So this summer was a unique one for me. I made a commitment to myself:
I was not going to take any travel work projects
I would commit to taking better care of myself
I would spend more quality time with Autumn.
If I were to rate myself on a scale of 1 to 10 on how well I achieved this goal I would have initially given myself a 4.
But I would give myself a 4 and feel happy about it. I might even give myself a 3 1/2 and feel happy about it. Even though it wasn’t exactly what I envisioned, my attitude improved about what I DID make happen.
Typically, I would create a scenario where I would only focus on everything I should or should not have done instead of allowing myself to feel good about what I HAD done well. And when I do that, it sends me into a spiraling story that ends in the space between guilt and shame.
However, this summer I stayed focused on how I could create more of what I wanted. Because I was focusing on that, my brain somehow let go of what I didn’t do well.
And here are a few tricks that helped me at least make some of it happen. These are the ones I plan to keep now that the summer is over:
Create Calendar Commitments: I started putting time for what I wanted to focus on in my calendar (as if it were a meeting) BEFORE letting it fill up with my many obligations to others - clients, friends, extended family, or even my own family.
I literally put a calendar entry in my calendar for “April happy heart” time. This summer I was able to create 4 whole days of this. I originally wanted to do that every week but what a gift it was to have several full days where I woke up and did what my heart wanted.
Now don’t get me wrong, usually about the time I was about to embark on my dreamland to do what April wants, I would inevitably get bombarded with something urgent or a fire to put out, or my computer breaking etc.
So not every “full day” was dedicated completely to “April’s happy heart” but even so, I found that if I would honor the calendar commitment I made to myself, at least some space would get set aside for that purpose.
Little to No Pre-Planning: Ok, so now that I had a “calendar commitment”, I felt like I needed a “plan” to ensure it was fruitful. But then, planning “free time” felt somewhat ironic. What I learned is that the biggest value of having space for myself was that I was able to get out of my normal planning mode. Instead, I:
Created a “bucket list” of passions, interests, and other things I would like to do on Trello so that when my free time started, at least I wasn’t racking my brain for “what do I do now?” (ok, so maybe that counts as some planning….)
On the day of my commitment to self, I would wake up, look at my Trello list and pick something that felt good in that moment.
To be honest, one of my favorite ways to spend my time was to simply “rest” – I had, up until this summer, devalued the beauty and benefits of resting.
Protect My Time: It’s surprising how much I (up until now) tend to value everyone else’s time over my own. I don’t know if it’s because I was taught to “put others before yourself” or if it has to do with my strength of Empathy . Who knows but regardless, I am learning that I can show up for other’s needs in a healthier way if I allow myself to have time for me. I love the way Jordan Gray puts it here. So, I am seeing the value of:
Staying focused on my goals
Treating myself like I would my clients - protecting my time as if I had a very important meeting with someone that I couldn’t miss.
Take more Epson salt baths. This may sound ridiculous or overly simple, but the beauty of a bath is not to be overlooked! I got to where I was taking a bath almost 5 nights a week. It feels so indulgent and yet it really doesn’t take much to make that happen. For me, the key is to:
Wait until Autumn goes down, then lock my bathroom door
Put in 4 cups of Epson salt
8 drops of Serenity doterra oil
Light five white candles
Turn the lights off.
Maybe listen to an audio book or soothing music (here are the 5 books on my Audible play list now)
So, here’s the most interesting part. The reason I initially gave myself a 4 is because I didn’t feel good about my time with Autumn. It felt harder for me to define or qualify what was “quality time” with Autumn.
Yes, we vacationed together. Yes, we got a handful of lazy mornings together. But honestly, there were lots of camps, lots of spur of the moment changes in plans, lots of her getting to socialize and be with her friends
That was all great – but how much did that count as quality time with me?
I had separated quality time with myself from quality time with her. I was “measuring”, “calculating”, “analyzing” my time with her.
It wasn’t until one night the week before school started that something shifted in the way I was thinking about my time with her. I would call it a magical moment. When putting her to bed, I had this moment where I just laid there, noticing her beauty and listening to her as if for the first time. I suddenly had this feeling that nothing else mattered except this moment with us. It was like time stopped.
And suddenly, I really got how the time with me “filling my cup” really DID translate to the connection with her.
I saw that time with me = more capacity to be with her. Can I hashtag that? - don’t know if you’re supposed to do that with a blog. #timewithmeequalsmorecapacitywithher.
Instead of anxiously worrying about whether I was doing “good enough” and being a mom who could measure up, I shifted into a space of just being grateful for the moment I had with her.
And with that gratitude, I saw that the act of analyzing and measuring my “effectiveness as a mom” was actually taking me away from the very thing I was trying to create with her. Special moments.
So, maybe I’ll give myself a 10!