This is a piece I wrote when my eight year old was just a toddler and I worked full time. I think it still applies to busy moms --and writing moms everywhere. Don't let all the must-dos get in the way of your true goals! Evaluate your priorities and make something happen!
Someone once asked me how I’d spend my time if I had just one week to live the way I wanted. I thought she asked me how I’d spend my time if I had just one week left to live, so I filled that week with all the things I’ve always wanted to do. I told her I’d travel, go skiing, spend time with my daughter, visit my grandmother and take my laptop to the beach and write. She asked me if I could do those things now—without waiting until the final week of my life. I told her I could do it all...if only I had the time.
“Time?” she asked. “If it’s really important, you will make time. All your dreams will come true when you allow them to.”
“Right,” I replied. “Don’t you understand that I have a job, a family...commitments? I want to enjoy myself, but...”
“You don’t have the time?”
The banter continued until I realized that I wasn’t devoting my life to the things I truly enjoyed. In the weeks that followed, I saw that there was more to life than chasing the American Dream. I was missing out. Sure, I had a truly amazing daughter, a loving husband, an interesting job with a stable company and a house in the suburbs. But, as I zipped through life collecting job titles and accumulating possessions, I was oblivious to the world around me. I was a zombie cycling through motions, roaming the earth without experiencing life. My days were a hubbub of activity, but my task-oriented lifestyle was a barrier to true happiness. I was incapable of relaxing unless every last item was crossed off my to-do list. And, even then, I didn’t know how to unwind. In my mind, every minute needed to be accounted for and used productively.
I got hung up on the little things—cleaning the toilet bowls, sweeping up dust bunnies, picking up toys and attending to a never-ending list of errands. I completely stopped exercising because I felt it was not worth doing if I couldn’t adhere to a perfect schedule.
As any Type A personality can tell you, it’s difficult to change life’s pace. I was goal-oriented, task-oriented and didn’t have time for things that got in the way of my goals. But, I forced myself to slow down. I challenged myself to look inward each day and record my thoughts in a journal. I pushed and pushed until I became consciously aware of my surroundings.
Through all this, I realized I was alive, but I wasn't really living.
Until this point, I was a detached observer. I wanted to become an active participant. Life is about not accepting the world at face value. It’s about absorbing the world with all your senses and appreciating the miracles of nature. It’s about truly caring about the people, places and things around you, not going through the motions. It’s about challenging the way things are, making a difference and affecting someone’s life for the better.
As I began celebrating life, the tension faded from my face. I stopped cursing drivers who came to a screeching halt at yellow lights. I let the dishes pile up in the kitchen sink. I watched the autumn leaves change from green to red to gold. I heard the excited laughter of children playing in the park. I took a vacation without checking my voice mail. I spent time with my daughter and I realized my life is wonderful.
I have no more time than I did in the past. I still have a job, a family and commitments. But, I’m making my dreams come true. I’m living a fabulous life because I choose to.