What “Mind the Gap” really means to me, and 3 ways to apply this British phrase to your own life.

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England’s transportation system rocks. Anyone who has ever experienced it will probably agree. It’s clean, quick, and easy to navigate. But I know you're not here to talk about England's transportation system, so moving on...

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We took a lot of trains while we were in London (Ireland was a different story, as we rented a car). As we headed into the city each day, there was a particular phrase that caught my attention: “Mind the Gap.” Which kind of feels like a lost phrase here in the States… to “mind ourselves.” My grandma would also use the word “mind” …. Mind your business, mind your manners, etc. Maybe that’s why this phrase stuck with me, but anyway, I digress.

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So as I sat on the train waiting for our stop, I began to think about this phrase “mind the gap” and what really came to mind was “attend to the space.”

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You guys, December grabbed me by the lapels and ran me into the ground. Now, this is not a sob story, so I won’t bore you with the details of my minor crises, but I will tell you this: in December I broke out so much people thought it was Halloween in the Coulter house. Needless to say, I was stressed, and ready for an ultimate adult timeout. And while we were on vacation, that was just what I got.  I began to really listen (not just metaphorically… I actually heard sounds of birds chirping and rain falling instead of my own crazy mind). On vacation, the physical distance (4683 miles to be exact) was just what I needed to get out of my head and slow down a little.

With calendars and planners filled to the brim with activities, and to-do lists piled higher than my laundry, it’s no wonder we are one of the most stressed out countries in the world. When does it ever end?

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But it can. I can create space in my life without taking a vacation. I can find time without being on a break. Numbing out on social media or in front of the TV (only one of the unhealthy ways I like to escape) does not serve me. But how can we attend to space if we aren’t even aware that it exists?

Take a look at the hours you have in the day, plan what you would like your perfect week to look like (including work), and then journal what you actually do. I would imagine you would see a lot of wasted time doing things you wish you hadn't because you were physically too tired, maybe just mentally exhausted. If I am too busy scrolling and two hours have passed, how will I recover my lost time? Well, you don't. But before we waste our time, day in and day out (which is what most people complain they lack-- time), we must mind the gap: actually become aware of the time we do have that we are wasting.

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What “Minding the Gap” really looks like in my life:

  1. PUTTING BOUNDARIES ON MY PHONE USAGE. Okay, this section deserved an entire post dedicated to it, but that's for a later day. Not using my phone right when I wake up or right before I go to bed. This helps me to create morning routines or read before bed without becoming distracted. Now, I am human (don’t be fooled my devilishly good looks and radiant personality). I do mess up, check my phone right when I wake up or right before I go to sleep, or scroll for hours when Livi is watching Frozen for the 38,000th time. The point is: awareness is key here so I can change the behavior. On days when I do attend to the space I've created are drastically different from days I don't "mind the gap." I act like the person I want to be instead of beating myself up for not being like her. 

  2. CARVING OUT TIME TO ATTEND TO MY NEEDS. I need to do things for myself in order to feel fulfilled. This does not make me selfish. Let me repeat: this does not make me selfish. Somedays all I get is 5 minutes (I’m not even lying), and somedays, when the universe (and Casey) is a little more generous, it looks a little more like 1-2 hours. During this time I like to tend to activities that bring me to life, or bring my business to life. These things include writing, painting, calligraphy, reading, sipping and holding a warm mug of tea, and actively engaging with (gasp!) real humans.

  3. GIVING MY MIND SOME ELBOW ROOM. Stay with me here. I know this sounds a little weird. Elbow room = space, right? Most days my brain is overflowing with ideas, words, emotions, to-do lists, etc. When I’m minding the gap in my brain, I am actively taking a brain timeout. Sometimes this looks like me being mindful for 5 minutes right when I get to work. Sometimes this looks like tending to negative energy, sitting with my feelings, and letting them just be instead of watching TV and eating a package of cookies for three hours (this is totally a space for honesty, right?). The point is, I need time to actually process what's going on in my life. I need brain breaks, time outs, etc. to create awareness. 

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Our trip was amazing, and London taught me a whole slew of stuff. And I know if this helped me, some else could find value in "Minding the Gap" too. 

Do you “mind the gap” already? If so, I’d live to hear how. If this helped you out at all, spoke truth to you, or you already have some tips and tricks, I’d love to know. Please share this article, comment, or email! 

Stay tuned for our Euro Trip PART II: IRELAND! 

Diana Coulter