Jennifer Courtney Jennifer Courtney
Jen Courtney
Author | Speaker | Coach

Alone Time

2017-08-31 19:18:18

Many years ago, I learned that the key to staying somewhat sane was to become a priority in my own life. This, quite simple put, meant making time for me to do the things that refueled my soul. It took some time but I did eventually make peace with the fact that it is NOT selfish to put yourself first; in fact it is necessary if you have any chance of getting through this crazy world in one piece.

I did well at this for some time, but as the years slipped away and we added a new baby, a new business, and a new puppy to the mix, my “alone time” slipped away as well. I did on several occasions try to get back on to routine, however I was too tired and more focused on making sure my family’s cups were all filled, so I didn’t have the energy to worry about my own.

I didn’t realize how much I missed that alone time until recently when it became very, VERY clear.

I was approaching the end of a work day when I received a text from my Husband that read something like “The girls and I are going to my parents to fix the van, both boys are at work. I even have the puppy, so you have the house to yourself. Enjoy.”
My mind raced, an empty house… no one at home... enjoy… these words swirled around my head like toilet water being flushed, and I had no idea how to process them, but luckily I did have the cognizance to realize this was a time sensitive mission, so I jumped into action.

I raced through the close-up of my store with a super hero-like conviction and I raced home (within the speed limit, I assure you) and within the 25 minute drive I went over all the things I could conceivably do, like have a hot bath with no interruptions, turn the music up and bust a move, eat dessert first, eat only dessert, I felt my excitement growing as I got closer to home and by the time I made it back to Listowel I was downright giddy!

I flew into the grocery store to grab some appetizers that I had been craving. I found myself moving at such a pace that I actually slid around a corner of an isle and almost ran into someone who was shopping at a leisurely pace. I apologized, but I did not slow down. After paying I made my way over across the parking lot to the extremely convenient liquor store to grab a bottle of wine then quickly raced home. I flew into the house leaving a trail of my work stuff and promptly tossed the wine into the freezer, turned on loud music then opened my highly anticipated spinach dip with a giant grin on my face. As I was planning my next move I shoveled my first dip filled chip into my mouth. I took a minute to enjoy the fact that I didn’t have to share my special treat with anyone. I was going in for round two when I looked up to see my family pulling into the driveway, and with that my alone time had come to an end. The house filled up quickly and my dip disappeared even quicker. So I quietly pulled my wine from the freezer poured a large glass and listened to the stories of their day.

Now, I don’t begrudge my family coming home sooner than anticipated, and if nothing else it made for a funny story to talk about after the girls went to bed, but I did feel slightly ripped off, and when I realized that I felt that way I decided that it clearly was time to get my “alone time” back.

It is so easy to get swept away by our busy lives, by our work, our kids’ sports, volunteering, all sorts of things. And although these things matter and can have great value-add to our lives, they can also take over and disturb the balance of your life. There are some people that can balance longer than others, but scales are built to tip, and when they do - which they inevitably will - you have two choices: 1) You could just throw your hands up and let it tip, allowing your load, and your life to come crashing down around you OR 2) You can slow down, breath, adjust your load, and regain your balance.

I have found that when I stop taking care of myself and my marriage my scale starts to tip. I become irritable, my weight fluctuates, and I’m not as attentive with the kids or my husband. This is my cue to readjust my load, to rebalance and re-focus. I do this in a number of different ways, and we all will have different ways to refuel our souls; some might write, some might go to the gym, some might need time alone in nature, etc... The importance isn’t in what you do; it is in you making time to do what makes you happy and sane, so that you can be the best version of you, for YOU and for your people.

I spend a great deal of my life as a mom making sure my family’s cups are full. As a boss I make sure my employees’ cups are full, and that my customers’ are as well, but I have been reminded that it is also very important to make sure that MY cup is full also, so that I am healthy enough to be there for all the people in my life who depend on me.
Make time to fuel your soul, make time to do something that fills your cup so full that it is on the cusp of overflowing. Become a priority in your own life, because as the old saying goes: “you can’t pour from an empty cup.”