What was that about? Apparently, I lived my way into the answer. I was lucky enough to see some friends live and in-person at a BBQ last weekend and a few asked me “So when’s the next post?” and I felt a familiar Gremlin voice say: “Ahhhh! the weight of expectation! What have I done!? It’s so much easier when no one expects anything from me!” Yet at the same time I really wanted to write another post and do it regularly. I told a handful of folks I’d like to post every 1-2 weeks. I also explained how I don’t like routines and I’m “bad at” consistency and how “I’m going to play with that 1-2 week time frame and see what happens.”
What if these were stories I’ve been telling myself for years and not actual truths about how “good” or “bad” I am at something?
If I consider my story about my distaste for consistency and routine, what about this particular story feels true? Well, to start, I don’t keep to routines when it comes to things I don’t think are super important like making my bed or making my kids do their homework (oops).
What about the story is not true? One example is that I do keep our kids on a bedtime routine because I think it is valuable and beneficial to them to get sleep. Another example is that I get myself to bed most nights between 9pm and 10pm (many of my friends know I have a nerdy iPhone reminder that says “Bedtime!” and goes off at 9pm) because I value how I feel more mentally sharp, energetic, healthy, and in a better mood when I get 7-8 hours of sleep. If I break that routine, it is a conscious choice to stay up late like attending John Williams’ Film Night at the BSO this past week (which was incredible and listening to live music makes me feel alive!) or deciding to stay up until 11pm to watch a second episode of The Night Manager as part of a multi-day binge of the series (watching Tom Hiddleston makes me feel alive!).
And another thing! As I said these things out loud to real actual people last weekend about being “bad at” consistency and routines, I heard how non-committal my voice and energy sounded. My very smart friends must have picked up on this. These friends said something like “but you sounded so excited about starting the blog!” and I could feel my energy was inconsistent and low compared to the exhilarating, brave, and scary (like the top of a roller coaster) feelings I had when I hit “publish” last Friday. A voice in my head said “You wanted to start a conversation! Remember? This is not a glass observation booth” and so I stepped forward out of the Mist of Avoidance and said “Yes, I am excited about it. I actually love writing and want to spend more time on it.” It was helpful to say that out loud and felt true for me. A friend said “Wow, You just said you want to spend time on it. How often do we actually make time for the things we want to be spending it on?”
What if we all spent more time on things we wanted to spend time on? On things we deeply enjoyed and that made us feel alive? I know I can easily get caught up in what I think I should be doing i.e “I should spend tonight signing the kids up for summer camp or in my free block of time I should take my car to get the headlight fixed.” I thought that’s what being an adult was all about. Somewhere along the way I attached myself to the belief that adults need to be responsible and do things for others all the time and should accept that there won’t be enough time for hobbies/interests. In addition to the “shoulds”, this Responsible Adult persona saddles me with countless things I could be doing like “Well, I do have an hour before picking the kids up so I could possibly squeeze in a quick trip to the grocery store or post office.” What if I arranged my schedule so that I spent more time on what mattered most to me? I don’t mean completely giving up on my TO DO list or neglecting to do basic things that take care of my family. I am referring to making more conscious choices and creating time for what makes me feel alive. The challenge is that it’s a constant balancing act. Spending time with my kids is wonderful and yet I also need alone time to recharge so that I’m a better mom when I’m with them. Many of us have competing priorities in life with work, home, family, to-do list, self-care, sleep, health, exercise, etc. One of my Gremlins looks like this:
She tries to tell me it is “selfish” to do things for myself and that I don’t have time for it!
I love this “Secret of Adulthood” that writer/blogger Gretchen Rubin reveals:
Don’t wait until you have free time. You may never have any free time.
We all have choices with how we spend our time. Over the past few years, I’ve really tried to stop saying “I was too busy to do XYZ” or “I didn’t have the time” and just get honest with myself and others that “I had other priorities” or “I made the choice to prioritize XYZ over that.” Often we feel victim to our schedules at times (I know I have and still do during some days/weeks.) Then I remember that I’m the one in charge of my life. I’m the one in charge of what I say “yes” or “no” to. I still struggle with it at times especially when I fear disappointing someone by saying “no.” There are just times when the only thing I want to say “yes” to is going to bed at 8pm like I did last night.
What if as a starting point, we spent more time on the things we cared enjoyed as kids? Before we starting Adulting? I spent a lot of time writing, kicking my soccer ball against my futon, drawing, listening/dancing to music, being outside in the woods, and playing guitar or piano. Currently, I don’t have a futon nor do I have an urge to kick the soccer ball repeatedly like I used to. However, I do have the urge to write, get outside more, dance, and play my guitar.
What if when we felt envious of how others were spending their time if it was just a signpost for us to take a look at our own choices? I know I’ve felt envious when I’ve heard of folks doing fun or interesting things and thought “I wish I had the time and/or guts to do that!”
I think that’s enough What Ifs for today. Please let me know what happens for you (or has already happened prior to reading this post) as you play with time and how you spend it. We need more aliveness in this world! I’m going to go tinker with my time by spending 15 minutes outside before some afternoon calls and see how it feels.