Since Trump's election, the urgency of my work in environmentalism has been overwhelming. Long before Trump, I was prone to panic but lately, every few days brings with it a fresh spiral into eco-anxiety. I love our world so freaking much. I love the seasons. I love the diversity of species and seeds and stories. I don't want to lose what gives us life.
So of course, I've been convinced that I don't have time to make a mistake or to waste a moment. And it's very draining. And it's not helping me do better by our precious planet or the people I care about. That's why I sat down and wrote this list of things that I actually don't have time for.
Because I do have time to mess up. I have time to be silly and stupid and spend hours watching Jane the Virgin. I have time to read all sweet Sunday and take aimless hikes and treat myself to a hot chocolate on the way home because WHY NOT?
But everything below? That's some stuff I don't have time for:
I love that Maya Angelou quote—"I did then what I knew how to do. Now that I know better, I do better"—because to me, it helps free me from the self-hate that I feel about how I didn't give my ex the sufficient space that he needed after our breakup. A year and a half later, I'm still angry at myself for failing to be "better." And I'm even angrier that I can't forgive myself. I desperately want to let go of that deep fear that I am a flawed and fundamentally unlovable person.
But that self-hate doesn't heal or help. I was working then with the emotional toolkit I had. Now that I know better, I do do better. I look at my sweet self—full of love, compassion, joy, hope, bone-deep empathy, soulful drive—and think I am stronger, more thoughtful, and more generous because I sometimes did things (and continue to) that were vulnerable, impulsive, and driven by fear.
See above. I just have books to write and gardens to tend to and places to BE, man.
MEAN BODY TALK
Thanks to an unending loop of miracles, I am alive. And every time I'm like AM I ACTUALLY REALLY WEIRD LOOKING? I remember that my legs move and my heart beats and my eyes are the same as my father's and for all of those reasons—and a million and one more—I am a seriously lucky duck.
Even when I was a little kid, I was always super clear on what I did want to do and what I didn't. I was remarkably confident in my decisions and comfortable doing my own thing (e.g. telling myself stories as I rode my bike up and down my dead end street until someone came out of their house to interrupt my reverie and I immediately went home to moodily eat a snack). To this day, I have a strong internal compass. I know when I vibe with somebody. I know when I don't. I know when I mean "yes." I know when I mean "no." But so often, I fight against the strength of my inner convictions.
Doubt isn't the same as being unsure. I feel that a lot! To me, doubt is when your heart knows the deal but your mind is afraid. And doubt in my power isn't where I want to put my precious time.
I'm talking about smooches who don't respect your time and guys who tell you to smile and folks who talk over you. That's not something we need to accommodate. Our voices have value.
A few months ago, I was working for a super sexist boss and sucking it up because it was my only reliable source of income. Until one day I decided I did not have to accept this, challenged him at a meeting, quit that afternoon, and shared his sexist comments with the Board of Directors. I didn't want to waste any more of my time working for someone who truly didn't respect me. And because of that, I carved out the space in the weeks that followed to find a job that I love and apply for grants to fund my creative endeavors. It's so scary to put ourselves first but I'm proud that I did.
We will always have time for the things that truly matter. I learn that every evening when I stop myself from working well into the night to make myself a nourishing meal or to go for a sunset hike with my friend. And we can always make more time in our lives by cutting out that stuff that is truly not worth our vital energy. We get this one go (maybe more!) and I want it to be good. Not perfect. But rich in opportunities to learn, love, mess up, make art, and do it all over again? Hell yes. I've got the time for that.