A little bit ago I spent most of 6 days completely alone in Berkeley. I had a car to use, and a bit of money to spend, but I only went out for walks with Gus through the neighborhood and to the little park across the street and through the ally. 
 A park with a fabulous view.

There was no one to distract me, and nothing I had to do...It was just me and Gus.  

I had my laptop, but I didn't feel a strong pull to distract myself by plugging in...I'd wanted that sort of time for a while now....time to breathe...take a look at some things...Time to just be. Just listen to myself and relax into just being alone with my thoughts...take the time to write and read and meditate and all that good stuff. And then I found myself directing...I should read now and walk later, I shouldn't be reading this, I should read that, I should sit in the sun, I should write, I should, blah, blah, blah...I caught myself pacing...Had I forgotten how to just be? 

It took discipline to sit in the nest I made for Gus and me on the deck and just the deer and the wind in the trees..

But I got it! I did it! I relaxed....and it was heaven. 
I cannot remember the last time I did nothing and felt no guilt....

Here at home I have a never ending list of things I need to do,
and the equally long, and much more distressing list that contains all the 

It is the Should List that so often trips me up, distracts me, freezes me in place.

I have been Shoulding myself into a dead zone...
I tie myself up in Shoulds...I should do this, I should have done that...
I should feel this, end that, I should be more of this and less of that.

Along time ago I asked a busy and creative friend how she kept from becoming overwhelmed. 
She told me she just concentrates on one thing at a time...what a concept....and it's a concept that I sometimes remember. She is in the moment...
and certainly not thinking about the Shoulds.

To me, ''I should'', is just another way of saying I don't want to. And the Shoulds have power, the power to keep me out of the moment. They keep me from enjoying and settling into the things I do want to do, and the things I must do. 
They rob me of the moment. 
They keep me distracted. 
They rob me of my creativity....
and the thing is, so many of the Shoulds I hold on to, are things I will most likely never, ever, do. 
They are on the list mostly because someone else gave them to me. 
 And there are the things that get mixed in with the Shoulds like the Musts, and many things that I actually want to do that have somehow been delegated to the Should List ...
''I should be in the studio, creating.''
...that's awful...creativity a Should??

My Should List has the power to make me feel less than...
I should be able to do it all, focused and with ease, having everything in order and under control by noon, then step into artist mode and start....but most often what happens is I just stop and feel overwhelmed and guilty....not so creative.

And then there is this....beginning, beginning the creative part of each day is a constant challenge and sometimes the Shoulds are welcome.

ps....dates on the photos are incorrect, and I don't want dates at all. 
 Fixing the setting is on the Should List.

I just made myself lunch and during the 15 min. that took, a whole flood of Shoulds slammed through my brain....I decided that I will start to put the words, Must or Want to in place of Should.....and see what that looks like.
I must stop Shoulding.


Vivian Helena said...

looks like you have a lovely nest. I understand what you are saying.. I panic if I don't take "things" to do when I am out of town.. and 2 books, at least,, the shoulds, and the why not read now... the escape book.
Yes, excited about the book. The whole book is amazing!

Joyce Wycoff said...

Julie ... thanks for the permission to drop at least of my shoulds into the round file ... or even just ignore them ... hugs!

Angela Recada said...

As someone whose life is consumed by *Shoulds*, I applaud you. It sounds like you (and Gus!) spent your time in Berkeley in the best possible way. That deck looks so inviting!

Tammie Lee said...

how wonderful that you gave yourself the gift of relaxing and enjoying, i am so happy for you!

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