How often do we "honor the hours"? How regularly do we strip back the to-do list and look at time as still, as constant, as fixed? The perception of life as a race is a dangerous one, the hurry to achieve, tick off and smash goals is so ingrained in us we live perpetually in some imagined version of the future. For the last three months I have moved into an entirely new paradigm, bouncing gently from place to place, from task to task. I slowed down my social media presence. I did not write a blog post. I was very anti social. I missed dozens of events. I was a little selfish with my time. I slept during the day, I played with my son, decorated my new house, re-did my closet and allowed myself to get lost in the things that make me feel whole. Doing this felt so foreign I found myself checking in every few days and asking myself "am I insane, did the world stop spinning, have I ruined my career or let my goals slip out of my finger tips" Guess what? None of those questions could be answered with yes, in fact all of those questions could be answered with a big fat NO!
Having time out, not just a few hours (although it all helps) but considered, consistent and complete blocks of time out of the fast lane is the best thing you can do for your career, your relationships, your sense of purpose and your goals. Taking a rest might seem like a bad idea when your goals are all laid out in front of you stretching on for miles waiting to be tackled, but by simply stopping for a day, a week, a month or even a year, you will not lose traction, you will remain where you were or find yourself on a different path which was perhaps the best version of life for you anyway. Step aside, take the time, you will not go backwards, you will actually find yourself miles ahead in the end.
Taking time out is a delightful little notion given to us in self help books, positive quotes and by successful business people who spruik the benefits of "switching off". What does it mean though? It is different for everyone but for me it means a bunch of varied little things which I often forget in the day to day. I decided to write these things down so I don't forget how much I need to do them to keep my sanity.
1. Walking to nowhere....I need this as much as I need food and water. Walking to new places, discovering tracks I've never footed and wandering without a sure destination, essentially just allowing myself to get a little lost, that is what feeds my soul. Being surrounded by nature with no one around me gives me a sense of freedom and connection to my childhood. The profound perspective this gives me does not compare to any other single thing on this planet.
2. Driving away the pain....nothing soothes my emotions or heals my hurts like driving does. During the most difficult time of my life I spent hours on the highway. I had no choice given the geography of the disaster I was escaping but that was in many ways a blessing. I need the highway. The highway is my connection to freedom, a hug from the universe that calms me when my heart is shattered and the pain so palpable I think I might never breath again. Driving dilutes the hurt.
3. Cooking....I am no master chef. I'm not a foodie, I could take or leave most meals, I eat for fuel more than taste. I've never been a big food lover but I love cooking, recently more than ever. I enjoy the process, the warmth of being in the kitchen with my son watching me create something which I can share with him. Cooking is calming.
4. Being surrounded by water...the ocean, the shower, watering plants, hydrating, water, water, water. My spirit becomes dehydrated when I venture or remain inland too long, I crave H20 on my skin in an almost overwhelming way. Perhaps this is because I am a Pisces and it is inbuilt in my makeup or perhaps all human beings feel this way. Whatever the reason, water is the key to calm for me.
5. Words...writing, reading, poems, magazines, books, words are a world I need. Words have guided me through the ups and downs of life since I was first handed a "real book" and discovered the escapism available at my finger tips.
6. Messing up...getting it wrong, being inappropriate, getting a little wild, saying the wrong thing, completely blowing an opportunity. Messing up has been as vital to my success and my happiness as getting it right. I love my mess up's, I have a hell of lot. I've often skipped out, run away, ruined something, let life fall right through my finger tips and rather than bringing me undone or destroying me, these "mistakes" have created the very life I wanted. Our instinct is more powerful than out intellect. When we walk away from something that looks perfect and in turn makes us look insane, when we quit a job on the first day, when we cancel a wedding with just a few days notice, when we stay out till 5am or when we forget to pay the electricity bill, when we jump in the car in search of something new while the picket fence life keeps chasing after us, it is our instinct kicking us into gear to run a million miles from that which doesn't fit. Thank god for my mistakes, each and every one of them. Life is peachy because my instinct won over everything else. Making time for mistakes is imperative to a good life. Sometimes I forget this and I get things right and life ticks along but then I remember that girl who jumped in her beat up old car the day she turned 18 and drove over 1000km's to start a new life with no plans, no security and no idea what was next. That is the girl who makes things happen. She was messy but she lived big and I never want to not live big, I never want to get it all right.
7. Solitude...I am a people person. People make me happy and I am not one to spend much time alone but more and more I am understanding I get just as much energy from solitude as I do from social interaction. Cutting through the noise allows clarity and this is impossible when surrounded by crowds and the various energies of other human beings. Grab that alone time, take a whole day, or a week if possible, to be with just yourself and your own energy. Revive yourself in a cocoon free from any outside force. Protecting our energy isn't something we are taught to do but it should be. Our energy is what allows us to give, engage, create and love. Nurture that energy and protect it. It is your tool to achieve just about everything.
Whatever your time out is, whether you have 7 things like me, just 1 or dozens, write these things down. Remind yourself you need these things like you need exercise, food and water. We allow ourselves to forget the most important things yet we remember things which will never help us, like something mean someone said to us 10 years ago. Make a list and take some time, I promise you won't lose traction or fall behind, time out won't take you anywhere but forwards.