Updated: May 29
One day last October, as I ran around between attending the various sessions of a podcasting conference and meeting up with my husband so I could nurse our son to sleep for his nap, I stopped inside a Starbucks a block from the hotel.
I was rushing to eat something, anything, during the last few minutes of my lunch break. So I resigned myself to getting some pretzels and a cheese plate from there, along with a Frappuccino because that’s what I do when I’m feeling stressed. (I’m painfully aware of how basic this sounds as I type it out, so please forgive me.)
After grabbing all of my various accoutrements, I was heading toward the door with my arms full, just as an older gentlemen was on his way in. He gallantly grabbed the handle and smoothly stepped aside in one grand gesture to hold it open for me. I was incredibly grateful for his kindness, especially in that moment.
I rushed to get through the threshold, as I always do so as to not hold someone up or appear self-absorbed and ungrateful. He looked at me with a wise, knowing smile and said in a reassuring voice, “Take your time.”
And I almost burst into tears as I thanked him and walked away.
Take my time? My time? Mine?
I had never really thought of it as “my” time before. In fact, I had pretty much always felt like it belonged to everyone else whose time I was wasting.
I have spent my whole life in a series of mad dashes—to school, to work, to meetings, to birthday parties, to lunches, to bridal showers and weddings and baby showers.
In fact, the days leading up to that moment had even been one long, mad dash from home through the traffic to LAX and then through the airport with our son in a stroller and luggage rolling behind us and a car seat strapped to a dolly and then from the ATL airport to the subway and up the steepest, highest escalators I’ve ever seen in my life and through the downtown streets to our hotel room where I rushed to deplane my appearance as much as humanly possible before arriving late to the welcome reception.
I had barely stopped to take a breath. So then I did.
And then I skipped the next conference session to sit and eat my makeshift lunch. I took my time by the shoulders and told it to just sit down and relax. And it was glorious.
During this quarantine, I put a lot of pressure on myself to be productive and try to “catch up” with the rest of the world that I always feel so far behind. I filled my days with Zoom calls and webinars to learn more about how to launch new services or acquire new skills or optimize the way I run my website and business.
Then one day a couple weeks ago, I heard that nice Starbucks stranger’s words echoing in my mind: take your time.
It’s yours. Take it.
And then I sat out of a webinar and watched an episode of a new Netflix series instead. I baked chocolate chip cookies—and ate ungodly amounts of them in one sitting. I watched hummingbirds buzz around each other in the backyard as my son ran circles and laughed and hopped around in the grass.
I may not be winning any awards or garnering recognition for the caliber of my work anytime soon, but that’s okay with me. Maybe someday but definitely not now.
For now, I’ll just be working toward that steadily, at a more leisurely, less frenzied pace. I’ll be trying my best to balance learning and growth with stillness and gratitude.
I want to feel the ease and comfort and presence that man had as he held the door open for me that fall day. I’ll be taking my time.
So this post is my long way of swooping the door open for you, holding it as you stroll through, smiling, and saying, “I hope you take your time, too.” 💖