In 2018 my commute doubled in the morning from 12 minutes to 30 and nearly tripled in the afternoon. So whereas my hot tea used to barely be cool enough to drink, I now have a crazy amount of time to twiddle my thumbs and bite my nails. Except I’m not twiddling my thumbs (and am trying not to bite my nails), instead I am using my commute as a time to work on myself and grow as a person.
Hear me out. On any given work day, I have a combined total of 75 minutes in my car. This is more time than I have allocated to spend on myself each evening. It is more time than I have to cook dinner every night. It is more time than it takes me to work out. It is more time than it takes me to write a blog post or come up with an Instagram message. It is just more time. So why not use it?
With 75 minutes I can do a lot. And for those 75 minutes I choose to better myself. And because of it I believe I am a much better person. I do the following three things to improve myself during my commute (1) practice mindfulness (2) listen to an audio book or (3) listen to a podcast.
Mindful Listening in the Car
Music feeds the soul and it can also feed the mind. Without a doubt I love playing mindful music on Spotify and creating an atmosphere of grace, gratitude, and peace during my commute to and from work. I begin my practice by being in the present and drawing my attention to the moment. I hear the beat of the music and make space in my mind for the lyrics. I take a non-judgmental stance, accepting things that I cannot control like time, traffic, honking horns, the weather, or what I have coming up in my day. I let the stress go. The bonus is that when I am present I am a more compassionate, attentive, cooperative, and safe driver.
And when I don’t feel like music. I turn it off. I listen to the sound of the road and the wind. I might hear the rain pummel on the windshield. This practice helps me to be a better person. There is nothing like entering your workday or your evening with your partnered stressed. So I take the time to be mindful and my commute gives me plenty of time to do it.
Listening to an Audio Book
Sometimes it is challenging for me to pick up a book and read. By the time I make it back from work, workout, prep dinner, and do all the other tasks I want to accomplish I am exhausted. Reading just seems so left field. But I love to read because I love to be in the know and I am a sucker for a good story. This is a product of my love to learn and the fact that I was an English Major. And reading fills my soul.
Listening to an audio book is a dream. It reminds me of the good old days when your teachers would read out loud to you. You don’t have to think. All you have to do is listen and dream. You press play and boom you’re in another world.
Each month I take the time to reserve books from my county library on an application that my library uses. These systems are very easy. All you need is a library card which you can also get online. Often times I am reading books that are hard to come by- again because I like to be in the know. It’s a huge bonus as a school counselor when you’ve read what your students love. So I reserve and wait until my book arrives. It’s like Christmas each time! In 2018, my favorite audio books were Crazy Rich Asians by Kevin Kwan, Girl Wash Your Face by Rachel Hollis, and No-No Boy by John Okada. Right now I am waiting for China Rich Girlfriend by Kevin Kwan, Becoming by Michelle Obama, and Call me American by Abdi Nor Iftin. Dear God, please arrive soon!
Listening to a Podcast
I absolutely love podcasting! I was first introduced to podcasting by my dear friend Karen a few years ago when I went through a divorce. It was a time in my life where my life was changing and I needed a framework to get through the emotional pain. Podcasting became my outlet. It provided me with stories about divorce, healing, and love. It gave me a connection in a time where I felt very alone. And I grew from it.
Today podcasting is still a forum for me to grow and develop as a person. I listen to podcasts that support my future goals both personally and professionally. But it is also a place where I gain inspiration. And they are so much fun! My commute is the perfect time to listen to podcasts.
Currently by favorite podcast in Goal Digger by Jenna Kutcher. She speaks largely to productivity, inspirational stories, social media strategies, and business hacks. She is helping me be a badass school counselor, girlfriend, and overall person. I also love Modern Love. This podcast tells the stories of love, loss, and redemption which really is the story of my life. But for reals I can’t get enough of these stories. My emotional self just won’t let them go. Then there is Code Switch by NPR. This podcast is the anthem of my career. It is made up of journalists of color to have conversations about race and identify. This is amazing for me, considering I’ve basically given my life to social justice. Enough said.
So how do I choose which activity to participate in during my commute? It depends on my mood. Enough said. I’m a school counselor. In all honesty, sometimes I do all three.