Now, what do I mean by a “gentle” schedule? I mean that it is soft, flexible and still supports me the way I need it to. Providing structure where I need structure and grace where I need grace. Scheduling myself has long been a struggle of mine, it has been the downfall of many of my plans over the years. And it has a lot to do with how I was taught to schedule, and many of the myriad troubling items that touch almost everything in life, like perfectionism and people pleasing.
When I unexpectedly quit my job a number of years ago, I really wanted to do more with my life than simply get back on the get-a-new-job bandwagon. I wanted to explore the idea of working for myself, selling my artistic skills. The massive problem at the time was that my creativity had been on life support for years and was extremely fragile. The other problem, I see so clearly now, looking back, was managing my own personal schedule.
I did not know how to hold myself to it. So long had I bent to the whim of the job overlords that I did not know how to manage my own schedule when it wasn’t dictated by others. I was ashamed, embarrassed and so very stressed by this discovery. It snowballed alongside other, similar shames I have lived with time and again: I am too creative and scatterbrained; I am too much; without precise, tight, perfect structure I couldn’t amount to anything. Bottom line as an adult: I was not made to run my own life or business. I was not allowed to be myself if I wanted to succeed.
Since then, through countless hours of getting curious when I felt hurt, angry, wronged or anything that felt triggered and/or over-reactive to the situation at hand, I’ve managed to unpack a lot of those shames. And, I’ve come to realize that imposing old, outdated, “perfect” structure to my life and holding myself to insane, ill-defined-out-of-fear goals was making me feel trapped. I wasn’t listening to the messy human that I am and allowing room for anything remotely fun except as an escape. Fun was my evasion, not a part of the plan or goal.
It wasn’t an overnight discovery, there wasn’t a quick fix. It took all of that sometimes seemingly disconnected struggle to get here. Everything in life somehow touches everything else. The process is still going; it is a process after all. But through it and my curiosity I’ve found what I’ve termed a “gentle” schedule. I don’t assign myself big, faceless, multi-layered/tiered tasks without trying to break them down smaller first. I don’t get bamboozled by the lie that small tasks are worthless. I make sure to leave myself feeling like I could do more on any given day, knowing that if I push I will burnout. To keep moving slowly but inexorably forward one must simply do something small every single day.
So, while I definitely still have a day job—yeah, I did get myself back on that bandwagon, but not simply to keep repeating the insanity of my previous existence—I’m staying curious. And, this year, I’m working on keeping myself to a gentle and holistic schedule that will actively help me make the plans and goals I’ve set for the year a reality.
I am working towards allowing myself to be complete and whole and every bit as scattered and messy as I need to be. Nothing needs to be perfect straight out of the gate, or ever. Often the beauty in life is in the messy bits, the moments when you don’t need or want to mask all the little, imperfect things that make you who you are.
Anyone else feel this struggle running their own schedule? Have your own version of a gentle schedule? I’d love to hear about it!
PS. Here is my first art piece of the year, at least, first started and finished this year, lol
Allana Solo and her Nexu cub, from the Star Wars Expanded Universe: