A lesson in priorities, from my dog
Posted: Wednesday, Sep. 12, 2012
Photo by: Nathan Abplanalp Photography
Alyn Wharmby is an Ohio native turned middle school teacher and graduate student, currently earning a degree in School Administration at UNC Charlotte. She is beginning her new life with fiance Erik and chihuahua Bella on July 13, 2013. Contact Alyn here.
If I come back in another life, I want to be my Chihuahua. Her days are spent lounging luxuriously on her doggie pillow and snacking on her pre-measured and prepared food. She gains a few pounds? I switch to light dog food and walk her one more time a week. When Im home in the morning she seems to stare at me as though Im keeping her up. Rough life. She is effortlessly stress-free and her priorities are always in line. Love, snuggling, and naps first, everything else later. Last week I had two naps in one day and felt as Chihuahua-like as I might ever feel.At the end of August I started a year-long program that allows me to be ONLY a student for one year. I work at a graduate assistantship 20 hours a week and attend four classes. For this girl who has been working and completing a masters degree at the same time for two years, this was a BIG change. Having more time on my hands has really put things into perspective about the last two years and where my priorities were. I put on 20-plus pounds in those two years, spent no time with my fiancé and abandoned exercise and healthy eating almost entirely. I was miserable.I was doing some math, trying to piece together why my life had spun so far out of control. Here are some numbers I came up with:15= the number of hours I spent in the car per week, traveling to class and work7= the number of meals I ate in my car per week14= the number of hours I spent completing homework and readings45= the number of hours I spent at work6= the number of hours I was sleeping per night (on a good night)10= hours per week spent grading and planning at homeSomehow in that mess, there are still 42 unaccounted for hours, and I have no clue where they were spent. Im probably underestimating grading and homework, not to mention little things like cooking and grocery shopping. Im also not including the down-time where I watched television or fiddled online. Either way, those numbers seem unhealthy to me. I wasnt getting enough sleep or working out and I was eating on the go and wasting too much time in the car. I was missing out on valuable time with my fiancé, family and friends, and pretty much had to check any type of social life at the graduate school door.The difference now? Im seeking balance. Waking up early three days per week to run with my neighbor, getting to the gym 2-3 times per week, spending less time in the car, getting enough sleep, and being intentional about when, where and what Im eating. I have two years worth of fiancé-negligence to make up for, so were making an effort to eat together, have more quality time and have date-nights.I once heard the metaphor that life is like a juggling act -- where youre always trying to keep onetoo-many balls aloft. I dropped the ball on my health and fitness and relationships for two years, and it has taken me a whole year to reverse that process. This challenge reminds me that I cant (and wont) let overlook my health. It's one ball I have to keep aloft!Take a critical look at where your time is being spent this week -- then be a little more Chihuahua-like. Put love and quality time first, and take an extra nap. Its totally worth it!
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