Over the weekend, I asked people what they would do if they had more time. I wanted to explore what’s being left behind in the hustle and bustle of daily life and why. Here is what I noticed:
1. Interestingly, only women responded to my inquiry. In the spirit of full-disclosure, I have an estrogen-strong virtual community but there are plenty of men there, men who regularly participate in the dialogue, and there was not a peep from any of them.
I can’t tell whether the silence was about impression management of the whole strong manly-man thing or not. Maybe I inadvertently timed those posts to appear when all of the men were otherwise occupied with man things. Whatever the cause of their silence, I couldn’t help but wonder if men are already doing what they mean to with their time.
2. Nobody mentioned housework, jobs, or time with children, partners, etc. In fact, except for friends, other people didn’t come up at all.
3. Every single response was something that, at least on the surface, is an activity would only serve (meaning make happy, healthy, hopeful, etc.) the woman who isn’t doing it.
What follows is a list of the most common responses plus thoughts on why waiting for our schedules to magically open up isn’t enough (plus inspiring quotes and beautiful pictures to engage more of your senses). At the bottom of the last page, you’ll find a not-even-remotely-veiled invitation to my Sick of Being Stuck program in case you decide that it’s time to make space for YOU in your life.
Art washes from the soul the dust of everyday life. – Pablo Picasso
I wish I had more time for art (or crafts, writing, etc). I wish I could say that this one surprised me but it didn’t. If your life is not already built around your art, it is so incredibly easy to not find time to create. But, that doesn’t mean it’s optional. I don’t care if it’s scrapbooking, painting, photography, knitting, or writing in a journal, when you have these impulses to create, trust that it has purpose, and refuse to let it go.
Making time to create will keep you connected to your feeling self in a world that too often calls on the thinking self alone. Also, creation energy is healing energy and it heals the artist. Art opens hearts and minds and when shared, the world becomes a better place.
When you make time to honor your creative impulse, you open the lines of communication between you, your inner knowing and your source (by whatever capital lettered name you have for it). Plus, there is no greater manifestation tool than to birth an image of what you desire to capture the magic in a moment of desire (I don’t care if it’s a quick sketch or a inspiring thought jotted on a napkin).
Lastly, if you want to live a more full, creative experience, you have to make space for that to continue to flow into your life. Otherwise, you’re saying, “No thanks, I’m good without you,” and I don’t need a crystal ball to know that’s not the message you mean to be sending to your higher, very creative self.
The most beautiful discovery true friends make is that they can grow separately without growing apart. - Elisabeth Foley
I wish I had more time for friends. Friendship is a magical thing, when we engage in it and I have to admit, this one left my heart aching a bit. I realized last fall that over the last couple of years, I sucked at some of the friendships that mean a great deal to me. Ironically, it’s not only that I haven’t been there for them (which, in fact, I hadn’t been and that sucks) but that I also haven’t been the me that I am when I’m being a good friend. As a life coach, I spend lots of time connecting with incredible women but it’s almost always about work. I missed playing with my friends and while I’m still not the rock star friend I intend to be, I’m showing up more and more and it feels good.
Give yourself the same gift. Once a month, have Indian food with a group of carefully chosen women who make you laugh so hard you cry (I learned that from my friends Laura and Susannah.) Email a friend who lives far away just to tell them about how something made you think of them today (like my friend Allison does). Make beautiful treasures and send them for no good reason (or for a good reason, if you have one) like my friend Suzanne’s rainbow makers. You could send a cd like my friend Jaime does, when you know that a friend needs a pick me up. (Try anything by Florence + The Machine but specifically “Dog Days Are Over”, which I once listened to again and again until a serious spell of desperation passed.) Or you could just pick up the phone and call, even if you don’t have the hour or two it will take to truly catch up (like I will be doing this week with my friend Dave). Or you can just marry them, which is what I did with my best friend.
There are so many options. Do anything you have within your means to reconnect with your community.
Books are a uniquely portable magic. – Stephen King
I wish I had more time to read. If it’s the chill-out and veg time you need, take it. If it’s the inspiration you need, take it. If it’s the knowledge you need, take it. Whatever it is that’s calling for you, answer it because there is nothing life-changing about a stack of unread books. (Don’t make me give my books as clutter lecture again.)
The thing about being a book lover with no time for books is that you are denying yourself something that nurtures your soul. And in order for you to be the person the world needs you to be, you need to have your needs met. Then, we’re too drained to be of value to those we wish to serve. If you allow yourself to become too busy to learn, how will you continue to grow? How will you become more masterful?
