Do you need a Timeout?

DSC_1051Hello Friend,

This morning at the breakfast table, my wife said to me, “What do you think of this?  You could take one year away from here–you have to move to a different city—and work on your stuff.  You would have time to finish your book, and who knows how long that will take with your normal schedule around here?  It is a year just for you and your work. And it is a fellowship, so you will not be losing money to do it.  It could set you up for the future.  Are you up for it?”

She sold it so convincingly that I half-thought she had actually lined this up for me.  A total timeout from the rigors of my normal life to devote all of my time to an important pursuit that I otherwise have to sneak in at random and fleeting moments (when I am typically exhausted).  Imagine that!  I would be like a TV show in Summer: “”William’s World” is on hiatus.  He will return in the Fall, right where he left off.”  For a whole year!

What could I accomplish in a year?  I was salivating at the thought.  I am a guy who always has an endless and ever-growing To-Do List when it comes to things I want to learn and do in my life.  The idea of being bored for a single moment is totally inconceivable to me.  I arrive at the end of every day wishing it were twice as long.  So, when she put the offer of a whole year on the table for me and suggested that I could write my book in that period, I took that as a challenge.  Surely I could finish the first one and get the second one started.  Of course, I would have to keep the blog going, too, and yes, those books I have been needing to read to get myself better equipped to write the books and blogs.  Maybe I would even take a couple of minutes at the end of each day and learn the guitar (I got a guitar for Christmas this year, not because I expected to make time to learn it this year, but rather because it is a bucket-list item for me that I will get to someday, and I want to be equipped when a “free” moment appears).  There are a million other items on the list, but those would have to wait; this year would be all serious business.

So, with all of those thoughts racing through my head in the few seconds that it took for her to finish explaining the opportunity, what was my response?  “No way.  Not a chance.”  What???  How could a guy who spends each day begging for more time pass up an opportunity like this?  It is a one-year timeout: who gets that opportunity?!? And, more importantly, who gets that opportunity and declines?  I do, without a second thought.

You see, in spite of my deep passion for everything I would use that year for, I have something that trumps everything every time.  I have two little children.  Since the day my daughter was born 5 ½ years ago, I have basically eliminated any non-essential activities in my life.  I changed my job so I could spend more time with her (and later her brother).  Hobbies and social life went out the window.  I allow myself writing time and exercise, but only when it doesn’t keep me away from them.  I don’t take trips without them, and I don’t get babysitters.  It is a bit extreme, I know, but the time with them is that important to me.  And, since 5 ½ years has gone by in a blink, I recognize how fleeting my time is with them.  Being their Daddy is the coolest thing I know—by miles and miles–so I can comfortably pass on the other things I always loved to do.  It is also why I can pass on the free year.  It would be an amazing year, no doubt, but not in the same ballpark as any year with them.  That is just how it is with me.

BUT……..ask me again in 15 years!  Then I will probably take you up on the offer and apply for a second year when the first is finished.  It is all in the life context.  In theory, the timeout year sounds fabulous.  I am taking my deferral of it as a sign that I have a pretty darn good gig going right here and now, even as I am well aware of the dreams that gnaw at me daily and could be addressed in that year.

So, how about you?  Are you ready for a timeout?  Get out your journal and ask yourself: Would you take that year right now if offered?  If you couldn’t do a whole year, how much time could you take?  What would stop you from taking it or limiting your time?  Then, what would you do with it?  How would you spend your time and what would that set you up to be and do?  How do you see your life differently at the end of your timeout?  Are you just less stressed, or has a whole new world opened up for you?

Explore all of these questions in your journal.  Believe me, you will go much deeper by writing them out than by simply giving a quick answer to each as you read.  Enjoy the process, and let your mind go wherever it leads you.  Dive deep!  Then, leave a reply with the link above.  Tell me about your timeout.

Be your beautiful self today,


4 thoughts on “Do you need a Timeout?

  1. Karl O. Benson

    Very nice to see and feel your thoughts on “paper” my friend. I look forward to future posts and of course your book(s). I admit I’ve started and stopped journaling on multiple occasions but find renewed inspiration in reading your blog. I’ve conveniently started capturing my life and thoughts in 140 characters or less but see the value in taking more time out for myself and diving deeper. Thank you Sir.

    1. William Rutten Post author

      Thank you for the kind words. While I am sure those 140 characters are more convenient, I know you will see the value of writing more freely and deeply in a journal. Take the plunge!

  2. Peggy Breedlove

    William; I haven’t written in a journal for over 30 years, but your recent post has inspired me to make an attempt. You see, the magical “someday” place you dream of….I have somehow managed to land there in the last 2 years, and for that I feel amazed, and full of so much gratitude that I hardly know where to begin. When I look back at my earlier life, I can see someone who clearly lost herself. As a result, I struggled through so many years of obesity, addiction and a bad marriage. Somehow, I was saved, and on the other side of that I found health, happiness, and thanks to my childhood friend who was sent to me at just the right time, so much love, and a safety I have never known before. This is my Paradise. As I was looking back on my life, I realized that there was one question that has perplexed me for as long as I can remember; how on earth was I ever going to make some sort of positive change in this world? I have thought of this so often, and it usually made me feel small and over-whelmed. But then 3 things happened that took all of the pressure off. The first one happened over time. As I got older, I slowly stopped caring about what others thought of me. This set the stage by setting me free. Next, I raised a beautiful daughter who is full of so much life and love and kindness, and I realized that it was by far the best thing I would ever do. Finally. I realized that I was never going to win a Nobel Prize, or even a mid-level tennis tournament for that matter. But if I could focus on showing small bits of kindness every day, it might possibly have the same cumulative effect as someone else’s coveted prize. And so I do that; I change the world for the better a tiny bit each day when I can keep my loved ones healthy and happy, when I can offer a simple kind word, and when I do something every day that makes me feel strong. So this is my Paradise, and I wouldn’t change a thing. Peg

    1. William Rutten Post author

      That is absolutely beautiful, Peg. There is so much wisdom in your tale. And it really is a story. Honestly, my mind keeps returning to the thought, “She should write a book!” I love a story of someone moving from crisis to Grace, and you have surely made that shift in your mind. Even if you have no interest in writing your story for the general public, I implore you to journal. There is an ocean inside of you. Explore it! You and your loved ones will be that much better for it. In the meantime, keep giving your daily Love to those you encounter upon your path. That is enough. Believe me, that is enough.

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