By Judy McSween
“I am a Time Out Specialist”
I was really looking forward to my travelling at the end of March, a mixture of work, birthday celebration and relaxation. The cancellation of the flight, the receipt of the open credit, sent a clear message that something that I had no control over was happening. My first thoughts were how do I make the best of a bad situation? How do I minimise the disappointment that I am feeling? … I began exploring what I had to be grateful for in that moment.
In the moment, I had a schedule of coaching sessions lined up with a client and I was anxious to show up and complete the task. On the Friday before the last session in March, my daughter informed me that a client had suspended her sessions, because my leaving home and interacting with clients was perceived as a risk. I was disappointed that that had been the impact of my desire to fulfil my commitment. It also made me think more seriously about my self-care and care of those dear to me. This prompted my decision that all future client interactions would be virtual.
Initially I felt suffocated by this awful mask that we were compelled to wear. This lessened as I became aware that my claustrophobia was contributing to the sensation. I developed techniques to manage the involuntary holding of my breath, that accompanies my claustrophobic response.
I meditated. I reached out to those whom I thought may need to hear a caring voice or favour a listening ear. I reconnected with overseas friends. But this did not stem in entirety, my increasing anxiety. I ate and my blood pressure sky rocketed!
My major griefs were the suspension of my weekly exercise routine in Macqueripe, no in–person prayer meetings and Mass—my weekly rejuvenators, the death of spontaneity to pay surprise visits, ‘buss a hug and a kiss’, do in–the–moment outings.
As much as I enjoy silent retreats, the tranquillity that descended over Trinidad and Tobago was initially engaging, then gradually it became deafening. I longed to smell and feel the crisp early morning air upon my face, hear laughter floating through the air, or even a car passing on the highway.
It was an unexpected call from a fellow parishioner and my open expression to her of what I was experiencing, that raised my awareness that I had gone to the extreme of caring for others, to the detriment of self. I began to rise before dawn to resume my exercise regime—no, not at Macqueripe, but in an area where I felt safe to be alone and mask less. I continued to reach out to others. Then as if on cue, the churches reopened, prayer meetings resumed. I scheduled a massage. I felt centred. What are some of the new rhythms that you have adopted to recentre yourself?
Till we meet again, it’s Judy Joseph Mc Sween, Time Out Specialist, encouraging you to take a Time Out.