Across the purple sky all the birds are leaving. But how can they know it’s time for them to go? Before the winter fire, I will still be dreaming. I have no thought of time. For who knows where the times goes? Who knows where the time goes?
This summer has been busy. Very busy. Tremendously busy. It’s been filled with a lot of fantastic weekend trips, some great concerts, and some awesome volunteer opportunities. This summer has left me with no time for just me. This summer I have learned I am absolutely terrible at time management. I try to post my blog around the 20th of each month. It is now the 7th of August and I am just now getting to my July writing. Fail. This summer has, often times, found me feeling tired, overextended, behind on the things I want to get done, and no time to just lie on the couch and read The New Yorker. Yes, I get The New Yorker, so what? I don’t even know why I keep my Netflix account open, the movies just sit around and get dusty. Summer in Colorado is short. It doesn’t stop snowing here until late May and starts falling again in October. If you want to camp, raft, canoe, hike, bike, rock climb, practice yoga in the park, go to Red Rocks, Jazz in the park, or whatever your favorite summer pursuit may be during our warm weather days, you have to make a commitment to get out there and do it. Last weekend, as I canoed down the Escalante Canyon, my friend and I talked about how neither of us feel that we have enough time to do all we want to do. I said I wanted to create more time and he said “Yes, but it’s summer. If you don’t get summer pursuits on the calendar the time will fly by and the opportunity will be gone.” It’s true. That was such a fun weekend and such a beautiful part of Colorado to see and I spent it with such great people, I’m very happy I didn’t miss it. There is precious little time for lounging about, and yet, we need balance. At least I do anyway. Some people find balance in large increments such as “I’ll play hard all summer and rest in the winter”. But winter is no time for resting, there’s snowboarding, winter camping, snowshoeing, hut trips, ice climbing, and all kinds of outdoor activities that now just move indoors; not to mention indoor activities, if you paint, knit, or create in an indoor kind of way then your time is still full. And for those of you who don’t live in my beautiful, adopted, home state, I can tell you that a blizzard one day still brings sunshine the next. You can ride your bike outside here most days of the year. Still no balance.
Many times during the course of the last year I have said I wanted to have more down time and more time just for me. I have been enormously insufficient in this endeavor. As a new years resolution I said I was going to stay home one night every weekend. I haven’t always achieved this but even on the nights I have, I haven’t gained what I sought. I don’t think I even had an understanding of what I sought. Originally I just wanted rest I suppose, but that’s not enough . . . or not accurate at least. What do I want? What do I hope to accomplish and what has to go in order to convert my goals to accomplishments? The last six weeks of my life have been a blur and as this weekend grew ever closer on the calendar I got more and more excited about it. On Saturday and Sunday of this weekend I stayed in town, I did not cover for any one at work, I did not go out Saturday night, I did not go out Sunday night, and I did not say yes to any volunteer projects. I have stayed home. I have been doing whatever I feel like doing for two solid days and the luxury of it is beyond what I had even imagined. Yesterday, while lying on the couch reading The New Yorker, I fell asleep and took a nap. Can you imagine?! A nap! What the . . . ?!
I think back on a time in my life when people seemed to “empty out” for a while. Most of the friends I spent time with moved away, got married and disappeared, or had kids or any number of other life changes that take people out of your circle. I felt lonely during this phase and had more time than I knew what to do with. Weekends at home with not much to do became normal for a while, and I did not like it. I felt sad and friendless. I am grateful in my life now to have more invitations than I can manage and more friends than I can count and a continually ringing phone. I never thought I would need to schedule ME in my daytimer. When I was younger I never would have wanted to. When I was younger being at home just one night during the course of an entire month was a horror, but those days are long gone.
