Free to Be

Free to Be MeIt’s 3:36 am and I’m wide awake. Not that kind of awake where you realize that you have hours left to sleep, cozy back up under your warm but cool blanket, and go back to sleep for what feels like the rest of your life. Those are the best kinds of awake. It’s also not that awake where your mind races with things to do. Believe me, I’ve had that kind of awake for more times than I care to mention.

Instead, this was just awake…just simply awake. I knew instantly that I wouldn’t be able to fall back to sleep. However, my mind didn’t start racing with things I could/would/should do. Instead, I laid there in the darkness thinking about things I’d like to do. I decided that I most certainly wouldn’t fall back asleep even if I kept laying there very still and very quiet.

I could browse pinterest. I could read another chapter of Bossypants. I could get up and paint something. I could switch my winter shoes out for my spring ones. (I have a ton of shoes, remember?)  I could make some headway in a few work projects I hadn’t had time to complete yet. After all, I tend to be most creative and productive during these crazy morning hours when I’m awake and the rest of the world is quiet and sleeping. I could also get a head start on my massive and rather daunting work list for this Monday.

Finally, I decided that I’d get out of bed. My tossing and turning would soon wake my husband, and I couldn’t use any of my devices without disturbing the darkness of our room. Normally in this scenario I would have already made a mental list. I would have prioritized things by importance/desire and ranked 100+ tasks by what I would tackle first, second, and so forth. This is how my brain works, you see. I make lots of impossibly long lists and usually end up disappointed because time only allows for the first few items to be completed.

Not today though. I had some ideas but no list. No goal in mind. No tasks that must be completed by sunrise to prevent my disappointment. Instead, I decided that I’d just do some things. I’d start with this or that and then move on to whatever I felt like doing next. It would be ok if I didn’t paint five new paintings, perfect a thousand work tasks, or organize the entire house before daybreak. Instead, I’d just do some things…whatever I felt compelled to do in the moment…no end result in mind.

Giving myself this freedom and release might be one of the most freeing experiences I’ve had recently. There was no guilt. No interruptions. No schedule to follow. It was just me, sitting in complete silence, doing whatever I felt like doing in that moment. I seldom know this feeling, and I seldom give myself this freedom.

First, I jotted down my work to-do list for the day. I wanted to get these things out of my head so that I could do what I wanted this morning without my mind being clogged with what I had to do. (See how I use a notebook to manage my daily tasks.) My list spilled over on to two pages, but that’s ok. There was a whole day ahead of me to conquer those items. This time was free time. Next, I ordered new sheets. After all, we’ve been needing new sheets for months. I finally made a decision and took the time to actually order them. Then, I read this. And this.

Both of these were stories about appreciating yourself. One was about letting go of the negativity and self-guilt. One was about appreciating time as it passes. Both reminded me of how I want my life to be. I don’t want to run myself ragged. I don’t want to constantly punish myself from my own unrealistic expectations.

These stories reminded me that it’s ok to make time for exercise and hobbies. They reminded me that I deserve free time. Most importantly, they reminded me of how easily daily life can take over the big picture. It’s so easy to get caught up in meetings and bill paying and appointments, and unintentionally miss out on your life. I do this often. I’m much better at controlling my story today than I was 5 years ago, but I still want to be even better.

I want to take time to read these long stories and write my own. I want to schedule time for myself to do and explore and just be me. I want to craft a story with my life that one day I’ll love to tell to everyone around me. This story began 29 years ago, and if I’m lucky I’ll add many more years to it. But when you sit and think about it, 29 years is a long time. 39 years is a long time. Even one year is a long time. With each passing day and each passing hour, we’re writing our own stories. It’s up to us, solely, whether it’ll be a story worth telling.

Today’s story will be a good one. I’ll face this Monday with enthusiasm (and coffee), and I’ll do so knowing that I gave myself some time to just be. I’ll conquer my massive to-do list, while simultaneously giving myself time to be me. I’ll stop finding a million excuses for why I’m too busy to go out of town with my husband for the weekend. Instead, I’ll work harder than ever for three days and then I’ll play even harder for a few. I’m in charge of my story, you see. And I want it to be an exciting one.

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