no time.

This has been rattling around in my brain for too long. Here goes...

I had an epiphany a few months ago that is kicking my martyrdom complex in the shins. It's this: Giving up the things that distract you or stop you from investing in people and pursuing your passions is not sacrifice. It's common sense. And, in my opinion, giving up things that you can't seem to live without is a great way to come to the realization that you can. And, frankly, probably should.

Life in my house is full of stress and work and school and cleaning and entertaining and such - just like most houses. I feel like I am busy all. the. time. Several months ago, I found myself saying over and over again, "I don't have time," in response to a question about why I'm not doing __________. Most of the time, I was asking myself the question. "Why aren't you writing more?" "Why aren't you playing your guitar?" "When was the last time you read a book for pleasure?" "Why aren't you spending more time with your neighbors?" "Why did you quit painting?" "Why aren't you exercising?" "Why aren't you getting more sleep?" It went on and on.

My "I don't have time" answer was just an excuse, though. I was choosing not to see the fact that I spent about two hours a day (give or take) watching television or numbing out surfing my favorite websites to "unwind." That's 10 hours of time (that I don't have, remember?) just during the weekdays. 10 hours that I could be doing a million different things that I actually enjoy doing. Instead, I was entertaining myself into a stupor.

There are so many days that I come home and literally can't think about doing anything but vegging out. I want nothing more than to drown out the constant chatter in my mind about my to-do list at work and at home so that I can just get some freaking rest. But the things I was doing weren't giving me rest. They were really effective in drowning out my busy mind, but it also caused me to disengage with life in general as soon as I walked through my front door every night. I was becoming a workaholic during the day and moonlighting as a zombie. Which my husband loved. Or maybe not.

Photo from here.
So we made a decision to turn the TV off during the week and to make an effort to have quality face time (and not the kind on your iPhone). Our first "intentional" activity was making a chore calendar, because it wasn't just my pleasure reading that wasn't happening as often as I'd like. It was my plants that were dying. And my shelves needed to be plowed for all the dust. Then we started getting creative. It's amazing how much quality time you can have when you're not competing with whatever lame fall show is on - like New Girl or Parks & Recreation. Both of which I actually happen to ADORE. But I'm growing, so I just say no. Most of the time. I'll be honest here.

We've played games and read books. Yes, two people with more than full-time jobs are reading for pleasure. Amazing. My house is very nearly spotless, for being old and dirty in nature. Plus, I've been working out for an hour almost every day. Seriously. This is a legitimate miracle. I've lost 5.5 pounds and my muscles have nearly stopped whining. I have very little interested (much less the blatant addiction from weeks ago) in checking my work e-mail after hours, which is a relief in itself. Ah, freedom... My plants are still dying, but it's not because I'm not watering them. It's because plants just die under my care. They give up and I don't know why. Maybe I love them to death.

By far the best part about this whole thing is that I feel more healthy and... engaged. I thought I needed to drown out my mind because it wasn't capable of just choosing not to fret. I was wrong.

I'll be honest and say that the first few weeks were really hard. We would make dinner and stare at each other with a twinge of panic in our eyes because we had NO IDEA what to do with the next 3 hours of our evening. But it's getting easier. And, to be fair, some of the panic might have been because we were out of ice cream.

For a while in the beginning, I felt like a martyr. I felt like I was making this grand sacrifice to be a more productive and just plain better person. But doing something that is good for me and gets me focused on the things that feed my soul is not really sacrifice. It's like fresh fruit and a good workout. Healthy and light. I feel better because of it.

We're trying to get more creative with our time and make sure that we're getting the most out of every minute. Here are a few of our ideas:

- Writing. I need to write for my mental health. The longer I go without it, the more I forget how much it centers me.
- Reading for pleasure. No explanation needed. Bliss.
- Weekly jam sessions. Me on guitar and him on the d'jembe (an African drum). We got to know each other during jam sessions in my dorm at college. These times are sacred.
- YouTube dance lessons. Yep. We're doing it. I don't even care if you laugh.
- Nightly walks around the neighborhood. This time is so refreshing. There is something about walking side by side that makes talking so easy and fun. Most of the time. We've also had heated conversations while walking (sometimes 'storming' is a better description) by our neighbors' houses. But it's worth it, and we almost always walk back into the house feeling closer and understood.
- Investing in people. I love my city (most of the time), I love the people in it and I love to get my hands dirty. But this was one of the first things to go when I was just too spent to do anything. I NEED this. If you live in Dallas, I know a ton of really fun ways to get involved! Ask me. I promise I'll have time to tell you.
- Puzzles. Remember those? My muscles are literally sore from last night's puzzle session. Apparently puzzling also makes me a little tense.

What are your favorite things to do when you have to entertain yourself?


  1. You've read my mind, and convicted me, and inspired me, and encouraged me, and have got me focused.
    We are about 7 weeks into married life and it's so different from my single life of vegging in front of the TV and computer for hours. We make dinner, and then go for a walk, or clean the house. Yet I still feel that tug from my fave TV show or website I haven't read in a while so I can fill the time. Good to hear I'm not the only one that thinks turning the TV off and staring into my husband's face at 7pm isn't the most comforting feeling at first.
    I didn't know it would be this hard to break a habit I didn't even know I had.


Post a Comment

Popular Posts