Giving myself permission to do less, be different

I run a lot of errands and keep a lot of plates spinning. People often tell me they don’t know where I get my energy or how I find time to do all the things I do. I find time by moving at breakneck speed a lot of the time, which, at times, is my preferred rate of speed. And at times when it isn’t, it’s a grueling grind.

I’m trying to get to a place where I’m giving myself permission to do different things than what’s expected of me, and to do less when I can. I feel like I deserve it somehow and I’m spending so much time chasing shit, I’m losing the ability to relax and enjoy the good moments in life. And enjoy them the way I want.

My lung wheeze is back, thanks to the bitter cold temps, and has shut down running for me for an additional unknown time. Running indoors right now is not something I have time for. I can run at the gym at work, but I am working half a day two days this week and will need to be working most of the rest of the time that I’m there, including at lunch the other days, so that’s out. And the drive to my gym is treacherous and long. 25 minutes over very dangerously pothole-filled roads, like a war zone. I keep the membership open thinking it’s an emergency back-up if I have nowhere else to work out, but I couldn’t tell you the last time I was there. Been a year or so, I guess. I used to use it as a way to get out of the apartment when I was still living with D’s Dad – any excuse to get out from under that tension. Anyway so no running for awhile, and more hitting the inhaler, which doesn’t work very well and just makes me feel like I’ve had too much caffeine, or coke that was stepped on too many times.

Today I did have a lot of errands to do, and the boy generally enjoys accompanying me on all these trips. Drop off the recycling, because I live in an apartment so we aren’t important enough for city pick-up. Go to the grocery. I had to go to the title bureau to take care of something about my car, and explained the concepts of loans and car ownership to my son on the way there. He asked some good questions and didn’t quite grasp how it worked, but I think he’s starting to get that things cost money, and that you can’t buy big things all things at once. Drugstore and a couple of other things. I convinced him to take an early nap with me, which we cannot refer to as nap anymore as he insists he no longer takes them. But the electric blanket and snuggling seduced us both.

In the afternoon, we went down to the grand opening party of a new theater building in town. It was vibrant and buzzy and fun, and the sun was shining really brightly and wonderfully, though it was bitter cold out. We toured the space and I imparted more of my mostly-worthless knowledge to my son, about what they do in the scene shop and how the fly weight system works to raise and lower curtains and such, and about hanging & focusing of lights. He pretended to be shy for about a half second and then spent the remainder of the afternoon on the stage, playing with the props and costumes and masks that were set out for children to play with, and hooking up with a young boy, the son of a friend of mine, who he ran all around the stage about three million times. I was tired just looking at him, tearing across the matte black floor, squealing with delight, dragging around props, happy to have a playmate who wanted to frolic. I talked parent stuff and theater stuff with a couple of people, and realized how much we have all changed, me and my theater brethren. So much older now, and so many of us parents. No longer chasing the hottest part with the hottest looking cast or trying to be a fascinating ingenue. I haven’t been in a show long enough to actually receive reviews in several years now, and my future as a performer is bleaker than ever in terms of time on stage – I can’t hire a sitter for weeks upon weeks of rehearsal and performance, so full-length shows are basically out for me now, and for the foreseeable future. A sad but certain cost of splitting with D’s Dad, and one I knew would come to pass. I’m ok with it, and I’m not. I’m glad to have the opportunities I do have to keep my hand in the game. An open mic night here, a benefit performance or staged reading there. Now might be the time to get back into getting new headshots and getting an agent so I can go back to pursuing commercial and voice over and industrial work, since my day job offers more flexibility than any other I’ve had. But all I can see when I look in the mirror is, “Who would want to hire this old fat lady?” I don’t have that conventional Midwestern Mom look so I wouldn’t be cast as that much, but what DO I look like. Maybe if I lose 20 more pounds, I will give it a shot. But not now. I’m somewhere between caterpillar and butterfly and all that is is ugly when you look at it.

Just tonight, I decided not to rush to complete an entry for a writing contest with an unreasonably short entry deadline (especially considering my busy week next week), and for which I had nothing prepared and almost no time to devote to the project. I could have forced something to happen and stressed myself out getting it done, but it just didn’t feel right. Instead of pushing through that, I gave myself permission NOT to push through it, and to look for things that are mutually beneficial, not things that make me feel like I’ve gone to get the apples of Hesperides just to get a losing Powerball ticket.

The lung thing is winter telling me to slow the fuck down. I am listening. I like the slower moments. I’m wringing the quality, joy and love out of them, and they are warming my heart, even on these dark, cold nights.


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