In my Sunny Days, one of the "Joyful Intentions" that comes up says, "Today I'll make some time for myself." Lately, it's taken on a whole new meaning. Family matters occupied a lot of my attention last year, forcing me to adjust the time I was willing to give to other people and projects.
And boy did people push back.
When I was unable to follow the course in class and my requests to find a way through it went unheard, I was accused of "wanting things my own way."
When I refused to volunteer for an admin positition in a local charity, the woman who called pressed. "It's just one time only." "No," * I answered. "We really need your help." "No." Before hanging up, she mildly accused me of letting them down.
When a new neighbour asked why I hadn't come to her get-together, I told her that I hadn't been up for it. When she suggested I come to the next one, I refused to commit. "If I'm up for it," I told her. But then when she said, "You really should," I had to repeat, "I will if I'm up for it." Even then she continued to push. "It'll do you good to come, even if it takes you out of your comfort zone."
That got my back up.
They all did - a sure sign that my resources were already depleted.
I could understand the push-back. Many are used to me saying "Yes." Some are low-energy too and rely on my compliance to make their own day go more smoothly. A few try to manipulate others to meet their own needs, these ones can be just plain toxic. I wish them all the best. But this is about what I need.
I need to give my time back to myself. Not give others my time, but give it to me.
This doesn't come easily to me, so I asked my husband how I might get better at it. He said, "You're over 65. You don't have to answer to anyone any more." I hadn't thought of it that way. And when I put that to the test, he supported me. He knew of my plans to go to another town for an appointment and hoped I'd want him to drive, so he could pick up a few things on his own while there. But when I said, "Not this time," he was a little disappointed but he was fine with it.
Taking back my time means choosing who I spend my time with. It means taking on activities that energize rather than deplete me, even taking on fewer projects than I think I can handle until I have more reserves. ** Taking back my time can mean puttering in the kitchen at my own pace, answering to nobody but myself. Until I hopped on the train one day without telling anyone I was coming to the city, I had no idea how much the urgency of meeting the schedules and expectations of others had been depleting me. It was a great day.
My time. My schedule.
Do I want things my own way? Sure. But I'm not a princess. Do I want to help the charity? Sure. But I'm not about to take on more responsibility. Do I want to meet new people? Sure. But not right now. People push back for their own reasons. I stand my ground for reasons of my own. It’s better to deal with their lack of grace than undermine my own needs.
Today I'll make some time for myself. It is a joyful intention. Time for me to maybe walk in the woods, or maybe cook a delicious soup, or maybe read a happy book. I can figure it out as I go along. It's up to me. After all, me time is my time.
* See also: Janet's 5 Rules of "NO"
** This reminds me of the cook's rule: "Use a bigger bowl than you think you'll need."