In particularly busy periods of my life, I’ve been sure I couldn’t fit in time to breathe. I have a clear memory once of heading home from my friend’s apartment, something that should have been a quick 25-minute bus ride. Or something that would have been if I’d gotten on the bus bound for Manhattan. Instead, in my sleep deprived state, I got on the LaGuardia airport bound bus and didn’t realize until I saw the lights of air traffic control.
Oh the way I fell apart on that empty night bus. I remember being unable to process what this hour-ish loss would do. I was so meticulously scheduled down to the minute and the thought of having traded this time for the least exciting bus tour of Queens was more than I could handle.
Thankfully, I’ve grown a lot since that night and have found ways to add balance, stability, and even sanity into my life. But, as our busy lives ebb and flow there are certainly times when I feel the pressure to stretch the calendar.
Last fall, I was in deep marathon training mode when I was accepted to a nonprofit fellowship program that would gather 2 times a week for 2 hours each meeting. Immediately, I didn’t see where I was going to pull those four hours from each week. Between my full time job, The Smile Project, hours of weekly running, and myriad other activities and pursuits, it felt silly to even begin to solve that math problem.
I sat down with my calendar. The two meeting days were also run days… run days that I did in the morning before work. So I would wake up at 6:00 and run. Then work. Then do the fellowship. Then go back to work. Then work late to make up for the hours I’d been away. And then have a delayed evening for all the usual evening activities. It felt daunting to say the least.
And yet. With the exception of one meeting I knew I’d miss due to a pre-scheduled flight, I made every meeting and was able to engage fully with the fellowship without missing any runs, taking any time off from work, or sacrificing my social life or mental wellbeing.
So how did that happen? How did my already full and exciting calendar stretch for six weeks of the program?
It was really important to me that I find a way to make it work. I was excited and eager to learn from the fellowship and to be part of the community.
It mattered. So I made time for it.
I recognize that there are times when this truly isn’t possible. I know what it’s like to be so overburdened with obligations that even taking a shower feels like it throws you back years.
But having been through those periods and being newly committed to a more centered and positive way of living, I know that I have within me the opportunity to take control of my time, to be focused and disciplined, to prioritize the things that matter most.
So don’t shy away from an opportunity because of the time it will take to see it through. Don’t give up on something because it will take a little maneuvering to find a flow. Don’t sell yourself short before you’ve begun. Figure out what matters the most to you. And then make sure that’s reflected in the way you spend your beautiful life.