I read this wonderful article recently on HelloGiggles about Liz Lemon in the TV series 30 Rock, and the title was awesome:
“I don’t know if I can have it all, but I can have this sandwich”.
Women in particular are constantly told by the media, our peers and society that we can have it all – marriage, kids, that house/flat you’ve always coveted, the career, the dog, the shoes, the handbag…what have you. In fact, it’s not just the case that we can, but we MUST, it is our duty as women to DO EVERYTHING and to GET EVERYTHING without ever breaking into a sweat, caving in under pressure and still being thin and pretty despite not getting enough sleep at night because of ALL THE THINGS WE MUST DO!
It all gets too much. Heck, I don’t even have children yet and I struggle – all you mothers out there holding down man, kids, career, house and car, I salute all of you! You’re awesome to get to this stage.
And to all those men out there, working hard to bring in the money for your families, and doing it all with incredible grace under pressures to keep going, never cracking, staying strong – I salute all of you too.
But there are times when we just can’t maintain the superhuman façade any more, and we all need to just stop, take a break, gather our strength and calm down.
That’s the time when I start getting itchy to leather up, jump on my bike Aveline and ride into the sunset. I ride off into the countryside, places like the Surrey Hills or the South Downs, and fly (within the speed limit of course!) past the trees. Sometimes I imagine that my Aveline isn’t a Honda NC700X but is actually an MV Agusta F3 Serie Oro, and I’m actually tearing up the Italian countryside side by side with the MV greats – Agostini, Hailwood, Read, and both Castiglionis…
We all have our escape mechanisms – shopping; getting a facial/massage; pottering about the house for a few hours doing odds and ends; watching TV; playing the PS3/X360/Wii; riding motorbikes through scenic roads or rushing down motorways; day-dreaming about your future hopes and aspirations and whatnot. Nothing wrong with a little escapism when it all gets too much.
Another alternative is this: Liz Lemon’s philosophy is that, even if she can’t have it all, she can still have something as simple and filling as a sandwich, and just for a few moments, nothing else matters.
I really like that. It’s simple, effective, and I don’t know anyone who is in a good mood when they’re hungry.
The process of concentrating on making something – not even food necessarily, but just creating something like a handmade card or painting or sewing – is great for helping you focus on just one thing and driving out all other thoughts.
I think that’s one of the reasons behind “Saved By Cake” by the author Marian Keyes – she was suffering from depression and was asked to bake a cake for a friend, found the strength to make one, and then couldn’t stop, because the intensive process of baking a cake helped her to focus on something else and, thankfully, helped her start to recover.
But the best thing about cooking or making something with food is that you get to eat it afterwards, and that is pleasurable in itself!
Even better is to try making a little something for everyone in the house and sitting down to eat together. One of my favourite manga series is Fruits Basket, and in one part, the teenage main character Tohru is overwhelmed with having to make decisions about her future careers and life. Her “carer” (if you can call him that…), Shigure, tells her to think of it like this:
“Imagine you have all this laundry to do and it’s piled up all around you, as far as you can see. How do you know where to start? And even if you start, there’s so much more you need to do?
Well, maybe it’s best to start with the laundry nearest to you – pick up something and start it. Before long, you’ll be in the swing of it and you’ll finish it in no time.
But when it all gets too much, just stop, come over here and have soumen with all of us.”
Fall back, regroup, gather some strength from a sandwich, talk it out, start again.
At worst, you can just stop for the day, put it all away, go to sleep and start again tomorrow. Sleep helps remove a lot of ills in mind and body I find.
You’re all just doing the best that you can in this life, and that’s good enough.
Take care of yourselves.