Wants, Must-Do’s, and Can’ts vs Can-do’s, Priortities, and Needs, all in the name of “Time”

Estimated read time... 6 minutes

It seems there is never enough time to do all we want to do, and the things that we want to have happen take longer than we desire.

This post is a collection of thoughts that I’ve been having about time, wellness, and everything that goes along with it. I’ve been wondering if having a 36 hour day would really allow us to “do” everything we want, or “be” all that we desire?  I’m not sure it would.  With our 24-hour day, we already feel overwhelmed, burned out, and plain old exhausted from trying to do it all. Wanting the 36-hour day would only induce us to doing more and not taking care of ourselves enough, all in the name of “doing it all.” I want to tell you that you do not have to do it all, it is okay to not do it all.

How do I know this?  Well, I like learning the hard way, and oh what a hard lesson it has been for me… In May, I got more sick than I had ever been in my life (it started on a trip no less.) I could not attend all of the classes that I was supposed to, and wanted to, as part of my final year at herb school. Then I needed to sleep instead of sight-see and spend time with my husband on our mini-vacation after classes were over. I had laryngitis, pink eye and a pretty severe upper respiratory tract infection. When I got home from my trip, I couldn’t talk for another two weeks, and it took me more than a month to start to feel like I was maybe, possibly, recovering from feeling so wretched. Being sick provided me with a much needed perspective of what I am capable of (or not) in both times of health and ill, and what lead to me getting so sick in the first place: I was completely spread thin between work, herbalist work, and day-to-day life. It wasn’t simply a matter of “sucking it up” and doing the work, I simply could not do anything.  I was that sick.

Having many dear friends and colleagues in various holistic fields, I received tons of great ideas, all of which I was completely incapable of doing.  I couldn’t leave the bed, much less make a soup or tea, or go to the store to get supplies to make said soup, tea or any other remedy. I couldn’t bring myself to make tea, much less work, go on a hike, or even go shopping for groceries when I got home, I could barely sleep. I felt like a failure. It was simply one of the worst experiences I’ve ever had, I had to learn that it was okay to just be sick and let my body get what it needed the most from me at that time: rest.  Since then, I’ve been very careful of maintaining and preserving my energy, time, commitments, and everything else that goes along with living in order to prevent myself from being sick for a month and a half again.

I ask you to consider and ask yourself:

What need (or needs) is your body asking you to address right now?  How will you help your body do what it needs to do: support you in the life you are living? What are you doing that is not supportive of your life and body?  What needs to change to create this support?

If you answered, “I don’t have the time to change or address what my body and life needs right now so why bother?”  It is okay to say, to anyone who may be asking for (or telling, guilting, demanding, “should-ing”) you to commit, do, or give more than you are able: “no”, or “I can definitely do this, I cannot do that”, “I am unable to help you with that right now, check with me another time”, or even “let me get back to you on that one.”  It comes down to communication, prioritization, and respect – for both yourself and others around you.  If your body and self are asking for changes, you will need to figure out how to make the changes happen within the time that you have to work with.

There are many considerations when thinking about “time”: the time a wound takes to heal, the time it takes to get balanced, time-savers, time to exercise, the time it takes to run errands, time to clean, time to sleep, time to relax, cooking times, family time, personal time, work time, commute time, time to meditate, time to play, time to live… you get the idea.  Who has time to do it all, let alone work on making positive changes in life?  I’m pretty sure no one has time to do it all, I don’t think it is possible. Something has to give.  It may be your health, your family and relationships, your career, your social life, your mental and spiritual well-being, the upkeep of your home, the ability to make your own meals, ability to exercise, sleep, or anything else that can fall by the wayside in the pursuit of “doing it all.”

What do you need to stop doing or change to have the time that you need to take care of that thing that “gives”?



Some thoughts to consider when working with an herbalist and your time:

When you are already spread thin, overwhelmed or plain old busy with your life, creating (or finding) time to make a decoction, take a tincture every 3 hours, make a daily infusion, make all sorts of diet changes, sleep eight hours a night AND take daily walks outside in the sunshine for 30 mins is frankly unrealistic.  It is okay to not be able to do all of these things, it doesn’t make you a “bad” person or client, it makes you a real one.  By communicating what you can and cannot do (time-wise) to your herbalist, you are setting yourself up to succeed and be happy with what you are capable of doing.  That’s a much better proposition than saying that you want to do everything, and then being upset later that you are not capable of doing it all and aren’t making the progress you had hoped for after a couple of weeks.

It takes time to become balanced when working with herbs, diet and lifestyle – the re-balancing of your body, mind and soul.

I understand the desire for a quick turnaround time with obtaining optimal health (optimal meaning: the best you can feel with what hand you’ve been dealt.)  Remember: often, you’ve had a slow progression into your current state of health.  If you are 33 years old and have suffered from horrible menstrual cramps for 20 years, it is not possible to move your pain scale from a 9 or 10 to a 1 or 2 in a month’s time, you may be able to reduce your pain from that 9 or 10 to a 4 or 5 after several months of progress.  So long as progress is being made that is what counts and matters.  The same goes for headaches, arthritis, stomach issues, depression, anxiety, or anything else that is a long term (chronic) issue.  I wish it were not so!  Obtaining a greater state of health and wellness takes time.

You can lessen the amount of time it takes to reach a more optimal level of health, but the time it takes is not going to be overnight or instantaneous.

The body replaces its cells over the course of seven to fifteen years – some cells take less time, some take more, some do not regenerate at all, and as you age this process becomes less efficient in that the rate of cells that are dying and need replacing outpaces the rate the body can produce new cells.  If it takes the body an average of eleven years to replace itself, remember that your particular issue is part of that process: give your body the time (and support) it needs to rebuild as optimal a body as it can given your age, heredity, and other factors.  This is why herbalists so often take a multi-pronged approach: diet, lifestyle, herbs.  The more you can support your body, the more your body can support you in return with feeling better.

This week, I’m going to start a couch to 5K program, or something similar. I don’t know how successful I will be, but I am going to try. I keep dreaming about running, easy, gracefully, and quickly.  I walk about five miles a day, I want to be able to run some sort of distance without wanting to keel over. Wanna know how I learned that I want (and need) to be able to run easily and that I had to carve out some time to do this? I had to run to the train station with a suitcase, purse, and canvas shoulder bag filled with stuff, for 10 blocks, up a hill, in 80+ degree weather because traffic was wretched and oh was I running late.  Let me tell you, it wasn’t a pretty sight. It didn’t feel good to be so spent after that, and I do not want to feel that way again.  So, that’s what I’m going to start working on this week: learning how to run five kilometers (or 3 miles.) I have to give up something to do this, and that’s fine.  If it means I’m not ready to collapse after a mere 10 blocks (approximately half a mile), I am fine with making some changes.  For me, those changes are going to be: going to bed earlier so I can get up early enough to work on this program with plenty of time to do the rest of my morning routine without stress.


What can you let go of this week? 

What do you need to make time for this week, what have you been neglecting that is important to your life and vitality? 

What can you eliminate from your schedule so that you’ll have the time to do this thing without feeling more overwhelmed or stretched thin?


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