Lack of time has always been the bane of my existence. Reacting to the next deadline, shift or due date has, historically, created so much anxiety that planning became an impossibility.
In retrospect, this pattern of behavior began when I was in my early to mid teens. I plainly remember being very stressed to the point of panic, lying in bed when my dad came up to wish me good night. I had just gotten home from playing an away basketball game and I should have been studying for the next day’s biology and Spanish tests. I was too tired to do either.
Fast forward to today, twenty short years later.
I find myself sitting at my sister’s kitchen table watching my nephew and my soon to be stepson playing in her pool thinking about things I should be doing. Book chapters to edit, invitations to finish, knitting gifts to begin, cucumbers to pick and chicken eggs to collect.
My priorities have finally changed.
For so many years, it seemed as though I just needed to catch up. I would pummel myself for not meeting deadlines or exercising enough. I replaced contentment with achievement that led to my taking on more and more projects until my ultimate failure.
It was a shock to my core the day I realized that I needed to fail. I needed to miss an important deadline (and extensions). I needed to not pass a exam. I needed to, simply put, FAIL.
Although my path didn’t come to that severe of a cliff, I made subtle changes in my life over the past year.
The first was that I stopped obsessing about writing. Not just writing my blog, but writing period. I no longer felt the necessity to capture every waking moment like it was my last. It wasn’t necessary to live my life in such a public forum. My passion for flight nursing, although intact, became more of an integral part of my core existence, versus my defining veil.
Over the winter months, I became more an more interested in things my mother held dear when I was a child. Canning, gardening, and knitting. During those cold, short days, Ben and I planned our garden, our hen house, and chose what vegetables we would preserve. Mom, while undergoing chemotherapy, taught me to knit. Each of those things takes time, planning, and a skill set I am still very novice at. None are possible with a last minute decision or on a whim.
Each one of those things has taught me something invaluable:
I never realized how satisfying it would be to collect eggs every day. How grateful my friends would be to receive a hand knit gift. How much accomplishment comes in different forms.
It is no longer as important for me to reach the next Army rank, or earn the next degree for my wall. I am happy simply being granted time to call my mom and ask her a question about brining pickles or for help tying off my quilt.
Oh, and another important thing.
I’ve learned to say no.