I know that writing is good for me. Like really good. Like depression-healing good. I’ve written a couple of first drafts recently, but haven’t re-visited them. Writing a first draft without re-visiting it is like buying groceries and leaving them at the store. The fun of shopping, but ultimately no food.
Eating a plant based diet reversed my type 2 Diabetes. Eating a gluten-free diet made the chronic pain I used to have disappear.
As eating gluten-free and plant-based is good for my body, I know that writing is good for my mental health. So, I ask myself, why do I let myself fall off the writing wagon?
Because I’ve got my priorities. Not necessarily in this order (at all), and not engraved in stone, but starting with these.
Priority one: Sleep. Because I’ve had insomnia for over 30 years. It’s a miracle, given what scientists now know about sleep deprivation and the brain, that at this point, I have any brain at all. Also sleep deprivation makes one more at risk for weight gain and diabetes, and a whole lot of other things, including dementia. So I keep doing my best to prioritize sleep. Having failed prescription sleeping pills, melatonin, etc, I have a fair amount of expertise in generating sleep by alternative non-drug means. Still, if I don’t prioritize it, it doesn’t happen.
Gluten-free sphaghetti with walnut-spinach-basil pesto, cherry tomatoes & squash!
Priority two: Plant-based eating. For lots of reasons. Planet Earth for one. (methane-induced global warming largely secondary to the animal food industry). Animals! (because I can’t bear the thought of billions of them living in cruel conditions and then slaughtered on a daily basis, when we don’t need to eat them for our survival or well-being). My health. Challenged by Type 2 Diabetes is my single biggest (ok. selfish.) motivating factor. It ended an uncomfortable fence-sitting episode (that lasted years), where I wanted to eat a plant-based diet, but couldn’t bear the thought of giving up cheese, and also worried about people’s judgements of people who eat only plant-based food. Really. I didn’t know how seriously bad animal protein was for our health before taking my “Nutrition and Society” course through Cornell’s online study program. Now I do.
Priority three: Cleaning up. Because I make messes, particularly while making meals & snacks. (which I seem to make all the time). Because my kitchen, dining, and living rooms are all one (wonderful) space. It’s where I cook, eat, read, write, study, and play my ukulele, and just generally live. If it’s a big mess, I can’t settle down to do my work and play.
Priority four: Exercise. Every day I do my morning stretches. Every other day I go to the gym. My morning stretches have been my “happy” place for 30 years, a bodily memory of how much I played on the floor as a kid. In a home where children were to be seen and not heard, tumbling around the floor was an acceptable activity. Participating in grown ups’ conversations was not. I fully inhabited my own little world of space and movement. When I’m on the floor, I’m eight again. As for going to the gym, at 69, this is an entirely new thing for me. My nutritionist said I was losing some lean muscle as I lost weight. (that was the early days before I figured out how to get loads of protein from an all-plant diet.) Anyway, she said, Build some muscle. So I do. I go to the Stonestown Y. I don’t want my body to weaken more than it has to as I age. I love that I have some say in this process.
Priority five: Facebook friends. Seeing what they’re contemplating, what great articles they’re recommending (from the Washington Post, NY Times, the Guardian, etc), and seeing what family and or animal pics or videos are important to them (and therefore to me). I know some people haven’t had great experiences with Facebook, but I find it enlivening and enriching. Also it gives me an opportunity to participate in and learn from the conversation on the political state of our country, and world, and to not feel alone in my ongoing attempt to understand the unfolding disaster of our lying, confabulating, obfuscating kleptocrat-in-chief. It’s complicated and difficult to comprehend. I love that I get to hear my friends’ concerns and insights as well as those of Robert Reich, Rebecca Solnit, Pam L. Houston, Dan Rather and others. I feel accompanied on my quest for knowledge and wisdom, for some lifting up of spirit and the leavening humor offers. Btw, don’t miss this brilliant piece by Rebecca Solnit that came to me via my FB network of friends!
Priority six: People. Because I live alone, it’s a priority for me to bring people into my home (my weekly women’s groups and welcoming neighbors who want to drop by) as well as to get out into the world, even if it’s just taking my laptop to sit for awhile at Martha’s cafe. It’s a priority for me to have and nourish friendships.
About 38 years ago…
Priority seven: Mom & Daughter. Because my daughter lives 3,000 miles away and my mom lives 1,000 miles away, it’s a priority for me to speak to them as often as possible. I call my 97 year old mom every day. When my daughter calls, I’ll most likely drop whatever I’m doing. Even though she’s almost 40, she’ll always be my baby, and therefore my priority. Capiche?
In this way, I prioritize my actions on any given day. I love to read other writers’ essays, and I love to write and edit. I love to start conversations and I love to hear back. Sometimes other things need to get done first. Anyway, I can’t tell you how good it feels to write right now! To sit down, begin with an idea, put fingers to keyboard, and see what happens. Despite a solidly grey day, my state of mind feels brighter already. It’s easy to get waylaid from what’s truly beneficial. I might have to move writing higher up my priority list.