Something I'm really learning to embrace this year is making space and time for the magical experiences in my life. For me, this means leaving more time in my schedule that's open-ended. That means more time to have fun, socialize and be creative. And while this has been an on-going lesson that the Universe has been trying to teach me for years, as a recovering workaholic, I have only started putting it into practice recently. I used to make absolutely no space for anything spontaneous in my schedule and I see this American trend as a deeper internal problem. Americans are praised for how much they DO and how productive they are, not for how much fun they have. However, the idea is completely backwards, because what I've come to realize is that the "play" time, even as adults is the most important element of life. Why? Because when we have time to enjoy our lives more, we have more enlightened ideas, more productive thoughts and less anxiety about the future. I refuse to believe that we were put on the planet to work constantly, at jobs that increase our stress levels with little time to recuperate. I can say with certainty, that's not the life I want to live. Instead, I've been forcing myself to lean more towards keeping time open for the possibilities of anything to happen in my schedule. By doing this, I've met some incredible people, had new and exciting opportunities come my way and overall decreased my own anxious tendencies.
An example of this is simply thinking about how your day might change if there was more space and time created in it? Who might you meet or talk to? What kind of beautiful conversations might you have? What might you notice in your environment that could bring you more joy or make you more present in the moment? Would you take yourself out for lunch? Walk in the park or on the beach and enjoy nature? Would you read a book you've been starring at for months on your book shelf? Sit in the sun? Listen to your favorite music? Maybe take dance class? When we leave space and time for the things we WANT to experience (even if we don't exactly know what those are yet), then life becomes magical. People, experiences and events seem to drop into our laps, that didn't seem possible before. Simply put, creating space is you being in flow with what the Universe is trying to deliver to you. It's being in flow with the purpose of your life.
A personal example of this is my own schedule. I've been a waitress for 13 years of my life. It has sustained me financially, put me through a Bachelors and a Masters Degree and kept my life afloat with abundance and flexibility. However, with that lifestyle came a strong work ethic and expectation to work A LOT. And while I still do some waitressing now, I have scaled back so much, which has been a large shift for me. My Saturday afternoons are now spent focusing on my entrepreneurial goals or simply taken as an extra day to do something fun, rather than working an extra shift at the restaurant. Although that decision might seem insignificant to someone else, it actually was HUGE for me. I had to create a boundary for myself and map out how I wanted my schedule to look. And when it came down to it, I no longer wanted to be in a restaurant on a Saturday afternoon when the sun was shining and my friends were siting on the beach. Life is far too short to chain ourselves to work we don't fully enjoy or even work we DO enjoy. And while I'm infinitely grateful for all the learning opportunities that my restaurant experience has taught me, I'm also willing to acknowledge that work does not dictate my entire schedule. It does not get priority all of the time. But enjoying myself... well that's something worth prioritizing.
Now, much of this idea has to do with the notion to stop over-scheduling and burning ourselves out, which is much easier said than done. Again, Americans really struggle with this one. Because there's an underlying sense of laziness and guilt that arises in our culture when we aren't engaging in a productive task. I would be rich if I had a dollar for every time I heard someone say, "I didn't get anything done today," in our society. My goal this year has been to have multiple days where I almost don't know what to do with myself, because I have extra free time. And although that might sound silly, it's actually incredibly challenging, because it makes me feel like I'm "wasting time," when really, the idea that time can be wasted is a human created thought and doesn't frankly exist anyway. Time is only wasted if you believe it is. And, even though this is something I'll be learning for the rest of my life, I can say with confidence that I am so grateful for the days where I get to ask myself: "what would you like to do today?" instead of, "what do I have to do today?" Those two questions are vastly different.
So, what are 3 ways you can start leaving room in your life for the magic today? Here's what I'm practicing right now to help me keep a less rigid schedule and enjoy my precious time more often.
1.) Really being PRESENT with the people I'm with. You might think this is a no-brainer, but let me tell you, it's not. It takes A LOT of conscious effort and practice to give the person in front of you your full attention while not simultaneously thinking about your next thought or "thing" you have to get done the rest of the day. Truthfully, this is a tough one. We have to make decisions every single day of where we are going to put our focus. But, I believe that if we can be present with a human sitting in front of us and actively listen to what they are saying instead of constantly feeling distracted, then we start having different experiences. We start having different conversations and more meaningful ones at that. We start creating space for new moments to blossom and new magic to enter our lives. But, we can't get to that point if we are constantly thinking about the next thing and never present for what's in front of us.
2.) Don't schedule just to schedule. This is a big one for me. Have you ever seen an open day in your calendar and had the initial thought of: "I need to get X, Y and Z accomplished from my to-do list that day." Yup, me too. Again, I think as Americans, we are hard-wired to FILL OUR TIME with a million tasks, whether they're meaningful or not. Because remember, we value productivity, not necessarily leisure. One of the hardest things I've had to put into practice this year is learning how to refrain from filling my schedule with things that don't light me up. When you train yourself to have an intentional schedule, filled with enough room for the necessary stuff like work and self-care but also the leisurely things like having FUN, playing and being spontaneous, then life seems to have a different flow to it. You start understanding that your time is precious, important and should be taken seriously. After all, we are meant to ENJOY this life. But we must be intentional about how we do that.
3.) Start asking yourself better questions. If you're someone who chronically over schedules your time or has a hard time making room to have more fun and enjoyment in your life, then some good questions to ask yourself would be:
** What am I avoiding deep down by always keeping myself busy?
** Am I afraid of being alone if my schedule opens up?
** Do these excessive commitments make me feel fulfilled or depleted?
** Are there events I can cancel in order to make more time for the things that light me up?
** Would I be happier if I had more space and time in my schedule?
This lesson of creating space in my life for magical things to appear has been a challenging one, but has also been so profoundly beautiful. It's made me practice being alone, sitting with my feelings, working through limiting beliefs and understanding where my strengths and weaknesses are. It's truly made me appreciate my time in a completely different way than I ever have prior. It has made me fall back in love with my life. It has made me realize that looking at a flower is important. That sitting on the beach for that extra hour is therapeutic and that saying no to an extra day of work is necessary sometimes. My hope after you read this is that you'll ask yourself some of the questions above and think about how you can make more space and time in your life for the magic. Because I fully believe that the magical moments are swirling around us constantly, but it's our job to catch them in the air.
As always, sending you all so much love. Until next time, keep striving to step into your personal power and to get your mind organized.