… from the bungalow

‘If Only I Had the Time’ and Other Excuses for Being Unhappy

36 Comments

If only I didn’t work a full-time job 35 minutes away from home…
If only I weren’t so tired at night…
If only the kids weren’t so demanding…
If only I had a laptop and faster internet service…

If only I had the time…

The Persistence of Memory by Salvador Dali

The Persistence of Memory by Salvador Dali. Source: http://www.moma.org/collection/object.php?object_id=79018

Excuses. Distractions. Dwelling on what’s already happened or has yet to happen, forever ignoring the “right now.” Sound familiar?

If I had to put a number on it, I’d estimate that 8-15% of my time during any given 168-hour period (that’s a week for those of you who may not be as mathy as I) is available for use as I see fit. That’s roughly 13-25 hours per week. (See previous post: Striking a Balance.)

25 hours sounds like a lot, but it’s half as much time as I spend at work. And by “at work,” I mean actually working, driving to work, driving home, taking potty breaks, pretending to work, or sleeping with my eyes open at my desk. And Facebook. Let’s not forget Facebook, for Pete’s sake.

But so many of those 13-25 weekly “free” hours are seemingly frittered away on things like putting out metaphorical fires (like  breaking up arguments between any combination of our three boys or making a second or third grocery store run that week) or being depressed and/or pissy. Lousy SAD.

So let’s pretend for a minute that I did have the time to do all of the things I’d like to do in a day. What would I do? Sit and click around on Facebook all day? Perhaps. But let’s make a list just for esses and gees.

  1. Watch some of the shows I love, like Firefly and Buffy.
  2. Read blogs, graphic novels (like Serenity and Buffy), non-fiction, fiction, etc. Not just food ingredient labels and work emails about adjusting student financial aid packages. (He said “adjusting packages…”)
  3. Get creative! Write blog posts and songs, play music, work on website design, what have you.
  4. Get outside. Heaven forbid I should ever see the light of day. Internal office = no windows. *sad face*
  5. Play with my kids.
  6. Travel.
  7. Any number of lazy and/or non-responsible-adult-like activities that might tickle my fancy at any given moment including but not limited to playing video games, watching movies, listening to music, or sitting in a lawn chair, staring at the stars.

Point of clarification on item #5: I actually have plenty of opportunities to play with my kids. I’d just like to genuinely enjoy it more often. Unless I feel somewhat happy and refreshed, it’s not easy to get down on the floor and play Memory or head down to the basement to play robot/Star Wars/fort/stuffed animals. When I’m feeling energized and right with the world? Hand me that Transformer and a Light Saber! Let’s storm the fort and kick some Angry Birds plush pig butt!

Sadly, it’s rare these days to feel energized and right with the world. It feels like I’m in a perpetual hold pattern, always waiting for something to come along and make me happy.

Wrong.

The other day, The Organic Sister updated her Facebook and Twitter status with, “Say it with me: I choose to spend my time doing what I love every day.” My first thought was, “If I did that, we’d be homeless.” But there’s another way of looking at this.

Alternate wording #1: I choose to spend time doing what I love. Maybe it’s only for 15 minutes, but I make it happen.

Alternate wording #2: I love providing food, shelter, and medical insurance for my family, and I choose to do it every day when I get out of bed and show up for work.

Alternate wording #3: I find ways to love what I do. Ouch. That just doesn’t even feel right in my finger tips. There are lots of things to complain about when it comes to my job and work environment. There are plenty of aspects of my job that I’m not naturally well-suited for. HOWEVER, I do have a few job duties for which I am well-suited, and those things energize me when I’m engaged at work and perform them well. I have to pull from that.

And that’s only referring to my job. I am not my job. There are plenty of other hours in the day during which I can be more dynamic. For example, if I “suck it up” and play robot/Star Wars/fort/stuffed animals tonight, even if I’m feeling crabby or short-fused, chances are it’s going to energize me for a successful bedtime routine, which could reduce the incidence of whining and arguing, which could make for better/more sleep for my kids, which could mean improved behavior tomorrow, which would inevitably energize me for more fort storming tomorrow night.

Chris reading to the boys at bedtimeIt’s time to break the cycle. The time is now, while I still have it.

Say it with me: I do not wait around for motivation to strike. I prioritize engaging in activities that energize me. I am purposeful in my behaviors and intentional in my attitude.

As always, thanks for reading, commenting, and sharing with others!

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Author: Chris

A dad with a self-evaluation complex. Also a music therapist, college enrollment administrator, and hippie-nerd.

36 thoughts on “‘If Only I Had the Time’ and Other Excuses for Being Unhappy

  1. Let us know how successful you are at this great resolution.

  2. The time is now, while I still have it.
    Few sentences have packed quite the punch with me that this one did. What a stark and important reminder, which frankly is one I need right now! Thank you. I wish you much success in this, as (of course) in all things.

    • Thanks, Deb! I actually changed that last, short paragraph at the last minute. It seemed to fit better with the theme. I’m glad it is meaningful to you. It’s why I do this. Enjoy your visit with family!

  3. Sounds a lot like my life. I need to focus on this sentence as well. I wish you the best!

    • Thanks, Kris! I think it’s all too common. Sometimes I think I over-analyze things, making change feel “high-stakes,” which makes complacency and consistency (status quo) the more attractive option. I needed to write this as a reminder to myself that change is not only impossible, but desirable.

