Time Outs

So, three weeks ago we decided that I would quit my job and we would move to Corvallis, Oregon in July. For those who have known me for the past 20 years or so, this should come as no surprise; we've always had restless hearts. However, for the first time in my adult life I do not have another "job" lined up, and have decided that the time has come to think creatively when it comes to income. I'm a bit scared, but very relieved and excited for our new journey.

When you break it all down, there were two primary reasons why I chose to "un-job." My decision was, in many ways, related to a quote I received from a friend a few years ago, who obviously sensed something in me that I was not yet ready to see clearly:

"A conventional success story is one where, with each next step, the protagonist has more money, more respect, and more possessions. I'd like to suggest an alternative success story - - one where, with each next step, the protagonist is closer to finding that spot where he's no longer held back by his heart, and he explodes with talent, and his character blossoms, and the gift he has to offer the world is apparent."

Once I started to believe that, it became “apparent” that I'd rather share my talents (whatever they may be) with people who weren't solely interested in making money off of them. So we decided to move to a place where we can be surrounded by amazing people and good living, and where I will try my hand at things that really serenade my heart. The other reason why the time was right was my overpowering urge to be home with Ginger and the boys more often. They are beautiful, amazing, special, soul-enriching people, and I want to be around that as much as I possibly can.
One of the strangest parts of this transition has been the reaction I've received from my "superiors" and co-workers. I expected them to be disappointed, which they were, and perhaps feel a bit betrayed, which some did. For the most part, however, they have been extremely supportive, inquisitive, and frankly jealous. When I told my boss, he opened his heart to me on a few things from his own life. To paraphrase, he said that he was the father of four children under four years old, and found that with the birth of each child he was spending more and more time away from home and being disconnected from his family life. He marveled at the comparison between his life and mine, where I was making a conscious decision to spend more time with my family, and he was making a “conscious” decision to spend less time. It was a gut-wrenching moment for us both, and as he became more introspective and angry at his own choices, I spoke about the need for parents to constantly take a personal time out to check on their lives to see where they are going. He had no idea what I was talking about. A “time out”? What did that mean?

We went to the Wild Animal Park on Saturday. It's a pretty cool place if you don't mind the souvenir and $7 hot dog kiosks every 30 feet or so, and if, of course, you don't mind seeing wild animals locked up in relatively small pens. That said, I enjoy seeing animal behavior in a natural (even semi-natural) setting; it's always amazing and eye-opening to see various animals interact with each other in ways that are instinctual and raw. Of course, the unfortunate part about going to large public places is the opportunity to view some humans interacting with each other in negative ways, often involving parents placing unrealistic expectations on their children and doing everything in "their power" to ensure that the child obeys their commands.

In one circumstance this weekend, I saw a parent threaten to put, and then put their child in a "time out." I don't think we've ever done that, but I've seen it done plenty of times. The first time I saw it was within my own family; I had never heard of the expression "time out" used that way before, where a parent threatens to physically remove the child from active engagement with something stimulating into solitary and quiet confinement. I can only assume that putting a child in a time out is an attempt to correct some aspect of the child's behavior that the adult finds enervating, disturbing, or unacceptable; in other words, when the child fails to live up to the adult's expectations. I wrote about expectations a year or so ago, and I think that overall expectations can be dangerous and tricky things. It's sad to see expectations of the parent forced upon a child this way.

My experience over the years has lead me to believe that, under stress, people will default to their most basic personalities without the protections normally provided by our wide variety of trappings and rationalizations. When people get stressed, it's better for them to not make major decisions or attempt to learn new tasks, as they are often too near their own personal boiling point to think with clarity and appreciate the experience. In such circumstances, the concept of a time out has merit. When I think of time outs, I think of them in their original context, sports. As both a player and a coach, I have used time outs as opportunities to rest, to recalibrate, to refocus, and to strategize. I have used to stop the action for a short time while the players get an opportunity to remove themselves from the tension of the moment so they can think clearly about what is important to them and how to accomplish it. But this is not only critical in sports, or at work; I think it's also critical in relationships, particularly partnering and parenting. Let's face it, partnering and parenting under even the best of conditions can periodically be stressful, and fluid, and challenging, and maddening. As our children grow and our partnerships evolve, it is easy to forget to take a breather and reassess the control we each have of our own roles in the circumstances of our lives. I find that my family changes a little bit with each new joy, each new sorrow, each new desire, and each new experience they have. The worst thing I can do is to allow that change to occur without considering how I will interact with it, respond to it, embrace it, or resist it. If I don't, I may be unable to deal with the changes, unable to fit the newness in amongst all of my self-imposed "must dos" that sometimes take over my time and my brain.

But I cannot do that unless I take a time out. I have to back away sometimes, refocus, reassess what is important to me, what my needs and wants are, so I can feel the new experience and choose to grow with it. Time outs are relaxing and useful if you take one for yourself once in a while.


  1. So very well said!

    I also appreciate the quote you have shared here and hope to spend some time twirling it around in my mind .. and then putting it to some journaling ..

    Once again, you have provided me with some delicious food for thought ..

  2. While I'm so very sad that our dear friends are leaving us physically, I am so thankful for the friendship that has developed between our families and am so very happy for you and yours as I know you will be very happy there, and you are but a visit away, and of course with the internet....always in reach. Love you guys!!!!

  3. Love reading more of your thoughts :) and so excited for this new phase of your life.. incredible life isn't it?

  4. time out! in the garden, in it's glory... come july ♥