In Which Resolutions Mean Doing Less, Or, Saturday Morning at 9:58am

Ah Saturday morning.

The sounds of my washing machine. Neighbor children playing loudly on the other side of a backyard fence, and it’s only 8:18am. I remember those days of “Oh god, what will we do with them for the next 12 hours?” Sometimes the answer was, “Send them outside, and don’t let them back in until somebody’s crying.” But even so I waited for the sound of almost tears, from the youngest, mostly, and relented to fend off the terrible despair of a 3-year old. So hard to be little and powerless, especially when you’re smart enough to know what strength would feel like.

That era when laundry was not a joy.

In a way, I am only now moving past the thought-mode of child-rearing and house-running. Where ruminating was never better than action, and the thrum of Get Going never stopped.

I wanted to tell you guys how it’s been to make resolutions this year. Oddly freeing, that’s how.

My list has meant that I do not more, but less. Everything got quieter. Just as a small idiosyncratic example, I needed to pick up cardboard boxes at Staples to pack away files, I used to try to make myself walk. That internal discussion of “Is the exercise of walking worth the misery of carrying large intractable rectangles for miles?” Exhausting.

Fighting with oneself is tiring, the combatants know each other all too well.

Excuse the effort of an ornate metaphor, but if we agree that after years of raising children and managing subordinates, internal voices remain, a Goal Chorus of sorts, we might say that I have now put the singers in their rows. Must Exercise Must Exercise sings baritone, Don’t Eat That Chocolate, highest soprano. Imagine the Queen of Night in Mozart’s Magic Flute.

Quiet down, exhortative chorus singing Cross Things Off, with the occasional command performance of To Warrant Being Alive.

So now, by resolution, I am no longer trying to do everything every day. The boring details are that I have signed up for a personal trainer, twice a week, to begin as soon as the physical therapy for my shoulder ends. Thus ends the need to examine every twitch for exercise potential. Space-clearing is almost complete, stuff has been boxed. All that remains is time from someone who can help me lift and move things into their final resting places. He’ll get to it. And volunteering. I have a list of places to contact. I’ll get to it.

I’d always resisted resolutions precisely because of the high-tuning to goals. I worried that turning up the must-do noise dial would break glass. As it were. Again, forgive the metaphor. But this is a sensory experience, the voices of Do A Good Job laid down early.

By the way, I’m neither expecting nor requiring the voice of meaning to speak to me now in the silence. Maybe all I’m going to hear is the washing machine, the dryer, and a jay.

The children, it seems, have gone inside.

Have a wonderful weekend.


Today I couldn’t help but think, as I wrote, of the blog Collage of Life. She’s on to the empty nest, as her youngest goes off the school. Her Instagram photos of Vietnam are wonderful.

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  • I can really relate to your post this morning LIsa!

    The sound of domestic machines whirling and swishing, the tick tock of the clock, the Westminster chimes…they make up the sounds that keep me company in my daily round…that and the CBC.

    I’m interested in what capacity that you will be volunteering. My Mother seems to need my help more and more so I am reluctant to commit to anything just yet.

  • I am completely with you on this. My bugaboo (having retired a couple of years at a similar age) is committing to too much volunteering. I remind myself that it is PERFECTLY FINE to sit and read or go for a swim, and it is completely UP TO ME to see that exhibit that appeals to me. Thanks for saying this so well, as usual.

  • Perhaps a nice long lunch with champers with Papageno?

  • Adding to your picture, which resembles my own world, there’s the smell of baking baguettes and the amusement of watching the puppy untie my shoelaces.

  • Ah, yes, the cacophonous Infernal–I mean Internal–Chorus. How lovely that your new intentions have allowed you to tap your baton on the conductor’s stand and command attention, followed, one hopes, by cooperation. We’re tuned to the same pitch, intentions-wise, and when I pick up my wand–I mean baton–these days, I feel a little less like Mickey-Mouse-cum-Sorcerer’s-Apprentice :)

  • Being retired means no more “shoulds” … or at least fewer of them.
    Today is my one year anniversary…as a retired person. And I have just in the last few weeks begun to relax into the new rhythm of my days…instead of constantly comparing them to my working days and the guilt that lies down that road!

  • How I LOVE the personal trainer! They tell you what to do and you do it, and all they while they chat to you about all sorts of nonsense (sort of like the dentist) and before you know it, you’re DONE! Some of the best money spent, I think!

  • what a thoughtful post. Good luck with the PT x

  • Had a friend who told me to stop shoulding all over my self. When the internal chorus gets too loud I try to remember her advise!

  • So peaceful. I haven’t forgotten something you said just after you were married, ie that so much previous anxiety was suddenly gone. This post would certainly qualify as a random glimpse in proof of your point. Maybe there’s even a sidelined-shoulder-injury-heavy-lifting metaphor here too. I’m so happy for you [AND for him]!

  • I rarely make new year’s resolutions, only a short list to remind myself of things that I should be doing to make my life and those around me better :) So far I’m failing miserably ! By the way, your previous post was very inspirational. Thank you, Lisa.

  • Oh I remember those send-them-outside-days. Ohyes!

    But as to now, I love your idea of Do Less, not more. I love it that your List got shorter. Drop the Must Do Voice.

    Oh yes, I love your plan!


  • This is to me the essence of retirement: getting to it, and on your own time. Very wise and best wishes for that shoulder recuperation.

  • “Fighting with oneself is tiring, the combatants know each other all too well.” Thank you for that sentence alone.

    2:26 pm
    Pam said...

    Agree with Kathy, that sentence was brilliantly succinct, and/or succinctly brilliant. (As you can see, I’m still fighting with myself – and so glad you’ve got my number!)

  • I do love the way you write. To feel submerged completely in the time and place you are writing about is for me the height of the writer’s art.

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