Doing Days

By Alison April 17, 2024 6 Min Read

Though I am not sure it can be relied upon quite yet, Spring has sprung here and this evening there is a wood pigeon sitting on the garden fence merrily cooing the kind of melody that makes me think all is well with the world, despite the fact that the garden is now more of a wasteland than it is the manicured lawn it once was, and he could well be divulging my gardenly misdemeanours to all and sundry in preparation for pigeonly intervention. Or at least reporting me to Peter next door who may at anytime turn up with clippers in hand to attend to the hedge dividing our gardens.

I woke up full of, not so much can-do, as must-do. For life has become feathery around the edges. Frayed and while somewhat gorgeous in its shabby, somewhat accidentally distressed effort, still not quite what it should be in the aftermath of a long few weeks. So I lay awake last night making a big mind list. All those things I can no longer neglect despite what else may be going on. All those things I have tucked out of sight while I managed all manner of other things. The kind of things that could quickly escalates from must-be done’s into done-to-me’s if I carry on pretending they don’t exist, as let it hereby be said that there are various things in this life that exact revenge and have hissy fits if a person takes it in to her head to ignore them too long.

Though it would be easy to get a saucepan and bash myself around the head with it for losing momentum in the way that I have recently, it is important that we always, always remind ourselves that none of us are actively sabotaging our own lives, but rather we are managing as best we can with the emotional resources available to us in any given moment, with the ebb and flow of physical and spiritual energy, and indeed with the endless need to keep re-affirming our commitment to the things that matter or else they slip away from us while we are busy doing other things.

So I made a BIG list and found it jam packed with blood tests I haven’t been for and ants making anthills in the gaps in my skirting boards I have not yet attended to because I’m worrying ant-powder will kill the cat. My landlady has text to say the clematis on the conservatory wall has gone beautifully bonkers. My diet has gone astray (Come back!), the hoover bag needs changing and the fridge is full of peculiar food and whacky leftovers even I, Queen of the Leftover, cannot fashion into sensible meals, I am paying for things I don’t use and not paying for things I do, the car may need oil, or water or other unguents but I have no idea how to get the lid up, I have completely LOST what amounts to a bin-bag of my own favourite clothes, so can only presume Finn is hob-knobbing around uni in my green camisole and a rather fetching silk shirt, and frankly the front path must be the talk of the neighbourhood.

And that is just for starters. In the back garden, the troublesome drain still spouts water every-time I use the washing machine despite endless effort in rubber gloves and the washing line has declared herself exhausted and droops at the mere sight of a wet towel. My skin is shrivelled with neglect (SHRIVELLED I TELL YOU!) and in something of a first-world drama I am rather ashamed of mentioning, Amazon sent the wrong body lotion to attend to the matter (i.e: not the Caroline Hirons recommended Body Repair I adore), meanwhile the doctor has phoned me twice for heaven knows what and I still haven’t returned their calls (don’t worry, I won’t be on the brink of keeling over), and this very morning, Gmail declared my inbox full and that I think rather sums up my whole life.

Yup. The inbox that is my brain is also full, Gmail, and I’m not sure paying the $2.99 you are demanding will go anyway at all to fixing things, when I do believe there should be a fourth emergency service that exists only to help the perpetually addled get back on track. A gang of sensible sorts who will sweep in when we ring the alarm around our necks and show us how to attend to all the things. Or at least to line up to give us a series of pep-talks on how to talk ourselves into doing all the things. For therein lies the issue: it is not so much not knowing what needs popping on a big list that is the problem, but moreso, making ourselves tick them off that remains the challenge, overcoming the bits of our brain that are frankly the most awkward of refuseniks and will not engage with the must-be-dones in terms of doing, but prefer to make yet another coffee and fret about them instead, for what’s not to to like about giving yourself endless worry instead of just getting on with impossible things?

We, us addled types, are conundrums. But in the early hours of this morning, as lorries trundled by and the perfume bottles on the dressing table shook, my very own sensible sort came a-calling. Because she does that sometimes. She taps me on the shoulder and whispers, time to get things done, time Sweetheart, to pick up the strings of your life again. She isn’t a harsh Mistress. She knows that I can be significantly addled by big emotions, grief and love, chaos and sorrow, and she knows that something as simple as having my routine tipped on its head can derail me, so she is gentle and kind and I always respond to her knowing. Always know, when Intuition, for that is I think her name, comes a-calling, that I must both listen and do what she says, for she is wiser than I, me always so eager to believe that life will look after itself while I chase shiny things.

So today. An hour at the gym where I am shy and silly. Then an agreement to do something I have been putting off for too long out of sheer cowardice in case it stirs a pot full of wasps I have no interest in baiting. A fridge cleaned. Three sets of bed linen washed and hung on the droopy washing line. Three beds re-made. And a proper food shop: not the acquisition of bits I have recently been relying on while routine went astray, but the purchase of the wise food that means the weight falls off instead of gathering on my hips all over again.

And the rest of the week. Work to catch up on after too many days managing life elsewhere. A cinema visit or cwoffee if there is nothing to watch, with my Kath. Crisis management of hair dyed all the way to Morticia. No really, accidentally Morticia black. Lego people hair!! Trips to the my favourite place in the land, the tip, with the bags full of yesterday I am so ready to let go of. The unpicking of the utterly wonderful and deeply traumatising Baby Reindeer with Finn. Phone calls to make plans with deeply neglected people I love. Life to catch up on.

I tell you all this not because I want to bore you with what is I suppose a to-do list of sorts, but because I want you to know, I always want you to know, that despite my own endless pursuit of order, routine and ritual, life both gets in the way and it goes astray. It goes astray for lovely reasons and sad ones. It goes astray because we take our eye off the ball, fail to prioritise what matters, get lost, get exhausted, get overwhelmed. And it happens to us all. I tell you because I want you to do as I say, not do as I do. I want you to resist beating yourself up about the things that have fallen behind and instead give yourself quiet, still grace. Let yourself sit in the chaos. Be a hot mess. Sport Lego hair! Let yourself feel ALL the feels. The good and the bad. And then just wait.

Wait until Intuition comes knocking on your door carrying a bag full of motivation.

And then invite her in and offer her a cup of tea.

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