• mbgarvey

My Daily Basics, Sort Of

This is the daily to do list I made at the very beginning of our shelter in place order. I knew I needed some structure, as we all do. So I dutifully typed up, and printed out, my colorful visual reminder of what my daily routine was going to look like. I pinned it to the kitchen bulletin board as a subtle suggestion that perhaps we should all be thinking about how we want to manage our days and what we could be focused on, as well as to keep me on task. My 17 year old’s only reaction was, “wow, that seems like a long list.’

“No, it’s not, “ I told her. “It’s, as the list says, just The Basics.” I’m pretty sure she just shrugged and walked away. Some things aren’t worth debating, after all. It's very likely there was an eye roll, which in hindsight, seems reasonable.

(Number 2/Exercise seems a little ridiculous right now.  I love working out, so I didn't think this was at the time.  But I really did mean morning and evening works outs in the basement, in addition to my social distancing walks or bakeries. Needless to say:  nowhere close on that objective).

(Number 2/Exercising twice a day seems especially ridiculous right now. I love working out, so I didn't think it was at the time. Needless to say: nowhere close on that objective).

So. Not one day have I done everything on my “Basics” list. Not one. Even on my better days. It definitely makes me feel like I'm under-functioning.

Yet I have spent a lot of time talking with clients about self-compassion and being gentle with yourself during this unprecedented time. We really don’t know how to navigate this, and we are learning as we go. We need to give ourselves a pass when we need it. This is not a time that we are going to be wildly productive, creative or motivated. Nearly everyone I talk to, personally and professionally, is struggling with concentration, sleeping, following through even on the things they usually enjoy. They have anxious thoughts. And grief. A lot of grief, about our individual and collective losses, big and small. Nearly all things as we know them are disrupted, and so are many of the routines that keep us grounded.

Though we may be struggling, this is not an indictment that we are not doing it right. It is simply that we are struggling. I think when we take a step back, take a deep breath, and look at strengths and competencies, we will notice there are so many things that we are doing well. Each of us, and as a community. We see so many small acts of compassion, extensions of generosity and kindness, humility and grace, and truly heroic efforts, as well. There is a great deal of resiliency among us.

It’s okay to have a Basics list. Wise even to have a few core things that anchor you. But maybe just pick a few things each day that you feel are really important to do on that particular day. If you go above and beyond that, well, that’s icing. Be kind to yourself about what you get done and how you are managing your stuff, whatever your stuff looks like. We aren’t going to do better or be more accountable by beating ourselves up for not being at our best. One foot in front of the other right now.