birds in a barrel's mission is to release creative nonfiction into the wild.

40 Days & 40 Writes is its first project.

So So Broken

I promised I’d do this assignment every day. I promised I would lose the twenty pounds I gained in the last few years. I promised I would organize my kitchen, clean my house, and weed my yard. I didn’t do any of these things.

promised I would be faithful to my husband. I promised I would always take care of my children. I promised I would try to do right by my family. I have kept all these promises.

Obviously, the only promises I break are those I make to myself.

Today at a work session with 11 people who are scattered throughout the state, a very similar thread ran through our opening activity: we all want to carve out our personal lives from our work lives, keep the one from bleeding over into the other. We’re all running around keeping our promises to others and neglecting ourselves.

We’re all working too much. I’m not saying this to be self-aggrandizing. It’s a true affliction. It’s an illness running through our collective psyche. Work, work, work. I will be lying there on my death bed wishing I hadn’t worked so hard, so much. Wishing I had retired when my grandbabies were young. Wishing I could do it all over again, yet here I am, in the thick of it, not retiring, but working. I wonder about another model in which a society values creative time, vacation time, time to replenish the soul. Here we apologize for taking vacations. Rationalize it. Even getting a pedicure comes with something lame like “I just needed some me time.”

Every day I say to myself that today I will organize my life so that I can spend more time at home with my family. And every day I break that promise and get so caught up that I put it off one more day.

I don’t make promises lightly, so this self-deception is painful.

Baby I'll be There to Shake Your Hand

Missive from the Manse