So here’s what I have learned about me; I am terrible about saying NO and I have no focus. The Black Dogs Dad told me I lacked focus (or was it discipline?) and I wasn’t sure what he meant at the time. I thought, quite indignantly mind you, “I have complete focus and you, sir, have no idea what you’re talking about”. Then I threw down my gauntlet and challenged him to a duel. Ok I’m kidding, I didn’t actually call him sir. I didn’t say any of it because I felt a bit jabbed and I didn’t feel like starting a fight. Pick your battles don’tcha know. Now though, in trying to find time in my life I see that it’s true. I completely lack focus. That’s why my staying home once a weekend didn’t produce great results, because I had no expected outcome, no goal. I didn’t have “my eye on the prize” as people say, because I hadn’t chosen a prize. I am quite easily distracted. When I clean my house (which I admit is rare) I have to remind myself to stay on task. If I start in my bedroom and move a dirty glass into the kitchen then I will stop along the way to pet the cats, see that the floor needs vacuuming, drop off the dirty glass in the bathroom, pull the vacuum cleaner out of the closet, notice the coats in the closet are looking a bit worn and determine to make a Good Will pile starrrrrrrttttiinnnnnnnnngggg NOW, make piles of clothes all over the house and four hours later I have a dirty glass in the bathroom, the bedroom has not been cleaned, and the floor has not been vacuumed. Focus. Clean the bedroom. One thing at a time, stop getting distracted by shiny things in the sand.
I believe if I have a goal then the time management issue becomes less of an issue and more of a happy necessity. Additionally, part of time management means that I need to say “no” much more frequently. This is hard for me. It’s not hard because I feel obligated. I don’t feel bad saying “no” at all, it’s just that I like saying “yes”. When someone asks me to volunteer to help out children or animals or cancer survivors or to save Mother Earth, then I want to always say “Yes, most emphatically yes”. When I am invited to a party or camping or a concert or a weekend in one of the many beautiful places in my state I want to go! Nonetheless, I have made a goal for myself and achieving that goal means I need more time for me, and more time for me is created by giving away less time. I will, of course, finish out what I have already committed to doing for the next couple of months, but after that I’ll relax a bit.
Dr. Bud Harris wrote a book called Sacred Selfishness. This book reminds people that it’s ok to give time to you before giving time to others. I think the books message is a bit more slanted to people who feel flat out guilty saying no (not me) rather than those who just suck at it (totally me), but the message is still the same. In Julia Cameron’s classic book, The Artists Way, she echoes the same sentiment, make time for you and your goals, fulfill your needs. I read both of these books a couple of years and I believe strongly in the messages of each. At the time they seemed like good reference books for me to have under my belt as suggestions to my clients and not necessarily something I needed personally. Massage Therapist, heal thyself. If you’re not happy, no one around you will be happy either. I can think of many times I’ve made people around me miserably unhappy because I wasn’t giving enough to me, because I wasn’t feeling fulfilled on my own. When we’re not fulfilled in our own lives we look to others to fill in the gaps. That’s no one else’s job and they’re not too happy about having to do it. Don’t ever look at someone and say those dumb words “You complete me”. Ick, I just wretched a little.
So, as part of my new goal oriented, making time for myself, theme in life I have decided to make better time of the three mornings a week I have. Rather than sleeping in, heading to the gym . . . or not, then off to work, I’m setting an alarm and have a wee bit of a morning schedule, thus my writing right now. Today that nasty, beeping, noise rudely, abruptly, cacophonously jarred me out of my restful slumber, slapped me across the face and said “GET UP LAZY BONES”. I did as instructed. I do not generally rise at 7:00 a.m. if not forced to do so but today I got my lazy bones up. I was not forced, I had a plan, and I am happy to be sitting at my computer writing and feeling that I am actively pursuing my goal, with focus, with discipline, rather than just waiting for it to come to me and knock on my door. I wish that plan had worked but, alas, it did not.
So, have I written about focus or free time or discipline or pursuing a goal? For me they all seem to be the same right now. For you, it may be just one of those things. As always, I write about what’s going on with me because I know I’m not so special that I’m the only one. Whatever I’m feeling, I’m sure the rest of the world has felt at some time as well. Maybe your goal is to get more sleep and not be so productive, God love ya, that’s awesome. It doesn’t matter, focus on your dream sleepy head, and create the time to do it. You may have to say “NO, NO, NO!” to some things, but it’s alright. There’s only so much we can all do in the world so choose wisely.
Pick your battles don’tcha know.