I’ve always been a good girl with a rebel heart.
I am aware of what is expected of me and I am aware of all the things that I should be doing, but a part of me simply wants to break all the rules and live my life the way I want to, dammit. Therefore, I read about the 10 stages of this, the ideal method of that, attempt the wonderful tidy plans full of desire, and then I give up on them after a few days when I’ve been rubbing my skin raw or gnashing my teeth. Sometimes they hit the ground with a thud. Sometimes all that is heard is a whimper.
It’s a blow to my ego every time I give up control of those programmes. My expectations for a tidy home have been dashed. Toast is my ideal plan for maintaining a regular fitness routine.
I come away from the experience feeling humiliated and broken, as like I lack the internal discipline, zeal, and devotion necessary. When they started up again, all of those voices in my head were telling me that I was a lazy slacker. A deadbeat.
The previous week, I made the decision to go on a short retreat after being motivated to do so by a buddy of mine who often has lovely and broad ideas. Her children were occupied, her husband was out of town, and she had a lovely break in her work schedule thanks to all of these factors. Her goal was to load up her fountain pen with ink, start writing, and count the number of kilometres of thoughts that came out of her head.
I, too, wished for some time away. On the other hand, my circumstances during that week were quite different. The daily routine consisted of me teaching my three sons, driving them to the many activities that were on their calendar, and squeezing in as much quality time as possible with my husband. In the not too distant past, I would have let out a significant amount of whining.
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.