How to Find More Time for Yourself and Your Dreams

by Stacey Curnow on · 35 comments

While we mark the tran­si­tions of early life with rituals—everything from bap­tisms, com­mu­nions, and bar and bat mitz­vahs to graduations—we usu­ally ignore the more sub­tle, yet pro­found, “new begin­nings” avail­able to us in midlife.

Eliz­a­beth Lesser talks about it in her book Bro­ken Open as The Phoenix Process.  The process refers to a mytho­log­i­cal bird that goes into the fire to have the expe­ri­ence of burn­ing away the old that no longer serves. 

All of the parts that serve you are still intact, but all of the old not-serving behav­iors are burned away and then this new light comes into the world.  It can be painful, burn­ing off the old stuff, or let­ting go of what no longer serves, but now you get to emerge with this new light.  

My Phoenix Process began about two years ago, when I attended my first ever weekend-long all-women’s retreat in honor of my 40th birth­day. It seemed like the per­fect way to mark an incred­i­bly sig­nif­i­cant and excit­ing mile­stone with a time of deep con­tem­pla­tion, intention-setting and celebration.

Of course, I went into the week­end with quite a bit of trep­i­da­tion. I had never attended any­thing like a women’s retreat and I was filled with unhelp­ful thoughts that I was wast­ing pre­cious time and money.

As wary as I was, I soon dis­cov­ered that an amaz­ing alchemy occurs when a group comes together with a sim­i­lar pur­pose. Crit­i­cal self-doubts and judg­ments seem to evap­o­rate beneath the light that emanates from women who under­stand your strug­gles because they have them, too.

me.” If I ever get two hours to myself it usu­ally means that I’m rush­ing some­where right after—to make din­ner, take my son to the park, fin­ish a project or work with a client. So to have two hours to myself, fol­lowed by two more hours, for two days was noth­ing short of revelatory.

I came away from the retreat with a strong sense of how I was going to cre­ate more mean­ing­ful and joy­ful prac­tices for embrac­ing my wild, and pre­cious life. I learned that extract­ing myself from the noose of unwor­thi­ness and lack into the expan­sive­ness of hope and joy requires daily effort. I learned that the very best thing I can do to cre­ate that expan­sive­ness is prac­tice con­sis­tent extreme self-care and love.

Okay, so maybe you don’t think you have even an hour right now to devote to self-care. And maybe you don’t see a mile­stone on the hori­zon that would prompt you to give your­self that time. You’re not alone—and it’s cru­cial that you acknowl­edge that.

I think a lot of us are unhappy because we sim­ply won’t let our­selves believe that we are all, as Eliz­a­beth Lesser likes to say, bozos on the bus. In fact, at some point in our lives we all come to believe that it’s an “open secret” that every­one else has it together while we are hope­lessly lost and squan­der­ing our talents.

But the pur­pose of life isn’t to be per­fect. It’s really for us to be here for each other. And whether I think I have the time or not, I’ve found that I’m much more avail­able to oth­ers in a lov­ing and authen­tic way when I am being lov­ing to myself.

Don’t believe me? Try this: the next time you’re feel­ing lost and out of sorts, take fif­teen min­utes, get out a sheet of paper, and list your top 3 prob­lems. (If you have more than 3 con­cerns vying for spots on that list, add 5 min­utes to go lie down for a bit with a cool cloth over your fore­head. See if that helps.)

Then ask your­self which of those prob­lems you can do some­thing about. Cre­ate a list of the things you can do. This list will help you see that you can move toward a res­o­lu­tion, even if you doubt that you’ll get there. And you know what else? I’ve found that when I act on even one thing that I can do, more guide­posts show up immediately—guideposts that I would never have seen had I not taken a tiny step forward.

What’s more, the sense that you have started your way out of overwhelm—that relief, that freedom—will open a space for you to be more lov­ing, giv­ing, and recep­tive to the oth­ers in your life.

Lao Tzu wrote, “The great way is easy, yet peo­ple pre­fer the side paths.”  Why peo­ple pre­fer the side paths is the sub­ject of a future essay, but for now your mis­sion is clear:

Take deci­sive action in the direc­tion of your dreams and you will find your spirit and every­thing else you’ve ever wanted along the way—and you will find your­self bet­ter able to help the oth­ers in your life find what they’re after.

