The latest writing prompt from the Gentleman Savant is this: What do you do to give yourself a private moment, a moment of self-reflection, just for you? Do you take in a movie by yourself, or walk the dog in the park, or do you get away from it all with a big chocolate milkshake? How do you take your ‘me time’, as they call it?
Time to oneself is critical. Without it, one cannot rejuvenate, relax, or decipher the events of the world and of life. So I work very hard to find that time. I don't understand all those folks who say they have no time, who think their families or work or other commitments take precedence over their own mental stability. It's really very easy. This is what I do:
Wake up, shower, wake up my girls. Check e-mail and answer a few quickly. Apply styling products, quick application of makeup. Open web browser; go to weather.com to decide what to wear and if my kids need sweatshirts. Looking at my calendar, I quiz the kids on their after-school whereabouts. I make sure my husband is gone to work (he walked out the back door at 7:30, but is he really gone? is his car still out there?). Fix breakfast for my 7-year-old, throwing together a milk-free lunch while it cooks (he's allergic). The kids -- all three of them -- leave for their three respective schools, with their respective start times, backpacks and lunch boxes in hand. (I drive the youngest.) I check my e-mail for the second or third time, make my morning call to my mother, answer a call or two from friends wondering if I want to meet for coffee. (Sometimes I go, and if it's Tuesday, I stop halfway down the driveway and run back in to leave a check and a half-Spanish, half-English note for the cleaning lady.) I frantically finish up the two ads that clients forgot to tell me are due today, and the three urgent requests for revisions to a logo, a poster, and a flyer in multiple formats. I answer a call from a friend asking if I want to meet for lunch at Little Mexico, my favorite restaurant, and before I agree, I call my husband to see what his lunch plans are. Successfully coordinating that and selecting a meeting time of 11:30, I walk into the kitchen. Oops, forgot my daily meds (allergies and rather-early-onset arthritis). Take those, wipe down the kitchen counter. Walk back through the sunroom, turning off the TV and lights left on by the kid, grumbling at the mess they left. Answer six more e-mails from clients and read the latest Gentleman Savant post. Check the other 5 blogs I read regularly. Revise one of the ads again and send high-res version to publication. Respond to the latest "ding" announcing more e-mails. Quit the mail program so I won't be interrupted right away. Lock the front door on the way to the living room couch. Collapse in relief. Take a deep breath, which is interrupted by my husband honking his horn in our driveway since it's already time for lunch -- and bounce back up, totally rejuvenated from the quality time I just spent with myself.
Just ask anyone: Working from home allows you to relax, work in your pajamas, enjoy the silence and find peace. What a great opportunity for a professional who also happens to be a mother. Going into work at an office can be rather stressful, they say. I can see that. What with the time alone in the car during the commute, with no one arguing over radio stations or if someone is touching them. And that whole working-for-eight-hours-without-the-distractions-of-maintaining-a-household? How does one ever focus?
As for me, I find no need to make time for enriching, restoring activities. I get all the peace I could ever want right here at home.
(But when that doesn't work for me, I shut out the world and hole up in my funky, comfortable chair, the one with the big swirl pattern all over it, in the corner of the living room by the enormous front window. I open one of my beautiful journals, and hand-write page after page with blue fine-point Tul gel pen in careful handwriting on the lovely smooth lightly-lined pages, waiting for God to speak, waiting for Him to calm my soul and soothe my spirit and make me whole again. I write to discover what I believe. I think someone much more famous than I said that originally, but I find it to be a monumental, fundamental truth.)