In the introduction of her book, 168 Hours Laura Vanderkam tells the story of an "good day" in her life. While there was nothing spectacular that occurred during the course of her day (no milestone reached, or gigantic victories to report) she defined it as a good day because the time spent was devoted to those activities that epitomized the sort of life she envisioned for herself.
By that definition, I had a pretty good weekend. As someone who has perpetually struggled with a perceived deficit of time relative to what I felt I wanted or needed to accomplish, overwhelm has been a state with which I'm quite familiar.
Lately, though I've been feeling less and less overwhelmed as I am settling into a rhythm that is propelling me along at a comfortable pace.
Some of this newfound comfortable pace has to do with the dust starting to settle as I readjust to a new lifestyle brought by the end of my four year relationship that had occupied so much of my time and informed so much of my routine. It was time I wanted to spend because I valued the relationship and was willing to invest in it.
Nevertheless, when it was over there was a pretty large time void to fill.
At first, I filled it with lots of activities that related to my interests but soon realized that I needed to pace myself or at least organize my time a bit better.
Even before I started "reading" 168 hours (I'm actually listening to it on audio) I'd started the process of bringing my lifestyle in alignment with my energy levels, values, objectives and goals - more realistically evaluating how much I could take on before overwhelm started to descend on me and my self care (getting enough sleep, taking time to eat well, excercise, etc...) started to suffer.
Self care - that's the first thing that suffers with me. Another book, entitled The Art of Extreme Self-Care by Cheryl Richardson helped me sort out my self care issues. In truth, I think there is nothing "extreme" about her recommendations. It just seems extreme because some of us are so BAD at it and feel so guilty for caring for ourselves when we are used to putting the needs of others first, all the time.
And, yes, I actually do read this embarrassingly large number of self-help books.
The premise of 168 hours is that we have more time than we think. Rather than thinking of our time in 24 hour increments, if we consider a week (168 hours) as the unit we have to work with, we will see that we are not as time starved as we think we are. Even without keeping the suggested time log, I can attest that she is right and the more time I've devoted to self care and recharge time, the more productive I've been with time for fun as well.
So, what was my "good day" (Saturday) like?
It started with morning pages and coffee, followed by a 40 minute walk.
Once home, I prepared a healthy breakfast and put a low carb zucchini loaf into the oven for a special weekend treat.
Then I put on some music, (Katie Herzig suited my mood on this day) and commenced to doing my weekly Fly Lady routine. If you don't know who Fly Lady is by the way, you should check her out. She literally changed my life when I first discovered her in 2003. I had a classic case of "CHAOS," which stands for "Can't Have Anyone Over Syndrome." Seriously, check her out especially if you are very busy and have a hard time keeping things up at home.
After that was done, I took a break and sat down to enjoy my fresh baked zucchini bread with a cup of coffee. Just as I sat down, my youngest son called to chat with some very very good news that he was going to be able to finish up his contract with the Marines nine months earlier than expected. More on this later.
After we finished chatting, I spent some computer time with my blog, commenting, and emails related to it. In addition, I took care of a few important tasks on the new web project I'm doing on the side.
That took me to about lunch time and while a luscious pre-made asparagus and cheese stuffed bacon wrapped chicken breast (OMG Kroger just started carrying these and they are awesome) baked, I took a nice hot bath.
Are you bored yet? Well, hold on this is about to get exciting.
Did my hair and makeup (Katie Herzig still seranading), dressed and headed out to shop at HOBBY LOBBY! Woooo! What, you don't find this exciting? Well, I do. I really, really do - probably abnormally so. Got some great deals on feathers for my nest, and I'm really into feathering my nest these days.
Hobby Lobby was just a stop on the way as I had tickets to see Shawn Mullins at 3rd & Lindsley. Today's images are were from my evening. I must say of all the shows I've seen recently this has been THE best. He really rocked it. If you only know Shawn by his radio hit "Lullaby" then you've missed a lot. In my opinion; however, his recordings pale in comparison to his live performances. I could barely stay in my seat.
Again, I went alone but ended up sharing a table with a delightful couple from Murfreesboro, who provided good company and conversation prior to the show and in the breaks. Live music is so much more fun when you can share it with people who appreciate it - even if they are complete strangers. Still it would be nice to meet someone who would enjoy it as much as I do.
It was a late night, and I realized by Sunday morning that my ambitions for what I wanted to accomplish for Sunday were a bit too high and I needed recovery. So I did take an extra long Sunday afternoon nap.
As with Vanderkam's day, my weekend wasn't particularly special - except that it was pretty perfect. This is what my new life looks like. And, it's looking pretty good.
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