The Five Minute Rule

Photo by the lovely and fabulous K.P., who was gracious enough when we were roommates to let me put myself in time out whenever I needed and never faulted me for it.

Photo by the lovely and fabulous K.P., who was gracious enough when we were roommates to let me put myself in time out whenever I needed and never faulted me for it.

Five minutes might not seem like a lot, but to me, it’s an eternity. It’s the amount of time I take to straighten my house every morning before I leave for work. It’s how long it takes to bake a sweet potato in the microwave.

And it’s how many minutes I need every day to be totally alone, in my own mind, so that I don’t go batshit crazy.

Take, for example, Christmas. Oh, Christmas. As much as I absolutely hate the stupid holiday, I love the togetherness it brings the family. All my sisters and brothers and parents together in the same room, talking, laughing, eating and playing. (I will not deny nor confirm any allegations about racing small toys in 2012 or flinging silly putty at each other in 2011.)

But there comes a point where I just have to go find a quiet room, all by myself, to be alone with my own thoughts. I love everyone so much, but I know that without those few minutes every day, I will become a snotty, snarky, sarcastic, grumpy brat. Really.

It keeps me balanced and calm, happy and enthusiastic about the task at hand whether that be working, playing or even running errands.

To be clear, driving somewhere by myself does not count. Watching television does not count. Journaling is close, and reading in a quiet room with other people around will do in a pinch as long as they don’t try to make conversation or ask me what I’m reading. If you want to know, read the book yourself. In five minutes, I’ll be happy to give the book an intricate rating based on plot, character, dialogue and explain how I found it. For this moment, shut up or I’m going to find another room.

Five minutes, that’s all I need. Deep breaths, quiet mind, focus on relaxing my shoulders, stomach and jaw (all of which I tend to tense when I’m stressed), and I’m good to go.

So thank you to everyone who has allowed me my five minutes over the years. Thank you for understanding that I still love you, I still care about you, but I will be a better friend after those five minutes.

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