41: Time Out for Better Time In

41: Time Out for Better Time In

From Chicken Soup for the Soul: Time to Thrive

Time Out for Better Time In

I like the physical part, but I’m also drawn to the spiritual. For me, yoga is not just a workout — it’s about working on yourself.

~Mary Glover

“I do not like you,” my three-year-old daughter Fiona hissed one difficult afternoon. I didn’t really like her in that moment either. Everything from putting on her favorite pink socks to taking a much-needed nap was a battle of wills. I was exhausted and depleted, but I kneeled down and listened to her.

“Why don’t you like me?” I asked, searching her hazel eyes and willing myself to have role-model-worthy patience and kindness.

“You’re not being nice.” Her lips scowled, yet her eyes were pleading.

This was deeper than a child not getting her way. I stopped to consider what she was saying. The weight of my total responsibilities was crushing me. I worried about the work I needed to finish after our two children went to bed, the chores that I was neglecting while teaching them to read and write, the supplies that had to be ordered while making wholesome meals. There was never enough time.

I had let taking care of myself sink to the bottom of the list. The responsibilities of family life displaced sleep, travel, exercise, and most other things that replenished and inspired me. I was emotionally exhausted, creatively depleted and physically drained, which did not make me the most positive and enthusiastic nurturer.

“You’re right,” I said, drawing Fiona in for a hug. “I’m sorry, sweetie. I will be nicer.”

Later that afternoon my phone buzzed with a text message from my friend Vicki: “Want to go to yoga tonight?”

It was her fourth request. I had previously turned her down, not because I didn’t enjoy her company or the rejuvenating stretches, but because the deadlines and responsibilities in my life made relaxing exercises seem frivolous. Lying on the floor half-asleep in Shavasana? That peaceful posture seemed reserved for a woman with much more free time, not an anxious, overwhelmed mother of two with too much on her plate.

But before I could type, “I can’t,” I stopped myself. I knew I needed to make time for friends and rejuvenate myself. My lack of exercise was taking a toll on me inside and out.

“Yes,” I told Vicki. I would meet her at yoga that evening.

Rushing into the studio after dark, I unrolled my yoga mat and quickly said hello to my friend. Since silence is the studio policy, I was able to soak in the serenity of quiet for the first time that day. While I love the loud, loving togetherness of family, pausing to hear my own thoughts was deeply replenishing.

As the class started, my anxious mind analyzed everything from the instructor’s brisk tone to the woodsy smell in the air. But as the gentle stretches and strong stances took over my mental state, I started to calm and focus on the present. I noticed my body and heart opening up, my spirit awakening. By Namaste, I felt more alive and centered.

Instead of collapsing exhausted into bed that evening, I cheerfully tackled tasks that had been looming over me. Sleep was peaceful and satisfying, and I awoke the next morning refreshed. Ideas and energy flowed freely, as if from a newly discovered stream; but most importantly, kindness and enthusiasm made me buoyant. I felt better equipped to fill my children’s cups.

“Come see the surprise party I planned for you,” my daughter cooed, ushering me to her play set.

“For me?” I chirped.

“My best friend,” she said beaming, wrapping her arms around me.

Like me, she seemed like a happier version of herself. Perhaps my moments in child’s pose had been just as beneficial for my offspring as they had been for me.

Taking “time out” for yoga didn’t detract from my busy life. It made my “time in” more productive and purposeful.

~Cortney Fries

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