Composition journals are totally my jam. I often find myself writing all the way to the very bottom of the page, then shrinking my text and spiraling my words all the way up the side of the paper. After all, that is what the margins are designed for, right? Typically, the bold lines on each border are great boundaries for leaving the space free, but sometimes I just get carried away, and from corner to corner words plaster the page. All of the words are important (to me, in the moment), but once the margin is used up, it is used and my writing tends to look like a chaotic frenzy after a while. This pattern is a lot like a busy life. It is so easy to run out of time or room in our day thus leaving no space for reflection and self-care. But what do we do? We feel like every line item is important (in the moment).
- Create a sacred time
Set time for reset and reflection with strong boundary lines that cannot be crossed. This sacred time is a time that you take a breath, invest in the most basic self-care activities. When I taught preschool, we taught the kids to recognize where their space ends and other’s space begins. Decide where your space (in regards to time) begins and other’s space ends. Do you stay home on Saturday mornings? Do you schedule work calls in the evening or do you shut off your phone? Do you host a new friend/family member every evening of the week? A simple way to practice this is to mark it out in your calendar. Time is our greatest currency (I am pretty sure someone famous said this but I have no clue who). When we have no time for ourselves, our time with others becomes diluted and chaotic. When what we crave more than anything is connection, being over scheduled turns our relationships into time commitments and resentment often finds a home there.
- Practice healthy rhythms
Some of the most grounded people I know, have rhythms they work hard to establish and maintain. The whole idea of taco Tuesday floors me, I cannot love it anymore. Every Tuesday, people eat tacos. While the way we eat has rhythms, we find rhythm in everyday life. Every Sunday people go to church. Every Wednesday people host book club, or small group, or go to soccer practice. We get to decide how we want to live our lives and this includes what kind of rhythms we want to maintain (including if we will have taco Tuesday).
When I was in high school I ran cross country. We learned quickly that sprinting the first quarter of a mile looked amazing (I can’t tell you how many of those races I won in the first quarter of a mile), but we can only maintain a sprint for so long. The races that felt the best were the ones with brisk steady paces, a plan, sometimes a surge in energy, but more often a steady rhythm won the race. We can sprint through life at a crazy fast pace, but we will crash and burn. In a day where everything is instant, we must decide to not win the first quarter mile in order to run the entire marathon. Decide what you want your passions, your work, and your rest look like in your weekly rhythm. When do you sleep and when do you eat? How do you unwind? For achievers rest can be a four letter word, it is not always easy to find rhythm. But the value of a rested mind and body is that we can achieve so much more when our tanks are full then when we are running on fumes.
- It’ll Keep
I am love with a southern phrase. “It’ll keep.” Most of the things we feel like we NEED to do, will still be there tomorrow. Part of living life with margin is knowing that the world will not collapse under the weight of your unfinished projects. They will be there tomorrow and the next day and the next. If they hold value, they will eventually be complete. But not everything needs to be complete right now. I tell clients it is sometimes helpful to make a daily checklist, each day move unfinished items to the next day’s list. If those unfinished items remain unfinished for days and months, they probably are not as valuable as once thought. Or this is not the season to do those things. Do not allow your to-do list to control your life and write up and down every space of your margin. Your value is not contingent upon what you got done today, and most of these things can be done tomorrow. You will find that those things did keep, and that you were still OK. This phrase may be helpful, when it is time to rest, but there is so much to do: it’ll keep. It’ll keep.