Do you negotiate with yourself?
– You can do that thing that you enjoy when you’ve got this done.
– You can get out of the office when you’ve finished this project and returned that call.
– You can take your whole weekend once you’ve caught up on your emails and called your mother and done the laundry?
– You can “take a break” to walk in the wood or do that online fun cooking tutorial or make the gnocchi from scratch you love once you have “earned it”
Yep, me too.
Who is the judge and jury of what “enough” is? You. Where does it come from? Well, heck, if I could answer that, I’d be a millionaire (they didn’t cover that in my 6 years of psychology so it must be kinda complicated). For now, let’s say, if it made logical sense, there’d be a model, 8-step process, or YouTube tutorial on it by now.
What I do know for sure is that if we ignore the things that bring us fulfillment and wellness and joy that we push aside at the moment, all in the name of duty and being “responsible,” and consciousness also has a pang of guilt waiting on the other side of it. Ever find yourself trying to get to sleep at night or on Sunday evening or at the end of your holiday thinking of all the things you wanted to do for your wellbeing that you didn’t do? The hike in nature that didn’t happen or the workout that was cut short or the healthy meal you didn’t get a chance to prepare or the long chat with your fav childhood chum (“I really need to call them…I am such a terrible friend”).
See, we have guilt coming at us in both ways. What we didn’t do duties-wise and what we didn’t so wellness-wise.
The irony is, is any of this actually wise?
I bet you’ve had those moments, like my friend I talk about in this week’s VLOG, where someone we loved or sheer exhaustion or motivation to do something so strongly makes us put responsibilities aside for a moment. My amazing friend, I have such respect for threw “caution to the wind” (AKA she only worked 50 hours that week instead of 60) and went with her husband for a long walk along the trails near their house.
Initially, she was thinking of all the things that she was abandoned, and tensions rose of how much was piling up, even though it was a Saturday, by “taking time away” from work that needed her attention. Then, something amazing happened.
Trilliums are the provincial flower of Ontario (where I also live) and are only out for a short time. At that moment, she thought to herself, “if I had said no to this hike, I would have missed an entire year of trilliums.” The importance of capitalizing on moments when it matters struck her. A lesson we have all learned countless times, yet in our zany, fast-paced, super stressed-out lives, we have to keep relearning and being reminded of. For her, it was nature.
I now call these “Trillium Moments.” Never miss a Trillium moment as it can be fleeting, and the “cost” of missing it may be much higher than the cost of leaving day-to-day duties aside briefly.
My family experienced this lesson this past weekend. It was Victoria Day weekend, our long weekend in May. The trilliums we had enjoyed for the past few weeks on our evening walks were gone for the season, however, three hours north from our house, the trilliums were still out. We wouldn’t have known that had we booked time off, packed up food and clothes, drove 4 hours through traffic, bought a provincial park pass, and took a walk through a trillium-filled park. The “cost-benefit analysis” made no sense. Hundreds of dollars and just as many Kms on the car, not to mention days “away” from work and to-dos that were only more plentiful when we got home. However, the memory of a sea of trilliums around every bend in that 5km hike, enjoying it as a family (when my kids are 16 and 18, so who knows how many of these walks we’ll have as a family) was absolutely worth it all.
We had our Trillium Moment together.
When asking yourself, “should I do this” or “should I do that” (what to spend your Saturday afternoon doing, where to spend your money, whom to spend your time with), ask yourself, “what will I remember in a year from now?“ Guaranteed, it’s Trillium moments.
As much as I pride myself on “inbox zero” (having no emails in my inbox when I leave the office on Friday), no one will say in my eulogy, “she had a really organized filing system.” But they might recall the time we took that walk in the woods in shared awe of a sea of trilliums one long-ago day in May.
I’m not saying live as you did in uni with no clean clothes and constantly catching up late assignments and your mother leaving you worried voicemails “just call me to tell me you’re okay and you’re eating right.” I’m saying maybe we sometimes take the “to-dos” as our “must-dos” when in fact maybe we need to flip the script, at least on our days off.
As my therapist, I started regularly seeing last year said on more than one occasion, “don’t wait for a holiday to take a break.” She has had to keep reminding me as my values – a big one for me being “hard work” – dictates much of our behaviour and mindset, and therefore it can take a while for common-sense advice to override habits. By pushing past my comfort zone to (here comes the irony) take more breaks, the number of Trillum moments I’ve had has grown exponentially (and if you graphed it, it would probably have a parallel line with my joy and stress reduction).
Having Trillium moments during “life” versus just on vacations has brought me back from two burnouts in 2020 and kept me there. It’s forced me to work smarter, say “no” more than “yes,” reconnect with people who bring me joy, and spend more time with my kids and hubby than I normally do.
Next time your kids ask you to play, or your friend invites you to join them for a walk, or you want to make grandma’s whole wheat bread, really consider it. Life is made up of Trillium moments that are so fleeting that you can miss them if you blink.
PS – Moms and Dads out there, there’s a new book out that you may really like that helps you lean into your Trillium moments as a family this summer.
For more resources on creating your Trillium Moments, check out these blog posts: