I don’t like to be late. It wasn’t always like this. Earlier in life, I would pack my day tight with events, meetings, all the things to which I said, “yes.” Believing I had all the time in the world, and with lots of optimism and hope, I thought my schedule would flow along unencumbered. Eventually when the consistent domino effect of a late meetings and traffic delays grew to be unmanageable, I knew I had to make a change. Little by little I was able to add a time buffer to make sure there was margin in life. Margin is, after all, the bumper pad of life’s bowling alley.
For as much as I add a great deal of margin, the truth is: life happens when you are trying to stay on schedule, and sometimes there isn’t a blessed thing you can do about it. Such was my morning.
It was a litany of simply daily chores: the cat needed yet another scoop of food before starvation set in. My crutch-bound spouse asked for help, the dogs wanted another trip outside, the iron stopped working, the vitamin lid fell on the floor and rolled under a fur-lined bookshelf. My body started to tense. It was in this moment my husband graciously reminded me to “calm down,” to which I responded through gritted teeth, “no one ever calmed down by being told to calm down” and by the time I was ready to leave the house, my brain was rattled. I jumped into Fiona, my mango Dodge Journey and sped off – only to realize a mile down the road I had left my phone at home.
My phone eventually in my hand, I breathed a sigh of relief realizing I was actually only a few minutes past my desired departure time. “Oh I can make that up, no problem.” I thought…as an old farm truck pulled slowly out in front of the Journey, and continued that pace for 15 miles. Two lanes. 40 mpg. 15 miles. No available passing lanes. It was at this time I surrendered and took a big breath. Actually, I took several. Sometimes the Universe offers an opportunity to slow the “journey” down.
Perhaps I might have taken a few deep breaths earlier in the morning.
Our body does what our minds tell it to do. Each seemingly small, unexpected request piled on top of another. My mind screeched, “I am gonna be late,” and my body followed its direction by not only constricting my gut and throat muscles, it also disrupted brain-cell communication. Had I been able to take a deep breath while pouring the cat food, or had gone outside with the dogs and taken a 30 second deep breath of fresh morning air sufficient brain connections would have been made to allow memory to remind me of all that I needed to take to work. I might not have forgotten my phone and could have been on my way long before the farm truck came lumbering down the road.
Instead the Universe offered me yet another lesson in slowing down and breathing.
Taking a breath during times of stress is like keeping your bowling ball out of the gutter. Those bumper pads of breath and margin allow you to maintain a straight path in your day instead of slamming into the stress gutter and watching the ball bounce its way down the road to nothingness. Offering ourselves a few extra minutes and taking a breath are both ways to add margin into our lives.
This week consider: Do you know how your body feels on those days when it is sailing down the gutter to a stressed response? How can you “pad” your day with margin? Remember to take a few moments and journal your experience.
Take a breath,
NEWS: There are many new and exciting events planned for these next months to increase our resiliency. Here is one: The class Sacred Connection meets two times a month starting in October. It is an excellent way within community, to explore practices that help you connect with your own deep soul, others and the divine. Applications are being accepted. https://www.christoscenter.org/sacred-connections/
Pilgrimage to the isle of Iona, in Scotland. I am so excited to pre-announce an upcoming pilgrimage to Iona for the summer of 2020. More details to come. Consider joining us. It will be an amazing and reflective experience.