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I Wasted Time Today

I wasted time today.

Here's how: My kids went to daycare, and I made the conscious decision to accomplish nothing. I made no money (but I spent some!), my to-done list is an un-done list, and the floor is still covered in zucchini bread crumbs from breakfast this morning.

As a chronic achiever, this tends to make my anxiety flare up. I think, Oh my gosh, I lived an entire day of life and have nothing to show for it! And, less consciously, perhaps, I did nothing to prove my worth to the world today. What if I don't matter?

I love being able to quantify what I've accomplished. Keeping track of what I've done makes me feel like I have something to show for the time I've been given. For example, I keep a little notebook to track all the books I read, and I'm very motivated to read books just so I can watch my list grow. When I walk, I check the time right before I go so I can know exactly how many minutes I spent exercising. When I drive, I listen to audiobooks that I don't have time to read so I can keep stuffing my brain with knowledge. I like to set goals, achieve them, and cross them off my list, because a scratched-out to-do list means a girl who got it done. And I pride myself in being a girl who gets it done.

But one of the reasons why I made the decision to step away from education last month is that "getting it done" all the time was really just doing me in. I was feeling rushed and worn and this beautiful, soft thing that used to live inside my heart was shriveling up. The part of me that was worth anything at all - the part that could love my husband and kids well, that could empathize with others' pain, that could think creatively and hopefully and joyfully - it was straight up dying.

I was getting 'er done, but chasing the quantifiable achievements was leaving a qualitative hole in my soul.

And so, I decided that something - a lot of things - needed to change. And one of the first things was that I was going to need to rethink the ways that I qualified time as 'well-spent.' Before, I might consider time well-spent if:

  • I made money.

  • I furthered my career.

  • I accomplished a necessary task.

Now, I'm trying to unlearn that rigid way of thinking. I'm talking a lot to God as I go about my days, and asking him what he deems a worthy investment of time. And, while I believe that all of the things I listed above are important and good and God-approved, I've been delighted to find that he also loves me and tells me I'm spending time well when I:

  • Eat a leisurely lunch on the porch and watch the birds.

  • Spend the morning laying on the beach.

  • Take a nap.

  • Paint my toenails.

  • Pick flowers.

  • Talk over coffee with a friend.

  • Eat pancakes with my kids.

So today, I chose to do some things that would make me feel whole and rested rather than accomplished in the traditional sense. I met a friend for cappuccinos and gooey chocolate croissants. I walked around Kennebunkport and went in every single shop I've always wanted to explore. I bought two candlestick holders with pretty periwinkle candles to match. I found my oil pastels and painted. I wrote a card to a friend.

And now, I know that time was not actually wasted. Though I don't have much to show for today from a quantitative standpoint, that soft part of my heart that has been long neglected is beginning to wake up. The essence that makes me me is starting to flow again, and I feel that that, too, must be counted as a considerable accomplishment.

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