I’ve always been a good girl with a rebel heart.
I know what’s expected, I know all the shoulds, and something inside just wants to drop-kick the rules and live my life my way, dammit. So I read about the 10 steps of this, the perfect system of that, try the nice tidy plans full of yearning, and then drop them after a few days after I’ve been chafing or gnashing my teeth. Sometimes they fall with a clunk. Sometimes it’s just a whimper.
When I let those programs go, it’s a kick to the ego. My hopes for a clean house — gone. My vision for a consistent exercise schedule — toast.
I walk away feeling ashamed and damaged, like I just don’t have the internal discipline, enthusiasm and commitment. All those internal voices start chattering again, telling me that I’m a slacker. A deadbeat.
Last week, I decided to take a mini-retreat, inspired by my friend who thinks beautiful, expansive thoughts as a matter of course. Her husband was gone, her children were in school, and she had a wonderful break in her work schedule. Her plan was to fill her fountain pen with ink and see how many miles of thoughts would flow.
I wanted a retreat, too! But my situation that week was quite the opposite. I had the usual routine of homeschooling my three boys, shuttling them to their regularly scheduled activities and trying to find some time to hang out with Husband. In the not-too-distant past, I would have pulled out some serious whine.
Why couldn’t I have a break?
Why don’t I have access to childcare?
Why can’t I get away from it all?
Why weren’t the stars aligning for meeeee?
I still don’t know why, but I changed that helpless pattern. I decided to have a mini-retreat in the midst of it all.
Before I could intellectualize about the ideal retreat environment, I pulled out my favorite pen, the paper that loves my favorite pen, stoked up teakettle, and watched.
Epiphany One: Time opened up
Amazingly, when I put out the welcome mat and made no rules about what these retreat moments should look like or how long they should last, they came. 15 minutes here, 10 minutes there, 30 minutes a few hours later.
I wrote like mad, never knowing when I was going to have to stop to answer the boys’ questions.
I plowed through books like they were going to self-destruct by the end of the day.
I packed so much retreating into those unexpected minutes. And watched, stunned.
Miracles could happen to me.
Epiphany Two: Why time management and I won’t ever shack up
My writing that week had no agenda. I put down whatever came through my hand onto paper. While I was scribbling about why extra bits of time seemed to appear and how I could make that happen more, I wrote something surprising:
I’m learning to breathe into what is rather than resorting to force, which is just another face of fear.
All along, I’d been trying to force myself to do all the right things at the right time. Or shoehorn myself into a system that didn’t work for me, all for the hope of had to have a perfect life, a perfect body, and a life in some sort of zen balance.
Can I get a witness?
This week, I decided to find those pockets of extra minutes with the hope of dedicating some to exercise. Could moments appear if I invited them?
Sunday–A 2-hour hike in Glacier National Park with Husband and the kids.
Monday–30-ish minutes of core workout that left me feeling powerful.
Tuesday–A 50-minute haul-booty bike ride.
Today–Excited to see . . .
My take-home lesson? It’s not that I think systems are useless. I’m just learning to use them gently as I practice calling in everyday miracles.