I’ve been thinking a lot lately about the idea of protecting things that matter. We protect ourselves with locks, seat belts, routine doctor exams, healthy habits, sunscreen and more, but how often do you protect intangible things – like feelings, sacred times, dynamics between friends, special groups?

This is the kind of protecting I’ve been thinking about a lot lately.

It started a few weeks ago during what I like to think of as a volunteer experience/family vacation.  This is a very special week for me each year in a very special place. Towards the end of this year’s week, a friend and I talked about protecting our time – specifically not letting anything distract us from what we are doing. It’s so rare to be immersed in a place, a cause, a group – and to be enveloped in such love, warmth and light for five full days. We were frustrated by something that was detracting from that, and we vowed to never let that happen again. Also contributing to this idea was the fact that I took a work conference call during my time there, which, after only a few minutes in, I realized was one of the poorest decisions I’ve ever made. Never again.  It could have waited. I need to protect experiences that are sacred and meaningful. I cannot let myself get distracted by nonsense or work – or other things that do not matter – when I am engaged in something that means a lot to me.

I’ve been talking to my best friend a lot about this too. She just started a masters program with classes two evenings per week on top of her full-time job. We’ve been talking about protecting her time. We’re both in a volunteer organization, and maybe what that means for her is she can’t say yes to everything like she’s used to. She has other commitments too, but maybe she may need to lessen her load some. On the three nights when she does not have class, she’s going to want to relax – and of course she’ll have homework to do too. We have to protect our time. Activities are important and help shape us, but they should come at a cost to us or to the personal time we all need for relaxing, recharging and rejuvenating.

And recently, one of the teachers at school was talking to me about her class for the new school year. It’s a solid group, having been together for several years and all returning from last year. She was telling me how special the children were and the bonds they have, and she said, “We really need to protect this class.” My eyes lit up when she said that. I totally agree. Why though? We need to protect this class because collectively they make a very special group. All children have valuable gifts and contributions, of course. Not all groups are so high functioning and cohesive though. What about their personalities click in such a way that allows the group to be easy-going and high-achieving with equal amounts of enthusiasm and talent? I am not sure, and I am not sure the teacher is either, but we know it’s special.

We know there’s something there that we don’t see with every class. And that’s why we need to protect it.

These situations are all different, but they have two things in common: they are special and rare, and the qualities that make them so are intangible. We spend a lot of time protecting ourselves from dangers – and we should. We want to live long and be safe. This is important. It’s also important to protect ourselves in intangible ways too. When something is special, I want to enjoy it, delight in it and love it. I need to protect my time at special places and during special experiences. When I am very busy and do have free time, I want to enjoy it and do what I love to do. I want to decide how I want to spend my time, and I don’t want to be on auto pilot. I need to protect my time.  When I realize that a group or a person or an experience is a treasure to me – because it’s unique and shiny and rare – I need to protect it. Not every experience – or time, or class, or person or group – will matter to me in the same way. I want to recognize what matters, feel gratitude for it and protect it as much as I can because things that matter lift me up, make my heart lighter and happier and create clarity for me.

This is the kind of protecting I’ve been thinking about a lot lately.

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6 thoughts on “Protecting

  1. This is beautiful, Nic. Thank you!

    Remember when you and I made a commitment many years ago to take time drying our hands? It’s one of those rare moments that you get to just be. There’s not much more you can fill that brief moment with, so why not embrace that unique time? I think of that commitment often and try to practice it whenever I get the opportunity.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. LOVE THIS! My friend and I, were having this discussion this very morning. She and I had the invitation to attend a dinner with an interesting speaker tonight. The dinner was hosted by the Mom’s Group at the high school. We feel that we need to be more involved at the high school. We feel the pull to attend and meet other “moms”. But we also feel the pull to spend time with our kids who will be going to college in 3 years. We feel the clock ticking. We were supporting each other’s need and quiet desire to say “no”. We realize that we can fill our schedule every night with some event, but which ones really matter and contribute to our personal fulfillment? I read a quote about 8 years ago, that I love, and relate to, but often fail to apply to my decision making. The quote was, “Just because you can do something, doesn’t mean you should”. I love the idea of protecting our intangibles. Protecting our friendship dynamics. Protecting our time. Definitely…. protecting our time. Thank you, Nicole! You wrote a beautiful piece!


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