The last week has been a race. April started out with Happy’s Spring Break and I really wanted, as much as possible, to be with him and not working and so unless I had to be somewhere, I hung with my little boy. And so that was really good- we had one special thing to look forward to each day (a movie, ice cream date, library visit, play date, etc) and Happy loved each day and then looked forward to the next day. So good times were had.
And then this week hit and what I realized was that every single morning (which is my work time while Happy is at preschool) was packed with minute to minute meetings and so there was no time to grade, write articles that were due, create proposals for projects, plan workshops, write remarks, lesson plan, etc; no time to do the daily-ness of my work. And, boy, did I have work to do. A whole lot of work to do (two weeks worth since I had only done what was absolutely necessary during spring break). And so I worked from after Happy went down at night until midnight and woke up at 5 am and worked until Happy woke up. And, still, on Friday night, I stayed up until midnight to work,work, work before waking up early on Saturday to lead an Unbridled Authenticity retreat (so, so wonderful!). And when I looked at my calendar at the end of the week during my weekly review, I realized that I had planned next week just like last week- countless meetings and no butt in chair, hands on keyboard or pen in hand grading time.
Here is what I know about myself: I best function when I have a little bit of breathing room; when I don’t have to move at a break neck pace at full tilt for weeks on end. Sometimes, you have to go at full tilt; life just needs it. But, more often than not, when it happens to me, it is that I am being careless with my scheduling and not thinking about my own sustainability. I am just not giving myself what I need because I want to give everyone else what they need when they first mention it. I want to be accessible and helpful to people and so I say yes and yes and yes but I am actually not nearly as helpful when I am racing through my days; in that rush, my skills and best self fall away. I become transactional, get the job doneish, Focused Rosie (as BF calls it). And Focused Rosie can get some crap done but, boy, is she a bore. I know having a meeting with her must suck because living with her is miserable. I admire Focused Rosie’s focus and her tenacity but do I not want to live with Focused Rosie so, as you might imagine, we’ve got a bit of a problem going here.
And so I asked myself my very favorite self-care question. What do I need right now more than anything else? And the truest part of me, the part of me that really most knows about my essential self and best self, answered, “Space.” And because I believe that when you ask yourself that particular question, you have a responsibility to grant the answer– that is what it means to be keeper of your own fate– I looked forward to the first day where I didn’t have anything schedueld- next week- and wrote UNSCHEDULED on that day so that it will stay that way. And then I looked at the next week and wrote UNSCHEDULED on a couple days. And then to the next week and, yes, you got it, UNSCHEDULED. Because when I have unscheduled time, there is something inside of me that expands, it grows, it creates at a better quality and it is more my best self at the place where I chose and need to be. And that’s what I want for myself. That is what we all want for ourselves, isn’t it?
The truth is that I will still have articles and blog posts to write those days, other professional responsibilities to complete– retreats to design, workshops to plan, etc– and an incredible amount of grading to accomplish as the semester ends May 3 so those unscheduled days will be used to catch up on work and grade but, at least, that will reduce the late night work and that’s a good thing. That is expansive in and of itself.
Today, I want you to consider how you are feeling, how hard you’ve been running lately and if you are worn down- on the inside or out. What does your persona become when you run too hard for too long? What are the consequences of that for you and for others? Is what you need right now more than anything else some space?
Now, open up your calendar (or calendar app) and schedule a pause (or a few) for yourself. Give yourself a break from the hyper productive cycle and just breathe into the life you have created and the dreams you have for yourself.