For years, I was a book lover who didn’t read for me. I read childbirth and parenting books, then books for school (loved those I had to read for my women’s studies minor) but then the reading just vanished. I had all of the same great excuses you have but we both know that it doesn’t really matter, does it?
Make time, even a chapter a week. Try audio books in the car or while you work out (I’ve actually made myself look forward to walking with this one.). Join or start a book study. Trust me, the accountability has me working my way through “Women Who Run with the Wolves: Myths and Stories of the Wild Woman Archetype” by Clarissa Pinkola Estés, PhD. and it was on the shelf for more than a decade.
And if you’re a writer, aspiring or otherwise, I offer you this addition reality check from Stephen King: “If you don’t have time to read, you don’t have the time (or the tools) to write. Simple as that.”
What is meditation? When you empty yourself and let the universe come in you. - Yogi Bhajan
I wish I had more time for meditation. Yeah, don’t we all? But, let’s get real here. You and I are both better people when we do it (or pray or whatever we do to connect with the divine within and beyond us). We are more calm, more creative, more blah, blah, blah. We are more of everything we want to be when we take time to meditate.
I think the biggest obstacles are not knowing how and thinking we don’t have time to do it properly. I call b.s., at least on the latter excuse. You need as little as a minute or as long as you’d like. And if you only have 20 seconds today, I say do it and we’ll call it a good foundation. This is about a willingness to pause. Breath is a gateway drug to sanity. If you don’t know what to do, just sit there and breathe. Notice your surroundings. Listen to what’s going on within. Breathe.
A wonderful woman named Carrie once told me that to meditate I need only to light a candle, set it a couple of feet away from me at eye level, set a timer for 10-minutes, and look into the flame with relaxed eyes so that I’m sort of looking through the flame. She told me to breathe in and out until the timer went off, and that no matter what happened… stay. That last word is the important part.
I had a really hard time releasing the thoughts that inevitably popped up during this process but I soon figured out that if I treat my breath like a wave, I can let them go quite easily. For example, as I take a long, slow breath in, I might notice an urgent thought about how I must write a newsletter today. Instead of just willing that thought out of my mind, I release it with my breath as if I were sending it out on a wave in the ocean.
Try it, you’ll see. It’s worth it to make the time for this one. I’ve done it in the pick up line at my kids school, in the parking lot before I run into the grocery store, at the park after a hike, in my closet when my offspring think I’m getting dressed to tote them to the next soccer game, and even more romantic times like in my yoga studio, at sunrise in my backyard, or in the blissful silence of a moonlit night at the end of a desperately long day.
Service to others is the rent you pay for your room here on earth. – Mohammed Ali
I wish I had more time to make a difference in the world. Well, you’re probably making way more of a difference in the world that you realize (or give yourself credit for). Are you opening doors for others, smiling at strangers, telling a child that you think he or she is smart and talented and powerful? Are you working with other creatures (human or otherwise) in some capacity that makes their lives better? Do you answer the phone when someone is in crisis?
Yes, formal volunteering is great but if you can’t do that, find someone who is counting out change to put a few dollars worth of gas in their car and offer to fill it up. Look around the places where you already spend time. Is there a way for you to show up more powerfully? It doesn’t have to be hard.
Also, I’m sick to death of people who give and give and give of themselves but feel not satisfaction because the activities they are investing their resources in are completely disassociated from their interests. I understand that they need cupcakes at your kid’s school for the St. Patrick’s Day party but does that get you all fired up about life?
What is on your heart? Everyone is different (that’s a little trick our source uses to make sure all that needs to be done actually gets done) and you’re job is to find what your heart longs to be a part of… and do it! Is it children, women, animals, politics, or the earth? Is there a certain disease that feel called to raise awareness about or research money for? What is it that makes your want to climb up on a soap box and take a stand about? Go do that.
Movement is a medicine for creating change in a person’s physical, emotional, and mental states. - Carol Welch
I wish I had more time to work out (run, do yoga, hike, and on and one). Yes, you do. And guess what, your body wishes you had more time too. I could go on and on here but why? You already know what there is to say. Your body is a machine that makes the execution of your soul’s work possible. If you don’t live your life purpose because you were too sick or too fat or too stuck to the couch or too busy to care for yourself, the world will suffer (and frankly, so will you).
Get up. Move your body. The world is waiting for you.
Dance first. Think later. It’s the natural order. – Samuel Beckett
I wish I had more time to dance. I don’t know how it is for men but there is something really magical about the impact of dance on a woman’s body and spirit. I see it again and again in the women I work and study with. If you want a change, put on your music, and turn it up. Let your body respond to the music and notice yourself as you are. Notice your muscles. Notice your curves. Notice the way the beat pulses through your body.
