“What in your life is calling you? When all the noise is silenced, the meetings adjourned, the lists laid aside… what still pulls at your soul?” –Terma Collective, “The Box”
I’m really hooked on accomplishment. The thrill of doing and having done is intoxicating. I totally get a kick out of making a list of actions and then checking each one off, closing out the list with that satisfied sigh. But I detest being called busy.
Busy, if you look it up in the dictionary, means used up and unavailable. I don’t want to be used up–that would mean there’s nothing left of me for later. And I sure as hell don’t want to be unavailable. If there’s one thing that trumps the thrill of accomplishment, it’s the joy of helping people. For me, that means I need to be available, ready, present, aware, and approachable.
One of my clients came into a recent session and expressed the need for a different kind of space and availability in her life. Her mom is terminally ill and together, my client and her family are navigating that path of suffering and sadness and caring and kindness that leads to saying goodbye. I know that path–I walked it a year ago. When I was in my client’s situation, I was ruthless in making myself available. I wiped everything off the schedule. Everything: sleep, writing, running my business, exercise, you name it. I have no regrets about what I did (I’d do it again if needed) but I realize now that becoming available doesn’t have to be so radical, nor should we have to wait for a crisis to cultivate availability.
And that’s not all. Being available for other people and their needs is only part of the equation. My client expressed this so beautifully when she talked about needing, desperately, to be available for herself. To feel what she’s feeling instead of rushing past it. To process what’s happening to her in real time. To grieve. To rest.
To create that kind of availability, the kind my client needs now and the kind I forgot to give myself last year, requires space.
Block off time in the calendar that is yours alone. When you’re slammed with work or whatever, it seems monumentally selfish to carve out some “you-time.” And yet, that you-time is your availability for yourself. Nobody can give you this time–the only way to get it is to claim it, guard it, and own it.
Be unapologetic about your you-time. And secretive, if that’s what it takes. Yeah, I know. There’s that guilt thing. Here, that guilt is totally misplaced. Ignore it. Dispute it. Order it off the premises.
Resist the urge to fill your you-time with catching up. That empty space will seem oh-so-perfect for working on backlog. But it’s not. Your you-time will only be effective if you actually remain present for yourself. Getting preoccupied with all that yammering stuff will drown out your inner voice–the wise deep you-voice that you need to hear so you can identify what’s really pulling at your soul.
Cultivate your willingness to stay still through the inevitable antsyness that will sneak up on you. Depending on how hooked into doing you are, it may take a while for this restlessness to pass. For goodness sake, don’t give in to it.
And be prepared for that moment when you start to feel as if taking some time for yourself is “waste of time.” Make a list of all the reasons why your you-time is necessary and re-read your list early and often. You may find quotes or affirmations that give you strength. Use those when you start to feel your resolve weakening.
“…these inner yearnings are our living dreams,” writes Kelly Rae Roberts, “our life’s possibility today. If we’re not conscious about their presence in our lives, then they get buried underneath the layers of everyday details.” You and your dreams are too precious to let them get buried. Look at your calendar right now. Don’t wait until later. And you don’t need a huge open slot–an hour or two will do to start–block it off right now. Take time for your own inner-dialog. Be available to hear for your own wise voice. Create space so you can stretch and let your spirit roam.