Late on a hectic Monday I had 15 minutes to hug and catch up with my friend, Janet, who was in from Australia. As usual, like ships in the night, we briefly connected.

Janet looked better than ever. She glowed, owned her space like never before. Present, vibrant, she caught me up on the projects she had going. She said, “not bad for 60, eh?”  I said, “How on earth do you have the time and energy to do these projects, travel and beam with health? She said, “Oh… time behaves differently for me.”

Pause. What? I might have taken it as a flippant reply, but I knew she meant it.  Time behaves differently for me. This statement landed and worked on me.

I felt my “time” meter was constantly running out of hours and minutes. I spent a lot of time worrying about how to fit in my life into a day and/or disappointed that I hadn’t.

I’d start some days at 4:45 am and upon coming home, when asked about my day, I’d cry and say “every hour of my day is accounted for.” For a person who highly values freedom and spontaneity, this felt claustrophobic.

I’d said ‘no’ one too many times to my son or daughter, feeling exhausted when they would ask to pass a football outside or play a board game. Are you freaking nuts, I’d think in my head. Caught up in a frenetic cycle, I couldn’t get myself out of spinning, skimming the surface of my own life, watching time run out.

I missed being, connecting with myself, my son, my daughter, my wife. I missed the moments when time slows down and opens up unexpected surprises, sensations, awareness. When time feels like it belongs to you.

I took a look at my situation. I have a full time job I love, I’m raising two children I adore, 6 and 8 years old, I’m a wife, I try keep a writing practice afloat, I do what I can to keep up a yoga and running practice, essential for my well being. I am blessed in so many ways. This is necessarily the way it is right now. Not the way it’ll be forever, but it’s an intense and intensely creative time for me and I need to figure out how to deal with it.

What am I going to do about it? How will I experience it differently?

Time behaves differently for me became a kind of mantra. I recalled times when time behaved for me in a way I liked. Moments when I felt dropped into being. Alive, awake, conscious and full presently. Even if in short spurts. Time slowed, expanded and felt like it belonged to me.

I started with small practices to slow down and change my frame of reference. On a 10- minute break at work, I’d sit in the sun, slow down my breathing for a few breaths, and write. I’d feel the sun on my shoulders, and then walk back to work. I called these stolen moments,  food for my soul. They changed my day. Energized me. A kind of self-care and pacing.

I said yes to playing pass with my son, kicked off my heels and breathed in the fall air and felt the crunch of leaves beneath my feet. And even though I don’t like football, I was outside and in my body, running, laughing with my son, connecting with him and myself, freed from the bondage of time limits. Fifteen minutes felt like magic.

My complaints and worries about time had been stealing much of my time. I could instead of worrying, engage in something that fed my soul and opened up a moment, even one single one.

I’ve practiced sound healing for years and my teacher has a saying I love: The mind is the slayer of the soul. If unchecked, untrained, our minds can and will slay our soul – our life force.

Whether it’s taking a few moments to take some slow breaths and notice my body, or write, or draw something – anything just to kick over to my right brain, or walk around the block to be in my body, or do a couple yoga stretches, time only behaves differently for us when we make it so. When I get stuck in a frantic mode, I make time behave differently for me now. And I think the key thing is, don’t make it a big deal. Do something small. Don’t think about doing it. Just do it. New behavior is the quickest way to change mindset.

How do you own your time?

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Deli Moussavi-Bock

Deli leads the strategy and implementation of Leading Together, the Center for Courage & Renewal’s leadership program for K-12 schools, which aims to improve professional capacity, relational trust, collaboration, quality of instruction, and ultimately student outcomes. Raised in a multi-cultural immigrant family of educators, she is driven by the collective power of authenticity, diversity, community and connection in service to help build a better world.

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