Take time for what’s important.

I was in my summer school online class this morning and the teacher said, “I want you all to put in the chat box what you’re feeling, or if you have a particular focus at the moment.” Many of my fellow classmates said things about a work project, or plans for the weekend. A few said they felt uncertain and weren’t sure what to say. Without my usual temperance I posted “I am quite overwhelmed and not sure what to do. I feel like I have so much going on I am always behind, and it all seems equally important so I don’t know where to start. I really wish I could just paint.”

Once I posted that I realized I basically spoke outloud. Everyone could see that chat comment. One of the other facilitators immediately said, “Oh you must find 30 minutes a day for you to do that, Kelly”.

Somehow that struck me. Why do we feel like we need permission to do things for ourselves? I value my job, my commitments, and my obligations, certainly. I don’t ever want to appear ungrateful because I know how blessed I really have been, but I also realize how trained I have become to ‘don’t be selfish’.

In my life I have made promises, both explicitly and implicitly, that I have delayed or even denied because I felt I had to get my work done first. We become conditioned to think that if we stay home from school, we’d better be sick. If we don’t have the chores done, we can’t watch TV. I grew up with a work ethic that says you can’t play till the work is done. The work means both employment and life tasks of course, and in my life that has grown exponentially to the point where I can’t ever get all my work done. As a result I hesitate to tell myself that it’s OK to play without factoring in the guilt.

But I am not living honorably! I made vows to my husband and our relationship. I promised to pray for friends who are currently undergoing horrible challenges like illness, or poverty, or heartache. I told my Dr I would try and reduce my stress levels and take care of myself better. But I am not doing these as I should. I’m on the bottom of my list of things to do because I assume I can wait. Or can I? Should I?

Today when it dawned on me that I need to look at my priorities, I closed my computer, made myself a big glass of ice water, and sat down in front of a blank canvas. I can do 30 minutes. Actually, maybe I deserve an hour. Or maybe nothing that I thought I had to do today was really that important. I have the day off work, so maybe I can think about me and make myself happy pushing paint around. That makes my husband happy, it makes my doctor happy, and most of all it makes me happy.

I appreciated the reminder today that it’s OK to put myself higher on that list of important things. It is not selfish, it is kind.

Today’s painting is a 12″ by 24″, oil on canvas called, “Morning Priorities.”