We get out of bed in the morning, jump in the shower, and brush our teeth. We throw on some clothes, hustle to get the kids out the door with homework and lunch in hand, and hustle off to start our day also. We get into work just in time to open an email for a surprise team meeting, grab a quick, maybe not the healthiest lunch, and try to dig ourselves out of the never-ending pile of papers and projects that seem to magically appear from nowhere. We grab our jacket, making sure to grab our son to take him to football practice and while he is there, we just might have enough time to pick up our daughter’s dance recital paperwork and pay that bill. We head home only to get the kids a quick and easy dinner, get them washed up and start on homework. Once they are off to bed, do our feet finally hit the floor, just to look through the mail, pay a few more bills online, and say hello to our spouse. What’s his name again? Wait…what’s OUR name? We trudge off to bed at about 11pm. And then we remember. Oh, crap…we have treats tomorrow for school. We put on our thinking caps and start processing on whether or not donuts from the local bakery count as “snacks.” We are so exhausted that even our thoughts stop making sense. And then we realize that we get the same assignment tomorrow…and the next day…and the next. JEESH.
This is how many of us live, day after day. Some of it cannot be helped, but most of it can. Our society has become one where “more is good” and so we have this constant craving for more — more activities for our kids…more driving time for us…more ways to be involved…more ways to forget…more ways to stay connected…more ways to become stale.
I remember this life very well as I was entangled in it not too long ago. When all three of our boys played select and high school baseball while my husband coached, we had 180 games on the calendar between mid-March and the end of July. Since we knew that my husband would attend the game with the team (and son) he was coaching, that left the other two sons and their teams to me. In case you have not noticed, I have not created a way to duplicate myself (or you, for that matter). Yes, we scrambled just like you do. The dinner phrase, “Fend for yourself ” is still used to this day. I like to think of it as a way for the boys to be resourceful with what they find in the pantry or freezer, learn some basic cooking skills, and appreciate what preparing a meal for 5 would be like. Usually, it is more of a complaining session as they remind me of what we don’t have and need to get on our next trip to Sam’s.
Life won’t slow down unless we make some changes. And if we are only focused on ourselves, then how can we possibly have time to do for others? We are pulled in enough directions as it is that asking to complete one more task in an already-jammed day doesn’t seem possible. I know you are asking yourself, “You want me to do what?” “Would you like to “biggie” size that order of obligation and include a side order of commitment?”
Yes, I do. I want you to stop being so focused on you so you can start living outside of your own world.
I think I just heard a few groans from a few of you. Not another responsibility. I don’t have time! There is no way I can do this! This lady is crazy (not that kind of crazy) if she thinks I can pay attention to others around me. (Go ahead…say what you have to say. Get it over with so that we can move on.)
But what I want from you in the next few minutes is just to think. Pressured for time that all of us (yes, me too) never seem to have enough of these days. If you think I some how managed to find a few more minutes in a 24 hours day, then you would be sadly mistaken. I get the same 24 hours you do. I just use them differently.
And using our minutes differently means thinking differently.
You are already thinking anyway. Might as well put them to better use. I understand that we sometimes need to take a little “recess”and feed our guilty pleasures with the latest episode of “The Voice” or the athletic version of “Wipe Out” with American Ninja Warrior so that we can recharge our batteries.
But here is a quick list of things we can do every day that we miss. The world is big and vast and there are going to parts of it we never see and get to experience. Don’t we deserve to get all we can out of our life while we can?
How can we change this so selfishness doesn’t rule?
Here is a quick list of things to add a little liveliness to the normal 24 hours we deal with:
- Put your spouse’s towel in the dryer while they are in the shower, and surprise them with a nice, warm towel when they get out.
- Write a note and put it into your kids’ lunch box. (Side note, a friend of mine used to get notes all the time from her dad and they continued even when she went to college.)
- Send a text to someone you are missing. You will smile to yourself for the rest of the day
- Compliment a co-workers’ outfit, new hair style, or weight loss.
- Wave to your new neighbor who just moved in across the street
- Pay for the coffee for the stranger behind you in line at Starbucks
- Offer to drop off another child who lives two houses from you.
- Read to learn and grow. (Again, guilty pleasures abound with the next level of “Candy Crush” or checking your timeline of “Facebook”. You can visit…just don’t live there.)
- Make the time to exercise. If the only time you have is at 5am, then 5am it is. See you then!
- Find something that keeps you involved in something. It can be volunteering at your kids’ school, putting together the church bulletin, or collecting clothes for a women’s shelter.
- Watch a YouTube video on how to learn to crochet (yes, you can be watching the entire season of Ellen on your DVR at the same time.)
This list can be anything you want it to be! Be creative. Look for opportunities that are right in front of you that will guide you. Living your life gets so much better when you share your life with others, even in little bits here and there. It can be done. When you find yourself getting off track, remember what it feels like to look outside of your own little world and then we begin to not feel so bogged down with the daily tasks we have to do because in the few seconds that we have managed to find (somewhere), we don’t feel so overloaded and so “blah” about our own lives.
We have choices to make every day and any choice we make can help us be better people, which makes us better spouses, better parents, better siblings, and better friends. And who doesn’t want to be better?
“No one ever wishes they had done less. They always wish they had done more.” – unknown
Michelle A. Homme 2014 ©