Rerun alert: This was a recent favorite at my old site, so I’m sharing it today for those who are new around here!
The thing every woman hates happened to me one Sunday morning.
I slipped on slacks for church and discovered they wouldn’t button. What? These pants I just bought a few months ago? Wow, I really enjoyed the holidays.
What could I do? Give up carbs? Nope. Give up sweets? Nope. The next morning I went for a long walk in our hilly neighborhood. And again the next morning. And the next. That was about two months ago, and now I get grumpy if I can’t walk. (Also? I can button my pants.)
Keith enjoys walking with me too. After a few mornings in a row of walking together, I came home one day feeling agitated. The same thing happened the next morning. Agitated. Irritated. Twitchy.
The next morning after that, I walked alone. The sun warmed my face, my favorite white tree waved at me, the podcast uplifted me… Oh, I thought. My heart sank. I was grumpy because I wasn’t alone.
I had to sit with that for a bit. Enjoying a long walk-and-talk has been a staple in our relationship since the days of long-distance dating. We meandered the walking trails around his apartment on Sundays, trying to forget we would soon say good-bye.
What was up with me now?
The reality is, we were having some serious discussions on our walks. Talks about Henry’s future, our will, special needs trusts, attorneys… all the stuff no one wants to think about, but especially not special needs parents. We were being efficient, making use of the time alone. But I have begun to crave the opposite on my morning walks. I need inefficient. I need the opposite of facts. I need the sun on my face and the wind in my hair. I need openness, space to listen to God, space to listen to my soul.
When I create space for my soul to open, I also open myself up to the anticipation of possibilities, an attitude of gratitude, a posture of grace. My day is actually better. It’s not magic, but it surely feels like it.
As for Keith, we still walk together sometimes, but heavy discussions don’t come along, and he makes sure I have plenty of solitude as well.
My new habit was born of one necessity – ohmygosh, my pants don’t fit. It remains a habit for completely different necessities. Soul necessities. The white space is critical for a pensive introvert like me, but I imagine it is more important for everyone than most people realize.
Maybe you practice excellent self-care. Maybe you protect your alone time like a mama bear over her cubs. Or maybe you don’t know the last time you heard your own thoughts. Maybe, like me, you have your ups and downs, shifting somewhere between the two. My wish for you, if you need more white space for your soul, is the blessing of an irritation to help you find it.