So much of the time, I feel as though I’m being pushed around by my calendar and the myriad of commitments it reminds me of daily. I tend to be a rule follower. I like to check the boxes and line my ducks up neatly in a row, but the crosswinds in my life seem to be trying to keep me off balance. I started many of the past decade’s Jaunarys with a long list of goals I intended to keep. Each year, I begin again with my list of ways I want to shape my life. Usually, they are additions to the already swollen list of commitments I hold. I’m going to write more, I’m going to make special time with family a priority, I’m going to ensure I don’t lose track of treasured friends.
My list of goals for the year isn’t bad. They are usually very good things. Places I want to intentionally grow and connect and be productive. These lists have helped me reach goals and realize dreams. And yet, this year feels like it needs a different kind of goal. This year, after so much turmoil and change, with fragile things waiting around the bend, I am determined to forgo the list of new beginnings and instead create some space for calm to descend.
For most people, I assume, this might feel like a relief. For me, creating calm requires great faith. I am a doer, a connector, and I am happiest when I am in the midst of the fray. To intentionally step away from the fray, even for a little while, feels vulnerable and scary. I’ve spent a bit of time, poking at this response and I think this is really fear of missing out. I don’t want to miss out on something that might be interesting, enlightening, fun, or meaningful. But, as I pursue the idea of calm, and evaluate the things I so often held on to. I notice that sometimes my calendar is full of things that aren’t really all that meaningful, in fact, it might be more meaningful to stay home and relax with a good book, to have a slow dinner with my husband, or just enjoy the simple rhythms of my life.
Often I allow my schedule to become too heavy, and I forgo the quiet beauty of my actual life. For the past few months, I have been busy most nights of the week with appointments, dinner with friends, my pottery class, and other commitments. At the end of the week, I felt exhausted and the little indicators of the state of my life, my bedroom, my car, and my kitchen were a complete mess. I awoke on Saturday morning already feeling behind as I worked through all of the daily things I’d put off during the week. Instead of having a weekend to reconnect with the people and things I love, I was frantically trying to pull the pieces of my life back together for the next week.
This way of living wore me out. So, I am ruthlessly editing my calendar. The other day, someone suggested I check out a pottery studio nearby. Last night, I walked through the studio, learning about the communal space, the policies and practices, and thinking about how I could spend more time practicing at the potter’s wheel. I didn’t make a commitment, and as I drove home I pondered what it would actually look like in my life. Did I have time? Was this where I wanted to spend my free time? Would I really make it a priority? What was the minimum commitment I’d have to make in order to feel like I wasn’t wasting money? The closer to home I drove, the clearer it became that this isn’t the season for more pottery. I wrestled with the frustration and the fear of missing out.
This morning as I drove to work, I thought about what saying no to pottery now might mean to my daily life. I considered the time I could spend with Teddy. The chance to see him before bedtime, share a meal or a snack, or read a bedtime story. This season with him at home will not last much longer, and I know it is a precious gift. I also considered the time I will have with Keith. The chance to share a meal at the end of the day or the time to curl up on the couch to watch a show. I want to catch up with Steph and Tyler and hear about their adventures while I can. There will come a day when life at home is not this full. Until then, I think I will prioritize the people and place I call home.
So, for now, I am prioritizing white space on my calendar. As I work to create calm, I am hopeful I will learn to enjoy this slower and more contemplative pace, but the goal here is not just to slow things down. I am also committed to making meaningful connections. I believe that a slower pace, less hectic schedule, and a bit more margin will open up space for making time for my people. As I ruthlessly edit my calendar, I am asking two questions. Does this contribute to the calm in my life or does it help me meaningfully connect to the people in my life?
What would you do with a little more calm?