I am a morning person. I have always enjoyed rising early, making a pot of coffee, getting the newspaper, and settling down for an hour of quiet time -- which I call a time-out.
When I was a child, I remember my mother using time-outs as punishment. However, even then, I enjoyed going to my room to think about how I was behaving and what I needed to do "to be a good boy". I enjoyed my time-out then, and I still do, although now I consider a time-out to be a reward rather than a punishment.
Over the years, I have noticed that it has become more and more difficult to set aside those special moments of the day when we can remove ourselves from the hectic, frenetic pace of everyday life. Yet finding time to get away, to reflect, to concentrate, or to just let the mind wander freely is important for our overall health. Studies have shown that reducing stress in daily life significantly reduces the risk of heart attacks or the need for heart surgery.
I remember the days when simply driving to and from work supplied me with the time-out I needed each day. Now, with a cell phone by my side, those days are over. I can be reached anytime, anywhere -- even in my car.
It was once believed that the American housewife's life would be less hectic and stressful with the introduction of appliances such as refrigerators, washing machines, dryers, dishwashers, and microwave ovens. They were wrong. Although the advent of modern conveniences may have made many people temporarily more productive and thereby able to free up valuable time, it also increased their work load -- because with the extra time, many individuals merely added more chores to their day.
Modern technology has invaded our lives. Reading and answering my e-mail at work and later at home each day may keep me better informed, but it also takes away from the precious time I used to spend reading a book or visiting with friends. The same goes for my cell phone, although it allows me to be rapidly responsive to the needs of others.
But what about my needs?
As a little boy, I recall a time when our family only had one telephone tucked away in a recess in the hall of our home. That one phone was shared by several other families -- what we called party lines. Today telephones are in bedrooms, libraries, living rooms, kitchens, and even bathrooms, and often have two or three lines -- with call waiting, of course.
This all helps to explain why I love early mornings. No one is awake, the house is quiet, the telephone isn't ringing, the fax machine isn't transmitting its messages, and the computer is dormant. I am alone with my coffee, newspaper, and quiet thoughts. It is my daily time-out.
As I grow older, I've noticed the need for more of these daily time-outs, so lately I've started taking a 15-minute stroll with my wife and dog after coming home from the hospital.
I leave all the modern technological and communication devices behind, and walk out my front door a free man. My wife and I exchange news of our day and talk about anything else that's on our minds. It is our time-out together.
As we reenter our home, I cannot help but smile as I notice the three new messages on the answering machine that came in while we were out walking.
Time-out is over -- at least until early tomorrow morning.
©2003 by Frank H. Boehm. All Rights Reserved.
Reprinted with permission of the publisher:
Hay House Inc. www.hayhouse.com
Doctors Cry, Too: Essays from the Heart of a Physician
by Frank H. Boehm, M.D.
Pocket-sized collection of essays dealing with physicians, patients, their loved ones, and the complex challenges relating to these individuals. Includes special moments in the author's life, as well as topics such as courage, faith, depression, forgiveness, friendship, miscarriage, infertility, parenting, and more.
Info/Order this paperback book or purchase the Kindle edition
FRANK BOEHM is a Professor of OB/GYN and Director of Obstetrics at Vanderbilt University Medical School in Nashville, Tennessee. He is also Chairman of the Vanderbilt University Medical Center Ethics Committee. Frank is a specialist in high risk pregnancy, has authored over 160 scientific publications, and co-edited a major textbook. He currently authors a column in the Tennessean, a Nashville newspaper, entitled "Healing Words". He is the author of "Doctors Cry Too". His website is located at http://dr-boehm.com.