Skip to content

Subscribe to Blog via Email

Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and you will receive our stories in your inbox.

Re-evaluating selfishness

Posted in Life & Love

rabbitholeMy hormones get blamed for pretty much anything that is not right with me these days: irritability, low energy or a bad mood are, in my unfair mind, all by products of peri-menopause. A couple of week-ends ago I was lying on the couch, unable to summon any of my muscles to put me upright, and wondering what could have caused such tiredness – then I mentally reviewed everything I had done over the previous three weeks, relentlessly, and my friend Luisa, who happened to call in the middle of my inventory, reminded me that, in the midst of everything else, I had also decided it was time to reorganize the pantry.

I conceded defeat. The pantry project was indeed unnecessary; I was not expecting a surprise visit by the pantry police which, in any case, would have been hard pressed to find expired food or chipped plates. I do this to myself as a lifelong habit of constantly keeping busy, establishing goals and losing track of what is really important. I will be sitting on the couch, reading a book and I will suddenly notice that the slipcover needs washing so I will get up and do it. And on and on, compounded with work, family responsibilities and the remnants of a social life, it all adds up to too much.

This is a problem entirely of my own doing. A few days ago I wrote about the perils of multitasking – it’s not as if I haven’t lived with myself for over 50 years and haven’t previously analyzed my penchant for over-organization or unattainable perfection. But what I have found of late is that it becomes harder to be selfish as we get older. As our life priorities change, and our world becomes less egocentric, my tendency to keep on running, doing or giving of myself, no matter in which area, has increased exponentially.

The upside is that my body is not able to run on fumes, cereal bowls or love, the way it used to and, on occasion, it intimates me to stop. And I have grown wise enough to listen. Which is how I started what I have come to call the “Me Project”: there will be time set aside every week, once a week, for something to do entirely with me, something that gives me pleasure and that is utterly purposeless. And selfish. And it will happen even it means rearranging or canceling an obligation.

Disappearing from view
Disappearing from view

Last week I met with my friend Kim, in front of coffee and a slice of pie (at 4 pm! before dinner!) to kvetch about books, writing, husbands and travel. This week I am taking myself to an art outing, and I really haven’t planned anything further because planning is counter to the point of the exercise. I am interested to see how long it takes me to come up with excuses of why I should be doing something else, and how I will deal with it.

Essentially, I am trying to recreate that feeling of disappearing from view for a little why that is so easily achieved as a child, or in college, before real life takes over – although, that happens to be real life too, enjoyed in smaller chunks perhaps, but not to be obliterated altogether. It’s never to late to reclaim our personal rabbit hole.

Photo C&S – Image of Alice down the rabbit hole found on a photo tag site with no attribution

Share on Facebook

20 Comments

  1. silvia
    silvia

    Glad to read that you’re finally craving for that rabbit hole. Giving for granted that you are an expert on rabbits wonder why and how it took you so long

    March 21, 2014
    |Reply
  2. I’m glad our coffee date was considered one of the fun things! 🙂

    I do take time out for myself and felt especially spoiled yesterday as I lay in my new purchase–a hammock–reading my new book, The Goldfinch. It was amazing, a slight breeze, my doggies napping beside me, a bed sheet covering my toes and tummy. It was heaven.

    Like you though, I’m a clean freak (you must invest in a Swiffer!) and daily tasks often don’t allow me to have those moments.

    When I make my bed, I stop at least five times to put away clothes, dust, organize books. This is one thing I want to work on: start and finish just the bed! It sounds like a small thing, yet I have not accomplished this single task without a created interruption.

    Have fun at the art show!

    March 19, 2014
    |Reply
    • Absolutely familiar with that “interrupted” syndrome. And in our eagerness to do a million things, we end up taking longer…

      March 19, 2014
      |Reply
  3. I applaud you for listening to your body and what it needs, both physically and mentally. There is something unique to our American culture which tells us (especially women, I think) that we must keep up a frantic pace 7 days a week no matter what. Though I’m not well traveled, I’m certain other cultures don’t do the same. Best wishes on your project!

