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In yesterday’s post I mentioned the phrase “time affluence.” For those of you who did not follow the link in the post, here is the definition given by Tal Ben-Shahar, a Harvard professor and author of the book Happier.

Time affluence is the feeling that one has sufficient time to pursue activities that are personally meaningful, to reflect, to engage in leisure. Time poverty is the feeling that one is constantly stressed, rushed, overworked, and behind.

The term “time affluence” came into use based on the work done by Tim Kasser, author, professor and chair of psychology at Knox College.  He found that people who are time affluent have a higher sense of well-being.  So it follows that creating time affluence would partner with nourishing oneself.

So how do you create time affluence?  The first step is to identify which activities are meaningful to you.  Take a look at what you do everyday and ask yourself if it is contributing to your well being.  Personally, when I started asking myself that question I cut back on the amount of time I spend on computer games and diverted that time to working on my novel.  The answers will be different for everyone.

For other ideas to increase time affluence you can check out these links.

Article:  Why Time Affluence Matters and 10 Ways to Boost Yours

Book:  Take Back Your Time: Fighting Overwork and Time Poverty in America

And of course, please share some of your own comments on this topic.

One of the greatest gifts I have received in my journey to self nourish was the gift of cancer.  The disease and the two subsequent major surgeries forced me to stop the frantic life I was living.

 B.C (Before Cancer), I was an overscheduleaholic, trying to cram as much as possible into a day.  And yet, I frequently felt stressed and was often irritable with those around me.  I did a lot in a day yet I seldom felt satisfied at the end of the day. 

 Then cancer arrived.  During my post surgery weeks I was reduced to doing nothing all day long.  Or at least that’s how it felt.  I read, watched TV and talked to friends on the phone.  I got oodles of sleep.  I played with my dog and petted my cat.  I sat outside and watched birds.  When I was recovered enough to walk I took leisurely strolls in the park.

 It was wonderful.  Not only was I extremely grateful to be alive, I also became grateful for the little things in life, for having the time to enjoy them.

 But, time has moved on and so have I.  While I am not as busy as I was B.C.  I have forgotten many of the lessons of those post surgery days.

 One of those lessons was the concept of underscheduling.  When I was recovering from surgery my daily to-do list usually had only one or two items on it compared with my twenty or more items B.C.  The post surgery to-do list contained only items that were absolutely essential.  I had to pare my list down to necessities because that’s was all I had the strength to do.  And you know what?  At the end of the day I felt satisfied if I had completed my one or two items for the day.  I felt that I had accomplished something.

 That brings us up to today and the concept of time affluence.  It turns out that once our basic material needs (food, clothing, and shelter) are met, gaining more money doesn’t make us any happier.  Instead, it is time affluence that increases our sense of well being.

 What is time affluence?  Stay tuned because that is what I am going to talk about tomorrow and Thursday.  Until then, here is today’s question to ponder.

 Have you ever learned a major life lesson and then later, forgotten to apply it?

Our family got a delightful new camera recently.  It’s so much fun that I’m actively looking for ways to use it.

I’ve started taking walks around my neighborhood, deliberately seeking interesting scenes to photograph.

In my photo safaris I’ve discovered that there is a lot more beauty in my world than I had noticed before.  Each time I find something good I have one of those “wow!” moments that lights up my soul.

This exercise reminds me of something I used to do as a child.  Walking the same route to school everyday got boring, so I challenged myself to find ten new things I had never seen before.  And you know what?  I never failed to find ten new things.  I usually found more than ten.

Sometimes nourishing ourselves has to do with taking time to notice what has already been provided for us.

My challenge for you today is for you to look for something beautiful.  Maybe it would help to pretend you are looking for something to take a picture of.  Then, tell us what you find.

A couple of years ago I visited a home with a lavender-rimmed pathway to the backyard.  You couldn’t walk the path without brushing against its fragrant flowers releasing a cloud of sweetness into the air.  I decided that day that I too wanted a lavender path.  So I planted a small plant next to my back gate.

Occasionally when I am out in the yard weeding I will sniff the lavender, but usually I just forget it is there.

Today I picked a sprig of lavender and brought it in to the house.  I  set it next to my computer, a place I spent a lot of time during the day.  Every few minutes I pick up the sprig, hold it to my nose and inhale.  Ahhhh!

