Article originally published on HuffPost by Sonja Mitrevska-Schwartzbach
BSN, RN, CCRN, ICU Nurse. Bibliophile. Caffeine Addict. Eternal Optimist.
What I aspire to do and what I hope to say becomes far more lucid when staring at a wide cobalt ocean on the breezy terrace of a remote island. This has nothing to do with casually boasting about my most recent travels. In fact, it’s quite the opposite: I’m pleading with you — each an every one of you — take some time to get away.
Get away from family.
Get away from your friends.
Get away from the worries that plague you and the job that stresses you and the bills that will always be there upon your return.
Have a love affair with yourself, even if you’re journey is with others, because it’s so damn difficult to steal a bit of Me Time on any given day and make it count. Me Time is powerful. Me Time is essential. Me Time doesn’t have to be a limited resource if you constantly replenish your reserve. Even the tiniest drops, when added over time, can create a substantial body of water. Whether you take a quick dip or a long soak is entirely up to you.
I am a terrible relaxer. I suffer from the constant worry that, if I’m not busy doing something, I’ve clearly forgotten the most important item on my agenda. I’m not a hyper planner, per se, but I have a tendency to function in the future. I’ve struggled to stop myself from wondering what’s next and simply exist in this very moment. When I’m at home — immersed in the trials and tribulations of those who surround me — it’s nearly impossible to detect an off switch. I often lay in a puddle of problems, saturated by a constant stream of wouldn’t-s and shouldn’t-s and couldn’t-s that leave me feeling dampened by defeat. If you have a career or a family or, frankly, even just a pulse — I am certain you have times when you can relate.
But here, these last few days: I’ve finally found a way to disconnect. It’s not that I’m avoiding all contact with my personal world: just check out my social media shots for proof that I’m still directly linked to my surroundings. It’s that I’ve discovered a way to slow down and taste my meal. I’ve found a manner of savoring that last sip of delicious wine. I’ve conquered the battle with my inner voice by allowing myself to find a connection with nature. The Atlantic Ocean; the land-masses and rock formations that depict how organically we as beings once existed; the sound of wild blackbirds chirping in the trees around me as I write this very note. There is a tiny green lizard who has taken residence on our balcony. Under normal circumstances, I would panic: he’s a reptile, for goodness sake! What if he finds his way inside of our hotel room? What if he brings friends? Don’t reptiles carry diseases?!
Live and let live, it seems, is the far more rational answer to my dilemma. Every morning I take a walk onto our balcony to check the weather for the day — whether it’s sunshine and a breeze or a misty cloud-masked morning. My friend pops his head out from between the stones in which he resides; looks over to me; and carries on with his day. And I, once a worrisome and frightened future-monger: well, I’ve found a way to let him.
Why can’t we all take the time to live this way? To take things as they come? To live one day at a time —- and not live but truly LIVE; go beyond the realm of simple existence and enjoy every wonder despite the worries. Here on the island there are more cows than people. Here there is a slower pace: people speak more and text less. People eat more and crave less. People love more and want for less.
Somehow, in a hidden gem within the Atlantic Sea, between glasses of vinho and the fish of the day, I’ve managed to remember why getting away from it all is an absolute necessity in doing it all.
How can we repeat if we do not recharge? How can we noisily plan for the future without quietly enjoying the present? How can we know just how hard we work, without some precious days to labor away in laughter and love?
I feel so tremendously grateful that I’ve been given the opportunity to leave my home in a proverbial hotbed of opportunity: someplace between New York and Philadelphia and Boston and DC — even if only for a little while. But finding those quiet moments: the ones that bring you to a place of love and gratitude — it need not be extravagant nor extreme. Maybe if we could all take just five minutes out of every single day to protect the flame that burns from both ends, we can make that warm inner light glow just a little bit longer.
For some, it’s travel. For others, it’s books. Maybe it’s music or fine wine or running or crafts. Perhaps it’s photography or horticulture or making love or baking cakes. Maybe it’s even simpler than that: just you alone, with your meandering thoughts, in a hot shower on a cold morning that washes worries away.
Never mind the method. No need to make the means. Spare no expense on your inner self: Me Time doesn’t cost a penny yet it will always make you richer. Make your Me Time droplets a cup then a bucket; a bucket then a pond; and eventually you’ll create your own Sea of Me. Just don’t forget to take a dip every now and then: the water feels just fine.