  4. Great post, baby. Only one thing I noticed was that something was missing from your list of things you’d like to do in a day if you had time. I’m surprised it wasn’t there. Does that mean I’m off the hook from now on? 😉

    • Oh my goodness. No. This post was just very self-focused and laden with guilt over my interactions with our kids. The only reason you’re not on the list is because, while I do want to improve our relationship, I’m not completely guilt-ridden over it. It also just goes without saying in my mind. When I think of staring at the stars in a lawn chair, traveling, working on music, reading, etc., you’re always there. True story. You’re not getting off the hook that easily, love.

  5. Love this. It is so true, The time is now, while I still have it. I am going to repeat that in my head every time I really don’t want to read that 4th bed time story, or play peek a boo for the 1 millionth time in a row. Because it’s true- time goes by way too fast, and we spend it doing things we’d rather not, but I would rather play with my kids then clean and do other things that can wait til tomorrow, or even just after the kids are in bed.

    Thanks for reminding me.

    • I aim to serve. Well, that’s partially true. I needed to do something to get myself out of a two-month-long funk, and writing is number three on my list. In all honesty, it’s number one. That might warrant an edit. Nah, I’ll let it stand. Thanks for reading and commenting, K!

  6. Love this. It’s not about WHAT we are doing, it’s the attitude we do it with. Great message.

  7. I needed to read this post this morning. Awesome and refreshing!

  8. This is a brilliant piece! You bring up so many valid points about how to bring happiness into your life, rather than waiting for happiness to come to you.

    The last paragraph really resonates with me about “sucking it up” to do something you rather not do, yet that is exactly what brings you out of your “funk.” That happens to me all the time. I often feel like I don’t have time to sit and enjoy time with my family or time spent outside, but when I simply say, “I am going to do it whether I like it or not,” I come back feeling renewed and HAPPIER! It is almost like it breaks that bubble of self-induced negativity that I put myself in.

    Thank you for sharing your thoughts. And I LOVE the picture of you and your kids! AWESOME!

    • Thanks, Mama! As weird as it sounds, I have to remember that I enjoy doing things. I’m with you. It’s time to say, “I am going to do it whether I like it or not.” And of course, I usually like it. Changing that flawed perception is difficult. I know it gets easier with practice, but I’ve done it for years, with little progress. Writing these reminders to myself and all of you helps!

  9. Great post. Once you accept responsibility for EVERYTHING. You can change ANYTHING. Your posts are very insightful and I appreciate your journey in words. Erich.

    • Thanks, Erich! You’re so right. It’s all too easy for me to get away from maintaining that level of personal responsibility during the winter months here in Michigan. (I’d really like to move somewhere south of 38° latitude or so.) I’m trying now to regain that sense of total responsibility.

  10. Chris I’ve missed you!!!
    My blog entries have been few and far between lately too, but I think it’s because of all the stress at work – end of the semester transcript printing, plus diploma mailing coming up… then once that’s done it’ll be advising for summer and fall… shew!
    Then there’s the stress of learning an entirely different theatre style than we’re used to: Kyogen. Very stylized and difficult to memorize…
    I’m very excited for my role in this show, it’s a great part!
    I’m definitely going to make a new effort to spend more time with CJ, and lots of other stuff too!

    • Thanks, Em! Sorry you’ve been stressed, but glad you’re doing something you’re so excited about! Glad to hear it. 🙂 And thanks for always reading. I’ve been totally neglectful of my Google Reader. Oh, the guilt I feel when my fellow bloggers comment on my posts because I know I haven’t been keeping up! 😦

  11. Chris, thanks for being so honest. And, while we’re speaking of honesty, that pic of you and your kids is just precious. There is nothing that melts my heart more than seeing a daddy involved with his children. Always gets me! It’s tough to not dwell on what isn’t going right, or what things are the way we want them to be. I spent the first almost 4 years of my singlemomhood just in sadness over the state of my situation-why, why, why?! I’d question myself, question God, question the question. I believe we have to go through this, though. Eventually, however, I came to accept little pieces more and more, which has allowed me to get to where I am today: a much better place where I do as much as I can with what I have. I love the last part of your charge:”I prioritize engaging in activities that energize me.” This includes activities that may be just for you and only you. 🙂 Thanks for your insites and being real with us Readers. 🙂

    • Thanks for your comments, Kasey! Sometimes I fall into the trap of thinking that change must be big or come in the form of major epiphanies. But I need to remember this:

      I came to accept little pieces more and more, which has allowed me to get to where I am today: a much better place where I do as much as I can with what I have.

      The biggest changes come from the tiniest steps taken many, many times. Thanks for that reminder.

  12. Really enjoyed this. I’m so happy I stumbled across your blog!

  13. What an inspirational post – I know I am very guilty of sitting around waiting for life to happen to me. Well no more I say! Thanks.

  14. Buffy rocks! Great choices in shows!

  15. Loved this post. Loved your comment that you made in response to your wife’s question.

    Don’t we all have to deal with the guilt? But it is a choice. Life is so very precious.

    I am so happy that you were FP so that I could find you. Looking forward to reading more.

  16. It´s a great feeling to have read a post and afterwards feel enlightened.
    great post.

  17. Thank you. I have chills from your words! I need this inspiration every once in awhile when I loose site of the importance of loving the here and now.

  18. So so true. Purposeful and intentional. Make it happen.
    Super cute pic w/ your babies too. 🙂 Just came across your blog… so glad I did. (she said, she came across your…) lol.

  19. Pingback: Getting Vulnerable | ... from the bungalow

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