What I have done in the past month:
Spent four days helping out with the grandkids.
Helped a friend going through a health crisis.
Visited another friend recovering from surgery.
Worked on volunteer projects for two different organizations.
Increased my running routine by almost 25 percent—outdoors, in sometimes wintry weather.
Worked on my family history research.
Finally figured out how to remove years worth of ground-in dirt from the kitchen floor. (Ready? OxiClean!)
Participated in an online class through my synagogue.
Increased the dosage of my medicinal Japanese knotweed supplement by four drops, one drop at a time.
What I have done in the past eight months:
Started running again after 10 years of inactivity, forced by chronic illness.
Paused the running practice due to injury, then restarted a month later.
Maintained and built that practice, three times a week, for six months and counting.
Started weekly workouts with a personal trainer, gradually increasing my strength and endurance.
Endured a summer of way too many medical appointments.
Welcomed a new grandson into the world—including holding him during his bris!
Spent many days away from home, helping the grandkids and their parents.
Continued co-leading one volunteer project and took on another.
Visited my brother in Pittsburgh.
Avoided getting Covid when my husband had it.
Planned a sibling trip to Florida, canceled because a sibling had Covid, rescheduled for next month.
Started planning an anniversary trip to Ireland.
Moved my morning wake-up time 45 minutes earlier.
Made progress—imperfect, uneven, with a lot of backsliding—on my goals of getting to bed by 11pm and not eating at night.
Found a new psychiatrist.
Roughly doubled the dosage of my medicinal Chinese skullcap supplement, a few drops at a time.
Increased the dosage of my medicinal Japanese knotweed supplement by 20 drops, a few drops at a time.
What I tend to focus on when I think about my life:
The people I’m not helping enough.
The fitness levels I have not yet attained.
The cleaning and chores that remain undone.
The pile-up in my inbox.
The yoga practice that fell victim to the pandemic, and that I have yet to revive.
The writing I have not been doing.
In short, I focus on how much I’m not getting done, and how much more I should be doing. The same old burden I have been trying to shift for the past eleven-plus years—ever since I realized, in one startling moment of insight, that I view myself as fundamentally not good enough.
But wait. Things are not the same as they were eleven years ago. My inner critic is much quieter than it used to be, less harsh, more reasonable. I have learned to talk to myself more kindly and remind myself that other people view me in a far gentler light. I spend less time judging myself and more time arguing against that inner prosecutor: See, Your Honor, I’m doing great! Look at everything I’m managing to do.
It’s true that I’m not satisfied with my accomplishments. By and large, though, I am happy with them, even proud of them.
Seven years ago, I wrote that my sense of self was a house built on a weak foundation. Illness kept me from the activities and accomplishments that formed my identity. My House of Deeds collapsed. I had to dismantle it and rebuild the foundation, stone by stone.
For a couple more years, my health kept getting worse and the demolition continued. Finally, five years ago, things started moving in a better direction. In the past two years, I have been able to start building a new house on that stronger foundation.
Some of the timbers are salvaged from the old house: running, for example, and synagogue activities. Some elements are new, like grandparenthood and trying to be nice to myself.
A friend who does way more than I do to help other people tells me, “You’re a very nurturing person.” I am trying to take that in, mix it into the plaster of my rebuilt walls, and allow it to become part of my identity. One drop at a time.
What is the Mary Oliver Challenge? Glad you asked. You can read about it here.
One thought on “One Drop At A Time”
Yay you girlfriend. You go girl. You’re an inspiration to me. Much lov