“I’m so sorry,” the email began. “I swear I’m not one of those people who miss deadlines, but I hurt my back and I won’t have the column to you on Friday.”
I was laying in my bed, alternating between ice and heat - because that’s what they say you should do. Neither were working. I had done something bad at the gym earlier that week and simply breathing sent shooting pains up and down my spine. I was stopped in my tracks. Laid out and laid up. On my calendar that week was two full days of meetings, one writing deadline and a dinner for a women's networking group that I had created. A meeting at my daughter’s school to discuss her class schedule for the coming year and my son’s 18th birthday.
Everything got canceled. Every single thing. Okay, not my son’s birthday, but everything else. For a week, I didn’t pack a lunch, empty a dishwasher or get in my car. I put an auto-response on my email and hoped for the best.
And you what? My kids are still alive, my house is once again tidy, the important meetings have been rescheduled and the unimportant ones have been left canceled.
Two years ago, I was walking with my friend Laurie, a therapist who specializes in working with women. We were talking about women’s tendencies to go until they break. “Sick is the new vacation for women,” she said. “We keep going until we break.”
Sick is the new vacation for women. We keep going until we break.
We have managed to fill every available moment of our day. We have complicated everything. Our jobs are more complex and our responsibilities shift daily. Gone are the days where you could learn your job, perfect your performance and replicate it. Today, the pressure is on to constantly innovate, build a team, lead an army. The pressure is on to parent perfectly and exactly what that means and how to do that changes weekly. In the palm of our hands -- pretty much at all times -- we hold enough news, social media, television, movies, magazines, blog posts, podcasts and games to keep us busy for eternity.
Everywhere you look, you are being encouraged to dream bigger, work harder and accomplish more. Our days are filled to the breaking point.
Now here’s the dirty little secret, the truth. You have filled your days to the breaking point. You have said yes when you should have said no. You have lost track of the things that are important to you. You have allowed the remarkable device in your hand to consume millions of the precious moments of your life.
So if you are thinking “I don’t have 30 minutes to walk” let me be frank: Yes you do. Yes, it will mean making choices. Different choices. It might mean going outside when it is drizzling. It might mean planning ahead and making dinner in the crockpot. It might mean asking your partner to, well, be a partner and hold down the fort while you take 30 minutes for yourself. It might mean the laundry waits until tomorrow. It might mean you get out of bed 30 minutes earlier, go to bed 30 minutes earlier or forsake social media on those days when you have committed to walking.
You have 30 minutes in your day that you can claim to do something for your body, heart, mind, and spirit.