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Wellness - Making time for what matters

By Dave Ross

Dave and his wife, Shawny have been friends and contributors of Lady Baker's Tea for a number of years. Shawny has blogged for us in the past (be on the lookout for another blog from her soon) but this month Dave offered to share his thoughts on wellness with us this month. Enjoy!

At the physiotherapy clinic that my wife has been going to, there is a small bulletin board on the wall beside the receptionist.  On the bulletin board is a small sign, easily missed, that reads:

“If you don’t make time for your wellness, you will be forced to make time for your illness”.

It’s a simple message, but undeniably true.  Not so long ago, though, the idea of making time for wellness was not one that came easily to me.  I’ve generally been a reasonably active person, but as life has gone on and the demands of job, house, and family have increased, I fell into a trap that I think many of us fall into.  I had a job to go to, and kids to drive places, groceries to buy, and meals to cook, a house to clean and dishes to wash, laundry to fold, and grass to cut, permission forms to sign and homework to check.  And now I’m supposed to do wellness too?

My feelings about making time for wellness began to change about a year and a half ago.  The event that spurred the changes, oddly, was a routine trip to the eye doctor.  I’ve worn glasses since I was about 8 years old, and recently those glasses started to spend a fair amount of time perched on my forehead when I was looking at details up close.  It was hardly a surprise when the optometrist suggested that it was time to consider getting progressive lenses. But the innocuous comment he made immediately afterwards spurred a change in attitude. He said that needing progressive lenses was something that happened to “us middle aged guys.”  

Us. Middle aged.”  Hmmmm…

Of all the possible ways to be forced to reflect on one’s station in life, this was without question a fairly gentle one.  Being somewhat stubborn, I remained in denial about the progressive lenses for another year, but the comment did force me to acknowledge the reality that I was indeed middle aged, and that I should think about adopting some healthier habits.  

The first change I made to make time for my wellness was to take up karate.  My son has been doing karate for a few years, so this was really a change of convenience.  Making the time simply involved getting myself into the change room before the class and getting out onto the floor of the dojo instead of parking myself on the bleachers.  It’s been a wonderful change, and has become one of the highlights of my week. It’s also spurred some other changes, all made with the idea of making time for wellness.

This spring, I made a commitment to bike to work and to take public transit more frequently, and I’ve typically managed to do so about twice a week.  My usual drive to work takes about 15 minutes. Transit takes about 30, and the bike takes about the same. Thirty minutes of my day given over to wellness, but on those days when I’m able to make the time, I arrive at work with more focus and energy (and when traffic is backed up on the Hillsborough bridge, more smugness), and a more positive attitude. 

This past summer instead of enrolling our kids in the usual regime of organized sports, we took the time to explore the Island. We went to the beach. We rode our bicycles. We walked the dogs. We visited with friends. We made time for wellness. And we enjoyed the summer more.

Once I got used to making time for wellness, I found myself looking at a lot of my day-to-day activities differently.  I may be the only IT professional in all of Canada who never developed a taste for coffee! I’ve always started my work day by boiling the kettle and steeping some tea.  I still do, but now I’m not only making tea, I’m taking time for wellness. Most Sunday mornings I make a pot of tea before breakfast for our family to share. This sharing is now also time for wellness.  The pot of raspberry tea - steeped, chilled, and then mixed with lemonade and consumed on the deck on a warm summer afternoon during a break from the yard work - has become another time for wellness. The cup of mint (her choice) or chai (his) that our kids enjoy occasionally after supper when the homework is done is another time for wellness.

I still have deadlines at work. There’s still groceries to buy, and yard work to do.  The meals still need making, and the house still gets dirty.  There are still doctors’ appointments and bills to pay, and the geriatric dog has developed a habit of pooping on the floor in the middle of the night! But making the time for wellness has made all of those things a bit easier to cope.

This Thanksgiving season, I find myself especially thankful for the changes I’ve made over the last year and a half - thankful for making the time for wellness.  As I go through the holiday, I’ll take some time to reflect and give thanks, and to renew my commitment to making time for wellness. Quietly. With family. Over a cup of tea.

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