Four Hours

I had a half day of vacation from last year that I needed to use or lose by the end of the week. In a previous life (okay, more like six years ago) I would have bitten my nails and worried about what people would think of me just taking four hours of vacation with no agenda or real thing to get done. In that past life, my imagined judgements of others would have convinced me to lose it.

People change. I’ve changed. This little half day smacked of opportunity. I scheduled it for Monday, March 7, 2016. The Thursday before, I had gotten my first e-mail about needing to schedule a meeting at 11:30 if that worked with my half day of vacation. Then came then one about 10:00. It sort of defeats the point of taking vacation if you need to be in meetings by 10:00 a.m.

I scrapped the idea of Monday and noted that Tuesday was my only other option. Tuesday wasn’t the perfect option as I knew I would have work to do in the morning before commencing my vacation half day. Things that simply couldn’t wait for my arrival at noon. I think we all have these things at times.

How did I spend my four hours? Investing in me.

I was up early and got snuggles from Littles. This got me out of bed to pay a couple of bills and check e-mail. (I haven’t gotten to the investing in me part…) After getting most of my work done while Bigs watched hockey highlights, we walked to the bus stop and waited together. No pacing or thinking about who would be concerned about my late arrival at work. As the bus growled away, I hustled inside to check my e-mail one last time, see what the stock market was doing, and call the office to put in morning trades.

Already dressed in my workout clothes (I’m a planner and love wearing leggings), I headed out for a three mile walk. The day had broken beautifully, nearly 60 degrees in Wisconsin in March. Still a bit overcast, but the smell of spring filled the air. Birds and buds, green shoots and worms, melting snow trickling into the storm drains. In spite of the irritation I felt about having to change my plans the universe rewarded me with the perfect morning.

As I turned down our street, the sun broke through the clouds. I threw open our doors and let the breeze whip through the house as the sun drenched me. Breakfast awaited in the form of leftovers. My favorite real food breakfast of quinoa, browned sausage and onion, and fried eggs. It filled my belly as I listened to the birds sing me their own version of the “Good Morning” song. I hummed the song to myself as I sipped my coffee with an overly generous (I deserved it) dollop of whipped cream on top. Truth be told, I had two cups.

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With each bite I savored the flavors. Every sip of coffee was a sweet kiss on my lips. I sat still and felt deeply grateful. Not just for my full belly, but for my full heart.


Three hours to go. I am sweaty from my brisk walk and still have to make it into work, so I soak in the tub to clean up. The warmth surrounding me as I sink into the freedom of nothing. With thoughts of accomplishments and what I would have to show for my day, I set them aside and pick up my book. Getting lost in a story is one of my favorite ways to unwind.

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Then I wrote my own stories. Right now. Right here with you. I had e-mailed a friend the other day about my half day and not to tell anybody. The gremlins still had me judging myself (in the form of what everybody else would thing) and whether I deserved such an indulgence. I do. You do. We all do. Giving ourselves the gift of time is luxurious.

We live in a busy world. Everybody is going 100 mph in every direction. Time may be the most precious commodity that we possess. One can’t bank it; it is spent in real time. Each moment we choose to do something with it.

If ten people read this and think, “It must be nice to have time for that,” I get it. I hope that one more reads it and is inspired to choose to invest in oneself. To set aside whatever demands there are and carve out four hours to simply be who you are at the core and embrace yourself.

Originally, I had planned to clean out a closet during my four hours of vacation time. In the end, I probably would have felt very accomplished, if I hadn’t bitten off more than I could chew and been scrambling to shove everything back in before my time was up. Instead I aired out my soul and gave it room to breath the fresh air of spring.

I want to know… What would YOU do with four hours? 


4 thoughts on “Four Hours

  1. OK, here goes….your mom and I used to call each other on the first day after school ended in June. We would brag about cleaning closets, cupboards, washing windows and such. Now we make plans to meet at Cakewalk, then walk to the Japanese garden at Carleton, or sit out on her porch enjoying great conversation. It is fabulous. You have learned this at an early age….congrats!! Keep it up.


    • Little eyes have are always watching. This (not so little) girl is learning from the masters. I see how you have transformed your lives and the joy that results. I couldn’t be making these leaps without good teachers.


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