Teaching the child about margins. circa 2013.
Once upon a time, I was offered an amazing opportunity.
I couldn’t believe it.
I was excited.
I looked at my
stacks of notes scrawled on scraps of paper hi-level, organized schedule and concluded I couldn’t say yes.
I was committed (child stuff).
I was busy (work stuff).
I simply could not fit in another thing.
I clearly recall how sad and overwhelmed I felt in that moment and how I called a friend and shared my situation with her.
Without hesitation she responded:
Your schedule should never be so jampacked you’re incapable of adding another thing. You need to build in space so if an opportunity arises you can say yes.
I immediately knew she was right.
And yet the thing was, being who I am, I knew my friend was right yet the points of her message neither sunk in nor sparked an AH HA! moment.
Flash forward a few years & I found myself in the same position:
- Impending move
- Stressed-out-by-move child who required focused time with a mama who wasn’t distracted.
- Even more work deadlines.
screwed backed into a corner as the phrase goes and this corner had become a familiar place.
I’d begun to assume this pattern was how life was was meant to be.
Medium stress. Medium stress. HIGH STRESS. Medium stress. Repeat.
My life had entirely returned to where I was prior to my friend’s words of wisdom:
I was capable of lolloping along in a semi-stressed state right up to the point life threw*any* extra stuffs my way.
These stuffs, whether good or bad, immediately overwhelmed me.
I was in this frazzled, frustrated place when a different yet equally wise friend casually remarked:
You need to learn to leave margins.
I needed margins.
At long last, I had my ah ha! moment.
The visual power of those words resonated with me as I’d already known of my tendency to fill spaces (and loathe intermissions).
In addition, as a writer the use of the word margins was something I understood.
It conjured images of how, as a child, Id write story after story on white, unlined paper.
I’d scrawl and create and fill all the spaces so when I finished not a speck of white (AKA margin) remained.
My friend was right.
- I needed to leave virtual margins in my life.
- I needed a spacious gap between the have-to’s and the limits in my world.
- I needed a cushion between my load (work, life, family, everything) and my breaking point.
My first friend had said essentially the same thing years prior, yet as with so much in life, my brain required wording which resonated with it to process the message.
And process I did.
- I’ve committed to living life at 80%. I choose to leave room for the unexpected. Through living this way I ensure, if/when it happens, I’m not already maxed out, depleted.
- I’ve committed to living life inside the lines (admittedly a bizarre notion for me). I’ve chosen to reside in the space where I can b-r-e-a-t-h-e as opposed to maintaining a panicked existence in life’s over-zealous edges.
- I’ve committed to drawing margins in Sharpie. I actively and consciously create a cushion between living & overload. I choose daily to fight to maintain/prioritize this space.
In essence, I’ve begun treating the entirety of my life the same way I’d already approached fitness:
I do less than I am capable of each day so I can greet the next 24 hours with excitement and SPACE to do it all again.
- Am I the last to grasp the notion of life needing margins?
- How do you maintain space or margins in your life?