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  • More on saying "no" so that I can say "yes"

    A while back I blogged about my decision to forgo a beautiful large house for a smaller space, with the trade off of spending time on things that matter more to me rather than on commuting or maintaining a house. Not long after that I considered quitting training for the San Diego Rock 'N' Roll marathon. I had stopped enjoying those 16 and 18-mile training runs on Sundays. They had become just one more “to do” to cross off my list.

    Now, I’m the kind of person who once publicly committed to a goal has trouble reneging on it. (There’s that good American Protestant work ethic in play, which remains lodged in my psyche no matter what my actual spiritual beliefs.) So, I backed off training a bit but kept running, and lo, I injured my hip flexor muscle. I kept running on the injury, and it worsened to the point that I was hobbling in pain just trying to walk Moses a quarter mile. I’m embarrassed to admit here that I was that stubborn, that it took something as dramatic as needing physical therapy for me to surrender my ego’s need to achieve and say, “Okay, body, I’m listening now. You have my attention.”

    I’ve mostly recovered at this point and segued to a more balanced fitness routine of low-impact cardio, strength training, and lots and lots of yoga to prevent future injury. But the lesson has lodged in my brain: Listen. Balance. Choose sustainability.

    In that same post about small spaces, I also mentioned my intention to track my time for 2 weeks. I won’t bore you with the details of how many minutes I spend brushing my teeth, but one thing that did arise for me is how much time I lose during the transitional periods of my day. I can rattle around for 30 minutes finding random things to do upon arriving home from work (unload the dishwasher, return phone calls, retrieve the snail mail) because I seem to have trouble relinquishing the need to be “productive” at the end of my day, to have trouble transitioning from “doing” to “being.” I think I need a small ritual—a few yoga poses or just lighting a candle-- to mark the space between the joints of my day and bring a sense of balance.

    See there, I am paying attention (finally). What about you? What do you do to create balance? What things would you like to give up in order to create time and space for the things that you really value?



  • "You have more time than you think."

    Recently, I decided to look at houses. I made the beautiful, winding drive on Del Dios out to Lake Hodges in southern Escondido one late afternoon to preview a house whose online listing I had both drooled over. And it was quite a house—stucco walls with an amazing carved front door made of reclaimed wood and a kitchen with a copper hood. It had a brick floor, mosaics, two (2!) outdoor fireplaces, and a wood-burning outdoor pizza oven. The large yard was landscaped with gravel paths, charmingly untidy rose bushes, and wisteria climbing up the back fence. Oh, it was drool worthy, but as I toured I started to feel a little overwhelmed. If this were mine, I’d have to clean it (or work harder and make more money to pay someone else to clean it). And this yard would take hours every week to keep up (or I’d have to be able to pay someone else to do it). As I made the slow drive back in the slanting, golden light, I started thinking about time. It would take me an extra hour every day to drive to and from Escondido to the office. How much was my time worth? I decided it wasn’t worth an amazing house.

    The next week I toured an 1100 square foot cottage in Leucadia, and something in me said, yes. Yes, this is quite large enough for a person and a poodle, thank you. And that started me thinking about saying “no” so that I can say “yes.” It seems as though I spend so much time doing things that don’t particularly fulfill me (cleaning, driving, scheduling) in order to get to the parts of life that nourish me (cooking dinner with people I love, hanging out with my sister, taking as much time as is needed to see my patients). How could I explore decreasing, delegating, or simply downright deleting some of those things in order to incorporate more of what contributes directly to my happiness?

    I’ll admit I’m a bit slow out the gate. Laura Vanderkam wrote 168 hours: You Have More Time Than You Think  in 2011, and it made most of the lifestyle blogs two years ago. Tracking my time seemed like just another “to do” to add to my list, so I resisted.  But now I’m ready to give it a try. How can I decide what changes to make in my time management if I don’t know from where I’m starting? The author has a great website where you can receive a worksheet to track your time or print as a paper version, and I will be tracking my 168 hours each week in May, so that I can begin to make conscious, intentional choices about how to spend my most valued resource.

    What about you? Will you track your time along with me? Share what you discover in the comments, please, and let me know what works for you.


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