cultivating spaciousness

(People have been calling me a hippie all day today).

I’m a big fan of Christine Arylo’s work when it comes to self-love and relationships.  I was intro’d to her by the amazing Rhonda Britten and have always felt so connected to everything she talks about.  It always seems to come at the right time.

This morning, Christine sent out an email blast sharing a new video she created about creating spaciousness.  In it, she described how she keeps hearing from people that they needed to “make time” for this and that.  There was this pervasive feeling that came across that there just wasn’t enough hours in the day.  She laughed because we can’t make time.  Time is finite.  It is what it is.  We can’t bend anything yet.  But we can make better use of the time we have.

This past year has been a real learning experience for me.  I went from working a super type A schedule where I never had time for lunch and often worked nights/weekends (without being paid) just to keep up with all the paperwork that came with being that type of productive.  I felt like I had no choice.  Even doing all of that, there was constant pressure to produce more at better quality.  It was not a fun life.  After my favorite manager was promoted, I felt less connected to the company and found I didn’t want to work like that anymore.  It was completely thankless, and I could see things spiraling in ways I didn’t want to be part of.

I decided to leave and started looking for other jobs within my industry.  I specifically looked at smaller, even local, companies that did what my huge behemoth company did–expecting they’d be more employee friendly–or at least less busy.

I finally found myself at a fantastic company, and their Glassdoor ratings clued me in that this wasn’t what I was used to.  Boyhow.  This company is not just about volume.  In fact, volume may be last on the list.  It’s been really refreshing–but MAN–I struggled.  I was so used to over-scheduling and running on empty that I had to completely change my perspective.  Our client slowed down even more during the summer, so I was really losing my mind for a while there–wondering if I made a mistake.  But it forced me to really stop with the goddamn busy and just focus on doing the best work possible.  Our team recently restructured, temporarily, due to the slowdowns.  It means my team is smaller for the next few months with many of us leaving for maternity leave and others going to help with other clients for a while.  My workload has gotten bigger as we transition projects, and I’m thankfully a whole lot busier.  But it’s not that busy that produces constant anxiety.  It’s busy where I’m challenged, but can do a great job.  How I manage my time, of course, is totally up to me.  I’m still working out how to manage it.  Do I have days with back to back crazy and then several days of paperwork/prep work?  Or do I keep a steady flow?  I’m working out the details, but I’m finding my background makes me easily bored.  So I have to experiment a bit.  Luckily, I have room to breathe now.

Personally, I’m still type A.  About hopes and dreams and making time.  I’m that girl who has a list a mile long and runs from place to place…never wanting to “waste” a second.  It’s tough because I have control issues.  I’m a perfectionist.  The busy and the lists and the anticipating?  These things make me feel safe and happy.  Without that, I’m totally lost and scared.  I panic.  It’s not a good look.

I’m like this for very specific reasons.  Reasons that are so ingrained that it’s like breathing to me.  Without these things, I feel way more stressed–ironically.  It’s part of how I survived–how I thrived–how I made it out of my childhood alive.  That wasn’t a small feat.  It’s a big part of why I’m so good at the things I give my time to.  I also have a lot of drive to do things because of my parents’ deaths at early ages.  When you see someone disappear that quickly, way before they should have, it tends too light a fire under your ass.  I fill up my days and feel guilty if I stop.

But I need to.  I’ve been on doctor’s orders to.  I’ve gone to therapy to help me get past it and cope.

My health is getting a lot better, thank God, but I suffer from anxiety.  It causes me to have a racing heart, often, to the point that I actually monitor it fairly frequently.  I also monitor blood pressure since it’s linked to it.  I take lavender oil to help me calm down–which helps a tremendous amount.  My doctor doesn’t want me drinking caffeine (I still do…just not as much) and advised me to quit my other job.  Because my mother died of a heart condition, my doctor pays particular attention to this aspect of my health.  I’ve done a lot better.  I’m meditating, practicing yoga, swimming, eating well, and trying all kinds of alternative therapies.  I don’t feel so crazed, most days.  But I could be better.

Self-care is so hard for me.  It’s a major, major struggle that desperately affected my health in the past.  So, I’m always looking for ways to make that easier and ways to chill the hell out.

I’ve learned so much about my body and my mind since my health scare.  I’ve gotten so committed to changing the bad habits, and I make steps every day–almost.  Some things are on hold because of the move, but I’m really proud of myself.  My body and mind is in a great place now.

So this video Christine produced really spoke to me today.  I’m always trying to find time to take care of me.  It’s so hard to even put my name on the list.  To do the things I love doing that make me better and happier.  Too often, I get stuck in people pleasing and that always leads to self-abuse.

Christine suggested this idea she called spaciousness–which produced giggles when I told my friends.  But it’s cool.  I promise.  It’s the idea that, every day, you create room for the things you need.  Every week, you carve out time for yourself.  You create holy days during times when the Universe is receptive, and you go on your own adventures at least once a year.

I’m starting this project for myself tomorrow.  Basically, at the beginning of every day, I’m going to ask myself what I really need that day.  And then I’m going to make sure I do it.  Just asking myself that question will bring it to the front of my brain.  I did it today–sort of.  I woke up with head cold symptoms.  When I asked myself that question, I said I needed a vacation.  Ha.

Well, I couldn’t give myself a vacation today.  But I could make this day as stress-free as possible by not forcing myself to write up tons of things.  By giving myself permission to not schedule things tomorrow or Friday.  I ate really healthy, good food that made me happy.  I watched TV when I had breaks.  And I changed my perspective on work by just thinking of it as talking to friends.  I also stayed hydrated, took medicine, and wrapped a heating pad around me to help me feel cozy.

I swear it helped.  I don’t feel too bad now, and I got so much done.  I’m so looking forward to the easy remainder of my week.

I think this is such a good thing for me because I often just go about my day in a frenzy–on autopilot–doing things just because it’s easier to do them than to say no or to postpone them.  I eat poorly because anything requiring thought is too much.  I don’t live the way I want because I’m unaware of my needs.  When you’re unaware of the things you need, you’re handing the wheel over to other people–and your needs won’t be the priority.

One day a week, I’m scheduling nothing.  Meaning, I am not allowed to do anything that involves doing something I find to be work.  Like grocery shopping or laundry or cleaning.  I’ve been mourning the death of my weekend for a while now, and I want to reclaim it.  So, Saturdays are my days to do whatever I want to do.  If I want to eat popcorn all day, cool.  If I want to sleep all day, awesome.  I run the show.  It means I’ll have to plan ahead and get things done early or push them off to Sundays, but it sounds fantastic to just have a me day.

I’ll also be celebrating the Equinox and Solstice in ways that are meaningful to me.  This might mean I’ll lock myself up and do a bunch of soul searching or maybe I’ll roadtrip out to someplace I enjoy.  It’s meant to be a time to journey within yourself.  And then, once a year, I’ll go on an adventure–all by myself.  I used to do this often and stopped when life got hard.  Well, it’s time to get back to that restless roaming spirit of mine.  Once we move to Cali, this should be fairly easy!  🙂

So, call me a hippie all you want–I think this is fantastic, and I can’t wait to start.

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