©2020 Erin Newton, www.thewellnessgarden.ca, All rights reserved
I get it. Life is busy. Some days you feel like you can barely catch your breath. As quickly as you cross something off of your list, something new pops up. Children, spouses, activities, jobs, bills, shopping, pets, housework, errands, appointments. Rush, rush, rush. Each night you fall into bed, only to awake feeling no more rested than when you went to sleep.
Do you ever pause long enough to wonder what it’s all for? Why are we all working so damn hard? At the end of each day as we flop on the couch, too exhausted to engage with our spouses, too depleted to pursue our passion projects. All we seem to have energy for is mindless scrolling through social media. There, in this online world, we see other people’s tidy houses, their cleverly themed birthday parties and their exciting vacations. But is any of that real? Are we seeing their reality or their skillfully crafted media presentation? Are we working to live or are we living to work? Is working to live really living?
I understand too well the frustration and helplessness of the incessant demands. You need to just keep going. There’s so much pressure. If you slow down, something will get missed. There are so many balls in the air and pausing even for a moment would mean a ball would be dropped. Something would be unfinished; someone would be disappointed.
But, friends, please slow down for a minute and hear me out. Take a deep breath and just exhale slowly. What if I were to suggest that you should drop all of it and take a good step back? Think about it: how many of those balls that you juggle everyday are truly meaningful to you?
For years, I subscribed to the self-destructive paradigm that more is better and that being busy meant that I was successful. Moving forward in my career. Constantly upgrading credentials. Chauffeuring my children from high performance program to high performance program. Eating dinner in the car. Regularly working past midnight. I spent my days clutching my $7.00 coffee and wearing my fatigue like a badge of honour. I was important, you see, and important people are tired, right?
Then one day it happened. My daughter no longer wanted to do competitive dance. I could let go of that ball and instead of scrambling to pick something up in its place, I just left it there and waited. Curiously, nothing ominous happened. Nothing came crashing down and things seemed just a little easier to juggle. Soon after, my son told me he was no longer interested in doing martial arts. Instead of resisting, I allowed that ball to drop. A wave of relief washed over me. The remaining balls seemed so much lighter. Emboldened, I started pitching balls all over the place. I couldn’t get rid of them fast enough. I jettisoned committees and clubs. It was so freeing. What I was left with was the most precious gift I could ever receive. Time. My time. I gave it back to myself.
What happens now is magical. We have dinner at home as a family. There is time for unstructured spontaneity. My kids can hang out with their friends. When school and work are done, we are free! There’s even time for my own personal self care and, yes, my own passion projects. Most nights, I go to bed on time. I work out every day. Sometimes, we don’t even do anything. Sometimes, we simply lounge about. Sure, the house is often a bit messy, but I don’t care because that’s not where I choose to use my time.
You see: you do have time. You have time for whatever you want. In the end, perhaps that’s all we have. Minute by minute, hour by hour, day by day: we choose how we use the time we have. For so many years, I thought that busy kids meant happy kids. Good moms provided their kids with constant opportunity and fulfillment, even if that was at the expense of their own joy and interests. Every day, I made a choice about what I committed myself to, what I committed my kids to. But when we all stopped and talked about it, we realized that none of us wanted any of it! None of us felt our time enriched by busyness. None of us needed to juggle so many balls.
You have time, too. And choices. So, how do you want to spend your time?