(Post #26 in the 31 in 31 Blog Challenge) My kids go back to school today. Or, they were supposed to. My youngest is home sick, and so is my wife. This post was going to be about how this is the first day in months that I will have to myself. That I really need a good amount of alone time. That I have sorely missed it and this date on the calendar has pulled me through some rough days lately. This was going to be my day to get my life back. Don't get me wrong, I love my kids and my wife. I love to spend time with them. But, I have lots of other parts of my life that get pushed back when the family is in residence. We have a very small house, and the only real door is on the bathroom. So when I say "get my life back", I mean my balanced life. Where I am dad and husband, but I'm also just me with my work, and my volunteer commitments, and school and play. They call it "balance" because it's just that, it has to be. If not, I fall over.

We all need time to expand into who we are apart from our labels and commitments. It's not always easy, and sometimes we come into places in our lives where it just isn't possible on a regular basis. When this happens it should be a warning that a shift needs to occur. If you see the end of this, if the light of a little time for yourself is on the horizon, then breathe and wait for it. It will come. If you don't see that light, if it's not a temporary situation, then look for small ways to make room. There is almost always enough wiggle somewhere if you dig for it. When we take the time we need for ourselves, we are able to care for all the other people and duties in our life in a much more present manner. Don't believe the voices in your head that tell you it's selfish or unnecessary. It's neither.

You are worth it. It is essential. And your family and friends will thank you for it.


Comfort Zone

(This post is #23 in the 31 in 31 challenge, you can find more information about it here )

Comfort zones. We all have them, and it's a damn good thing too. It's where we rest, it's where we reflect, it's where we rejuvenate. It's the space where we know we are in control and that gives us what we need to let down. We have many of them, for different reasons, but the big this is your life version is the one to watch.

Let's say one of your places to unwind is on the couch (wearing that bathrobe that no one who has not seen you naked will ever see on you that you love) watching old movies. This is your place you can go when you need to unplug. Chances are you don't do this all day long every day, even though it's tempting. You have bills to pay, maybe kids or parents or pets or friends to care for, probably a job to do. If you spent months on end on that couch, sooner or later life comes knocking, not amused that you have been absent. So it's easier to keep the time spent here to what we need and no more.

Harder to see, but more crucial, is the bigger comfort zone. The one that you have become so comfy in that you don't recognize it for what it is. Your cage. The voice that tells you "you can't do that" is such an old friend that it's almost impossible to consider challenging it. The problem is, you actually can live your life in this place. You can arrange everything to fit in there with you. Your job, your hobbies, where you live, what you eat. They can all be part of the big cage that keeps you safe. But once in a while, it's really important to open the door. Stick your nose out, see what happens. Chances are if you take a walk around the outside of your cage you will get a better perspective on what's inside there, and if it's really working for you. A lot of it might be, but isn't it worth knowing for sure? And while you're out there looking around, you might find you feel different. A little more alive, a little more like what you remembered wanting to be like before you built that cage. Amazing things are happening out there. Things that you never thought you could have a part in. The good news is that you can always go back in, but you may find eventually that you no longer want to.