Take Back Time

Here, to inspire you, is a compilation of the ways that Pause e-zine readers take back their time and bring sanity to their days:

DE writes:
“I have joined a community band. I picked up the flute at about age 30 and though my formal instruction has been somewhat erratic, I love music. The best thing about band nights is that no matter what sort of problems I’ve had to deal with during the day, there is simply no way to play music if your focus is elsewhere. I simply have to let go of everything else in my mind and focus on playing with the group. It is a wonderful creative break in my week.”

JM writes:
“It’s simple, but it works. It’s not technology driven. It doesn’t have a fancy name. It doesn’t require a video or night school class. My big moment came when I decided to go back to reading books before bedtime. Whatever I have to get done in an evening has to be done at least half an hour before bedtime. This creates a definite end to the day and a sense of control. Reading prepares you for a good night’s sleep because it requires you to disconnect from the day. Your breathing slows down. Your enjoyment of the moment goes up. And, you can’t wait for tomorrow night so you can find out what happens next. Lastly, it’s something you do by yourself, for yourself… it’s just for you.”

MB writes:
“As I have resigned from my position of much stress in the workplace, I am relearning how to reflect, relax, and set intentions. I am back to exercise in the morning and reading more about humour, meditating and spirit care.”

CA writes:
“I recommend watching birds every now and then, just for a minute or so. I found myself doing this the other morning (thanking them for every crabapple they were eating off my tree) and it was wonderfully mesmerizing and centering. Sad to say, it does take awareness to think to slow down even that long – but is it ever worth it!”

PF writes:
“I have found that I need physical separation from work. I have both a home office and a traditional office. Particularly on days when working at home, I make an appointment with the riverbank at noon for a 45 minute walk. It gives me perspective, tears me away from the phone and computer, and provides fresh air and exercise. On bad weather days, my resolve slips away. This season provides too many excuses!”

KW writes:
“I enjoy art a lot (painting, drawing) but the hobby had faltered since I started and graduated from university. I missed the calm and relaxation that art provided, and could feel my creativity waning. This fall I decided to enroll in an art class that goes every Thursday night for 3 hours. I’ve begun attending an artist’s workshop every Saturday morning for 3 hours as well. I’m proud that I take the time for me only, and when I’m in my classes all the worries and pressures of life float away!”

LE writes:
“As for taking back my time, although I’m still working on this challenge, I have learned not to feel guilty when I watch TV (even mindless TV) when I need a break. If I begin to feel guilty, I know I’m really watching too much TV. I also ease into my mornings by reading, taking my time over breakfast and getting ready. It really makes a difference in my day.”

LL writes:
“For the past few years I have participated in a once a week yoga session offered by our community association. Last year I took both the pilates and yoga classes. This year I’m back to yoga only. I enjoy the mind-body-spirit focus of yoga, and it’s a wonderful pause in a busy weekly schedule. Enhancing flexibility, releasing stress, or awakening spirituality are all good reasons to practice yoga.”

JN writes:
“I schedule a walk nearly every day of the week at noon – by myself preferably. I do not stray from that unless I have an urgent meeting or a long awaited luncheon with friends. I can always use the exercise and I like the time alone to reflect and listen to nature, clear my head for the afternoon ahead. … When it’s -40, I’m out there too – maybe not for the full 30 – 45 minutes but I go. I’m not a morning person so this is the next best thing.”

FH writes:
“We don’t answer the telephone at meal times. That is our family talk time. We don’t answer the telephone during our Friday night video. That is our family relax time. We’ve been very consistent for several years now, but the first little while was hard. For some reason we felt guilty about not being available for whoever decided they wanted our time. An answering machine solves that problem. Now we rarely get a phone call during mealtimes, except for one friend who still calls and leaves the message “Call me when you’re finished eating”. “

PM writes:
“I de-stress by shutting down all electronic equipment…TV, phone, computers. I go soak in my outdoor hot tub. In summer, early mornings are pure peace! In winter the cold/hot challenge equals total relaxation. When the pressure builds, I head to the warmth of the tub and 20 minutes under the stars!”

CV writes:
“My attitude at the beginning of the day is very important to me. I need my time to read, reflect, and choose one or two key actions necessary for that day. It is easier for me to keep my day in perspective when I have reflected on the previous day before I fall asleep. Often it is easy to focus on the one thing that went wrong or did not happen, but when I review what happened during the rest of my waking hours, it is easier to keep those incidents in perspective.

The same principle can be applied to taking back the year. In the middle of a difficult week, everything may be colored that way, but reflecting back on the entire year diminishes the impact as so many other positive opportunities for growth and enjoyment have occurred.

The hardest thing I need to remind myself to do daily is to allow myself the time for moments just to ‘be’ rather than ‘do’. I confess that this is very difficult for a first born, baby boomer, high achiever, but it is absolutely essential for me to do to be mindful of those things in my life that are the most important. Turning off my mental ‘Palm Pilot’ has taken some discipline and effort, but the reward is worth it. It fine tunes my senses, relaxes my body, and the break serves to re-energize my brain cells.”

SM writes:
“Something to ponder. I am always watching and racing the clock. Time is a huge factor in my life and I need to master it, instead of it controlling me.”

SJ writes:
“I run; therefore I am. If I don’t start on Mondays my week seems shot. The pressures of my new job on the past two weeks have taken their toll on my lunch hour runs. I find I need to run at lunch to clear my head, get some fresh air inside me and get me ready for the rest of the day. After work is getting supper ready, kids activities (including homework) and cleaning kitchen. After kids are in bed is spousal time.”

RA writes:
“While there are many good ‘helps’ out there for all that ails us, or what we think ails us, the one thing that has given me the most benefit for 20 years as an adult … is the practice of cultivating ‘belly breathing’. Virtually instant, odorless, tasteless and weightless, belly (diaphragmatic) breathing costs little aside from some attention to recall it when I find myself chest breathing, That’s it. Nothing more… and wondrously hard to get rich from as a commodity! Simply, it prepares my brain and body to respond in the right spirit to the material world.”

JB writes:
“My favourite pause moments occur when I tuck my son into bed at night and he reads me a bedtime story. He is in grade three and really developed a love for reading this past summer. We have invested in a series of simple chapter books that he can read out loud. This helps his skills, encourages his love of reading and helps me remember the wonderful feelings I used to get from hearing a bedtime story. Best of all, it’s a quiet moment we can share together getting lost in another land that does not involve TV, video games, school, work or any outside pressures.”

Feel free to share your thoughts on taking back time.

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