getting up early (think 4am), working long hours, writing during every free moment, and showering the Beckett Schnoodle with all the play time and love time and couch time he demands. But now that my thesis is basically done, my Masters program is winding down, the nicer spring weather has shortened my work commute just slightly, and even Beckett is often more content to annihilate a cardboard box than he is in my attention and affection, I find that time has opened up a little bit, forcing me to admit that I am not only at a loss as to how I should fill the minutes, the hours, the days, the months, but that, often, I don't actually have the desire to fill time in at all. Fantastic. Is this depression? Would a Prozac or an iron-heavy diet and some Vitamin D supplementation fix this? And why did I ever stop doing yoga and meditation? I probably convinced myself I didn't have time.
Always the list maker/scheduler, I recently attempted to address this problem (because I do see it as a problem) by separating life's components into categories to better focus on each of them with "mindful intention" (a phrase I am just now learning to appreciate as the most effective route to personal fulfillment). But, as usual, I haven't really followed through. To apply one of my many kitchen/food-related analogies here, I am kind of that person who takes out the recipe, buys all the ingredients, then craps out on the actual baking and dishes-washing stuff, even though I really do long for the finished product - a cake, a batch of cookies, a turkey dinner, whatever it is I crave - to simply materialize and satisfy me. I wonder if I'm alone with this "I know what I need to do to get what I want but I often don't want to do it" syndrome. My sense is that it's pretty universal, but when it's happening, when I'm actively engaged in hiding from my own truth, it feels very specific to me and very much along the lines of "nobody would understand this." Hence, more self-imposed isolation.
Anyway, short of solving what appears to be a lifelong, multi-layered dilemma with myself, I think I have come up with a plan for tomorrow. I've been wanting to see the movie 42 for some reason. I don't like baseball, and I'm not a particular fan of the actors in this movie, but every time I see the previews, my reaction is simply, singularly: "I really want to see that." So, counter-intuitive as it may seem to go sit alone in a dark theater as a way of maximizing a good hair day (well, hair afternoon), I'm just going to go enjoy myself. Because I actually do have the time. And because it will plop me dead center in a room full of people in a kind of faux social engagement. And because - added bonus - I plan to stash my own snacks (think rice cakes and fruit) into my over-sized purse in an act of purely delicious rebellion. After all, why waste a perfectly awesome hair day by following the rules. I live by enough of those, and it rarely pays off.
Happy Friday to you. I hope you find some time - or make some time - to celebrate something about yourself today.