Remember this summer when Rep. Maxine Waters “reclaimed her time” and boldy stopped Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin in his tracks during a House Financial Services Committee meeting? He tried to give her compliments and roundabout answers as a way of evading her questions, so she utilized a procedural rule, reclaiming her time, to shut him down (and up and down again!).
In an age when women’s voices — especially those in politics — are often silenced or highly criticized, she spoke up and stood firm (well, sat calmly, for the record).
Her steady voice repeating, “Reclaiming my time” — not to mention her unimpressed expression as she looked over the top rim of her glasses — hasn’t stopped banging around in my brain ever since. I love it so much, and her for it.
In fact, it’s becoming an anthem of sorts for me, and so I’ve decided to have one and only one New Year’s resolution: reclaim my time.
And I mean it pretty literally. So, while it’s a perfect and fierce feminist rallying cry to claim our proverbial seat at the table, it turns out that the patriarchy isn’t the only thing squandering my time.
There’s something about aging, and especially since having a kid, that makes time pass faster (I think that’s a scientific fact). So I’ve noticed recently how often I find myself feeling like I don’t have enough time and wishing for more.
To be fair, raising a toddler while working full time and volunteering in the community doesn’t leave a whopping amount of unscheduled time. But, from now on, what time I do have, I’m going to use more thoughtfully.
I’m reclaiming my time:
From digital distraction. While I love a good online rabbit hole, I’m capable of wasting an incredible amount of time doing nothing on my phone. And, when I resurface, I often feel neither refreshed nor enlightened. I’m not pretending that I’ll revert to a flip phone or deactivate my social-media accounts (how would I maintain my sharenting?), but I’m choosing to be more cognizant of getting sucked into the digital vortex. From now on, I’ll set aside time for phone escapism (my Words With Friends isn’t going to play itself), indulge in it, then put my phone down and fully engage in the world around me.
From shame. For the majority of my adult life, I’ve dedicated an inordinate amount of my mental energy to telling myself why and how I’m the worst. And, while I definitely value the role self-reflection plays in personal growth, this ain’t that — and I ain’t got time for self-loathing.
From fear. I get that fear can play an important role in keeping us safe, but I’ve become markedly more aware of the distinction between useful and useless fear. I credit my bout of postpartum anxiety (or rather my therapist) for this recent enlightenment. Being hypervigilant with a newborn can make for a good parent, but losing sleep and sanity over irrational fears does not, at least for me, a healthy and happy mama make. When I was able to recognize the volume of fear that wasn’t serving me, it was like gifting myself an entire new section of headspace. Well, I want to clear out some more, or convert it to courage. Because life isn’t comfortable or easy, but that doesn’t make it bad.
So move over, motivational posters and Pinterest; with Rep. Waters, I’ve got all the inspiration I need. Onward!
Marina Gomberg’s lifestyle columns appear on sltrib.com. She is a communications professional and lives in Salt Lake City with her wife, Elenor Gomberg, and their son, Harvey. You can reach Marina at email@example.com.