Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Give It To Me



I did not want to get up.  I woke up before the alarm went off at 5:30am and couldn’t get back to sleep.  Instead of fighting the telltale sign that it was time to get up by justifying to myself that I could use another 30 minutes of sleep and then spending the time stressing out about the number of tasks I had to complete in the next few hours or tomorrow or this week, l tiptoed out of bed and grabbed my workout gear.  

https://www.facebook.com/KarenPlumleyYoga - Stacy Snyder - Parentunplugged - Give it to Me
With extra time before I had to meet my workout buddy, I did some stretching and core work to loosen up.  With no one else awake, I left most of lights off in our tiny little apartment, and I didn’t make a peep, so as not to disturb anyone.  With only the quiet to keep me company, I let my mind drift away from responsibilities and deadlines and have-to’s, until it settled on vast nothingness.  For ten minutes, I lost track of time and don’t remember anything, even the exercises I was completing.  Then slowly I became cognizant of my breathing, my muscles, and eventually my strength.  I took a few minutes to just be, then jumped up and popped out the door, weights and boombox in hand, ready to face up to some serious kickboxing.

My friend arrived at our scheduled pre-dawn workout time, but before I could even hit the play button, she let loose on my simple ‘how are you’ question with a real answer, “I’m not very good.”

We took a minute and talked through the personal issues that were stressing her out this morning.  She said it felt better just to acknowledge it in front of someone else.  Agreed.

Once the club music was pumping through our veins, and the ears of the neighbors, as we work out open-air on the school lawn before the day begins, we continued talking about life’s and ups and downs, all while sweating our tails off.  Squat.  Elderly parents.  Lunge.  Moving and packing.  Punch.  Middle school nightmares.  Kick.  Flu-bugs and fevers.  Crunch.  Job searches and losses.  Lift.  Exes and partners.  We carried on in that fashion until the sun rose high into the morning sky, quenching us with much-needed brightness.

One hour was all it took.  1/24 of the day devoted to my body and soul.  The difference that hour makes in my day is colossal.  I came home in a good mood.  Instead of the normal stress spilling out between each word I spoke to my family, today’s conversation at breakfast was easy and genuine.  Instead of rushing around the house and warning the girls to hurry up, I actually took a few minute to help them get ready, even though they’re old enough to do it on their own.  The few extra minutes spent with them was a welcome treat.  By making time for the needed physical workout this morning, I inadvertently made time for the rest of my life.

I felt genuine gratitude and appreciation toward my partner for pitching in to help with lunches and meal-planning, as opposed to criticism for not doing things the way I do.  I walked out the door with my youngest over an hour early for preschool.  We did a drive-by of the park, but with no kids there yet, we hit the local coffee house for a “special coffee” for her of steamed milk.  You would have thought I had asked Santa to come a second time this year for how happy my little one was for a treat outside of the daily routine.

“Thank you so much, Mama,” she beamed at my from the back seat from behind her whipped cream mustache.  “I can’t wait to go to school early to play at the park with you!”

With an extra 40 minutes on hand and not a child in site, my daughter and I ran and played and hid and chased until we were exhausted.  She loves babies and a young dad showed up with his barely-walking baby, who became a fast playmate of my sweet pea.  I had a 15-minute conversation with the baby’s father, who now is no longer a complete stranger from the park.  OF COURSE he works at Trader Joe’s….he was so nice!

I headed to work and took time to call my mom, which never seems to make it into the schedule, as there’s never time to just open up and talk.  Again, by taking the time to take care of myself this morning, I opened myself up to taking care, or at least notice, of other people.  Work blew by without issue or stress, but instead with a compliment out of the blue from my co-worker about how easy-breezy and productive I was today.  I instantly got a glimpse of my youngest daughter’s joyful ear-to-ear smile at the park this morning.  Today is the gift that keeps on giving!

Before I left work, I got an email from my girlfriend telling me what a pleasure my mood was this morning and how it helped change the outlook on her whole day from ‘have to go to work even though I’m sick and can’t talk’ to ‘I can do it today.  I’m going to be fine.’

I could go on and on with examples from the rest of my day, or from other days where I’ve set aside time to attend to my body and spirit.  The list goes on and on.  When I foster my personal betterment, I am better prepared to both receive and nurture the essence of those around me.  It’s a win-win for everyone.  Conversely, when I erroneously decide I don’t have enough time to take care of myself, it all goes down the shitter.

I challenge you to give yourself whatever it is that you need tonight or tomorrow morning:  a moment of meditation, fifteen minutes of quiet time, a half-hour of running, an hour of prayer, a morning of reading the cherished tabloids, or ___________.  Stay up late or get up early, but exercise your ability to make your own day, week, or life.  Feed your own soul and in return, you will feel good about contributing to the potency of others.