Thursday, September 22, 2011

ROL: Take a breath.

ROL (return on life) is a qualitative corollary to the quantitative metric, ROI (return on investment). Just as ROI strives for incremental investment driving disproportionately large returns, ROL strives for small incremental changes that greatly increase quality of life. This week's ROL is about the simple act of taking a breath.
Crazy Is The Norm.
Things have been quite hectic around the house. Just as the kid's routine for school became established, the adult's routine changed. My wife's work schedule changed from 2nd shift (3:30 PM - midnight, Sun-Thurs) to 1st shift (6:30 AM-3PM, Tues-Sat). The change is good. On the 2nd shift schedule my children and my wife weren't awake together at home 5 consecutive days each week. Still, my wife has never been fond of mornings, so I moved my 5:20 AM wake up to 4:30 AM to be able to offer any help she might need in the AM. Little Susie gets up at 5:40 AM to catch a 6:45 AM school bus and Mario gets up at 7:30 AM for the 8:25 AM Septran pick up on our driveway.

During the four hours from wake-up to kids-gone I work on wake-ups, lunches, backpacks, breakfasts, and clothes. I dole out the proper allotment from the household apothecary for everyone. I review material and post to the blog. I check email and social media. I try and walk between the time my daughter gets on the bus and my son gets out of bed. If everything goes smoothly, I may even read and comment on a blog or two. And Gracie the wonder beagle is going to want breakfast and some attention. I realize that many parents consider my morning schedule a vacation, but there is a big difference: This is my crazy schedule.
Wait There's More.
Yesterday, I had one additional agenda item. I had to take my mother to pick up her new hearing aid and still be back to meet my daughter off the school bus. Taking my mother for her hearing aid is a 200 mile round trip, so keeping everything on schedule was a must. I got my son out the door and was getting ready to go myself. Wait, do I have everything? Did I pack my lunch? Did I eat breakfast? Did I take my meds? The only reason I didn't hear the screeching of the walls closing in around me was the loud chirping of the birds circling my head. So I stopped and took a breath. Then I took another breath. The walls returned to their rightful place and the birds went away.

Sometimes it is that simple. As the world starts to spin out of control, stop and take a breath. Then take another breath. Everything stops spinning and equilibrium returns. That's how I do it. What about you? Do you have any routines to offer that stop the day from running away?
Post Script.
I actually took my slow-down mode to another level yesterday. In the car, I turned off my usual radio mix of sports talks and politics. I plugged the stereo jack into my smartphone and listened to some favorite songs. It almost felt like a vacation. Not, really but it was a nice break. Why don't you take a few minutes and enjoy.

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