Certainly part of the power of dance is the music itself but the movement, even the most subtle movement, begins to shift the energy in your body. In turn, your mind starts to shift. If you allow yourself to surrender, you’ll find yourself feeling more in touch with you, with your inner strength. You are more powerful.
When you are trying to cultivate more health, love, creativity, spirituality, meaning, money, etc. in your life, why wouldn’t you make time to access your personal power first?
Seemed to me that drumming was the best way to get close to God. - Lionel Hampton
I wish I had more time to play my (insert instruments of choice). Can you see a pattern forming here? These are the very things that make us our best and we’re leaving them behind for the day to day chaos. If you read what I said about creating and dancing, then you already know why this matters. Music and the making of it nourishes the soul. We simply cannot allow our work or commute or parenting or grocery shopping to squeeze the life out of our lives.
And here’s the other thing, it is a spiritual act. If you want to live a spiritually connected life, do something to cultivate spirituality. You’re worth it. We all are.
No day is so bad it can’t be fixed with a nap. – Carrie Snow
I wish I had more time to sleep. I love a good nap just as much as the next person but I suspect that most of the women who answered “sleep” weren’t talking about naps. We are a sleep deprived lot if there ever was one and it’s not working out for us. We go and go and steal from our own fuel source. We’re too tired to haul our collective rear ends out of bed to start the next day powerfully (with meditation, some sort of movement, or even a deep breath) and we turn to caffeine, sugar, and whatever else to get and stay moving. (On a mildly related note, that commercial about the 4-Hour Energy Drink makes me want to pitch my tv out the back door. THAT is not a solution.)
You’re body is a machine. Sleep is like fuel. If you wouldn’t expect to your car to perform fabulously without putting gas in it, don’t expect to your body, mind, and spirit to perform fabulously without sleep. And yes, I know about all of the important things that you do instead of sleep. I have those too.
The reality is that choosing short-sighted wins over treating yourself well today will not cultivate the life you desire. You will not be well. You will not be strong. You will not thrive. If you want to turn this ship around, you have to choose you. Start with sleep.
Money won’t create success, the freedom to make it will. – Nelson Mandela
I wish I had more time so I could make more money. I wish you did too.
Like all of the others, this is a reasonable wish. If you have unmet wants and needs, it’s easy to wish for more hours in the day so you can make more money. If you try to steal them from sleep, read the last page again. It’s not working. If you are tempted to compromise your integrity to get more money, know that it won’t work out for you in the long run. If you’re really struggling to make ends meet, it’s time to regroup. You may be living beyond your means.
This 24-hours in each day is all we have. The connections we have in the community, are only as strong as they are. The energy we have to spend is all that we have and it these things aren’t adding up to what you need, it’s time to find a new way. If you’re living in alignment with the truth of who you are, there will be enough. Perhaps not more than enough at any given moment and certainly not always what we think it should be but enough. Period.
If not, it’s time to look for what’s out of alignment about the way your showing up in the world.
The name of the game is taking care of yourself, because you’re going to live long enough to wish you had. – Grace Mirabella
I love this picture and I love that quote because they represent all that I learned during my careless little experiment. (I’m sure my research methods teacher was having chest pains wherever he was when this inquiry went down.)
When there isn’t enough time to go around, we neglect ourselves and that neglect perpetuates a downward spiral of dysfunction. At first, it only impacts us and seems harmless but it isn’t harmless at all. We start to leave little pieces of ourselves behind, and it seems like it’s always the magical parts. It’s our art, our music, and our bodies that we think we’ll put off today and then tomorrow and then the next day. It’s our spirituality, our connection to source and self, which are the very relationships that bring what we desire into our lives.
Do you have a list of things you wish you had more time for? What’s on that list? It’s you, isn’t it?
Ouch, I know. I’m done with the vicious wake-up call, I promise. And you know that I sent it with love, right? You know, self-love. Yours. It needs you. You need you. All of the people who depend on you need you to do right by you because that’s the only way you’ll be what the world needs you to be. Frankly, we need you sane and healthy and inspired. Take care of it.
Lastly, I will offer you the aforementioned not-even-remotely-veiled invitation. If this article resonated for you and you can do what it takes to take back your life, I think that’s awesome. Honestly. Go for it! If not, registration for the next Sick of Being Stuck Intro Course is open. Click here to check it out.
(See that wasn’t so painful was it?) I’d love hear from you in the comments. What’s on your list? Are there things you’ve found time to bring back into your life? How did you do it? And let’s share because… together we are stronger.