Having Me Time vs. Living a Me Life

Though it didn’t start out to be, this was our actual to-do list from yesterday:

Originally, it was just a scrap of paper where I jotted down the words “free breakfast”, “Kroger freebie” and “feed the ducks”. When Angie later added “take flowers to cemetery”, an official to-do list was born and I carried it around with us all day.

It was there when we walked to Chick-Fil-A. It was there as we sat leisurely sipping coffee for an hour. It was there when we did an Easy Shift at Walmart and scanned a few items into Shopkick. It was there when we decided to make stuffed peppers in the crock pot for dinner. It was there when we ate our picnic lunch and went for a walk. It was there when we stopped to visit with my mom and put new flowers on my grandparents’ grave. And when I took it out of my pocket last night, I was so happy to have had such a great day, I posted it on Facebook.

The post received a few likes, which is fine. I’m not in the business of curating my life on Facebook anymore so like or no like, it’s all good to me. What bugged me though was the call I received this morning from someone I work with. “I’m glad you were able to enjoy some me time on your day off,” she said.

Me time? I was a little confused. Isn’t all of my time “me time”?

I don’t think I like this term “me time”. In the context it is most often used, “me time” conjures up images of a fast-paced life crammed full of activities and obligations; a life so beyond our own choosing that we feel the need to schedule a moment – and usually a very brief moment at that – to do something for ourselves. “Me time” is supposed to be good for you. It’s a way to decompress and destress, a time to be alone with one’s own thoughts and feelings, but to me, saying that one is taking some “me time” simply begs the questions: If you have to schedule time for yourself, whose life are you actually living?

Time is the only true currency in this world. It can be traded for almost anything – money, experiences, rest, relaxation, and even penance, drama, and chaos. Though we have no idea how much time we are given, we do know one thing – our time belongs to us. Or do we know that? When was the last time you actually got up, faced the day, and felt like every second, every minute, every hour actually belonged to you? If you’re like most folks, I’m going to guess you’re having a hard time recalling that memory right now. Moments where we feel absolutely free to do anything we choose are pretty rare. Which is why scheduling “me time” is all the rage these day.

Instead of scheduling “me time” though, I think I’d rather just live a “me life”.

What’s a “me life”?

Living a “me life” is not a new concept. In fact, I dare say that most of you reading this chose (or are thinking about choosing) a minimalist lifestyle for the express purpose of well…living on purpose. A “me life” is just that – a life dedicated to caring for yourself, cultivating your own happiness, and living intentionally.

But isn’t that selfish?

This is the one misguided thought that bugs me the most. Doing something for yourself is not selfish. Remember: You have to stock your own shelves before you have something to share with others. The definition of selfish is to do something without regard for other people. Taking care of yourself, living a fulfilling life, and doing what makes you happy are not pursuits that disregard the other people in your life. They directly take those people and a whole lot of others you haven’t even met yet into consideration. Happiness is inspiring. It is contagious. When you are happy, others around you will be happy too.

Okay, so how do I live a “me life”?

Joshua Becker at Becoming Minimalist has a great post called The Helpful Guide to Living an Intentional Life. To his words of wisdom, I would add:

Don’t settle for moments, prioritize yourself first. As I mentioned before, “me time” is comprised of those stolen moments when we finally sneak off to recharge ourselves. Don’t allow this to be your norm. Make caring for yourself your top priority. If your to-do list does not include you, you’re working the wrong list.

Own the choices you have already made. I often hear folks say that they can’t focus on their own happiness right now because they have _____ (the blank being filled in by words like kids, a house, a high-pressure job, debt, etc.). Are those things really obstacles or rather just choices we have already made? At one time or another, we probably thought that the item in that blank was the right choice for us. If that’s no longer the case, and we are able to, we need to change it. And if we can’t, we need to embrace that choice and incorporate it into our lives in a way that does bring happiness.

