Well, to say it’s been a crazy week would be an understatement. Just getting through real life was tough enough, so time for blogging was more than out of the question. I’ve wanted to write. What about, you ask? Well, I don’t have much time to delve deep, so here are three mini posts I would have blogged if I’d had time. Enjoy!  

1. Why Not To Dare Monday, No Matter How Great a Week You Had Previously
Your house gets broken into. Goodbye, week. Goodbye, iPod. Hello, endless phone calls.

2. What to Do When Your Boss Gets Mad About Something Minor Because He’s Had a Stressful Week And You’ve Had the Week from Hell
Shut up at the first sign of annoyance and back slowly out of the office. Avoid total meltdown at all costs. At this point, your sanity is more important than the fact that he’s upset and working on next year’s budget. Hopefully, your work will stand for itself and he’ll remember how many times you’ve come through this year.

3. How to Avoid Being at Mandatory Evening Board Meetings When You Have To Get Up at 5 A.M. to Raise Money For Charity and Already Met at a 3-Hour Lunch the Day Before
Don’t do what I did (go, then try to duck out early) unless you to fall asleep at midnight. Do this instead: Say no. Don’t RSVP. They will have more than enough brains to brainstorm themselves into oblivion. You, however, may be in danger of losing yours.

 

No matter how hard you try, sometimes life and work just collide, and there’s nothing you can do about it. When this happens, it’s best to just quit worrying about the things you can’t control. Focus on what you can. Prioritize what’s important. Be responsible to do your part, and know you will get through it.

The Power of Pause

November 25, 2007

This weekend, I didn’t get all those posts written like I’d hoped. I didn’t get the garage cleaned or find time to finish my Christmas shopping. I didn’t rake up the leaves or do any yard work. I didn’t do a lot of things I planned on.

Instead, I made sugar cookies and put up my Christmas tree with my family. I went to visit my grandparents and played a very intense game of Risk for four hours only to call a draw. I learned to play Farkle when my boyfriend taught it to – everyone, including me, my parents, grandparents, brother, sister, and their significant others. I cooked a great big pot of soup and hand made about $500’s worth of jewelry for a Christmas charity fundraiser. I ate Sunday brunch at a new hole in the wall Brazilian cafe.

I took time out from my to-do lists, my goals, my constant go. And it was wonderful.

My only complaint is that I didn’t give in to it fully until late in the game. And mostly, that means I worried for a long time about all those other things I wasn’t getting done.

But here I am, at the last 30 minutes of my holiday weekend, thinking how it was not at all what I planned but at the same time just what I needed. A bit of a pause from the normal.

Because there’s power in pause. It gives clarity, retrains focus onto what really matters, and gives you energy and excitement. So, if you haven’t already in the past few days, give yourself permission to relax, to reflect, to marinate in all the great things of life . . .  to pause.

Get ready, Monday. Here I come.  

As I recently wrote in response to Penelope’s post on what you do with your time after work, it’s important to continually challenge yourself in new ways. I recall a time in my life when it consisted of little more than the go to work, come home and plop on the couch and watch a few shows, perhaps hang out with my boyfriend, procrastinate on researching for my thesis, and fight the jealousy that he had more friends than me and thus didn’t spend every spare second in my company. It was a tough time. I was pretty miserable, even though I probably looked pretty successful. At 24, I’d purchased  my own home, had a growing career at a respected company, and was about to finish my master’s degree. You know, things could have looked a lot worse on the outside. But on the inside, it was pretty much an all-time low.

 And then we – my boyfriend and I – did something that expanded our horizons, challenged us, and gave us the opportunity to grow in totally unexpected ways. We joined a new church. We went a few times, and we didn’t like the music, so we wrote it off. Too rock show for us. But we ended up going back. And we kept going, because the community of people there made the effort to connect to us. We even actually started enjoying the music.  Then, we volunteered to help with the teenagers. And let me tell you that even though I had worked with youth throughout college, it was a totally different and interesting challenge as a professional. Because, the thing was, these kids pretty much will look up to you no matter what. So it makes you really examine your time. You don’t want to have to tell kids who think you are pretty stinking cool that your hobbies include watching TV, examining your yard each night to see if the new grass is growing, and occasionally tossing in a load of laundry. Too lame, and nothing worth looking up to, which you very much want to be.  

So it really made me re-examine my priorities and realize that there were a lot more cool things I should be doing with my time. So I started reading children’s literature again. I also gave up yard work and started this blog. Joined a photography club. Chose only to allow myself to turn on the TV if I had either the jewelry tools in my hands, my laptop on my lap, or my butt on the elliptical.  Then, a month or later, I did something even more drastic. I said “yes” when they asked me to take over the band. Now, I have to tell you that music was my life growing up. Then, I arrived a college prepared to major in music and quickly abandoned the idea because I didn’t want to compete with my friends who were musical, so I considered myself over it. A good choice not to major in music, a bad choice to abandon it. But that’s another post for another time. Seven years later, I picked up a microphone for the first time since freshman year to sing for a crowd of 12-17 year olds. Let me just say, that was a major challenge. So is leading a band, which I’d never really done before. But now Wednesday nights are among my favorite. And I find myself saying things like, “we need to pick that up a little,” or “let’s take that one from the top.” And I love it.  

Trading my butt-on-couch time for jumping up and down on a stage in front of an energetic, tuned-in crowd of teenagers one night a week may sound like a crazy leap. But it’s one of the best things I’ve done in a long time. Because every week, it stretches me, takes me out of my comfort zone, and reminds me that ultimately, if I’m going to be satisfied, I need to be doing something that’s not just challenging, but that adds value to people. Because as much cool stuff as we do, I don’t think we will ever be fully satisfied until we learn to invest time outside of ourselves and our own interests. It could be mentoring someone at work or an at-risk youth. Maybe it’s joining a volunteer organization or just getting to know a neighbor. Whatever works for you.

 

Because an amazing thing happens when you start putting yourself in a place that lets you pour into other people’s buckets. Your own gets just a little more full, and you find that you really don’t miss whatever show it was you used to watch, and you fall asleep much faster when you don’t take time to “wind down” for four hours after work, because you’ve lived a really full day.

 Challenge yourself, give more, sleep better. Repeat.