tuesday tip — pencil yourself in.

Earlier this week a friend of mine tweeted about hearing a sacred echo in her life. I was instantly jealous of her and, consequently, whiny — IIIIIII want a sacred echo! I want to have a clear vision of the direction I should go! I want to have an unarguable reason to do X or not do Y!!!!! *pout*

Isn’t there a saying about being careful of what you wish for or something?

Back in March of 2008, Dan asked me out on our first date — a low-key dinner followed by a concert. Take a second and think about how that probably went: maybe he met me somewhere, or pulled me aside at church or on campus, or called me up and said, “Good morrow, fair maiden Lindsay of Shaw. I happen to fancy you, therefore, I request your company  at a relatively inexpensive eatery followed by taking delight in the sounds of a musical company by the name of The Spill Canvas. Would you oblige, m’lady?” (That’s typically how that goes, right? I honestly don’t know because I’ve been out of the game a while and I’ve always been awkward when it comes to dating.)

That’s not how it went for us. Dan pried my day planner from my cold, rigor-mortis-esque fingers and opened it to the day of the show to see whether or not he could squeeze himself into my overfull schedule. By the grace of God, he was able to write himself in. Hooray! A date! Squeezed between work at a barbecue restaurant, a handful of college classes, and studying for midterms. Phew.

Fast forward to yesterday. I was talking to a friend of mine (not in person but over Facebook chat, which is actually an important detail) about how we all seem to be married to our schedules. We jam-pack each minute of each day with work, school, projects, meetings, appointments, etc., but we never intentionally schedule any free time for ourselves. She and I collectively lamented about our lack of free time and yet our inability to focus on the tasks we have in front of us because we are so easily distracted by Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, Pinterest, and even blogs (FBDC promotion fail.) We’ll find ourselves doing nothing, but we’re actually just avoiding doing something, which further stresses us out about the things we have already committed — vocationally, educationally, or otherwise — to do.

Well, self, there you go. You got your dang sacred echo. You need to break up with your planner every once in a while and schedule some down time to relax and take care of yourself.

Ugh, WHIIIIINEEEEE. But but but! Why? I’ve never been good at doing nothing! Being overworked and overstressed has always been my norm! I don’t know anything different! *pout*


Today’s tip is one I (obviously) haven’t perfected yet. (Who am I kidding? I should probably rename my blog, “An extensive list of things I haven’t perfected yet.”) But it’s so important. Scheduling time to take care of yourself not only makes life more enjoyable, but it also brings the beautiful things about yourself — all the reasons you are so lovely — back into focus.

Now, when I say, “Pencil yourself in,” I don’t mean think to yourself, “I should have some me time later.” Oh no. I mean, very literally, to pencil yourself in to your planner/diary/Google calendar/iPhone/whatever. Seriously. If we don’t treat this like an actual meeting or obligation, we might not follow through because this is how we’re wired now. In the 21st century, this is our reality.

If you’re like me and you have no idea where to start on taking care of yourself, here’s a list of things you can schedule to rejuvenate you after you meet all the other demanding obligations  you put on yourself. (And remember, the idea here is focus on your wonderful self, to destress and refresh, so if cooking, for example, makes your heart palpitate and your head explode — welcome, kindred spirit — then, obviously, don’t try that.)

  • Going for a walk in the park alone, with no iPod or cell phone with you.
  • Taking a yoga class.
  • Looking up and trying a new recipe.
  • Journaling.
  • Taking a short road trip, if even to the next town over, to explore.
  • Painting.
  • Working on your car or house.
  • [Insert your idea here.]

And — HERE IS THE KEY — make this scheduled “you” time non-negotiable. If a friend invites you out to dinner or your brother and his wife need someone to watch their baby while they go on a date, refuse. Nothing horrible will ever happen to you if you say no to another person in order to say yes to yourself. Never think that taking care of yourself should be secondary to taking care of anything else, whether those things are work-related, school-related, or people-related. If you don’t have any of yourself left, what benefit are you to the obligations you have?

The answer? None. None, I’m afraid. So, good Lord, child. Get off the Internet and take a hot bath or something.

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