This past Saturday, I drove to South Carolina to meet my sister and hear Jodi Picoult speak. To pull it off, I had to turn over the bulk of my day– from 9 am until 6 pm– to it, and just as I was going to bed on Friday night, a thought flashed through my mind, “I don’t have time to do this.” You see, I work while Happy is at preschool which means I have 17.5 hours a week to teach at the university, make writing deadlines, blog, address my Circle de Luz responsibilities, lesson plan and grade, plan workshops, market, and invest in social media. Seven of those hours are spent teaching my classes at the university. And so I have 10.5 hours into which I compress a couple full-time jobs. Hence, on the weekends, while Happy naps (oh, the irony is that Happy only naps now on the weekends- because he’s so pooped from not napping all week long), I squeeze out house chores and work chores and losing my two hour slot on Saturday was making me feel a little desperate as I tried to drift off on Friday night. I explain this not because it is special, but because I know you are sitting there nodding in recognition, you just totally followed my thinking, my panic, my anxiety. Women all over the world do this daily– shove far too many responsibilities into time blocks that are way too small and then eek out how to make it happen, somehow, in the midst of their lives.
“I don’t have time to do this” is how we all feel about potential to do items that feel as if they only benefit us. I don’t have time to work out, to go get a pedicure, to go shopping, to read a book for pleasure, to meditate, to take a walk, to call an old friend and just catch up. We don’t do those things because we’re the only who is going to benefit, right, and isn’t that just too selfish a way to spend our time?
Ultimately, what kept me from bailing on the Jodi Picoult reading wasn’t even me, it was my sister who makes my struggle to do things for myself look non-existant– she, literally, never does anything for herself. She is as self-sacrificing as they come; her kids have never spent a night without her, they’ve never had a babysitter outside a grandmother (and both grandmothers live hours away) and that was only in a dire situation. She gives until I fear she might give out. And she made it happen so that she could go, by herself, to Jodi Picoult for the day– even though the talk was 3.5 hours away from her home. She was driving 7 hours to give herself a gift. If I didn’t go, there was no way she would go. I got over my to do list and got in the car.
And then a funny thing happened. I popped a book on tape in. I called my sister every hour to check in on her progress while I drove. I ate the fun snacks I had picked up for the road trip. And the miles seemed to evaporate. I was at the reading venue in what felt like moments, not hours. We went to lunch, we enjoyed Jodi who was fabulous, we sat around and talked afterward. And I had an awesome time and was inspired in ways that my ordinary Saturday would have never brought on.
“I just don’t have time for that” is how I almost always feel and, yet, I don’t know how you come across inspiration unless you allow yourself that time. This weekend was revitalizing not because I forced productivity but because I welcomed possibility. I enjoyed my time with my sister, learned so much from Picoult’s talk and was also inspired by some of her practices as a writer. As I think about this, I am reminded of how often I relearn this lesson. Most of the things that really thrill me come about after I go through with something I didn’t think I had time to do. Here is what I am reminded over and over again: we don’t have the time not to be inspired.
What has inspired you lately?