Breathe and Be. It makes a difference.

Ellie and I went for a walk along the escarpment over looking the river last night. The sun was warm and buttery. The wind whispered through the leaves of the poplars and the prairie grasses rustled on either side of the path. Below us, the river wend its way along the valley bottom, a shimmering ribbon of silvery waters glistening in the early evening sun.

I was at peace. Ellie was in her element. Tail wagging, a smile pasted on her face, she pranced in front of me, exploring every nook and cranny, nosing into gopher holes, eating grass, sniffing flowers.

Taking time for me is an important element in my self-care. It keeps me balanced. Centered. Energized. Me time makes a difference.

And yet, it’s easy to talk myself out of taking ‘me time’. After a day at work, talking to people, putting out fires and lighting others, sometimes I come home and simply want to crash. To ‘veg out’ and do nothing.

But there is a difference between vegging out and doing nothing versus being at peace with where I’m at without needing to distract myself with the nothingness of mindless TV. Sitting in front of the TV, watching movies or dramas or inane comedies where violence or suggestive humour or sheer stupidity mark each flickering frame is not, for me, the art of doing nothing. It is more about feeding myself nothing nourishing, nurturing or sustaining.

Now, don’t get me wrong. I love watching mindless TV. And that’s the problem. I actually do get into it — and in that state, I find myself more tired, feeling less energized and alive. I find myself wanting to do less, and that includes wanting to take ‘me time’ that is sustaining and nourishing.

Having the energy and awareness to make a difference requires self-care.

Just for today, make a commitment to take mini ‘me breaks’. Throughout the day, take five minute breaks to simply be present within yourself. Shut your office door, or put your headset on and listen to Gregorian Chants on your computer. Go sit in the stairwell, or by the pond in the lobby of your building. Sit and be. Sit and breathe. Breathe deeply. Close your eyes, feel your body relax, feel the air fill your lungs and then feel it flow outward. In and out. Be in the moment. Breathe. Slowly. Deeply. Breathe and Be. Breathe and be.

Do it at least five times throughout the day.

And when you get home tonight, do something different. If normally you would turn on the TV and watch whatever is on, or sit at your computer and play Spider Solitaire (one of my vices) — DON’T.

Instead, breathe and be.

Go for a walk. Sit in a park. Sit by the river. Don’t worry about the weather. If it’s raining, dress for it. Just get out and breathe and be.

And then, ask yourself, what’s different when I let myself surrender and fall into the moment right now? What’s different when I remember to breathe and be?