September 20, 2009

Those Three Little Words

Filed under: Ann the Columnist:Essays — Ann @ 7:19 am

I usually like a sweet after dinner. Yes, I know that dessert is a bad habit, but I do try to be mindful of calorie intake and often choose a low-fat ice cream sandwich or something similar.

So one night a few months back after we finished dinner, I strolled out to the kitchen to get dessert. Because Neal and I like to watch “Frasier” re-runs during our meal, he had it “paused” while I left the room. Fretful that I was taking too long I called out, “I’ll be right there, honey!” to which he replied, “Take your time!” I cannot believe the effect it had on me. After a day of rushing from here to there, always hurrying, and always trying to do something more quickly, having his loving permission to take as long as I needed was a true gift.

When I came back into the room, I told him so. And, a few nights later when the tables were turned – he was out in the kitchen and I was waiting for him – before he even said anything to me I called out, “Honey, take your time!” He came back out to the living room smiling and said, “You know what? That really works – I felt better when you said that!”

Since then, not only have Neal and I developed the habit of saying “take your time” to each other often, but I’ve practiced giving this precious gift to supermarket clerks, waiters, and other retail workers who are accustomed to being rushed. When I’m at the store and the clerk apologizes because she’s had to ring something up twice, I say, “That’s okay, I’m not in any hurry” – even if I am.

We are a hurry-up culture. Fast food, faster Internet connections, and everybody wants everything done yesterday. We’ve been well-informed about the effects of this lifestyle on our own health, and many of us have taken steps to combat the stress of a rushed existence, with deep breathing, yoga, and meditation. But while we’re busy taking care of ourselves, it can be good to remember that we have the power to extend that care to others.

Just remember the three little words that everyone is longing to hear: Take your time! Say them, and watch the transformation – it’s magical.


  1. When I lived in England my roommate and I did an experiment. Whenever we asked anyone to do something (order from a menu in a restaurant or in a bar or other roommates to do things like clean their dishes) we alternated between following up the request with “at your leisure” or “thanks” – in every occasion, every, when we said “at your leisure” the request was granted much faster than when we said “thanks.”

    Comment by Ransom — October 2, 2009 @ 1:22 pm

  2. I love this post! I have problems with time management, as does The Kid, so we can get seriously bogged down in our preparations for just about anything. Ransom’s contribution could be a worthwhile experiment.

    Thank you for writing! xo

    Comment by alana — December 21, 2015 @ 11:52 am

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