By now I should know to laugh at myself when I make plans. I am famous in my family for my detailed “To-Do Lists,” but in recent months – years even – the quiet moment in which I actually write the list is followed by a storm which blows the ambitious slip of paper right out of my hand. The most important tasks do end up getting done somehow in stolen moments, but my grand plans become outdated before they ever start. I am tired of saying, “when life settles down;” tired of starting “Day One” of a new plan; tired, in general.
We, as a family, have weathered some terrible storms. In the face of the tragic loss of my beloved nephew we have had to learn how to take each day as it comes, one day at a time. Each day has its own challenges. We have had medical crises, emotional abysses, physical challenges. Through it all we have learned to nurture ourselves and each other, even to laugh again, and we have received loving support from everyone we know.
In the quiet moments between the storms, though, it is sometimes hard to move.
It turns out that I am good in a crisis. In an emergency I am good at focusing on what needs to be done. In hospitals, ERs, doctors’ offices, during moves and mourning, I am 100% there. But in those days and months after the storms I sit surrounded by the debris of life and I cannot move. That is when I make those To-Do Lists, and then listlessly pick up the TV remote, or curl up with a book.
Today could have been one of those days, but recent health scares have gotten my attention: I need to exercise. So today I made a promise to do one active thing for myself first, before doing anything else. Today I would go for a swim.
I did it. I got myself to the gym. I remembered to bring my swimsuit. I asked to share a lane with the least intimidating swimmer. I slowly, steadily went from one end of the pool to the other. I reminded myself that the first six lengths are the hardest. I promised myself to do twenty. I kept going. I stopped at thirty when I remembered that I had forgotten to put sunscreen on my face. Two steps forward and one step back in the “taking care of myself” journey. But I did it and I felt good. I even felt good enough to write, a goal that had fluttered away on a To-Do List long ago.
I am not making plans to swim every day or to write every day. I know to laugh at those kinds of plans. I do promise to do what I can, when I can, to take care of myself so that I can weather the storms.
Today is not Day One of a new plan. Today is just One Day, one good day.