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?