A Hopeful Day and a Mini Review

–Shelves stocked with hopes for a way better year



I declared Saturday, September 19th a Hopeful Day. I spent most of it organizing gardening equipment (read: putting it away properly since it’s been lying about/used all season) in the garage, in hopes that it will all be ready for spring. That spring will come in 2021, and new life will grow, and fear will have withered away. In hopes of lovely fall days full of brisk outdoor walks, I hied myself to TJMaxx and purchased a couple of long-sleeved, rayon, moisture-wicking shirts and fresh yoga capris. I don’t know what your work-at-home/COVID-at-home wardrobe of the last six months has been like, but I’ve about worn out every tee shirt and hoodie–including the black Alice Cooper tee husband bought me as a joke three Christmases ago. There’s something about moisture-wicking clothing that fascinates me. It’s extraordinarily comfortable, as in I want to lounge about in it rather than exercise. Maybe it’s that just the act of wearing moisture-wicking clothes makes me feel like I could break into exercise at any moment. Like wearing tennis/athletic/gym shoes to the grocery store (which I rarely do because they make my feet feel claustrophobic, plus they are for exercising) can make a person feel like she’s doing something healthy. My thought is that if people were actually sweating profusely enough to justify all the moisture-wicking clothing out there, there would be no obesity epidemic. I would like to promise that I will only wear my moisture-wicking clothing when I’m generating moisture, but I already violated the promise because I was wearing an actual moisture-wicking shirt as I ran all my errands.

My next hopeful stop was our friendly local Barnes and Noble store to purchase a book (which they kindly ordered for me–they are the only bookstore in the county): HEALING THE SHAME THAT BINDS YOU by the late John Bradshaw. There’s a lot of hope in that book. I listened to it on audio last week, and found its message quite profound. There are many paragraphs I’d like to highlight, but that’s tough to do neatly in an audiobook. Bradshaw shines a bright light on the shame–both toxic and healthy–that informs our lives, and helps us nail down the sources and consequences. One needn’t be a completely shame-based person to find revelations in his psychology. (Let’s call that a mini review. I’ll have a full review of another book the middle of this week.)

While I was at the bookstore I engaged in that most hopeful of annual activities: Planner shopping!

I have a love/hate relationship with physical planners. Present Laura loves to get a new planner and fill it with lots of plans for Future Laura. Over the following weeks, Future Laura, who is actually now Present Laura, doesn’t necessarily want to honor the plans that Past Laura made. The three of us have a very complicated relationship. Present Laura–for all the enthusiasm she recalls Past Laura having for making plans for Future Laura–has a deeply ingrained resistance to authority. And we all know that when something is written down, it immediately wears the cloak of authority. It’s not that I don’t want to proceed with the plans I’ve made for myself. The activities/appointments/commitments are nearly always things I actually want to do. It’s the daily scheduling I resist. When my ADHD brain awakens in the morning, it sees the day ahead as a vast, rolling ocean full of potential activities. It feels overwhelming, and often I just want to stay in bed and read my succession of news and gossip sites, or play many rounds of Escape Car on my iPhone. Since I laid out my schedule the previous day, you’d think I’d be able to hop out of bed, telling myself, “Hey! You don’t need to feel overwhelmed. You made yourself a plan already!” Except I resist. And I’m stubborn in my resistance. Eventually everything gets done, on resistance time. I’ll look at my planner–if I remember to.

A therapist friend tells a great story about a man who wakes up one morning and tells himself that every day from that day forward he’s going to count the number of footsteps he takes to reach his office. So the first day he counts as he goes down the stairs, counts as he crosses the street, counts his way to the next block, and stops at his tobacconist’s shop. Three days later, as he’s leaving his apartment, he remembers that–three days earlier–he was going to count each footstep he travels to reach his office. What I love about this story is that it reminds me that I’m not the only person who struggles with honoring commitments I make to myself. Honoring is a key word. I know I’m far, far more likely to honor a commitment that I’ve made to someone else than one to myself. That’s a hard truth.

Despite suspecting that I will not be a model planner user, I still bought one, of course. Hope springs eternal and all that. I wonder what your planner plans are… See you later this week for a review of Rachel Howzell Hall’s AND NOW SHE’S GONE.

–With stickers! (But only one page of them? Pah.)


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