By: Melanie Kreifels

I don’t know about you, but life has been moving pretty fast lately with busy work and family, and I find it hard to catch my breath. And I don’t particularly enjoy living this way. I’ve read that May is the new December for families of school-aged children. Keeping up with Spring programs, awards ceremonies, graduations, etc., can be exhausting for the kids as much as the adults. Some of these responsibilities are fun and mile markers that you don’t want to miss, but even those can be overwhelming. Finding space to catch our breath becomes not just a want but a necessity because awesome things are happening, but most of them can feel like we are just moving through to the next thing, rarely taking time to indulge.  

So these past few weeks, I’ve decided to do things differently and have been trying to start new rhythms. And to be honest, I haven’t achieved as much as I would like, but I’m coming to a place where I realize that may actually be the point. In the last month, I’ve made room for myself to think and not just move through the day. Prioritizing experiences and relationships has been key in enjoying things in my life as they come, not longing for the next. I want to share some thoughts on making the most of time, not whittling away at tasks, and missing what’s right in front of me. 

  1. Listening to my heart. 
    I know it sounds cliché, but we can get so wrapped up in the responsibilities and movement in our life that we forget to listen to our hearts. Could it be that in order to thrive, we need more time alone or a quieter pace? Is it spending more time with those we love or traveling more? Staying connected to our core is essential in shaping our days to have a richer meaning, not just the 24 hours we survive. 
  2. Attending to the “get to’s” in our lives, not just the “have to’s.” 
    When I turned about 45 years old, I adapted this saying out of necessity, “there are a lot of things I have to do in life, but this isn’t one of them.” Some things in life are inevitable—paying bills, being considerate of others–even those we struggle with, family responsibilities, household responsibilities, etc. But there are many things I get to choose, and I’ve become selective in my “yes.” Being ok with not doing everything just to please others has been a muscle I’ve developed over the years, and it’s led to richer moments because I really wanted to be present.  
  3. Choosing my pace. 
    We all get 24 hours in our day, no more, no less. Some days feel full and productive, while others feel not well spent. How I choose to spend those 24 hours says a lot about my pace. Am I packing responsibility upon responsibility, or am I selecting moments in my day to reflect my heart and my “yes”? What that looks like for each of us will differ, but the truth remains we only have 24 hours. Choosing how to pace those with moments that help us soar (i.e., coffee/lunch with a friend, taking a bike ride, time spent in prayer, sewing, cooking your favorite dish, reading a new book, playing a game with your child, etc.) can help fill in the gaps when moments become just too much. Making space to breathe at that pace allows you to catch up with where you are, letting go of the flustered moments. 

As I’ve said, I’ve not mastered this by any means. I’m a work in progress. But I’m progressing, and right now, that is what I’m after. Find a moment in your day, maybe while driving to work, making breakfast for your kids, or over your coffee, to take stock of the day. Decide on moments in your day that can help you thrive in the face of mounting responsibilities by attending to your heart, finding your “get to” moments, and setting a realistic pace. Those 24 hours of yours will be much more enjoyable and meaningful.