And hon­estly, there’s no bet­ter way to mark a new begin­ning in your life. You may even cre­ate one you didn’t see coming.

The Mid­wife for Your Life Fuel Your Life from Spirit Retreat is designed to give you the time, space, and sup­port you need to define and achieve your dreams. If you want to find out more and get the last spot avail­able, click here I’ve cre­ated a spe­cial offer for the very spe­cial Jun­gle of Life readers…just enter LANCE and 50% will be taken off your reg­is­tra­tion fee!


by Stacey Curnow

Stacey is a pur­pose and suc­cess coach who helps you give birth to your BIG dreams. To find your pur­pose and pas­sion, check out her FREE eBook, The Pur­pose and Pas­sion Guide­book.
Stacey Curnow
View all posts by Stacey Curnow

{ 34 comments… read them below or add one }

Emelie Rota September 12, 2011 at 2:26 pm

Stacey – I always find what you write to be so resonant and joyful! I especially love your little dash of humor here –> (If you have more than 3 con­cerns vying for spots on that list, add 5 min­utes to go lie down for a bit with a cool cloth over your fore­head. See if that helps.)

Haha! I’m going to have to lie down with a cool cloth or possible a chilled glass of wine to wade through my list… It’s so true that once you begin to take action, many more guideposts will appear to help you navigate through the muck and help you break through to the next level. It’s making the choice to take action that sets your dreams alight.
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Stacey - Midwife for Your Life September 12, 2011 at 4:24 pm

Hi Emelie!

Thanks so much for your kind comment. I *really* love your idea of chilled wine, and wish I could join you for a glass (or two).

Your life is a great testament to what happens when you commit to a dream and go full force into action mode. It’s been amazing to see you actualize your BIG dreams – in part by following guideposts that you never even imagined you would have found early in your journey.

Thanks again for kind comment and I love watching and cheering as you make it along your journey!
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Mark of Success September 12, 2011 at 2:33 pm

Stacey,

It is common for people to give more time to their dreams than for themselves. We all get lost in trying to achieve success and very often lose sight of our own self in doing so. What is needed is the simple and bold step to just let go and give some well-deserved time for oneself.

I’ve had my share of retreats during my younger years. It’s amazing how transforming those experiences can be.

Cheers,
Mark
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Stacey - Midwife for Your Life September 12, 2011 at 4:30 pm

Hi Mark!

Thanks so much for your kind comment!

Your comment is especially timely for me because I just took my first break last week after a whole summer of activity. It was challenging to “unplug,” but when I settled into it, it felt wonderful. I truly feel like I got to refuel for the next series of projects I have on tap for the fall — like the retreat at the end of this month!

Thanks again for your thoughtful comment!
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Jen September 12, 2011 at 9:03 pm

Stacey,
I could really relate to your thoughts and emotions throughout this post! I am 43, and read “Broken Open” about a year ago. Such a great read.

It is amazing how for so long in my life I missed out on LIFE, until I became self-aware of letting go of old patterns, because I was stuck in thinking, like you were saying, that I was the only one not living a good life. HA!

I only now realize and understand just how wonderful life can be when I start taking action, acknowledging my negative patterns and learning to laugh fully and often!

And I think I would love to join you and Emelie for a glass of wine:)
In Harmony,
Jen
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Stacey - Midwife for Your Life September 13, 2011 at 8:51 am

Hi Jen!

Thanks so much for your kind comment! I’m so glad to know that Broken Open resonated with you, too!

I’m also glad to know that you, too, took away the same messages of how to live a full life. Laughing fully and often is also one of my biggest priorities, and a sure sign of a happy and satisfying life!

Yes, we’ll absolutely have to get together for that glass of wine!
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Vernon September 13, 2011 at 5:50 am

Hello Stacey,

I’m a graduate in BS PSYCHOLOGY and taking up masters degree this coming opening. In my experience those self reflection will change a lot for an individual. As well, dreaming has a big effect for an individual and it will change your entire life if you live with it.
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Stacey - Midwife for Your Life September 13, 2011 at 8:55 am

Hi Vernon!

Thanks so much for your kind note!