In 2015, I made the decision to move to Tennessee to be near my mom. Sometimes I find myself saying things like, “When we move back to Florida…” or “When we are free to live where we want…” which seems to imply that we didn’t have a choice or worse, that we can’t be happy until we no longer live here. And that’s not the case. I have to own that decision and build the kind of life I want to live right here, right now. And so do you. Don’t let what’s in your blank hold you back.

Immediately change anything that is not a good fit for you. As minimalists, we’ve gotten good at decluttering the junk from our drawers, our closets, and our garages. When a shirt just doesn’t fit anymore, we give it to Goodwill (or repurpose it as a dust rag). When a job, a relationship, or any other choice we may have made in the past no longer fits though, we convince ourselves that we can make it work. It’s much harder to declutter the intangible “junk” from our lives, yet it is those items that are far more restrictive than physical clutter. Set yourself free. If it doesn’t fit, let it go.

A good “me life” is kind of like one of those choose-your-own-adventure novels we had growing up. You are presented with a variety of equally interesting choices: Take a nap. Go for a walk. Color with your kids. Build a sandcastle. Dance. Watch a movie. Make a cake. Grow a garden. Read a book. Take a class. Start a business. Travel. Write a blog.  The decision is yours. Choose whatever makes you happy and when you’re done, go back and choose again. This is your life. This is your adventure. This is your time to be you.

Do you operate on “me time” or have you found a way to have a “me life”? I’d love to hear about it.

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Big Thoughts About Tiny Spaces

Last weekend we went to the Tennessee Tiny House Festival in Chattanooga. We didn’t “fall in love” with one single home, which is how I know this recently resurrected idea of ours might actually have some traction this time.

This time? Yes, in 2015, we met Scotty and immediately fell in love. Scotty was a vintage 22-foot travel trailer in need of a little TLC…or so it said in the ad. At the time, we were so caught up in our grand ideas that we didn’t think much about the practical aspects of RV living or the problems one might encounter when dealing with a 30-year-old trailer and quite quickly we came to realize that TLC more aptly meant “Totally Lost Cause”.

For anyone who followed us back then, you know that adventure was sidetracked and we ended up staying put in Tennessee to help my mom. For anyone who wasn’t with us then and is interested in knowing what happened, here’s a good place to start.

What we learned from our flirtation with tiny living back then was that we had the specs right but our method was wrong. In short, we would have been better off with a tiny house in a permanent location than trying to haul a leaky hunk of aluminum all over creation with a mid-size SUV and a super-size cat.

Which brings us to the present…

We constantly toss around the idea of putting a tiny house in my mom’s backyard. Our city recently revised zoning to allow for tiny houses on permanent foundations. While we’re not yet sure what that means for tiny houses as accessory dwellings in a residential area, we’re still pretty excited by the progress and are finding the topic of tiny living coming up much more often.

A good example of a bad ladder.

As we toured the tiny houses at the festival (all of which were on wheels), we oohed and aahed along with everyone else while also having a serious conversation about the practicality of tiny living. We decided some things were just a non-starter…like a loft bedroom that is only accessible by ladder. We’re not old by any stretch of the imagination but we are over 40 and falling headfirst down a ladder during a midnight potty run is not high on our list of fun things to do at night. Besides proper stairs, our other “must haves” include: a combo washer/dryer, a covered porch, and off-grid plumbing and electricity.

We saw several homes that partially met this criteria but none that ticked all the boxes (as they say on HGTV’s House Hunters). So what does this mean for us? I’m not sure yet. We are in our current lease until next summer so we have plenty of time to flesh out a proper plan to go tiny should we decide to move in that direction. In the meantime, we still need to find out if a tiny house in the backyard is even legal here. I’ve also suggested we find a tiny house rental through Airbnb and try that for a week – not during vacation but during a regular work week. A trial run is something we should have considered two years ago. I can’t help but think of the headaches it would have saved!

Could you live in a tiny house? What are your “must haves” to give tiny living a go?

Here are some of our favorite elements from the Tennessee Tiny House Festival.

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