Charged Up

I just returned from a quick trip to Florida with my youngest sister, to sell our dad’s house and the “love of his life” corvette. It’s a beautiful machine! A 50th anniversary edition with all the bells and whistles, kept in an insulated garage, and was driven only once a week. It even has a trickle charger to keep its battery functioning. You can imagine our surprise when we arrive to the house, preparing to sell both items, to find the car is DEAD! Upon further investigation, my sister finds the trickle charger on the opposite side of the garage. You may already have assumed this but, it is impossible to keep the battery life full if it isn’t connected to its charger. Funny how that works (or doesn’t work), huh?
Of course, we all know the importance of keeping our phones, laptops and other devices charged. I see people hovering around outlets at airports all the time, and often I am one of those hover-ers. My motto is “plug in while you can”. Which was what I’d planned to do while returning home from another recent trip (the week before the Florida trip, mentioned above). Being the multi-tasker I am, I scheduled a work call while sitting at the gate and was chatting away, while also digging in my work bag so I could plug in my phone. As I continued to talk and dig, I got a little more frantic. You know the scene, I’m pulling things out, looking and re-looking, until the grim reality hit me. I left my charger, plugged into the wall behind the bed, in the room where I was staying. UHHH!! I had even told myself that morning, “Grab your charger now or you will forget it”. And sure enough…the self-fulfilling prophecy came true! So, I cut the call short, knowing I needed to save battery power. I had a connecting flight through Atlanta and well, you just never know. I sent texts to my kids and a few others, telling them I would be “off grid” for a bit because I had no charger. Even though it was a little anxiety provoking at first, I quickly realized it was also kind of nice to be forced to “unplug” and conserve power, for my phone and myself. (And I also went into “power saving mode” on my phone…didn’t know that existed. That’s a benefit of having millennial children.)
Those two situations reinforced in me the importance of chargers and how much we depend on them. However, it also made me notice, that we don’t necessarily take advantage of those same charging opportunities for ourselves. There are numerous situations we face daily that can drain our battery, lowering our energy level. Emails, texts, phone calls, deadlines, requests, to name a few. Co-workers, bosses or kids who need attention are never in short shrift. There is ALWAYS something to do or someplace to be or someone who needs something. But often we don’t prioritize ourselves. What about your energy level? Where is your trickle charger? Is it connected? Or is it on the other side of the garage? Do you “plug in while you can” to whatever restores you? As often as we are aware of the battery life of our electronics (or corvettes?) I encourage you to notice your own personal battery life. What percentage are you on? Are there ways you can conserve energy? Can you go into “power saving mode”? What can you do to recharge?
For me it can be as simple as sitting in silence for a few minutes. Or perhaps it is stepping away from the computer to clear my mind for a moment. It could be saying “no” to “one more thing” even though it’s so easy to default to volunteer mode, offering to help in a myriad of situations. Through all of the shuffle of running a business while helping care for a senior (my dad) and care for a senior (my daughter), I am learning to ask for help or even better yet, let others do for themselves. I’m trying to wait (the “W” in SLOW) before I jump in to “rescue” or respond. Taking a minute to determine if whatever it is that lies before me, is something I have the time or energy to take on. Frequently, I can be my own worst enemy, self-inducing expectations that are not realistic or fair or even kind to myself. (Albeit perhaps they are possible but are they necessary?) I’m releasing the pressure I put on myself to be perfect or the first to _______ (fill in the blank). I’m learning to be ok with saying “no” or “maybe later” or “that won’t work for me right now”. I’ve also begun asking people, “how urgent is this request? Can this wait tomorrow (or next week)?” It’s amazing how often that question stops people in their tracks to evaluate the actual level of urgency related to the particular task. So often we are in “immediate response mode” that we don’t realize it may not really be that pressing.
We get to decide how much of our own battery we use up in our lives. It is ok to plug in (or unplug) and recharge. It is ok to put yourself first and take some down time. Look for your trickle charger, connect to it and watch your energy come back to life. You’ll be zooming down the road, just like that gorgeous vette, in no time. (and then you should take another break)