We All Get 24 Hours

It seems everyone is always running out of time to do things myself included.  Each of us complains about not having enough time.   There was once a commercial showing people driving up to an ATM like machine and getting a few more minutes or a couple hours because they did not have enough time.  I’ve looked for it on YouTube and could not find it to share here, because it was so perfect for this post.  It was great because it showed that each of us would like more time to do things in our lives.

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This post started to formulate in my mind,  when someone said to me that I had more time than they did.   Seriously I have more time?   Yes, I may not have a job outside the home at this moment, but I get the same 24 hours as everyone else.    I am not going to go on about all the work type stuff that I do to justify what I do in a day.   Instead I am going to talk about what I do with the non-work time, to carve out time for things the bring me me joy, and renew my soul.  Hopefully this post will inspire you to find some ways to carve out time that nurtures your spirit.

When it is time for a work break, I used to spend it at my desk catching up on the news on the internet.   Now I get up and leave my desk and take Zip, my dog, for a walk.   I get outside and enjoy the day or freeze my butt off, either way I know what is really going on outside in the world.

When it is time to cook dinner, RangerSir and I work tandem and talk about what each of us did that day, solve the world’s problems, or compare notes on what new crazy is happening in American politics.   It is time to stay connected.  It is family time for us.

After dinner RangerSir relaxes by watching TV.   He picks out what he wants to stream that night for his viewing pleasure.   I on the other hand generally can’t imagine that, so this is the time when I go to my studio space and get creative.   It is this time in the evening when I take art type classes online and do my assignments.   It is during this  time when I make samples for classes I plan to teach.   It is this time when I think of friends and make cards to let them know I am thinking of them.  It is this time when I try things I have never done before. It is the time when I work on writing.   I work on my journal and explore in mixed media.   It is time with no excuses for just me.

Lately I feel like I don’t have enough time.  Yet I realize it is my choice not to have enough time.  That feeling stretched thin is a result of my choices, that second class right now may have been more than I should have put on my plate.   There are things in my life I probably don’t have to do, and yet I do them sacrificing things I’d rather do.   If you are working two jobs to put a roof over your head this post is probably not fair to you, but most of us do have some free time and maybe we just are not using it right for us.  We are picking to do things that do not feed our soul with our discretionary time, so we look at others with envy when we see them do things that we wish we could do.

When you feel like you don’t have enough time for yourself, ask yourself what things in your day  are discretionary and  you could actually choose spend your time differently than you have in the past.   Start today and carve out time not “just for yourself” but to do something that makes you feel good.   Don’t go with the routine because it is easier not to change, but change because doing something refreshes you and make your life easier. We each only have 24 hours in a day, but doing something that is just for us, that makes us feel better can make  the rest of the day a much better experience. It is not selfish, it is survival.

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Summer Relevation #1- All Time is Not Equal

This summer job has taught me lots of things about life and some about myself.  I continue to learn things each week.   I plan to share them under the title of Summer Reflection on Thursdays.    I am hoping that what I am learning sometimes the hard way provides fodder for your personal reflections.

All time is not equal.   Have three days non-stop is not the same as having a few hours each day.   You really can’t make up on Saturday, what you woulda/shoulda done one Tuesday.   The flowers are dead, no amount of watering them will bring them back.

New Appreciation of Sacrifice of Time

My new job this summer has given me a new appreciation for the folks in the world who make the sacrifice of being away from home to support their family.    I have traveled before for jobs I have held previously.   In my most traveled position, I traveled only about 20% of the time.   This job puts me away from home three nights a week.    Being on the road this much has made me realize how much time so many people sacrifice to make it in life.

We have a friend who is a salesman for a company and covers everything west of the Mississippi.   He has spent about 30+ weeks on the road for as long as I have know him (nearly 30 years now).   He has two great adult children with families of their own.   He and his wife have the kind of marriage we try to have as well, where each is there for the other and figure out ways to be there when it is critical. (There have been some pretty critical life moments for this family).   I never before realized how amazing they were to make it all work with all his time away from home.  When you think about all the divorce rates and kids who turn out in something less than their potential and then blame their family life.   This family has weathered it all and not just survived, they have prospered.    Their love, support and values have made the time that took the father/husband away so much a contributing factor to what they achieved, not a detriment or excuse for what they did not achieve.

My brother was in the Navy.   He worked hard to be with his family as much as possible, but like the military people of past and present that isn’t always possible.  There are big and small moments missed that can never be gotten back.    I never thought about what it must be like to be a single parent for so long and then suddenly have someone show up and have the whole family dynamic change in a day.    One day you get to make almost all decisions unilaterally and then the next there is someone there who wants to be a part of it all.    One day the kids only deal with you and suddenly there is someone else who can say yes or no.  It is a complete adjustment for the family, and rules are shifted in the space of a few hours.   Yet the military people continue to make those sacrifices for their country and to support their family.

In both of these cases I have highlighted the person being away, but the trailing/at-home spouse and the kids make sacrifices as well.   They quickly learn that this is their normal.  That the parent is away because it is how must be for this family.   There is nothing that can be accomplished by wanting a parental presence that can not be.  They learn to appreciate the times they have and adjust with the changes that come with a moving set of how a family looks and functions.  The “keep the home fires burning” parent often has a job as well.   The only difference is that they get to sleep in their own bed at night.   They often have to juggle their job, children and home with no one their to help.   Kids may have to step up and grow up a little faster to help. It is a balancing act and a collaborative effort.

I had thought of this occasionally before.   This job has given me a new appreciation for what one misses out on when you are gone, how they adjust when you blow in to town and that they will adjust again when you hit the road again.   I know at the end of the summer my job will end, and I will be home every night again, but there are thousands of men and women that this is part of who they are and how they support their family.    My hat is off to you because most of us can never imagine what that job costs you and your family.   You are making under what can be very challenging conditions.

