"Between stimulus and response there is a space. In that space is our power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and our freedom." #ViktorFrankl
We’ve cleaned our closets, cupboards, garage and said no to many of our obligations. We are left with space and time. What now?
Okay, I haven’t actually cleaned the garage yet. It feels so daunting, with heavy awkward items, that are tempting me to pull my back out, just looming in the aisles. Not every closet is cleaned either, but I am significantly less cluttered than I was, even a year ago. Not only my house, but my time. I went down the list this spring and moved myself off every committee and fundraiser I could that was draining me to pulp. I was left with a big empty space that I’m craving to fill.
Space feels so…empty. Lonely, underachiever, slacker, bored, lazy. Lots of judgement words come up in this “free” time.
I saw someone post on Facebook that when they cleared their space and time and had room to breathe, they filled it with enough sleep and healthful cooking. What a concept! Why do we equate “busy” with “successful?” Having just watched “Where to Invade Next” by Michael Moore you can’t help but feel envious of the Italian’s sense of normalcy around leisure. An Italian couple stated how much healthier and happier they feel, as well as engaged in their work, because they have the time needed to relax and enjoy life too.
There is a concept in nutrition called “crowding.” The basic concept is that you crowd out the unhealthy food with healthy food. Instead of focusing on what you have to give up, you crowd healthy food in first so that you care less about the unhealthy food. What if we did this with our time?
When I first started my business I created goals every year of increasing my number of clients and increasing my sales. Until I burned out. I was so focused on “success” that I began to hate my job that began as a passion. It took my dad dying for me to wake up and realize that no one made me work like this. I was my boss. I decided that if I was going to stay in business I had to do it differently. My way. Instead of how I thought it was “supposed” to be done. I created boundaries and valued myself more. When I was focusing on increasing clients and increasing sales I barely had time to go to the bathroom, let alone enjoy raising my kids or being sweet to my husband. So if you talked to me about clearing space for healthy replenishing time I would have thought you were crazy. WHEN would I fit THAT in???
During my initial Year of Me, I made a change that put my health first. I put yoga on my calendar twice a week and never moved or gave it up for a client. Just like a river flows around rocks, appointments easily accommodated around those two points on the schedule. When working from fear I would accommodate those points away and put them last. When working for health, they were top priority. Without the health of my body, I could not do my job. Therefore, yoga comes first. This follows the rule of “crowding.”
What if we take that crowding concept a step further and we create SPACE as part of our priority? We are conditioned to believe that if we are “slacking off” we won’t be as successful in our work. Just look at the Italians every time this thought crosses your mind. I would never judge them as slacking off and envy their attitude of leisure. They also produce products with a reputation for quality and they are respected.
“But what will we DO with our spare time?”
I’ve seen many articles on how it’s healthy for your kids to be bored, because that’s when they get creative. When I look at my own open space I think “what would I do if I could do anything?” I’m now creating photography personal projects and signing up for ukulele lessons. Why should our kids have all the fun?
It all starts with blocking off that space on the calendar, or letting go of an obligation like a balloon. Nudge space or create space, then fill it with nothing until the creativity comes.