Space Invaders

At one of my yoga classes last week, the instructor asked us to think of ten things/people that we loved and hold space for them while we practiced…and it wasn’t until the end of class that I realized, with a jolt, that I had not included myself in the list of ten things I loved. Other people and other things invade my space every day and I suspect yours as well, we, women especially, or so I like to think, put our families and our jobs and our homes and our obligations in front of ourselves countless times a day, so that over the length of a year we have moved our own needs to the bottom of the To-Do lists time and time again. It’s not a bad thing at all to feel profoundly blessed or grateful to have your loved ones but it is a bad thing to consistently put their needs ahead of your own. WE ALL KNOW THIS MUCH IS TRUE, yet, we do it, year after year.

If you have young children or elderly parents, or a money pit of a house, or a tirelessly bossy boss, then you know that in the 16 or so hours of your awake time in a day those things take up most of your thoughts…add sickness, financial instability, or worry of any other sort into the mix it’s quite likely that you don’t think about yourself, or your needs, AT ALL in the day, but maybe at bed time when you realize that you’ve brushed your teeth but forgotten to take off your mascara, and “oh shit! I forgot to put that load of wash into the dryer!” The space you have made for yourself in the 24 hours of that day turned out to be as thin as a knife’s edge and it’s possible that tomorrow will be exactly the same…

I have made many changes over the last months, and putting myself (my needs, my peace, my happiness, my health) at the top of the To-Do list as often as I can has been the change I most consistently work on. I started making space for someone else when I was only 18 years old and became a mother…the self indulgence of youth and the freedom of being in college and starting “real life” was lost to me on a bitter January morning only months after I became an “adult” so I missed out on ALL of that ME ME ME time, which is not to say that I have never be selfish, but seldom did I ever get the chance…but now, well, things were different then, all is different now…

The grandchildren I helped to raise are 16 & 14 now, and they need me mostly for rides, and on-line ordering, and sometimes Venmo, meaning they don’t need me much at all anymore, and while that leaves a bit of an “emptiness” in my heart, that feeling of being somewhat irrelevant now to them, what is left is space…space I can fill in a way that I choose.

I realized that morning at yoga, before the start of my work day, that for more than 36 years my space has been filled with my daughter, and then her daughters, and boyfriends mixed into my time over the years, and small family or friend kerfuffles, and that MY TIME TO MAKE SPACE FOR ME IS NOW. There is not any starting line, no wait to prep or begin, I won’t get $200 for passing GO, it’s just here now, me time, making space for that which matters to me, more than anything or anybody else. I started painting my house last April and still have two walls and the shed in the back yard to do, THAT matters to me, making the time to finish painting my house matters to me. I started drinking MUCH less over the last year and eating MUCH better these last few months, and making time to improve my health matters to me. I started writing every day again, my attention had waned over these last few years, and making time to feel creative, that matters to me. Getting onto my yoga mat consistently, at least five times a week, matters to me…ME ME ME.

I guess my thought of this morning is, if other things that have seemed very important have invaded your space, please consider making some room for yourself, your needs, your wishes, your dreams…if you have been thinking that maybe you could make some changes for the better, it’s probably true. The people who need us and the people who love us will get used to having us less available, more often, over time. It used to be that we did not know who needed to talk to us during the day until we got home from work and pressed play on our answering machines…now we get phone calls or text messages all day long and feel like we need to attend to them immediately. We don’t.

I can worry about my adult daughter and the changes she is experiencing in her life right now, and I can worry about her teenagers, and I can worry about my aging parents, and my boyfriend, and my friends…I can be concerned for all of these people and still focus on myself…I am learning to compartmentalize my life…there is a bin for everything, a file for everyone, there is a way to organize my thoughts that I can turn off ALL CONCERNS FOR EVERYBODY but me for 9 hours a week of yoga, or for the hours of a week with my playlists loud while at work, there is a way to keep myself at the top of the To-Do list without neglecting my obligations and the way is to recognize that it is NECESSARY. Take some time today my friends to do something just for you…I don’t care if it is for ten minutes or an hour or a day…the space invaders are not going anywhere, take all the time your need…

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