I’m so glad to know more of your background. The world definitely needs more people working in psychology who appreciate the value of big dreams and can counsel on how to live *with* them in the pursuit of happiness.

I can’t wait to hear more from your adventure!
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Lynn September 13, 2011 at 8:02 am

We should always have dreams…

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Stacey - Midwife for Your Life September 13, 2011 at 8:55 am

Yes, Lynn, absolutely! I’d love to hear yours!!
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Jacqueline September 13, 2011 at 1:18 pm

Thank you for this post. It always seems that Lance gets just the right writer, post and message that I need to hear. I’m a big dreamer but getting starter on a new project always seems a bit overwhelming. I did exactly as you said and started steps towards my new dream this morning (year 2 of 365give.ca and 2 hours away from my family) and I feel inspired and excited at the prospect now rather then overwhelmed. Thanks for the motivation and inspiration!
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Stacey - Midwife for Your Life September 13, 2011 at 1:33 pm

Hi Jacqueline!

I’m delighted that my post was exactly what you needed to hear today! It’s completely understandable that you would feel a bit overwhelmed when you think about all it’s going to take to achieve your big dreams! I’m so glad that I discovered that when you take that one small step in the direction of it, and then the next, and the next, you really feel good all along they way.

It really is so important that the journey feel as satisfying as ultimately reaching your goal, don’t you think? (And isn’t that what Lance’s blog is all about? :-)

Thanks again for your lovely feedback! I look forward to checking out your website and learning more about your great big dream!
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Debbie @ Happy Maker September 13, 2011 at 1:46 pm

Hi Stacy,
When I was raising my 3 girls I found that I always had to take time and care of myself. I realized that “If mom wasn’t happy no one was happy.” I would get up a little earier than they did and put them to bed at a good time, so I had time for myself.
Love is Kindness and that should always start with ourselves, then it leads to those around us.
I do have to say retreats can be wonderful experiences.
Blessing to you Stacy and thank you for sharing
Debbie
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Stacey - Midwife for Your Life September 13, 2011 at 2:18 pm

Hi Debbie!

Thanks so much for your kind note!

The “If mom isn’t happy…” statement is SO true! You could insert “dad” in the equation and it would be just as true. And aren’t we as parents the most powerful mentors to our children? So don’t we want to make sure we’re showing in our actions what it means to live a happy and successful life? When I answered those questions in the affirmative for myself it was so clear that I wanted to take time for myself *and* my dreams.

It’s equally true that love is kindness and it really starts – and spreads – with self-love and kindness.

Thanks again for your kind and thoughtful comment!
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David Stevens September 13, 2011 at 5:30 pm

Hi Stacey,
Dreaming and Imagining (with Purpose) are two of the most powerful tools that we have. Use them, I say. Thank you &
be good to yourself
David
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Stacey September 13, 2011 at 5:56 pm

Hi David!

Thanks so much for your kind note! I’m so glad to know that you are also a major proponent of dreaming and imaging with purpose! Rock on, I say!
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Cathy | Treatment Talk September 14, 2011 at 12:31 am

We all need to take time out for our dreams, but many of us don’t set aside the time for various reasons. I’m heading off to a yoga retreat this weekend, and it has the same get away feel as your women’s retreat. Just being unplugged from technology will be amazing, as I need a little break from that right now. I’m bring my journal though, as I’m sure I’ll find lots to write about. Thanks for your insightful and inspiring post.
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Stacey - Midwife for Your Life September 14, 2011 at 6:15 am

Hi Cathy!

Thanks so much for your kind note!

Yes, that “Someday I’ll make time for me and my dreams…” thought is all too pervasive in our culture, and I’m SO glad to hear that YOU are making time this weekend to unplug from technology and reconnect with your Spirit.

I’m sure you’ll fill up your journal with your new insights and awakenings, and I can’t wait to hear about them!
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Melody | Deliberate Receiving September 14, 2011 at 9:05 am

Stacey!!! This is so excellent. I know so many people that need to read this. They just don’t think they have the time to take for themselves, even though they understand intellectually that they really need it. I’m sharing this in any way I can. Awesome, awesome post!!

Hugs,
Melody
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Stacey - Midwife for Your Life September 14, 2011 at 10:04 am

Hi Melody!

