The Road to Hell

Mondays used to be a good day to start a new plan. I’d be more organized. I’d be kinder to my child. I’d pack wonderful lunches for my family. I’d buzz through my emails and work tasks. I’d get in a 3 mile run and some weight training right off the bat.

By Tuesday, I’m slumped at my desk, stuffing my face with blue chips and spicy cheese and watching Daily Show reruns. I’m screening my calls, piling dishes in the kitchen and trying desperately to find some real sense of purpose, besides doing the things I “should” be doing.

I’m nothing if not a firm believer in every day being a beginning. I used to fall off the perfectionist wagon and stay off for weeks on end. Now, like eating healthy and exercising, I only let myself go a day or two before I drag my sorry ass back into the life I think I should be living. This is a hard road to travel, this constant battle between good intentions and my baser instincts of sloth and neglectfulness.

I know women, women I admire greatly, for whom this battle seems nonexistent. Their baser instincts involve home cooking and a bustling career and genuine kindness and warmth. I also have friends who seem to have lost the battle and have come to terms with their own limitations – also admirable, as long as you don’t want to sit anywhere when you visit them or meet at a specific time.

By Wednesday, I begin to rally the troops again. I write out the “to do” list, knock out the big tasks that will get me noticed if they’re not done. I do a halfhearted workout at the Y, easily distracted by the grunting weight lifter next to me. I’m afraid he’s going to go into cardiac arrest and I’ll have to remember lifesaving skills from Girl Scouts. I leave the weight room and my workout behind. On Thursday, I rinse and repeat.

I don’t thank any deities when it’s Friday. The highlight of the day is meeting with my trainer and I always get a boost of positivity from our conversation/exercise hour. When I return home, I must reconcile my week. I bend it and rationalize it until it just looks like a much needed slow down. I write my list for the next week. I plan a hard workout over the weekend. I chastise myself for all the things I didn’t do. And by Monday, I have a new plan.

This has been my mode of operation for the last 20 years, a weird ebb and flow of high productivity and complete and utter disinterest in being busy.  Maybe it’s reaching middle age that has caused this cycle to become unbearable. It’s demoralizing and exhausting – these quickly abandoned goals and shifting finish lines. I have decided to make some changes that will limit the “shoulds” in my life so that I can choose how I spend my time and energy. Oh yeah – mama’s got a brand new plan.

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