20 January 2014

Now Is My Time #2: I Have To Make Time For Me

image via Crate and Barrel

Last week I posted this on Facebook:
It amazes me how you can make things happen once you set your mind to it. Suddenly you find time you said you didn't have, you find energy you thought you couldn't muster, and you find that sense of accomplishment you have been craving. It's good to push oneself. This is one thing I like about New Year's Resolutions. It pushes you to be a little better. I am more motivated because I've already done it for 8 days, I don't want to let myself down and miss a day. Do I accomplish all my goals each year? No way. But I do accomplish some of them and that is how you do a little better each day and grow in your life.

I have been thinking a lot about how we have to make time for things that are important to us. That is one thing I've been working on as part of Now Is My Time. It is my time to make decisions about my time and make that time count. It is so easy to get to a place where we act like we have no control over our time and yet that is one of the things we have complete time over. Here's an example. If you really wanted to, despite consequences, you could quite your job, you could pull your kids our of all extra-curricular activities, you could do a lot of things that would be under your control as far as your time goes. There are few circumstances in life, other than jail or prison, where one would be absolutely forced to do things with our time. Even in jail, if one don't want to exercise, go out for sunshine or eat, they likely don't force you. (I wouldn't know exactly, thank goodness.)

But really you do have total control over your time. So when we say we have no time for things that we say are important to us, that's not really honest now, is it. We make all the decisions about how we use our time.

There are a million ways to waste our time doing dumb things. It's easy to get distracted or just let a day waste away if you want to. Now be clear I do not consider taking down time as a waste of time, just the opposite in fact. What I mean is not being conscious at all about how we are using our time and frittering it away -- we're not enjoying it or benefiting from it in any way.

What is even more challenging is that there are a million great things we can do with our time that can all feel important and valuable. It's easy to get caught up in trying to be so fabulous that we totally and completely lose ourselves and everything in our lives. We can all see examples of that around us. We can probably see examples of that within ourselves. We are not built or equipped to do ten things fabulously at once. In fact if we take on one or two projects a day to do well, we are probably in the right zone for accomplishing great things without overdoing it.

So frequently I see people running on overdrive, talking about their very busy full time job, their kids, their spouses, the marathon they are training for, the volunteer board they are serving on, the home renovation they are working on, and the book club they've started to read the great classics, and on and on. Then we hear about constant sickness and sometimes serious illness that follow. It's easy to shake our heads at this scenario, but we all get caught up in it somehow. It's easy to start bartering away our time for things we would like to do instead of focusing on things that are vital for us to do. There really is a time and season for everything and we don't have to try to do everything all at one time. Sadly as with most maladies it's easier to recognize downward pattern in others than we recognize it in ourselves.

I think I have most profoundly learned the lessons of priority and valuable use of my time from two periods of serious illness. In those times, at the beginning, I realized nothing was critical at all but resting and focusing on healing. I was unable to do anything else and depended on others for help. Anything that was not survival critical quickly fell to the side. And I realized nothing really fell apart. Things COULD wait. Unimportant things vanished all together. It was in these moments that I could really see priority at work in my life.

As I began to recover I was forced to make a lot of decisions about how I used the moments I had the energy to do things. Small quantities of time, small amounts of energy each time. Any attempt to overdo it came with serious payback later that night and in the following days. It was a quick and painful way to learn, quick because I did not want to suffer any more than I had to learn that lesson.

When I began to feel my normal self it was easy to start falling into old habits and running faster than I needed to, putting too many things on my to do list. But over the years, I have been learning and shockingly, I have greatly reduced my expectations. I've gone from daily To Do lists of 20+ items to lists of no more than 10 things with the expectation that if I do 5 of them well the day has been a great success. I have never been happier. Gone are the ridiculously unnecessary guilt & feelings of not doing well enough. They are replaced by peace, contentment, gratitude and greater well-being. Perhaps the greatest gift has been feeling like I have a more solid footing in my life. I know what is doable and I will do it. But I won't give up my stability to overdo it.

I have been making time for new things in my life this last month. Rather than new things, I should call them things I used to love to do that I stopped making a happy part of my life. It's amazing how once I set my mind to doing those things that my time patterns shifted and I quickly and easily found time to schedule in three hours of time each day to accomplish them. I will be honest, some things have had to go. The house is not always as clean as I would like it. I have to sleep more. My life is not as regimented to my standards as I was able to enjoy it back in my not-so-long-ago single days. It's a challenge to live in the same home I lived in as a tidy, super organized single girl, and see it too full of three people's stuff, and messes I did not make that I can't keep up with all the time.

Most importantly perhaps is that I am appreciating and allowing more help into my life. I am trying not to get sucked into projects I might get invited into where I am not really needed. Especially for my little family, it's easy for them to just come to me for help rather than try to do things on their own many times. My hyper-efficiency can be a blessing and a burden. When other's know I can get things done faster and easier than they can do them on their own, it's easy for them to forego learning to do it on their own and just come to me instead.  It's easy for me to jump in to help other people, but it's not always the right thing to do for me or for them. They need to have the sense of accomplishment of doing things for themselves and I need to make the time to work on my life before I give away my time to everyone and everything else.

So time...not only is it part of the title of my life plan for 2014 but it is a critical element in the progress I hope to make. This week I have three small goals for my Now Is My Time plan. I am going to:

1) meditate three times (hopefully more than that because I love it!)
2) create more of a haven in my room, including get fresh flowers. (Hey how did I forget fresh flowers for so long, after this post and this post that I am so passionate about. We all need repeated reminders about little things that make life better, don't we!) and
3) live more honestly. This doesn't mean I have a lying problem I need to deal with. What I mean by this is that I am going to be more honest about how I feel about situations in my life and be more honest about how I'm taking care of myself, using my time and the choices I am making.

I will not feed myself crumbs and tell myself it's a feast. I've been guilty of that as most of us are at times in our lives. Gonna stop that. It's the emotional equivalent of eating fast food every night and saying we're eating healthily. Our bodies can register the vitality and goodness of the energy we put into it and it will speak back to us no matter how we want to pretend or justify our actions.

The idea of crumbs and feasts is something I heard Dr. Robin Smith say on Super Soul Sunday this past week. So often we are nibbling at crumbs and believing we are feasting on life when really we're starving for the things that we most need in our lives. If you are interested in learning more about our innate hunger to find our authentic selves and find and live our happiness you might be interested in Dr. Robin Smith's episode of Super Soul Sunday on Own. It was very inspiring! There are some great ideas to grasp onto and incorporate.

Have you been thinking about this as your time? Any topics you would like me to write about in the Now Is My Time series? I'd love to hear what you think. Sending you very best wishes for your day and week to come.

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