Time to Learn More

I have a 7am physical therapy appointment twice a week in town and until last week my shoulder was immobilized.  It meant I needed a chauffeur with all the wicked weather and nasty road conditions we have had as of late.     It mean RangerSir and I  I have been spending lots of time in the car together.      Road time  is often spent by couples listening to the radio, talking about friends or family and sharing the trials of the job.

Since I don’t enjoy driving RangerSir and I developed a different road routine long ago.  We did this partly because driving long distances can become monotonous and memorizing.    Many of the places we have traveled have no radio coverage over the years, so all we have are one another. We ask “What if?”  It is a game of sorts where you ask questions.    It has allowed us to keep in touch with one another’s wishes, dreams, thoughts and evolving opinions.   We have asked  everything  you can imagine.   In nearly 38 years some of our answers have stayed the same while others have evolved with our lives.    It never gets old and the questions never quit coming.    Some of the things that we have asked over the years.

  • You won the lottery and have to travel abroad where would you go?
  • Money no option where would you retire?
  • Who was your best boss ever?
  • In our present reality where would you like to retire?
  • Which relative of your spouse do you most enjoy chatting with?
  • Who would you invite to dinner who is dead?
  • Worst president since you have been alive?
  • If you could give me any gift what would you give me?
  • What place have you visited that I haven’t, do you want to take me to?
  • Which house/condo/apartment we living in had the best neighborhood?  (Since we have been together we have lived in nine places)
  • Who did you vote for you wished you didn’t in retrospect?
  • What would be your perfect meal?
  • What food did not not expect to like but do?
  • What is your perfect vehicle?
  • Worst US city you have visited?
  • What is your favorite book?
  • Best stupid gadget.

You get my drift.   It is a most amazing insight to a person you have lived with and think you know.  One would think not much would surprise me after all the years and all the questions.    In many ways it has helped us to stay in touch and on the same plane as we evolved.  When it came time to transfer with the Forest Service, we both knew it was coming and where we wanted to go and why.    When we bought vehicles we were on the same page, no discussion.   It made it possible to each of us to buy a house sight unseen for the spouse.    When I changed jobs, RangerSir knew it was coming long before I talked about it.    It makes gift buying much more insightful and personal, but makes it possible to find that perfect quirky gift.

Yet occasionally there are still surprise answers to questions.   I asked RangerSir last week, what secret goal are you likely to not achieve?     He told me it  was to go into space.   That was a “Boy Howdy” moment.   I knew my husband was fascinated with space, and he considered the walking on the moon a pivotal moment in his life.   He has been a sci-fi, the space kind, TV and book junkie all his life.   But I would never have guessed that like old Walter Cronkite he had aspirations to travel into space.   I am not sure that there is anything I can do to support that dream, but it just go to show that there are some dreams we hold on to nearly forever.   It also reminds me that when you have a committed relationship you always need to be listening to your partner.   You never know what you don’t now and there is always time to learn more.

What the heck is quality time?

I have been thinking about this alot lately.   This whole concept of quality time.   You hear people talking about wanting to spend quality time with the kids, their spouse, their parents.   People near and dear to our heart + time = quality time.

When does quality time happen?   Is quality time a certain hour on the clock?    Does it only occur on even days?   Maybe quality time only occurs on the Sabbath.   Maybe quality time only happens when you are good or do good.    Possibly it only happens when you are in the company of loved ones.   May be you can only experience quality time if you are right with  your spiritual higher being, God.

I think that the concept of quality time is an euphemism for not wasting your time on this earth.   Time is neither good nor bad.   It has no value of quality.   What we do with our time is what makes a difference.

Much of our time is taken up with things that are part of your survival.   You sleep away about 20% of your life.  Maybe you sleep a little more or a little less, but sleep is nonnegotiable. You spend about 40 or so hours a week at work so you can have the basic necessities of  shelter and food. If you are lucky your job is not too much of a drag, and you don’t spend your hours at work in misery.  Most of us enjoy some portion of our work day, and other parts just drag on.    Our ancestors spent part of their days as hunter gathers and that was their job.   Our jobs may not seem so directly related to life’s necessities, but it in may ways is not so different than our ancestors, we seek to have food in our belly and not be out in the elements.    Jobs make that possible.

Once you take out the hours you sleep and work, you are left with discretionary time.   Just like any money you have left over after your bills are paid, you get to choose how you will spend it.    This is the time people often call  quality time.   It is not of any more quality than the hours we have spent at work and sleeping.   Often we waste our  quality time.  We choose to fritter the quality time away like we do that the pocket change and small bills in our wallet or purse.     We wasted minutes that turn into hours, the same way spend a dollar here and there that turns into $50 or $100 .     We choose to use that quality time in ways that don’t bring any enjoyment or make a difference.     It isn’t quality at all.      We need to decide that  we will  enjoy our free time in the company of others, doing things that we have always wanted to do, spending it alone in  reflection or making the difference we want to do so.  We need to resolve to  use our free time to improve the quality of our life.

Taking Time Out

Life is busy.   There are not enough hours in the day for all we have to do; all we want to do.   We are trying to be the best worker; a good employee; a great spouse; a true friend; wonderful family member to our kids, parents, siblings; a fabulous pet owner; a contributing member of the community; and an honorable person.  It is a huge list and we are constantly trying to be all of those and yet no where on that list do you see a mention of self.

Lately I have been that person, striving to be what everyone else needs and wants. Not unlike so many others.   The trials that have been going on in our country and the world remind me that time can be short.  Take time out.   Be good to yourself.