86,400 seconds – Katrina Anne Willis

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By Katrina Anne Willis

It’s a question I’m asked over and over: “You have a full-time job, freelance clients, an active blog, four kids, two dogs, one guinea pig, a house, a yard, and a husband. How in the world did you find the time to write a novel?”

And my answer is always the same: “We find the time for what matters.”

As H. Jackson Brown Jr. so brilliantly said, “Don’t say you don’t have enough time. You have exactly the same number of hours per day that were given to Helen Keller, Pasteur, Michaelangelo, Mother Teresa, Leonardo da Vinci, Thomas Jefferson, and Albert Einstein.”

24 hours, to be exact. 1440 minutes.

How do you choose to spend your 86,400 daily seconds?

Because it’s not about the numbers. It’s about the choice.

Sure, we all have commitments to work, family, household. And some of us have more free time than others. A wealthy relative once said to me, “Money doesn’t buy happiness. But it certainly buys leisure.” And every time I scrub my own toilet or mow my own lawn instead of paying someone to do it for me, I understand.

Ultimately, however, we all have pockets of time that present us with choices. Read a book or take a walk? Sleep for an extra hour or meet a friend for a late night drink? Watch TV or write a letter? Have a meal with the kids or work through dinner?

Just this past week, I’ve heard friends and family members make these statements:

I don’t have time to exercise.
I never have enough time to spend with my friends.
My job takes up all my time.
My schedule is too crazy to fit you in right now.

And yes, we get caught up in the rush of life. And yes, some pockets of time are busier than others.

But yes, we still get to make choices – every day – about where we focus our efforts. Claiming there is not enough time smells like scarcity. And when we live in scarcity, there is never enough of anything. (Trust this scarcity girl. I know. I know.)

I found the time to write a novel because it mattered to me. Words matter to me. Writing matters to me. It’s like breath, like air. I cannot live without my stories. There are other things I sacrificed temporarily as my book came to fruition… TV, family time, evenings out with friends, long-distance runs, a bit of sleep. But those were choices I made. They were not inevitabilities thrust upon me.

Were there moments I found myself crying in frustration, claiming I’d never be able to finish what I’d started? Many. There were late nights and early mornings, skipped outings and shortened vacations. I had to be reminded – more often than I’d like – that what I was doing was important and necessary and real, even when it seemed like a distant dream, especially when – out of self-induced stress and unrealistic expectations – I’d temporarily lost my way.

One of my greatest revelations was this: When we say, “I don’t have time,” we, in essence, create that reality.

One of my favorite books is Antoine de Saint-Exupery’s The Little Prince. And one of my favorite quotes from that book is this: “It’s the time you spent on your rose that makes your rose so important.” We nurture and love and tend to what’s important. Otherwise, we run the risk of letting our roses wither and die. Otherwise, that which we push to the background might someday disappear due to our disregard. This truth is universal… for friendships, family relationships, gardens, love, dreams.

What are you choosing to grow today?

Look at where you’re spending your time.

That’s where you’ll find the answer.

Katrina Anne Willis is an author, blogger, and essayist. Her work has been anthologized in Nothing but the Truth So Help Me God: 73 Women On Life s Transitions (Nothing but the Truth Publishing, 2014) and My Other Ex: Women’s True Stories of Leaving and Losing Friends (HerStories Project Press, 2014). She was awarded the 2014 Parenting Media Association’s Gold Medal Blogger Award for her work with Indy’s Child magazine. Willis lives in Northwest Ohio.


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