Taking Stock

It’s officially been 2 months since my leave of absence began. I thought it would be a good time to enumerate both the new lessons I’ve learned and the old lessons that have  resurfaced as particularly relevant to this major shift in my life.

  1. Your time will fill. No matter how much you have to do or how long you think you have to do it, time will pass more quickly than you expected and you will get less done than you planned.
  2. It doesn’t matter how much of an out-of-the-box thinker you are; if there is no box, you can’t think outside of it.
  3. When you have a mile-long list of things to do and believe you have only a fraction of the time you need to get them done, you manage your time far more judiciously than when you have a short list of things to do and believe you have all day. (See #1.)
  4. There is always more opportunity than capacity.
  5. When one thing has been your biggest time investment for a long time, when you pull it out of your schedule, everything that surrounded it collapses on top of each other and you have to scratch and claw your way through the crap to shove in something new and get all the little stuff safely held at bay.
  6. Staying busy is not the hard part. It’s staying busy doing the important things instead of the distracting things that’s hard. (See #1.)
  7. Just because something must be done urgently doesn’t mean it should be done at all.
  8. I really mind a dirty house less than I mind cleaning it.
  9. We treat people we have an intimate personal relationship with like someone we have an intimate personal relationship with even when the topics are professional–it takes effort not to hear “I don’t love you” when you disagree.
  10. Working with your spouse is an opportunity to better your overall relationship. Creating artificial lines between your personal and professional relationship is only lying to yourself. The two roles are inseparable and must feed one another, driving both a closer, more intimate relationship and more creative energy from the feeling of being on the same team working towards the same goals.
  11. Sleep helps. This is theoretical. I used reverse logic: lack of sleep makes everything harder. Therefore, I believe that if I someday get enough sleep, it will make everything easier.
  12. Every day we have the opportunity to be more focused, more productive, more playful, more creative, more effective, more attuned to our health, and to get more sleep. We probably won’t do all of these things in the same day, however.
  13. At the end of the day, it’s you. There is only you and what you did and didn’t get done, whether what you did made a difference, and whether that difference is the difference you intended. Ultimately, there is not, and really never has been, anyone else to blame.

Being Busy

Every time I believe I have reached the absolute peak of busyness, that if I have one more thing to do I will simply collapse, I get busier.  I remember when I thought I was incredibly busy 20 years ago.  I had a job that required me to work a lot of extra hours maybe one week every other month.  What was a long day then is just a normal day now.

I played softball in the summer, volleyball in the winter, and even tried the corporate bowling league one season.  I had the highest handicap ever achieved by any participant–at our first match, my highest score (out of 300 possible) was 37.  My handicap was largely responsible for my partner and I taking the league championship that year–I decided to retire from bowling after that.

I went on ski trips, played cards once a week, socialized regularly with friends.  I guess I was busy, but I spent a larger percentage of each day doing things that were just for fun.

These days, the constant incoming stream of information, multiple mailboxes continually filling, Google beckoning whenever I don’t know the answer to a question, Facebook friends posting interesting articles and stories keeps all of us jumping from one subject to the next nearly continuously.  Newsletters, informative articles, and don’t even get me started on YouTube.  It’s not a tube; it’s a black hole–no one really knows if or where you come out if you dare to enter.

Almost every person I know describes themselves as having ADD.  I’m not clear on the medical diagnosis of ADD, but I’m reasonably certain that it’s statistically improbable that every person I know (mostly adults) actually has ADD.

Yet, that doesn’t stop me from wondering about myself.  I walked into the kitchen 3x the other day, forgetting what I needed as soon as my foot crossed the threshold. I never did figure out why I thought I need something from there.  Is being so distracted all the time combined with the overwhelming amount of information streaming through our lives that makes us so scatterbrained?

And what about those moments when you sit down to do something that you really ought to spend time concentrating on only to have your brain start pinging you, wanting to know when the next interruption is coming?  I have to believe that our brains are becoming more and more trained to look for any distraction to avoid concentration and deep thought.

And is that what ultimately leads us to jam pack our calendars for every minute of every day?  Our secret desire to constantly hop to something new?

I don’t know.  All I know is that if I don’t shutdown now, I will be writing in my sleep.

Spending Time

Another week gone by.  The weather changed from highs in the 80’s to highs in the 50‘s.  What is most shocking about the change in the weather is the sudden awareness of the passage of time.  This never fails to surprise me:  “What?  Is it really late enough in the year for frost???”

Every year goes faster.  This is an inevitable effect of aging–the older I get, the smaller the portion of my life a day represents.  The perception of time is relative.  Ironically, the more I want to slow the clock down, the more it speeds up.

Time has become my most cherished commodity.  There is so much to do and so little time in which to get it done.  I have come to long for sleep with the same nostalgia I once longed for Christmas–it always seems far off and then disappointing when it’s over.

In choosing to spend more time on enjoyment, I have seem to amassing a time deficit.  Even when having a great time, I wish for long nights of solid sleep and slower days with less to do–is it possible to just enjoy without wishing for something more?

I seem to vacillate between exhaustion and hyperactivity.  Exhaustion leads to periods of time of keeping to myself, not socializing, not taking on extra activities.  Boredom and frustration sends me back into hyperactivity.  Doesn’t it seem like by now I should know how to strike a happy medium?

Of all the things I have going on right now, most of them are fun.  Other than our dog who has horrible allergies that keep him scratching and licking himself all night, disturbing our sleep, I only have my usual complaint, which is work.

I’m staying up late Friday and Saturday nights volunteering for the Acres of Darkness haunt.  It’s so much fun, I can’t complain about that.  I’m also having a ball preparing to teach my first photography workshop.  No complaints about that time spent.

Work is work.  It’s hard to let go–it haunts my dreams far more than the ghouls and zombies found along the trail at Acres of Darkness.

I gave up on keeping up on my other blog this week, opting to skip many days of posts on snapgreatphotos.com in favor of getting to bed before midnight.

Social engagements and early morning yoga on Friday’s are really the only other things occupying my time.  These are energizing and balancing activities for me–they keep me centered.

So, what do I give up?  The things I love doing?  The things I do to pay for the things I love doing?  Or sleep?  I am reminded of a quote from Carl Sandburg:

Time is the coin of your life. It is the only coin you have, and only you can determine how it will be spent. Be careful lest you let other people spend it for you.

How do I decide if I’m spending my coins or someone else is?