freedom: day 1
The number one question I've been asked in the past few weeks has been "what will you do?" The closer I came to my last day of work, the more specific it became: "what are you going to do on Monday?" Funny enough, some people seemed a little disappointed by my lack of plans for my first day of freedom. Rest assured that I have already fallen into the Type A trap of making myself a list of things to do while I'm not working, but on the request of my husband I have agreed to start off by learning how to just do nothing. It's harder than you think. I need to find a balance between keeping myself busy and taking time to relax. Find balance between moving forward and staying still. The time ahead of me is going to be all about figuring out my buoyancy. Because if I try to stay still without any buoyancy, I will feel like I'm losing control and start to flail. But if I try to keep moving without any buoyancy, I will be constantly going through ups and downs and I'll working harder than I should to enjoy my surroundings.
Last night I realized with a smile that it was Sunday night and I didn't have to work the next day. Then the panic sunk in: what if I get bored? What if I feel lonely? How long will it take before I lose track of what day it is? Will I feel disappointed in myself if I don't feel productive each day?
Over the weekend, I deleted my work email from my phone. (Not proactively, but because it kept giving me an error because my account no longer exists.) What a moment of mixed emotions that was. I felt incredibly liberated and wanted to jump for joy at the thought of being released from that email prison, while at the same time felt like I might hyperventilate from feeling so disconnected and out of touch. Even when I woke up this morning, with one eye open, I reached out for my phone. After realizing that there would be nothing urgent that couldn't wait until I was up, or at least had both eyes open, I challenged myself to see if I could wait until I was up and out of bed before picking that phone up. I didn't win the challenge, even though I did last longer than usual. But you know what? I can't expect my behaviour to change overnight. I recently read that it takes 21 days to form new habits, so even in the practice of slowing down, reflecting and taking time for me, I need to be patient and self-compassionate.
To answer everyone's question, my only (and I use the term very loosely) "plan" for my first day off was to take a long walk with Mitzi to a bakery at the end of our street that I've always wanted to go to but never have. I was especially motivated because I recently discovered that they sell raspberry croissants. Those of you who I studied with in France know how strongly I feel about raspberry croissants. After I spent some time online researching things that I might want to do in the coming days and weeks, we went on our walk and made our way to the bakery. And of course, just my luck, the only day of the week that they're closed is Monday. How disappointing that might have been. But I wasn't really disappointed, because several good things came of that excursion:
The sun was out and Mitzi and I got to enjoy the good weather together.
The exercise we got walking up to the bakery and back made me not feel lazy and tired Mitzi out for the rest of the afternoon.
I took the opportunity to walk into the flower shop next door to the bakery and thank them for making such an effort from the time of my surgery until now to make every arrangement sent to me a little bit different. Each one purple, and yet each one unique.
When I came back outside from the flower shop, Mitzi was sitting like such a good girl, and then when she saw me she got so excited that she tap danced.
I still stopped at a different bakery on the way home and bought myself a lemon square.
I now have a reason and feel motivated to take the same walk later this week so that I can still have my much anticipated croissant aux framboises.
Even though today hasn't turned out to be what I had expected, or "planned", I already consider the day a success.
When Navin and I were out for dinner on Friday night, celebrating my last day of work, I had a revelation. Amidst the sound of piano and the taste of wine, we discussed my new realization: there is no "right" path. There aren't even several "right" paths or "wrong" paths. Life is full of choices. You choose what direction you want to go in and you choose how you want to live. The culmination of those choices are what make up your story. Later in life, you will look back and recount all of those choices that you made as chapters in your book. It doesn't matter what choices you made along the way, they will always fit together like pieces of a puzzle to become your story. My entire life I have cared so much about other peoples' opinions and advice because I believed there were "right" choices and "wrong" choices. By gathering the most input and feedback, surely I was bound to make the most informed and therefore the "right" decisions. Now knowing that no matter what choices I make, they will all be parts of my own plotline, chapters in the book of Elana, I feel empowered to shape my story based on how I want it to turn out. And even more than deleting my work email from my phone, or realizing on Sunday night that I didn't have work the next day, this realization has made me feel free.