The Timing Of It All

Consider how your mastery over your own day might change if you had no social media input before and after 8 o’clock. This would include news, headlines, and advertising. None before 8 am. None after 8 pm. A do not disturb setting for your mind and body. Imagine it.

I find it to be a game changer for stress management. What do I really need to know before 8 am? If it’s that important it will still be important at 8:01 am, won’t it? Why do I need to worry about it before then? Is an emotional response really necessary before then? Consider how your day might be different if it didn’t start with someone else’s words. If your first activity of the day wasn’t to digest someone else’s input, product, content, concerns; how might the day’s burdens or joys shift?

Same with evening. How might your rest be different if it wasn’t compromised by a thousand shoulds, wants, and ought tos? Consider how it might feel to go to bed at night feeling that you need nothing other than sleep. Not another life. Not another purchase. Not less or more of things. Just rest. Just sleep. Afraid you’ll miss out on something if you don’t check everything before you sleep? You won’t miss it. It’ll still be there tomorrow. If not, it wasn’t worth losing the benefit of rest.

You are not required to constantly monitor. I am not required to constantly monitor. There is value in being informed and educated but I find less benefit in monitoring everything every minute. Even when things need to change it is awfully hard to be creative and worry at the same time. Creating solutions requires perspective. Perspective requires space.

I helped myself break of the morning habit by refusing to charge my phone at night. If I don’t charge it the night before the first place it needs to go in the morning is plugged into the charger. Place the charger away from where I want to spend the morning so I can’t reach it. At night, don’t take it to bed with me. No TV in bed. No TV in the morning. Notifications turned off on tablets and computers during my designated quiet hours so that if I do want to read or write, I won’t get sucked in. It’s a whole strategy of mental and emotional wellness.

But the payoff is the way magic can find a way in because it isn’t being squeezed out by 24 hour input. I used to get irritated with myself every time I’d walk into a room (every room) and find a plate. Small yellow plates — saucers, really. From small meals and snacks. I set them down on ledges and edges and corners of things and forget them on my way to do something else. Come back hours later to find them littering the house like …

Like what?

Like offerings I made to myself. Evidence of my food offerings. My devotion to nourishment. Not dirty dishes laying all over the house. A dozen tiny altars to Me and my wellness. My creativity. My luminosity. My divinity. Cold coffee cups too. Water vessels too. In this room I performed a wellness ritual and fed myself. Tended my body. Nurtured my gifts. All these small bowls and plates were offerings at a shrine. The place I watched three documentaries in one day. The place I wrote a blog post. The place I bathed myself. The place I changed my mind. The place my mind changed me.

I notice a direct correlation between protected rest hours at the bookends of the day and my ability to find and recognize these magic moments throughout the day. A shift away from the crushing task of monitoring the world’s stress, burn-out, depression, anxiety is critical. Planned rest; not neglect. Just a few hours a day; not a whole vacation. So I can walk into a room with dirty dishes in it for the third time today and not lose my shit.

So at the crack of dawn if I wake up with a good idea I can go write about it rather than be confronted with a scroll of memes about how much nurses secretly hate their patients because an algorithm thought I’d want to see it. At the crack of dawn.

So that I can understand I don’t really need the pressure of a fitness tracker. Don’t I have enough pressures? Daily pressures? Seriously, why do I have to volunteer for more?

That’s three things: dishes, time to write on a weekday, reduced pressure.

They sound like such small things but consider the impact of deleting three stressors from the average day. Or rather, letting them fall away. Fade into irrelevance. What do I really need to know at 8:30 pm? I mean, really need? It’s not that nurses can barely contain their contempt for me and they all think this is funny. I’m not sure I ever needed to know this. But I put it into my brain and now I can’t unknow it. At 7 am, when I’d rather be writing poetry or a novel or a brilliant insight, like the dirty dish offering plates.

I hope you’re reading this at a reasonable hour. I’m writing it now because the sun just came up and I haven’t opened any apps on my phone yet. It’s charging. There’s a yellow saucer sitting on the ottoman in the living room. I found it this morning. Full of crumbs. Left from last night; my last food offering of the day. There’s another one across the room on an end table behind me. Left it there a few minutes ago because I wanted to go to the computer to write these words before going to the kitchen again.

Beside me, cold coffee cup. I smile when I see them now rather than get angry. The dryer is running. The robot vacuum cleaner is bumping into chair legs. Other than the usual heat advisory I don’t know what’s happening in the world today. Such as what fresh fuckery the Karens are up to. Today I’ll get to start the day having written these words and that’s rare for a Wednesday morning. I’ll check in on the Karens at 8:01 am to find their fuckery much less relevant now that I’ve started the day this way.

First ritual of the day: food. Second ritual of the day: creativity. Third ritual of the day: still not Karen. Also not dirty dishes. It’s not time for that yet.

Be well, friends.

— Mercy

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