Space, the Final Frontier

July 18, 2011

by Kim Childs, CPPC

No, this post is not about Star Trek, although I admire the show and the committed fan base. It’s about spaciousness, the thing I’ve been embracing these days. Spacious days, in fact, where I have very few things on the calendar and gorgeous swaths of unstructured, unscheduled time to enjoy. As I approach middle age (okay, chronologically I’m there at 48, but mentally I’m still thirty-something), I find that I need more time to…just…be.

I didn’t used to be this way. I used to be an activity junkie.

In my twenties I was all about social life, cramming every moment that I wasn’t in class (during college) or at work (post-college) with friends, drinks, parties, concerts, dates, and hanging at the neighborhood hang. Heaven forbid I spend time alone or have any white space on my calendar. In my thirties, I was an ambitious career woman, working a 9 to 5 and freelancing on top of that to climb the public radio ladder. I still fit in my social and love life pursuits, but work filled in the other available hours. As I entered my forties, my schedule was filled with experiential workshops, self-help groups, singing and drumming circles and personal growth classes that I hoped would provide the answers I sought and the solutions I desired to my recurrent “issues.” Friends and work were still on the list, too, leaving me scheduled to within an inch of my life.

But now here I am, crowding 50, married, self-employed, no closer to enlightenment, and daring to under-schedule and under-commit myself. It’s one of the few things that I haven’t tried in my life—doing nothing. A few things make this easy: it’s summer, I have no kids, we live in a smallish rental apartment that requires very little upkeep, my client load is light these days, and my formerly nearby friends now live far away. I spend a lot of time with my self, my husband, my cat, my family, and carefully selected companions (trees, plants, flowers, and birds included). During the weekdays when I’m mostly alone, I take walks or poke my head outside when I want human company, and my neighbors provide it. I’m lucky that I live in a town where I can walk to libraries, coffee shops, parks, banks, and stores, taking my time and avoiding the stress of driving.

When I first arrived in this place last spring after leaving an office job full of people to chat with, I felt lonely and uncomfortable. I tried filling up some non-work hours with yoga classes and coffee or lunch dates. But eventually I stopped doing that and just relaxed into my new rhythm. Now it feels luxurious, this space I’m in.  Like swimming in a vast ocean where the things I mostly bump into are my own thoughts, perceptions and reactions.

I’m very protective of these waters, too. When I do initiate or say yes to an activity, it’s because I really want to do it, whether for me or for someone (else) that I care about. It keeps resentments and crankiness to a minimum, I find, and builds a sense of trust that I don’t have to be constantly busy to live a meaningful and valuable life.

I’m not saying that I don’t feel the old pull sometimes, like when my in box is flooded with tempting emails about things to do, read, watch, or attend. There’s always something more to know and learn on this path to a better, happier and wiser me. But if, as I read on my tea bag yesterday, all the knowledge that I seek is within me, then I really shouldn’t have to go anywhere else…except when I really want to.

Kim Childs, CPPC, is a Certified Life and Career Coach specializing in Positive Psychology, Creativity, and Midlife Transitions. Click here to learn more and schedule an initial consultation.


  • Julia Flynn

    Love it! Great to be reminded of spaciousness….especially today!

  • Ellen

    We love seeing you when you want a little less “spaciousness” from time to time!

  • Bernadette

    Beautiful writing, Kim — such lovely word pictures you’re creating! Glad to see it out there (and inspiring to me and others). Shine on.

  • Shauna Childs

    I love the idea of the practice of doing nothing . I’m very good at it!!

  • Suzanne

    Ditto Kim, My new mantra is, “Nothing is Something.”

  • Diana Cullum-Dugan

    Love the idea of spaciousness and the need to just be. Haven’t gotten around to de-cluttering the schedule yet, though. Hope by 60?? (Lots of time left to get good at it.)

  • Mary Boudreault

    AMEN SISTA!!! YOU have arrived….and taken time to smell the FLOWERS…isn’t it the GREATEST SCENT….Love you and your beautiful style of writing…..XO

  • Elizabeth Tobin, Certified Resonance Repatterning Practitioner

    Great post, Kim. It’s important to honor your “inner slacker.”

  • Maureen Childs

    Love knowing that you are enjoying “Kim ” time – very important and oh so nice” Keep it up, you’ve earned it.

  • Andy

    This really resonates with me. My first career was so unbelievably usurping of all available time and energy that I grew to feel lots of dread and resentment. I think that there is a deep connection with valuing yourself deeply and taking the time for yourself as well. I believe that a lot of my allowing others and my own work to monopolize my time had to do with me not valuing myself enough.
    Your writing is really sensationally done and flow so well. Keep up the great work!

  • Eric Volkin

    Hi Kim, That is AWESOME!!! I truly embrace the words, and certainly can take inspiration and wisdom from your experience. Now I feel like taking the rest of the day off and start that watercolor painting that has been in my head for … years?

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