Take the Time
This fall will mark my 40th year on this planet. At this point I live a pretty energetic existence. It’s safe to say I have a lot going on. Two teenagers and one “tweenager”, a husband, and a career will do that for a girl! I absolutely love my life, but there are times I can’t help but wonder if the busy pace at which I live means I miss an awful lot.
This past spring a robin chose the magnolia tree outside by bathroom window at home to raise her little clutch of eggs. We all enjoyed the up-close access to view her nesting and then her little hatchlings. I had no idea they would hatch, grow up, and leave the nest so quickly! She had limited time with them but she never seemed to be frazzled. She just did what birds do. And it was beautiful. She sat with her little ones when they needed sitting. She fed them when they needed feeding. She sheltered them from the abundant rains that came. When they were ready to fly, she let them go.
All the while, if they got to be too much for her, she would disappear for a while. I’m sure she made some excuse: “I have to go look for worms. Be nice to your sisters.” The wee ones would wait patiently or impatiently, mouths open, anticipating her return. Sure, she came back with worms, but I wonder how many times she took the long way home, just to stretch her wings and feel the wind for a bit?
When was the last time I took the long way home to stretch my wings? When was the last time you did? It really is the same for us isn’t it? There will always be something waiting, patiently or impatiently, for attention. Does that something or someone always win?
I like to start my morning slowly. I don’t get right out of bed when my alarm goes off. I set it earlier than I need to get moving so that I can wake at a lingering pace. I stretch. I read. I may doze back off once (or twice). This helps me set the tone for my whole day. I may have a crazy schedule ahead of me, but this quiet space in the day helps set me up for whatever comes. I try to take hold of periods of silence and solitude because I am an introvert and it is a matter of life and (possibly someone else’s) death. I know the things that recharge my batteries, and yet there are many times when I can’t give myself permission to engage them. The tyranny of the urgent demands my attention.
But, since I have a birthday coming up and I’m feeling philosophical, I’ll share something I have learned with you: I’m not that important. Now, don’t get me wrong. I’m not talking about any sort of existential importance here. Of course, each of us is infinitely valuable. What I mean is this: if I fail to pack my plate full, if I say “no” to things because I just don’t want to do them, the world will continue to spin at the same pace it always has. I can choose to stretch my wings and feel the wind and not only will I be better for it, but so will the people who come into contact with me. I’m more valuable to everyone when my soul is well fed.
I titled this post “Take the Time” because you will have to take the time. No one is going to give it to you. The world will happily take all that you are willing to give. But why not think about the thing that puts you most in touch with your soul and do it? Back away from crazy and see what happens. If life is really wild right now, get creative. Keep expectations reasonable and take where you can. There is always a little margin.
I’m going to spend the remainder of the summer exploring ways to do just that. Let’s make some wider margins together. Let’s slow down where we can and notice what happens around us. Reach out to a friend and grab a drink. Sit alone outside. Go for a walk or a bike ride. Cuddle your pets. Make popcorn and watch a movie with your kids. And actually watch it.
Check back with me for some ideas and maybe some experiments to make some margin in your life. By all means, please leave a comment if you have an idea to share. I want to start making this a community effort that will allow us all to ease up, slow down, and BREATHE.
Renee Tingley, LC, LE, CPE
*Image by Couler from Pixabay