The mist was rising off the water, the birds chirping, the loons looking for breakfast as I sat on the dock trying to keep my mind focused on enjoying my morning cup of tea. I would relish this scene and this hot lovely beverage whether my “to do” list kept interrupting and distracting me or not. It was the last day of my summer vacation at a lakehouse in western Maine and my head was whirling as we had to finish laundry, pack up, clean our room, attend to a few work emails, enjoy breakfast before 10am so as to avoid summer Fridays traffic and get to NYC before dark. My husband and I could do it with efficient management and strategic delegation of duties. I just knew it, and it was going to be the perfectly executed day. I would spend just one more minute clearing my head and sipping this tea. Then I would wake him up. Ten more breath cycles with complete attention on the inhalation and exhalation. Absorbing the sights, the smells the caress of a slight breeze, the world waking up on a small lake as the seasons showed a hint of turning. I would soak up every ounce of relaxation because I had places to go and things to do.
Ten breaths slipped into a twenty minute meditation practice. I was starting to feel centered and I justified that clearing my mind would amp up my efficiency for getting up and out. A few sun salutations couldn’t hurt the situation and the laundry could wait. Once I got started moving, I let the movement flow. My husband came to check on me an hour and a half later as I lay in savasana. I was clear, feeling great, open and… guilty; the schedule I had made up in my mind was shot. I failed our imaginary “to do list”. I was so selfish.
And in this moment of feeling guilty about a nourishing morning of self-practice and self-care in a picturesque setting I told my husband these things when he asked how I was. He listened and asked why? “Why would you feel guilty for taking care of yourself?” I don’t know and I don’t know why. It feels deeply programmed that I put the dishes away before my yoga practice; that I answer the phone and a few emails before I take my meditation seat. Ill take care of myself later slides into tomorrow and tomorrow again too often. Why do I frequently put myself second? Am I scared of how happy, centered, grounded and focused I will be? Or how messy my house may become?
No one but me is putting any expectation on myself to be a flexible yogi, happy home maker, successful entrepreneur, dutiful daughter, gracious house guest and savor every minute of every day while also executing super human multi-tasking skills. I alone have the power to prioritize myself, my happiness and the self-care it takes to make it happen.
We didn’t finish the laundry. I skipped the work emails. We enjoyed a leisurely brunch. It only took me four days to give over to vacation mode. We left when we left letting the agenda fall by the wayside. We hit a little traffic, and it didn’t matter, we were actually pretty content.