Fall is coming to a close around here. We’ve moved through the darkest, rainiest month. Everyone else complained about the gloom. The wet made me feel like home. The deep cold and dark pushed us inside, the wood stove’s glow pushes back against the raw damp. This season of transition moves us steadily toward the dark cold of winter.
Before we move into the next season, however, I am taking some time to reflect on the past few months. It seems like a time to stop and evaluate how well I’m doing in this realignment process I’ve been working through. If I want my life to more closely reflect to my deepest values and richest goals, I think my calendar is a good place to look for evidence of where I’m gaining ground and where I still have room to grow.
One of the goals I set for the past few months has been to simplify our weekends. We both work full time and commute an hour each way to work. By the time we are home and done with dinner, we are both nearing the end of our energy. Weekends then, become the catch all for chores and responsibilities as well as the small space we have for connecting with friends and family.
I have been known to overdo our social calendar in order to reconnect with the people we love. It’s become clear, however, we not only need the time for the tasks and the events, but we also need to allow some space for downtime and unwinding. This isn’t what I to best. If there is a block on my calendar, I am likely to fill it. Learning to hold the white space has been a hard lesson for me.
As I look at the schedule of last few months, I can see where I was able to hold the line and create space which allowed us to catch our breath. It hasn’t been perfect. I stacked multiple things together when I would have probably been better served simply saying no. And yet, I can see progress.
I’m also paying attention to where I am spending my time. It’s easy for me to get swept up into the social swirl of friendships. Over the years, I have collected an eclectic group of humans who bring joy and laughter to my days. They press in close when things get hard, and kick my butt when its necessary. Sometimes, I let the time needed to nourish these friendships crowd in on other priorities.
My husband doesn’t demand much. He doesn’t pout when I head out the door or complain about my time away with friends. He is self sufficient and supportive. He makes it very easy for me to stay connected this rich network of friends. And yet, his friendship really is the most important in my life and it can be easy to neglect. Prioritizing and nurturing this primary relationship is probably one of the most important things on my to do list.
My calendar shows that we’ve carved out some time over the past couple of months. We’ve snuggled on the sofa and watched movies. Friday nights found us sharing a meal and conversation about our lives, our work, and our goals. We’ve made room for slow Saturdays mornings and the Sunday night preparations that make our lives run smoothly. We’ve cooked together and planned a vacation. We’ve made each other a priority.
In this season of my life, I am also making sure to make time for my extended family far away. As I look at my calendar I can see the time spent in October, showing up and making memories with these people who love me best. I’ve also made sure to check in using FaceTime, texting, and the phone. We’ve jumped into their lives as they sipped their first coffee on Saturday mornings and while they soaked their feet in warm water in preparation for a pedicure. We’ve shared news, challenges, and plans for the future.
As you look back over this past season, can you see how your priorities show up on your calendar? Are you intentionally planning to create space for the things that matter most to you? Have you identified strategies to help you stay aligned with the things that matter most?
I’ve noticed that if I just let life happen, I get sucked up in other people’s priorities. When I take time to think about what I want and to intentionally arrange my life to align with these goals, I much more likely to feel good about my decisions. These don’t have to be huge goals that change the course of your life, but they can shape the pace of your Saturday.
I find that it is not the big sweeping events that have the most sway in my life. Instead, there are these little decisions which either support me and allow me to recharge in my day to day, or leave me wrung out and running on empty. Learning to take responsibility for these tiny things has helped to reshape my relationship to myself and the people I love most.