    March 19, 2014
    |Reply
    • They are absolutely not! When I moved to the US I negotiated the same exact vacation package I had in Europe, i.e. 30 days a year, only to find out it was impossible to use them up this side of the pond. For the first few years I was intimadated and went with the flow, then I learnt to care less and would go away 2 to 3 weeks at the time regardless. But now that I work for myself, you are right, I am getting sucked into the American way!

      March 19, 2014
      |Reply
  4. Another commenter mentioned it but it does sound like you need some Artist’s Way in your life at the moment. It’s all about allowing yourself to spend a few hours every week with sketching pencils in a park or by yourself at a museum, no excuses, no justifications, just cuz…

    March 19, 2014
    |Reply
    • You will be glad to know I took this a little bit further and booked a trip to NYC, just because. If you have any time in between work and house hunting, do share some unusual places/exhibits or otherwise intriguing locales you could recommend to an out of towner who has been to NY many times. I would love it!

      March 19, 2014
      |Reply
      • I have lost track of the exhibitions on at the moment but a few little spots I would recommend are: La Lanterna di Vittorio, macDougal Street for atmosphere, pizza or just a morning coffee in the enclosed garden, The bar at Crosby Street hotel if you’re feeling a little bit fabulous, Cafe Gitane in the Jane Hotel located in the West Village (which will be my local hangout when I move into that area soon–if I put it out there, it will happen) Then there’s Housing Works Cafe in Crosby St, a slice of old New York where every coffee benefits a good cause and you can buy second hand books–I do a lot of writing in there (I don’t tell just anyone about this special spot :-), tea and a pastry in Once Upon A Tart in Sullivan Street. Are you thinking I drink a lot of tea and generally stuff my face? Check! And make sure to have a wander around the Lower East Side (my hood, sad to be leaving) which is lovely to stroll through during the day: vintage shops, small galleries, coffee shops, bars–but from Thursday night to Sunday night is party central. If you want some Irish soda bread and a Guinness (and why would you not!) St Dymphna’s in St Mark’s Place is cute and homely. The Strand for miles of books, and independent Soho book store Mc Nally Jackson for browsing a great selection and great food too. Pop over to Williamsburg for a day–better still grab a Citibike and cycle across the Williamsburg Bridge. That’ll get you started and hope you have a lovely date with yourself in NYC! Report back x

        March 20, 2014
        |Reply
        • You are awesome! Spending three days with the husband on the Upper East Side and three days on my own downtown – can’t wait. Plenty of inspiration here. Will definitely report back.I am planning to get some writing done too.

          March 21, 2014
          |Reply
  5. How I can relate to this! My feelings exactly! I do cherish the occasional disappearing act enormously!

    March 19, 2014
    |Reply
  6. I can so relate to this. I love the idea of escaping down a personal rabbit hole. I may just steal that phrase.

    March 19, 2014
    |Reply
  7. Sounds perfect- the ‘me’ time that is. Reminds me of the Artist’s Dates I arranged for myself when I was following Julia Cameron’s book, The Artists Way.
    Can’t wait to hear what you get up to in your life pauses. Do tell!

    March 19, 2014
    |Reply
    • Funny you mentioned the Julia Cameron’s book. I found it again while going through all my books, preparing yet another pile for the library and I mulled over for a long time before deciding to let it go. Some of the teachings stuck and I should use them more often. Thanks for reminding me.

      March 19, 2014
      |Reply
      • You’re welcome x I found it so useful. You are so brave to give it away!!

        March 19, 2014
        |Reply
  8. Great post! I burnt myself out last week and decided I needed to unplug for a few days. Recharge the batteries. I’m so glad I listened to what my body was telling me instead of pushing through and taking on more. A good rest is exactly what I needed and now I feel more alive and energetic! B xx

    March 19, 2014
    |Reply
  9. I think it’s a great idea, but for me pre-booking tickets to a performance, or an exhibition would ensure I keep to my promise, even when I’m feeling tooooo tired (or unmotivated) to move those muscles off the sofa 🙂

    March 18, 2014
    |Reply

Got some thoughts? We would love to hear what you think

%d bloggers like this: