I want it to mean something.
But my head is full of cobwebs. I feel confused and overwhelmed. I can't seem to sort the significant from the mundane.
It's not always like this. But right this minute, after all these years of living, I feel like I don't have a clue.
I have been riding an emotional roller coaster the past couple of weeks. I participated in two high school graduation ceremonies - I am really gonna miss my seniors - and survived a couple of sad anniversaries. I have deleted text and email messages from two ex-boyfriends I have begged not to contact me while stumbling down the rocky path of a new relationship. I am looking forward to a week of vacation with Nathan in June (paid in full), but there is a lot to do to get ready to go. Meanwhile, I am also trying to figure out how I am going to manage my bills during the month of July, when I will have no income from piano teaching because I have been summoned for a three-week stint as a juror in district court.
All this in addition to my regularly scheduled life.
My daily to-do list is long, and every item is vital. Write morning pages. Add 500 words to the novel. Put in an hour at the gym. Make sure the kids get where they need to go and have what they need. Shop and cook and clean and do laundry. Take care of the dog.
The truth? Okay, not EVERYTHING is a priority. Cooking and cleaning are pretty low on the list most days.
Because there is so much to do, and because it is all up to me, I cram as much as I can into each morning. I rush from one activity to the next, and usually find myself blow drying my hair as my first piano student arrives each afternoon. I feel rushed and depleted before my work day really begins.
The hours pass quickly when I am teaching. My students inspire and rejuvenate me. But I run at high speed until nine or ten o'clock every evening. By that time, although I am physically exhausted, my brain is still wide awake, and sleep is elusive. Most nights I attempt to compensate for this by having a glass or two of wine. This usually helps, but afterwards, I tend to wake up in the wee hours and have difficulty going back to sleep. At some point, I stop fighting, get out of bed, and have a cup or two or three of coffee.
You can see how this might turn into a vicious cycle.
I have other bad habits, too. For one thing, I eat too many hot wings.
Eating ONE hot wing is too many. Officially, I am a pescetarian, which makes anything food item that comes from the flesh of a chicken off limits. Occasionally, though, I lose control; I find myself at Taco Mac seated in front of a huge plate of Three Mile Island wings and an ice cold brew. I pretend that hot wings are vegetables.
Less frequently, I am able to convince myself that bacon is a vegetable, too. Ah, the guilt...
But I digress.
I know I am on a fast road to burnout. Maybe I've already reached the destination. I'm just not sure what to do about it. Because, in fact, I need to do MORE.
I need to write 1000 words a day instead of 500. I need to practice the piano more consistently. I need to find an hour or two each day to work on my jewelry designs; I think I could sell my stuff, and the extra income would really help out. I need to finish the afghan I am knitting for my brother. (It was supposed to be his Christmas present. Last year. I'm sorry, bro.)
I need to deep clean and de-clutter my entire house. I need to do the same in the my garage. I need to arrange for some household and lawn maintenance before the gutters fall off (I'm not exaggerating) and the homeowner's association sends me a letter about the rest. But there's no time. And there's less money.
Sometimes I feel like I am on the verge of coming apart at the seams. It's a cliche, I know. But it really fits.
I haven't managed to come up with any answers. But maybe I should follow my own advice.
Not long ago ago, one of my piano students was playing a work in progress for me. She has been taking lessons at my studio for just a couple of months, and is largely self-taught. Despite this, she is an excellent sight reader, and her sensitivity and musicianship are remarkable. After just a week or two of practice, she was playing this particular piece as nearly perfectly as is humanly possible. I was mesmerized.
Then, towards the end, she stumbled over a note. One little note. An untrained ear probably wouldn't even have noticed. But she whispered to herself: "Stupid."
I couldn't let it slide. I stopped her immediately. Joking, I threatened to wash her mouth out with soap. Seriously, I asked her if she would ever call her best friend "stupid" for making a simple mistake. "No," she replied, sheepish. I told her she should treat herself at least as well as she would treat her best friend. It was a turning point in our relationship.
Now, the question I need to ask myself is this: would I push my best friend to set unachievable goals, then berate her for not accomplishing them?
Of course not.
So I think it's time to back off on myself a little. To set the bar somewhat lower on work days, and to schedule time for some of those other admittedly important things on my days off. To limit the caffeine and avoid alcohol. To stop exercising when my body is screaming in pain and to sleep when it tells me it is tired.
And maybe it wouldn't hurt to eat more hot wings. And bacon.