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Time to Breathe...

by Julie Fischer, MSE, Licensed Professional Counselor

I watch my young children. Their work is their play, and each moment of that play is spent in the present moment. No worries about yesterday and no expectations for tomorrow. Their world is in the "here and now", every moment of every day.

I've always believed that adults could learn a lot from children, if only we slow down long enough to really look, listen and contemplate. And I believe that now, perhaps more so than during any other time in history, we need to learn about how best to spend our time, indeed, how best to live our lives, from our children.

Taking a cue from my children, I have become increasingly aware of how I spend my time. And it seems that the older I get, the faster the pace of life becomes. Sure my responsibilities have increased, along with the hats I wear and the roles I fill. And yet, somewhere within those hats and roles, responsibilities and tasks, there is choice. Choice about little things that can make a big difference on a daily basis. Choice about consciously trying to live in the present moment as often as possible. Choice about which messages I choose to accept from society, and which messages I reject. Choice to give myself permission and freedom to craft my own life in the way that best suits me.

How many things can we and should be doing at one time? I saw a man driving while opening and reading his mail. I have found myself listening to phone messages, while opening my e-mail and gesturing to a co-worker to come in my office. Can we really be experiencing the task at hand and living in the moment at this hurried pace?

How much work is too much? I recently spoke with a woman who works 12 hour shifts, seven days a week, with only every other weekend off; though her sleep was compromised and her free time non-existent, she was resigned to this lifestyle. Even if we love what we do for a living, don't we all still need time to play?

I have been working on implementing some of the many choices I have available to me on a daily basis. I choose to continue to work on rejecting society's message that a person's value is measured by what they do, how much they produce, what they know, how they look, or what they have. I choose instead to remind myself daily that we all have intrinsic value simply because we "are", and the rest is insignificant. I choose to focus on one activity at a time, consciously trying to live "in the moment" as often as possible. I choose to slow down and breathe some every day. If only for a few minutes, the chance to be a human "being" and not a human "doing" is so refreshing and soothing.

So while society seems to be on fast forward with faxes, pagers, cell phones, e-mail, fast food, pressing deadlines, long work hours and short vacations, my children and I invite you to light a candle, sit down, take some deep breaths and give yourself permission to simply be...

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