“Worry does not empty tomorrow of its sorrow, it empties today of its strength.” Corrie ten Boom
“Worrying a problem” is an old phrase. It is evocative…like worrying a piece of thread until it comes loose at the seam. Or worrying a subject until we have looked at it from all sides and are sick of hearing about it.
This phrase perfectly describes the slip-sliding process that transforms planning into worry.
Planning is positive. It is hoping to facilitate with ease and grace. It is getting our ducks in a row with the assumption that they will float to the conclusion. Control issues aside – planning is necessary in most of our lives in order to accomplish the overabundance of tasks and responsibilities that face us.
I don’t recognize it immediately when I cross the line. Eventually, though, I know that I am no longer enjoying my process. My body is tense. My mind is skipping like a scratched record – revisiting negative thoughts again and again. I am now trying to change a future that may never happen. I am no longer productive.
Sadly, I am ruining my present moment while having zero impact on the future.
“…I have promises to keep,
I am a woman who keeps her word. I pride myself on that. When I can’t come through, I try to get my apologies in early. My friends think of me as dependable if not always punctual. My promise is a solemn oath.
Except those promises I make to myself.
And it’s true that once one promise is broken, it’s easier to break the next one. The question reverberates in the emptiness. Am I taking any steps toward a better, healthier, more loving self?
Maybe. But what come to mind are circular pathways going nowhere. Talking. Listening. Judging, (Oops!) Listening. Planning. (Oops, again!) Listening. Judging. (Damn) Listening. Talking.
Knowing I need to lose weight for my health: Eating. Sleeping. Lying in bed in the morning feeling thin. (Yes!) Pulling the scale from beneath the cabinet. Looking at the numbers. (Uh-oh…) Stepping off. Taking off my T-shirt. (That’s better.) Stepping back on. Seeing the same number for the third day. (How can this be?) Eating.
Lounging on the chair next to a stack of “have-to-read” books, doing the third Sudoku of the morning. (Time for my walk.). Feeling the cool morning air turn from refreshing to stale. (Oh no, it’s getting hot!) Drinking coffee. (I’ve GOT to go.) Loosening my shoelaces. (What a LOSER!) Lounging in the chair starting another Sudoku.
Making a list. (I’m all about organization.) Sorting and arranging the papers on my desk. (I didn’t pay what?) Assembling the garden tools. (Hell with the weeds, I think I’ll move that…) Searching the recipe drawer. (Maybe leftovers tonight.) Pulling the vacuum cleaner from the closet. (I’ll just rest a minute.) Watching Dr. Oz. Changing the date on the list.
…and miles to go before I sleep.” Robert Frost
Martha Beck always inspires me. Today on my walk she gave me some phrases to watch for in my daily life.*
I am dismayed by how many times I use the self-limiting words, “I have to,” and “I can’t” when I am actually living my own choices. Not even counting the times I say or think, “Yes, but…”?
Like the cartoon she cites of a man holding bars up to his own face with wide-open space behind him, I sometimes create my own prison. I make decisions about how I “should” act and what I “should” do based on old habits, old needs, and fear of change, when actually I have the privilege of living a life of love and freedom without confining myself in an imaginary structure.
I am a wife whose husband encourages me to live my best life. I am a mother and grandmother who has long ago fulfilled all duties but those of love and support. I am a friend of men and women who live their lives thoughtfully and with intention.
If I am led astray from the path to my own North Star it is only by my thinking…thinking…thinking…
*This time I am listening to “Follow Your North Star” on Audible.