Why do I plan nice things for myself and then not follow through with them?  That lavender plant has been in my yard for almost two years.  Why did I wait until today to bring some into the house?

Maybe self nourishing takes both a deliberate intention and a commitment to keep that goal in mind.  Maybe I need to put “sniff lavender” into my PDA.

Whatever it takes, doing simple things that bring joy to you is worth it.

Are there any simple pleasures in your life that you have overlooked or needlessly deferred?

This morning I decided to treat myself to a freshly made bowl of home cooked oatmeal.  No, not instant, I mean the kind that comes in a metal can, takes almost 45 minutes to make and which has a satisfyingly chewy texture.  Topped off with a tablespoon of chopped walnuts, two tablespoons of raisins and ¼ teaspoon of Saigon cinnamon, it makes a slightly sweet, filling meal that is only around 265 calories, keeps me full until lunch and packs me full of nutrition.  A nice steaming bowl of self-nurture! 

While the oatmeal was cooking I spied the jar of jelly beans I had bought as a gift for someone else.  I had foolishly left them out in plain sight.  Before I knew it, I had opened the jar and popped a handful of jelly beans into my mouth.  The taste was magnificent, very self indulgent.  I just had to pamper myself with another handful. 

As I was munching on the beans I remembered that today was the day I weigh in at my weight-loss club.  I had joined the club to improve my health and to increase my physical energy so I could stay actively involved in life.  Those beans, tasty as they were, weren’t going to help me reach my goals. 

How I need to remember that what I want in the moment is not always what I want in the long run! 

Mmm, mmm good versus mmm, mmm, good for me

What made Superman so strong?  How about Lex Luthor?

A new study that will be published in an upcoming issue of Social Psychological and Personality Science may point the way to developing superhuman powers. 

Okay, if not superhuman, at least more humane.  It turns out that doing something kind for someone else increases our own physical strength.  The link is so strong that even just thinking about doing something nice makes us stronger. 

Interestingly enough, doing evil also makes us stronger.  However, I’d rather grow through kindness than meanness.  I sleep better at night that way. 

Kind of reminds me of that old saying, “Flowers leave some of their fragrance in the hand that bestows them.” 

Another old saying along the same line is “Give and it will be given to you… (Luke 6:38).

So maybe being unselfish is actually being selfish—or at least doing something that benefits both self and others. 

I think I’ll try this out before I lift my dumbbells today.  Who knows, maybe I’ll get an extra set of reps in.

Because I am a reader my first instinct in learning how to do something is to turn to books. That’s why I searched Amazon for books about how to nurture oneself.

Three titles that I found and purchased (used, of course—goodness you don’t think I’d pay full price for a book on how to take care of myself, do you?) were Simple Indulgence by Janet Eastman, 50 simple ways to pamper yourself by Stephanie Tourles and 2001 Ways to Pamper Yourself by Lorraine Bodger. I’m sure there are other titles out there but these are my starting point.

I’ve decided to use these books as my springboard. I’m going to pick items from them and try them out. Then I’ll let you know how it goes. Maybe you’ll want to try things out also. Or maybe you’ll come up with better ideas. If so, I hope you’ll share them.

I love to research, so I’ll post goodies that I find from other sources also. After all, isn’t practicing the things you love to do a way to take care of yourself? Doesn’t following your passions nourish your soul? Okay, if it doesn’t, I don’t want to hear about it.

Like so many other who saw the movie Julie and Julia, I am intrigued by the idea of trying to learn something new and to share the joys and perils of that process with an audience.

Unlike Julie, however, I have no interest in French cooking.

Instead, I share the plight of many women. After many years of raising children, caring for a house and husband and pursuing a career, I seem to have lost my ability to care for myself.

I am finally at a place in life when I can take a little time out for myself—but I’m not sure how to do that, if I ever even knew how.

So, this blog will be a chronicle of my attempts to nurture and nourish myself. I am making my journey public so that the many others who are like me, unpracticed in genuinely caring for oneself, can join with me in dialogue and adventure.

Perhaps together we can nourish ourselves in the ways we often seek to nourish others.

What do you think?

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May 2010