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Claiming the Gift of Time

It’s said that we don’t appreciate what we have until it’s gone… that we have a tendency to take for granted that which is valuable in our lives and then, when for whatever reason it is no longer a part of our experience, we gain a sudden and deep appreciation for its meaning and worth.

But in another way, sometimes the value of what you have becomes apparent only when it’s been given to you.

For me, that something is TIME.

#FMSphotoaday November 29 - Big

I’ve worked full-time for the vast majority of my adult life, with very little break apart from statutory holidays and my annual two or three weeks’ worth of vacation time. I suppose that’s not particularly unusual, really, nor in my case all that stressful, as I’ve been very fortunate to have had a couple of long-term jobs which, while by no means perfect, involved doing things I enjoyed and working with people I liked.

Several years ago, in the midst of a perfect storm of financial ability and a healthy real estate market, my husband and I sold our tiny downtown condo and moved to a larger townhouse in a bedroom community outside the city. Making the choice to trade convenience for home size meant that instead of a nice 15- or 20-minute walk to work, I now ended up with a 45- to 60-minute (or longer, depending on traffic) bus commute to and from the office. That may not seem like a big deal for large-city dwellers who face daily commutes of several hours, but it was an adjustment for me! My life as I knew it shifted: I needed to get up (and go to bed) earlier, plan better, be less spontaneous.

In the beginning I really didn’t mind making the adjustment; in fact, I relished the change to what had become a fairly predictable (albeit pleasant) day-to-day routine. But after a few years that change drifted into its own rather mind-numbing pattern: ride the bus to work, spend the day at the office, ride the bus home, eat dinner, watch TV, go to bed… then wake up and do it all again. It was a repetitive and tiring five-day cycle that left me with little drive or inclination to do much else. Weekends became more about catching up on sleep and decompressing from the previous week of “go, go, go” than a time for fun and enjoyment, and, without fail, Monday arrived once again, all too soon.

Time wasn’t the only reason we made the decision to uproot our lives and move across the country – but it was certainly a major contributing factor. Moving to a city with a far lower cost of living meant that I could afford to reduce my work hours and therefore have more time to myself. Creative thinking and a supportive employer enabled me to pare down my responsibilities but still continue working at my current job, teleworking part-time from my home and thereby eliminating my daily commute.

And now I have TIME.

I have time – and with it, energy – to pursue friendships, to explore, to get involved.

I have time – and with it, enthusiasm – to take better care of myself, to try new things, to take risks.

I have time – and with it, freedom – to read, to write, to learn, to reflect.

I have time – and with it, awareness – to love, to be grateful, to appreciate.

I wonder how I ever managed without it.

I understand (with a touch of envy) that others may be well able – far more so than I – to juggle the demands of a full-time life of work, commuting, family, commitments, and deadlines without losing touch with who they are, without compromising the richness and quality of their life.

I also recognize that for those who may relate to what I’m saying because they are experiencing it in their own lives, the choice to make such a dramatic overhaul of their world in order to take back time for themselves is simply not an option. I get that.

But I encourage you, in whatever way you are able, to regularly and with discipline find and carve off for yourself even a small fragment of that precious gift, separate and apart from the day-to-day grind and routine of life. Because I have discovered (and continue to experience with great delight) that every moment of living sparked by energy, enthusiasm, freedom, and awareness, gives meaning and value to this oh-so-short experience we call life, and only wish I’d understood that sooner.

How can you find ways to claim more time for yourself?
Please share!

NaBloPoMo March 2014

(Originally posted in April, 2012.)

Laurel Storey, CZT – Certified Zentangle Teacher. Writer, reader, tangler, iPhoneographer, cat herder, learner of French and Italian, crocheter, needle felter, on-and-off politics junkie, 80s music trivia freak, ongoing work in progress.

{ 16 comments… add one }
  • Carol Cassara
    March 29, 2014

    Yes. It absolutely IS the best gift of all.
    Carol Cassara recently posted… Alcatraz: mystical, mysterious, must-seeMy Profile

  • Ali
    March 29, 2014

    I went from a 15-20 minute commute to a 20-40 minute one, which is less than ideal but the new work environment has been great. I have two slots of time that I cherish: the 30 minutes in the morning with my light box, and the 30+ minutes before Husband gets home. The house is silent, it’s just me and maybe a sleepy cat by my side.
    Ali recently posted… DEFCON 3My Profile

  • Adrienne Dupree March 29, 2014

    Time is not to be taken from granted. About 1 1/2 years ago, I left a job of 16.5 years to work for a small company where I can telecommute and not have to work 60+ hours every week. You don’t realize how much of a toll that takes on you until you are out of it.
    Adrienne Dupree recently posted… Inspiration and Advice For Starting An Online BusinessMy Profile

  • Jeanne Melanson
    March 29, 2014

    I am very, very, VERY selfish with my time. So much so that I planned and schemed for years about how to get out of the 9-5 grind and just stay home. Now I’m fortunate enough to have accomplished that, I work from home and don’t have to go anywhere for anybody if I don’t want to go. I love it. Good for you for finding ways to get more time for yourself. Time is precious! Peace
    Jeanne Melanson recently posted… Sweet Love Affair Between Deer and Cat | Unlikely Animal FriendshipsMy Profile

  • Haralee March 30, 2014

    I had a great job but I had to travel a lot with no comp days for when I had to fly out on a Sunday. When I left that job and took a non travel position I was amazed at the free time I had and the personal enjoyment time I had lost.

  • Susan Bonifant March 30, 2014

    A few years ago, I became very aware of how quickly time passes and since, I’ve tried to invest time rather than spend it. What I do – lunch with a friend, work with teens at our Boys and Girls club, my two hours of solitude and writing in the a.m. – has to give back whether to my life or someone else’s. And your observation – that what you bring to any moment in time is most important – absolutely resonated.

  • Elena Dillon
    March 31, 2014

    Thanks for this post. My husband and I are attempting to do this this year. Not for me as I’ve been home since we’ve had kids but for him. He’s been burning the candle at both ends for years now. Since we’re empty nesters we are planning on selling our big barn of a house and living in the motorhome near a beach somewhere. He’ll have a shorter commute, we’ll have more time together and we can save a ton of money so if he ever just wants to pitch it all he can do that. I’d like to grow old with him not have him die of a heart attack before we can enjoy this time in our lives. The stress is getting to him so it’s time for a change! Kids think we’re crazy but then again I think they already knew that…

  • Diane
    March 31, 2014

    Time. Surely the greatest gift of all!
    Diane recently posted… Chokecherry WineMy Profile


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