Sunday, October 10, 2010


I wake up with a head full of shoulds for my day. 
  • I should respond to 7 emails.
  • I should do 4 loads of laundry. I am out of socks.
  • I should plant the 90 tulip bulbs I bought. Why did I do that?
  • I should empty the dishwasher.  (John now makes emergency vehicle noises when the dishwasher door is open.)
  • I should water the house plants.
  • I should walk 2 miles. We actually do that most mornings before breakfast.
  • I should divide the hostas and move them to the front garden.
  • I should weed the vegetable garden.
  • I should write some journal pages. Oprah says you should journal.
  • I should learn chi gong. Dr Oz wants me to.
  • I should paint...
Actually I have been painting, several afternoons lately, after taking care of a bunch of shoulds that aren't even on this list. 

But, I've been doing should paintings, the "I should be painting" paintings. A should painting is numb, rote, using up paint, a "paint every day and you'll get better," exercise. A listless, mindless, dumping on, smearing, bored, diddling, indifferent kind of painting. It's different than a "want to" painting. 

But then two of the three should paintings look like thoughtful paintings. I wonder why?

In my twenty's all the books and articles about how to become a good writer said, "you should write every day". Make it a habit. I did that. I wrote everyday. I wrote a novel, two partial novels, lots of short stories, newspaper articles, and children's books. Some published. Some not. That should seemed to work.

I have told my artists friends, "if your serious about doing this, you should paint every day." I am so bossy.

Colette's first husband Willy locked her in a room so she would write, then he took credit for her work. Did you note the "first" husband part of that. That makes sense to me. But I think I heard somewhere that she was grateful to him, not for stealing her work, but for forcing her to get into a habit of writing. Are habits and shoulds cousins in the brain.

End of day

I've weeded the round garden, moved strawberries to it's outer circle, walked and done laundry. Not a bad day.

One "shouldn't" that I'm good with… you shouldn't prune an espalier any later than mid-September, as it will cause a growth spurt. So the espaliered apple trees with a few wild branches that look like they should be pruned shouldn't. It will just have to wait until January or Spring. Actually that applies to any pruning in this climate. Isn't it great to have a shouldn't.

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