Thanks so much for your awesome comment! I really appreciate your enthusiasm for the post and I’m delighted that you will share it with your community! You rock!
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sheila September 14, 2011 at 11:37 am

I ADORE the words “extracting myself”. Love it!
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Stacey - Midwife for Your Life September 14, 2011 at 11:54 am

Yay! Thanks so much for letting me know, Sheila!
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Andrew Walker September 14, 2011 at 10:18 pm

Hi there. Thanks for sharing this. It’s a very motivating story! Lovely!
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Stacey - Midwife for Your Life September 15, 2011 at 8:34 am

Hi Andrew!

Thanks so much for your kind note! I love your Gravatar pic. It really made me smile when I saw it. Here’s hoping your day is full of big smiles!
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J.D. Meier September 15, 2011 at 9:23 am

I’m a fan of the phoenix and transformation.

Thinking on paper is a pragmatic and effective approach for meaningful change.
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Stacey - Midwife for Your Life September 15, 2011 at 9:40 am

Hey J.D.!

That’s awesome that you’re also a fan of the phoenix and transformation! Thanks so much for letting me know!

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Chris Barba September 15, 2011 at 9:45 am

Stacey – awesome post!

Whenever I’m feeling anxious about something or tripped up, I love going the paper and pen route. Take a step back and really try and identify what it is that’s bothering me. If I can change it then no worries and if I can’t then no worries!

“But the pur­pose of life isn’t to be per­fect. It’s really for us to be here for each other. ” This line really resided with me. I think if you go down life that one perfect road, you’re really not going to come out of it with anything. And I really believe that no matter what, no matter how bad things are, being around other people is an unmatched remedy.

Outstanding post Stacey – really enjoyed it!
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Stacey - Midwife for Your Life September 15, 2011 at 10:48 am

Hi Chris!

Thanks so much for your kind note! I love what you say about worry — but it’s so hard to remember in times of stress.

It’s like Mark Twain said, “I am an old man and have known a great many troubles, but most of them never happened.”

I’m so glad to know that the line about being here for each other resonated with you. Of course, I’m not surprised given that you are a dear reader of Lance’s blog…:-)
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Jimmy/Life Architects September 17, 2011 at 1:15 am

Hi Stacey,

I m glad that you had the opportunity to take a step back and did a retreat for yourself. I m
sure you have gained tremendous insight into your life purpose and mission as you continue on this wonderful journey that we call life.

With regards to self love. I have come across many people who would view this as a form of selfishness. It’s really hard trying to get them to see a brighter purpose of self love. Only by growing through a process of self love can we become a better human being. When we are better human beings we will be able to give so much more. As such it is a priority in my life to have my daily protected time. Afterall, I use this to grow and love more.

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Stacey October 22, 2011 at 1:48 pm

Hi Jimmy!

I’m sorry I didn’t see your comment sooner! I wasn’t alerted to it as I have been in the past, and I would have hated to miss your thoughtful and thought-provoking reply.

I completely agree that if you aren’t “selfish” enough to take care of yourself, you won’t have as much love and support to give to others. And I really believe that’s what we’re here for!

Thanks again for sharing your lovely thoughts!
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Arthur@tradeking review September 18, 2011 at 11:33 pm

I’m already on that path. But even when I achieve each dream it doesn’t bring as much happiness as one could expect. You get used to new state really fast. Of course, being a man, I set up for a new dream. But I would rather learn to appreciate what I already have.

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Stacey October 22, 2011 at 1:51 pm

Hi Arthur!

You really identified the age-old paradox. We need dreams, but why is the satisfaction so fleeting after achieving them? It’s like we reach the peak of one mountain only to set out for another higher one, and we miss savoring the view from our current position.

Thanks so much for reminding us to appreciate what we already have!
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Kisha October 21, 2011 at 7:23 am

This is really great.. I really love to learn more about on how to balance your work and your dream.. This is really very inspiring and very motivational.. Thanks for this post!

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Stacey October 22, 2011 at 1:45 pm

Hi Kisha!

Thanks so much for your kind comment! We can never have too many examples of balancing work-a-day lives and achieving your dreams, can we? :-)

Keep believing!
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