Lately, I had a flash of concern that I seemed to be forgetting a few more things than usual. Nothing big and nothing critical–I don’t have a To-do List app on my phone for nothing, you know! But just enough for me to sit up and take notice, figure out why, and reassure myself that it wasn’t that whole not-so-young-as-I-used-to-be thing.
Here’s how it went.
I had to schedule one of those no-biggie, routine medical procedures that ARE a piece of that whole not-so-young thing. (Just to jump ahead so you don’t worry–all done, and all’s well!) It was one of those things that comes with 24 hours of semi-fasting and a week or so of not taking meds like aspirin or ibuprofen and not eating certain foods. The doctor and staff went over it all with me ahead of time, they gave me a list, and I knew what was up. A no-brainer, right? Except…
I KEPT FORGETTING AND EATING THE FOODS!
Okay, let’s back up. First, I forgot about the week without the meds, and I had to call in and check whether six days off, instead of seven, was acceptable. Yes, it was. (Okay, I’ll admit to a smidgeon of disappointment that I didn’t have to reschedule, because, hey, it wasn’t exactly a procedure we all put on our Super Fun Things To Do bucket list.) Luckily, also okay were the certain “banned” foods I’d happened to munch on that day.
All good. I move along and get on with my week.
A couple of days later, I’m reaching for a food item to snack on, when I remember that 1) I’m not supposed to eat this and 2) I JUST ATE SOME OF IT THE DAY BEFORE!
To shorten what’s getting to be a long story, it was all good. I was okay, I had the procedure, everything’s cool, and all I have to do is put the next one on my calendar for a few more years down the line. (Whee!)
Even better, I figured out what was going on with my memory. I realized that my forgetting was about transitions and about mindfulness and about how time changes for us during different phases of our life.
When i went back to work full-time, about six months ago, I knew it would bring big changes. Not only would I be in someone else’s office 4-5 times a week (I often get to work at home on Fridays), but I’d be adding a commute to my days on top of the hours actually at work. I’d have to figure out how to shift all those things I used to get done during the weekdays, to evenings and weekends. Yes, I knew I used to do that all the time, but it had been a while, and I’m a very different person than I was back then.
Overall, it’s been working well. I’m not being as writing-productive in the evenings as I’d like, but I’m still making significant forward movement on my WIPS, and that’s huge. I’m not seeing friends as often as I want, but I’m working on it, and I’m making sure it does happen. I’m keeping the things that matter, and I’m trying to let go the things that don’t.
I’ve also been keeping down the stress levels, and that’s something I’m very proud of. That person I used to be, back when I did this last time, would have spent evenings (and middles of the night) looping about the job-work that had to be done the next day and the next week and the next month. She would have spent equal time berating herself about the life-things she hadn’t got done the day before and the week before and the month before. She would have been a lot less happy, and she would have made others around her much more unhappy, too.
See, I’m very clear that, with this transition to a different, more full schedule, I’ve been taking each day as it comes. (Cue theme song from One Day at a Time.) I’ve worked with that To-Do List app so that the things I have to do are out of my head and on the list, ready for me when and if I need to look at them, not zipping around in my head shouting at me when I don’t need them. I’ve focused on one or three tasks at a time while I’m at work–prioritizing, and putting tasks back in their folders while I wait for someone to get me the info I need, picking up another folder and working on that. And I’m writing when I write and getting life tasks done when I’m doing life.
What I’m not doing, apparently, is thinking multiple days ahead! I’m not remembering to check that list from the doctor eight days before my appointment so that I’d know to stop taking ibuprofen. I’m not spending time focused on or worrying about that procedure that’s still four days off, so that I’d know I shouldn’t eat that food.
Welcome to the downside of mindfulness, folks. Welcome to the risks of living in the moment.
I’m kidding. When I realized what was going on, I was actually pretty proud of myself. I still felt like an idiot, sure, but like an idiot I was proud to be. I know that this “downside” is part of my transition back to work and that, as I get more and more settled into my new patterns, my memory will be just as strong as I need it to be. But this has been a long time coming for me, this pushing away of the anxiety, this putting the future into its place…into the box labeled NOT TODAY. And as sure as I am that my memory is fine, I’m also that sure that I will not step back onto the path of worry and fretting. Oh, for pete’s sake, on random days when life is crazy, sure? Of course I’ll go back there. But the next day and the next, I’ll pace myself and live with a balance and happiness I never even hoped for when I was younger.
So am I grateful? Oh, you bet. Because along with these lovely routine medical procedures that come with getting older, so does a peace and ease that makes them–and so many other things–no big deal. In a very, very good way.
Happy Thanksgiving, all! I hope your holiday is filled with love and friendship and a few moments of quiet solitude between the turkey and the pies. And don’t beat yourself up if you forget to buy the whipped cream!