Art Before Dishes
In the book “Advice from My 80-Year-Old Self” the author Susan O’Malley asks advice from more than 100 people of different ages, genders, and all walks of life. One of my favorites is “Art Before Dishes” because it reminds me not to get overly stressed about all of my everyday tasks and responsibilities.
A common theme among my friends and me is the fact that there seem to be fewer hours in the day and more and more responsibilities. Because of our busy lives certain chores just don’t get done as often as I would like. When I get upset my husband Ben always says, “It’s ok, our house just looks lived in!” Well Ben, I don’t want my house to look lived in, I would prefer it look as if you could perform surgery on the kitchen floor.
When I started painting I learned to let go of some of this obsessive behavior. I realized that because painting was so time consuming other activities, or chores would come second to art. I learned that nobody can do it all, not without help. Living your best life is no joke and there actually aren’t enough hours in the day to get everything done. Even Beyoncé has to delegate. Think about all the things that “they” say you need to do in order to live your best life. To name a few:
Your body is a temple
We should exercise a minimum of 3-4 days a week to stay in shape. When you’re working out hard you must also remember to take care of your body and stretch and do mobility outside of your regular workouts.
You are what you eat
To be truly healthy we must also maintain a healthy diet. This involves grocery shopping and meal prep- and we eat three times a day! Only organic, free range, grass fed, vegan, all natural, dairy free, soy free, sugar free, non-GMO, unprocessed please.
Spiritual Wellness Matters
Spiritual Wellness means different things to different people but regardless of what you believe – it is an investment of time to create good spiritual habits. These include prayer, attending church, bible studies, meditating, journaling, affirmations, reading etc. Apparently the path to purpose and peace doesn’t just appear out of thin air.
Never Stop Learning
It’s important to keep our minds sharp, keep learning, read books and stay up on the news and current trends. We need to know how to, at the very least, be conversationally competent on the latest issues and politics not only because it’s our civic duty but also as to not embarrass ourselves at the water cooler.
Bring Home the Bacon
Our jobs are our livelihood. We must work hard and go the extra mile if we expect to get promotions or raises. You know the old advice, “be the first to get there and the last to leave.” There is no such thing as a 9-5 anymore. Most careers these days also involve time outside of the office at night and on the weekends, attending events, networking and studying or preparing for a project.
I want to take a moment to shout out to all the working parents out there. Today people are expected to work as if they don’t have children and raise children as if they don’t work- talk about pressure!
When you look good you feel good
We must dress to impress for every occasion. These clothes don’t buy, wash, and iron themselves either. As women we go to great lengths to be presentable for both society and ourselves: facials, haircuts, hair color, manicures, pedicures, tanning, moisturizing, exfoliating and the list can go on and on. We wax from here to there and everywhere in between. Then there’s the washing of the hair and the drying of the hair and the styling of the hair… don’t forget the makeup! It seems like every week I see some new anti-aging mask on Instagram I need to try. Because no one actually woke up like this.
Foster strong relationships
Developing, maintaining, and deepening relationships is a lifelong endeavor. To be better friends, children, and partners we must make time for the people that are important to us. Date your spouse! And don’t forget about girls’ night. If you are in a relationship you not only have to make time for your family and friends but also your partner’s family and friends. Spending time with family and friends is not a chore by any means but trying to please everyone while staying on top of other responsibilities can feel overwhelming at times.
Treat Yo Self!
Don’t forget about self-care and #selflove. To care for others, we must first care for ourselves. It’s important to take a break, go on vacation and refresh.
Find Your Passion
It’s important to have a passion, purpose or hobby outside of work. Hobbies are a way to discover and express yourself. Nobody wants to live a life of all work and no play. Who ever thought we would live in a society where we could get stressed about not having a proper stress relief activity?
This life is not only about ourselves
We must invest time and money giving back and participating in the communities in which we live and organizations of which we are a part. We should volunteer and give to others who are less fortunate.
Your environment affects your mood.
Your surroundings have a huge effect on your mood. I would recommend filling them with art for an instant mood enhancer but that topic is for another day.
The house should be dusted, vacuumed, mopped scrubbed and sanitized with all natural cleaning products. It should remain tidy at all times. We are supposed to be Marie Kondo-ing our lives. Sometimes 27 pairs of shoes really do spark joy- ok Marie?
Early to Bed
Never underestimate the importance of a good night’s sleep. A whopping 7-8 hours a night is the recommendation.
Early to Rise
Get a good night’s sleep but not too good. We must also get up early and set our day with intention. Get outside and breathe the fresh morning air, start the day on a positive note by reading or writing in a gratitude journal. Don’t forget to get your morning stretches in before work. Breakfast is the most important meal of the day- unless you're intermittent fasting. (If you aren't up on this trend perhaps you should take some time to educate yourself on the health benefits of different nutritional lifestyles.)
Make your bed every day (after your stretches of course) because it sets the tone for your day. There are entire books based on the premise that you will basically fail at life unless you make your bed every morning.
I am sure that I have forgotten some extremely important task necessary for being a proper adult but even still there are not enough hours in a day to stay on top of all of these items. Just reading through them can send someone straight off the ledge – my bad.
There are two tactics I have learned that have helped me deal with being stressed about the length of my to-do list. The first is to shift my thought process. Instead of being overwhelmed by all the things we must do, let’s change our perspective from “We have to” to “We get to”. “Tonight I get to cook my family dinner.” “I have a healthy and strong body so I get to wake up at 5:30am and go to the gym.”
The second is to come to terms with the truth that I cannot do it all- I have to learn to make choices. Life is a balancing act and we must look at the way we spend our time as a choice. It is important to get things done but if we’re too busy being productive all of the time we miss out on treasured experiences we could be having with those we love. These experiences are what life is really all about, aren't they?
Living my best life comes down to choices; choices that I have control over. Do I want a clean house? Yes of course, but I also want meaningful relationships with the people that matter. Since I know there isn’t enough time in my day, I have to pick and choose what matters most in that moment. I have to choose and be ok knowing one item takes a back seat to the other because it is less important at this time. “Is it more important to clean my house tonight or go on a date night with my husband?” If I choose the later, I can’t be stressed or upset about the floors being dirty for a few more days.
Sometimes we must let go of our FOMO and say no to friends, family, and ourselves to do tasks that are more important in the moment. But again that’s a choice that we empower ourselves to make. We must come to terms with the fact that there will be certain seasons of our lives where the scale of balance tips more in one direction than the other. Maybe you have a big project at work right now that tips you in that direction and you have to spend less time with your friends. We need to take comfort in the fact that these are just seasons and the scale will tip the other way again.
So this week, in preparation for an upcoming art show I will say “Art before dishes” and rest easy while the dishes are piled up in the sink and I still haven’t unpacked from a work trip I took two weeks ago. I rest easy because I know that I am blessed to be able to pursue this passion of mine. I will invite y’all to choose your Art over dishes a little more often as well!
Thanks for reading!
P.S. Wine also helps
Full disclosure: I realize I am just speaking about me here- a middle class woman with no kids or extenuating circumstances like losing a job, battling an illness or taking care of a sick parent or partner. I understand the “stressors” I listed above are first world problems that I am truly lucky to have.
To all the men out there: Despite the tone of this post I know many of you work together and share equal responsibility (or more) with your partners. I was writing this from my viewpoint and the viewpoint of my girlfriends. I am sure men feel similar and other pressures and responsibilities as we do.