A Quiet Revolution
On being intentionally selfish.
It’s Sunday morning. I’m sitting up in bed. The rain is ever so gently pitter-pattering outside. The steam from my herbal tea is creating a halo on my bedside table. I can hear my dog, Leo, snoring. He’s curled up on the rug in the living room. I can’t remember the last time I’ve had a morning like this.
I’ve just closed the cover on Julia Cameron’s The Artist’s Way. I’ve only read the intro. I know that soon enough I will hit the chapter about tools, and the importance of morning pages. I’m not thinking about how I’ll be getting up half an hour earlier every morning to do my morning pages (something I have toyed with in the past, and loved). I’m thinking about what notebook I’ll use for my morning pages. I have a pile of fresh, crisp notebooks in a cupboard in my office, waiting to be cracked open. Will it be my Moleskine? Or the Leuchtturm1917? Maybe that promotional one I got in a gift bag? Who am I kidding, it will absolutely not be that one.
Perhaps it’s a form of procrastination, or a coping mechanism, but I can get bogged down in stationery in the most bizarre of moments.
When my dad was diagnosed with mesothelioma, a type of asbestos cancer, the first thing I did was hit the aisles at Officeworks. Shocked, and overwhelmed with information, my way of processing was to buy a folder. And plastic pockets. And tabs to separate sections like Insurance and Treatment and Oncologist and Surgery.
I’m sure a therapist could offer some type of theory; it’s my way of finding order in chaos. It’s my way of gripping onto some type of control when it feels as though life is spiralling.
I’m sure there’s a heap of theories. And they would likely all be true.
I tend to always come back to my own theory, however – whatever works. Whatever gets you through. Whatever helps to make it a little easier, a little less scary. Whatever allows you to keep putting one foot in front of the other.
That’s kind of how I’ve approached all of 2023. On New Year’s Eve last year, I sat in my armchair with my iPad and my Apple Pencil and created a list of rules, habits, vibes and goals for my Savage Solo Era, as I so dubbed it. High on my list of rules was doing exactly what I wanted to do and not doing anything I didn’t want to do. I called it being intentionally selfish.
I was inspired by an article I’d read where Kim Cattrall had said, “I don’t want to be in a situation for even an hour where I’m not enjoying myself.”
I am not a selfish person, by any stretch. In fact, I’m the opposite – I give to the point of depletion, always factor others before myself, putting their needs and desires first, and am generous with my time and money and heart. I love all those things about myself. I never want to be any different.
This year, I found a way to still be who I am while also being kind to myself. Not just occasionally, but frequently, putting my own needs and wants first, while focusing on my joy, and squeezing as much as I could into each day. It’s been a quiet revolution.
I am in a very good place in life. I am healthy. I am able. Both of those things make me fortunate, beyond measure. And privileged, too.
I am busy, more than most truly grasp. Everyone is busy, I understand that. I am, however, teeming in a way many people don’t understand, perhaps unless they are also a solo parent who runs two businesses and a household and a non-profit organisation and and and and.
I am not complaining, because all those things are my choice, and I love them so. I want a full life. I want a big life. If it were possible, I’d add more.
This is my first slow Sunday morning, or slow any morning, since January, when I was camping in Point Leo. My son is with his dad, and I have nowhere to be; no junior football games to drive to and don an Umpire Escort vest for. No errands to run. No brunch to devour with friends. No work to catch up on. No bathroom to clean. I am trying to get better at creating space for more slow mornings. I think creating a routine around morning pages is going to help revolutionise my AM.
I have managed to amplify my life this year by being intentionally selfish. I am being exactly who I am, with no apologies, and I am being remunerated for it. The more brutally honest I am, the better my life becomes. The less I hold back, the more I am rewarded. I am (sometimes) fiery and (often) ferocious and I am accumulating successes like dust on a bookshelf.
I am a world away from where I was this time last year. That is not to say things aren’t sometimes hard. Or messy. Or upsetting. But it is truly wild the difference a year can make.
This time last year, I was struggling. A lot. More than I let on.