I just returned from a fantastic weekend at a cabin in the woods near the Red River Gorge in Kentucky. And now it is snowing again. It typically doesn’t snow this much here in Cincinnati, and the city had not yet recovered from last week’s snow when it started again. It is amazing the affect the snow can have on our energy. I have a home office now, so there is truly no such thing as a Snow Day for me – unless, of course, I declare one! However, I can clearly remember the mixed emotions I used to have about an office Snow Day.
You see, being a bit of an overachiever, I did not often allow myself to simply relax. A day in which society-at-large had deemed that everyday activities would roll to a stop occurred to me like a massive opportunity to “get ahead” or “catch up.” If you have paid attention to my Sunday blogs (by the way, I took yesterday off for vacation), you may recognize that thoughts of “getting ahead” come from a place of fear and competition and a belief that there is only so much to go around (Level 2). So while I say it was an opportunity, it really felt more like an obligation, or even a compulsion.
Picture it: A beautiful snowy scene outside the window. First there is internal debate about whether to go into the office. After all, I wanted to show I was a dedicated worker, and that I wouldn’t take just any excuse to stay home. Eventually, often after about an hour of coffee-accompanied debate, still in my PJs, I would recognize that it was not worth risking the 3+ hour commute which was a frequent occurrence on a snow day, and choose to stay home. If I had projects happening that could easily be worked from home, I would do that. If not, I would take a vacation day.
When I’d take the vacation day, my conscience was cleared from the need to work. I then had the whole day ahead of me to what I wish. Sudden panic. WHAT DO I WISH? It has been so long since I’ve had a day like this, and I also anticipate that it will be a long time until I have another one, that I don’t know what to do. What could be a fun opportunity to catch up on projects around the house, or movies I’ve been meaning to see, now becomes a heavy day of obligation. I feel obligated to make the most of my day – because time feels scarce and I need to use it to its fullest to “get ahead.” Two hours and the rest of the coffee pot later, I would still be in debate about how to best use my time – and guess what? I’ve had NO FUN and gotten NOTHING ACCOMPLISHED.
So what do I do with a snow day?
While I no longer commute to an office, I can still be emotionally affected by the snow, and start to feel driven to take advantage of the fact that life is slowing down around me. What do I recommend doing with the sudden appearance of unplanned time?
Well, before doing anything, decide where you wish to “come from” on a snow day. EVERYTHING that we do or perceive in life stems from where we are coming from, or who we are being. The thoughts and behaviors I described above (indecision, panic, apprehension) all “come from” a place of scarcity and fear. There is not enough time to do everything. If I “waste” time, I won’t “get ahead” in life and as a result, something bad will happen (less money, praise, etc.). Can anyone relate to this? Before the experience can change, you must change where you are coming from.
There is no right answer about where to come from, and it might be different each time, but you’ll want to pick something that is inspiring to you in the moment. And you can start with the question: If I were not concerned at all about using this time to get ahead, what would I want to make possible today? Here are some ideas:
– PLAY: How can I use this time to play? (make a snowman, play board games, listen to music and playfully clean the house)
– CONNECTION: How can I use this time to connect with others? (make some phone calls, enjoy quality time with your family, connect with people online that you’ve been meaning to reach)
– COMMITMENT: The things I am committed to haven’t changed because there is snow, so how can use this time to reinforce those commitments? (continue the projects you have already taken on and take great joy in doing so)
– GROWTH: How can I use this time for my personal growth? (read a book, do some research just for fun, or maybe the growth comes in not trying to make good use of the time!)
– RELAXATION AND SELF-CARE: How can I give myself what I need today? (give yourself a pedicure, take a bath, take a nap)
– PASSION: How can I follow and grow my passion today? (do only what you are excited about, if you find you are no longer excited, do something else)
I hope that you can start to see that when we come from a different place, our experience changes. You can use this idea not only on a Snow Day, but when you feel anything in your life begin to feel like an obligation rather than an opportunity. These are just a few examples, I would love ot hear what you create!