This weekend I was sick with a cold. My cubicle neighbors at work have been hacking up a lung and the germs must have circulated. Whenever I feel a cold coming on, I take zinc lozenges, which usually make the cold half as bad as it would have been otherwise. I can’t stand the idea of being knocked out for 5-7 days, given all that I do in the course of a week, and I also just don’t like feeling rotten. Taking zinc, along with drinking water and getting extra sleep, allows me to feel semi-decent and not cancel too many activities.
I remember the last time I felt a cold coming on, I had run out of zinc lozenges. I considered stopping by a drugstore for more, but decided not to. Maybe it was laziness or lethargy, or maybe it was the fact that I’d been going at full speed for weeks (months?) and simply wanted a break. I wanted to crawl into bed at 8 PM and sleep till 8 AM. I wanted my job to be blowing my nose and drinking tea.
Why can’t I give myself permission to take a break when I’m not sick? It seems there’s always something to do. I need to print tax forms, dust and sweep the house, get groceries and do food prep, choose music to play for Easter. The list can feel practically endless at times.
I can take steps to reduce my stress and the length of my to-do list. For example, I’ve been meaning to hire a cleaning service to help me once a month or so. I can ask for help, I can leave some things undone, and do other things in a cursory fashion.
When our out-of-town family stopped over for tea and dessert, I was a little embarrassed that the house wasn’t without a speck of dust (I regret to say the bed may have been unmade). But the dishes were done, there were comfortable places to sit, free of clutter– and besides, they came to visit, not to inspect every corner. Do I want to enjoy a full life, or do I want to become a crazy person who stays up till 2 in the morning, cleaning?
There are ways to let life be more manageable. There is room for more ease, more routines that will help me with my goals. In the meantime, I can give myself a break. I work in publishing in the city, am a professional coach, landlord, musician, and wife. I volunteer with Big Brothers Big Sisters, which I love, but it too takes time. I also try to make it to my yoga mat or the treadmill a few times a week.
I enjoy stretching myself and doing things that make me feel truly alive–more connected to others, and to who I am at my core. Sometimes I do enjoy plopping down on the couch to watch a movie, and I need that to recharge–but I’m glad that a sitcom binge is a relatively rare occurrence. I can practice being mindful about how I inhabit my own life–how I structure, stretch, and play with it.
When I’m sick and want to absolve myself of any responsibilities beyond sleep, it’s a sign that I’m craving more balance. Perhaps I’m craving time to prop up my feet and look out the window–just look, and let my thoughts come and go like clouds. I might need time to write in my journal, to reflect or meditate.
Life is lived both internally and externally. Both are important and they complement one another. The time I spend reflecting or journaling powers me up to engage more willingly and productively in the world. Once I’ve been active, I have much more enjoyment in a quiet night (or weekend) at home.
I’ve made a list of my top priorities the next couple of months, so that I’ll know if I’m on track or veering off:
#1 Wellness: this means sleeping 8 hours, doing yoga, and running. Trying to eat real food for lunch, and enough food that I don’t raid the candy drawer at 3:00.
#2 Fun, love, and friends: for me, this means spending time with those I love–especially my husband, friends and family–and doing things simply because I enjoy them.
#3 Mastering the organ pedals: if not now, when? I have an excellent teacher, and my year will only get busier as it goes on. So I’ve committed to practicing 4 or more times a week.
#4 Expanding my coaching business: I’m taking more workshops at CTI and going to events through Meetup.org to connect with people who may be curious about coaching.
If I’m craving down-time, the non-essentials have to go. As a result, there are other activities I’ve turned down because they don’t fit with my vision of my future self. At this point in my life, while I might derive certain benefits from them, they ultimately get in the way of my top priorities. If they divert from where I want to put my focus, they don’t serve me–even if I would enjoy them.
So right now, I can forgive myself when the house is a little messy. I can feel good about leaving things undone and getting a good night’s sleep. I can be proud when I devote time and energy to my coaching and music businesses.
Having a vision reminds me of who I want to become, and what trade-offs I’ve decided I’m willing to make in order to get there. Let the rest fall by the wayside… there will be another phase of life when I could pick some of it back up.
Are you ready to explore your life vision? Who do you want to become? What’s something that if you never did, you wouldn’t feel fulfilled? Visit my coaching page for ways to connect with me. You may find that setting up a free sample call with me could be an important step towards creating an even richer and more fulfilling life.