We all have some quirky little daily habits.
Often we don’t even recognize them because they’ve become so ingrained in the regular course of our lives. After securing employment across the country some time ago, I had to relocate and was faced with the challenge of creating new habits in all aspects of my life.
I work in a stressful job which includes plenty of 10 hour days of reading and entering reports written by police officers and detectives. By day my mind is consumed with the dark side of what human nature is capable of.
Many days, I have wanted to escape from the negativity of the job and the drama in the office.
When I first arrived, I was a stranger to everything, so at lunchtime I would sit at my desk and read emails on my phone. After a week or so, I noticed I had headaches on a regular basis and I went home crabby every night. I related it to how loud it was in the small office. In previous positions, I usually worked alone and I was now surrounded by six other women.
It didn’t take long for me to realize that looking at a computer screen all morning and switching to an even smaller view wasn’t helping my headaches.
It was time to create a healthier lunchtime habit, so I decided to go outside every day. Being new to the area, I tried a couple of different things to pass the time and clear my mind.
I walked around and found a shopping center close by, but I wasn’t much of a shopper so that only happened once.
The next day, I visited the county library which happened to be behind our building. I tried to check out a book, but the librarian told me I couldn’t get a library card because I lived in a different county.
That night at home I charged up my Kindle, only to find out the next morning that the screen was too dark to read outside.
I tried driving around to become familiar with the area, but found that all I did was waste time and gas.
I walked into my study one night and looked at all of the unread books on the shelves. Lack of time had always been the excuse, but not anymore—I had those four lunchtime hours a week!
Now when lunchtime comes around, I grab a book, a pen and some paper. I can’t wait to get outside. I open the door, welcome the sunshine as I stretch and feel the warmth of the day on my face.
I head over to my favorite bench, one I found during one of those previous walks.
This bench has meaning for me. Each day as I walk up to it, a smile and a feeling of peace comforts me. An appreciation that no one occupies the space happens most of the time. On the rare occasion someone is already sitting on the bench, I giggle to myself and say, “How dare they sit in my sacred space.”
Because the bench sits in front of City Hall, it is seldom occupied for long.
The bottom of the bench is imprinted with the words, “The Friendship Bench,” and was donated to the City.
I love how it invites me to come on over and sit awhile.
The tall back slats of the chair wrap around my torso just right and feels great after a morning of sitting at my desk. Each slat represents different colors along with a word or two of inspiration inscribed. Right in the middle of the two seats, the connecting slat says, “You are amazing.”
How can it get any better than that?
The other 20 plus words on the bench include, respect, smile, honesty, think, believe, courage, trust, integrity, talk, share, imagine, generosity, listen, joy, understanding, love, laugh, compassion, hope, kindness, courage and patience. There are two white slats and the writing is unreadable, so I often include my own words of passion, purpose and just be.
The bench reminds me of one of those word games that asks you to name the first word that pops out at you. This is where the fun begins.
My mindful, albeit, weird lunchtime habit is taking that first word that popped out at me on that particular day and applying it throughout the afternoon. It’s a wonderful way to finish up my workday.
Reading intrigues the mind and is free to all.
Sitting on a bench enjoying the day is free to all.
Surrounding yourself with inspiring words is free to all.
I was told by a passerby, “You have the great gift of being able to just sit there and read. What a wonderful thing.”
I smiled and thought to myself, yes I do—but so does everybody.
As my lunchtime came to an end one day, a gentleman walked up to me and asked if he could sit down on the bench. I smiled and told him absolutely, come on over it’s a beautiful bench. “Indeed it is,” he said as he sat down.
My passion for reading was renewed and beneficial in ways I hadn’t yet thought of. I was able to disconnect from the plugged in world of cell phones and computers. It was my escape from the stressors of the morning and transformed my energy into a means of finishing out the day in a calmer more focused manner.
Spending time alone doing something just for me is enlightening and time well spent.
Habits can be created and recreated as your needs change.
Do you have a comfy place where you can relax, slow down and enjoy your quirky self?
If you don’t, please take a look around and create a space of your own, one that feels right to you.
Author: Lee Lomas
Editor: Renée Picard
Image: via the author