My kids spent the past weekend at my Dad’s house. It was heaven! They had a great time, and my husband and I had that most precious commodity—down time. Or rather, a chance to choose how we spent every minute of our time. For me, that included cleaning out the basement, going to Lowe’s to buy patio umbrellas and cooking a Sunday dinner that only appealed to grown-up palates. We also went out to dinner (Ken’s Ramen, delish) and to a party downtown on Saturday night. It was a delectable glimpse of our once and future lives. (It also flew by, but that is not the point of this post.)
At the party I chatted with a woman who didn’t have kids and who works as a personal chef. We bonded over our gluten intolerance and our respective husband’s recent injuries. I honestly didn’t expect to ever see her again as she lived a few towns away, and one of the jokes about Rhode Island is that because it’s such a small state, people start to think even short distances are entirely too far to travel.
Flash forward to Monday, when I am picking my daughter up at school. I arrive a little bit early. It’s chilly and drizzly, so I opt to sit and meditate in the car before I go stand outside the school and wait for her to emerge.
I count my exhales for five minutes (go here for more instruction on this so-straightforward-you-can’t-muck-it-up meditation technique that also saved me from the brink of a major depression after my son was born). I unwind a little bit from the work day, I feel my breathing change, my shoulders unkink. Then I get out and start walking over to school.
Guess who I ran into? The woman from the party. The childless woman from the party. Turns out, she’s a personal chef and household manager, meaning she picks her boss’ kids up from school. My daughter’s school. We have probably stood next to each other dozens of times and never realized it.
And if I hadn’t stopped to take those 5 minutes for myself, who knows how much longer it would have taken for us to figure it out? There are only a few weeks left of school—it could have been months.
Here’s a funny paradox for you:
When you take time for yourself, time starts working in your favor. (Click to Tweet!)
I know very well that fear that you simply don’t have enough time to take better care of yourself. I hear it from clients. I hear it inside my own head from time to time. IT IS NOT TRUE. Taking time for yourself helps you get in to that open, energetic state where things just flow.
Can you take it too far? Sure. If you have a rock solid self-care practice that you devote a couple hours a day to, but other areas of your life (work, relationships) aren’t thriving, you may be using it as a way to hide. Notice I used the word “may” – it would be worth taking an objective look at, or even talking about with someone who can be loving while asking direct questions and who can create a safe space for you to share your answers honestly. But this is not what I typically see. I typically see women who have convinced themselves they are so busy they can’t possibly do one more thing during the day.
What about you? Have you had experiences where you’ve noticed that when you take the time to slow down other, unexpected things in your life speed up? Are you a “I’m too busy to take better care of myself” person, or are you a “I always take great care of myself, but I could stand to take better care of other parts of my life” person? I’d love to hear about it in the comments on the Web version of this article.
And if you’re like more food for thought, I’ve written about time a lot in the last few months. Here are some other posts you might find helpful: