clothespins hanging on the line
Since deciding to approach this new year with intention, I've been trying to pay attention to how my daily living contributes to this sense of waiting I've experienced nearly my entire life. I've been waiting for another time, for different circumstances, to find myself someplace other than where I am at this very moment. It occurred to me that I must be doing something in my day to day living to perpetuate this mindset. I just didn't know what it was.
So, I started paying attention.
And sure enough, through practicing mindfulness, I've become aware that I spend a good part of my time putting off what that my soul most needs, instead allowing my time and energy to be consumed with distractions.
This first became apparent to me when I started feeling frustrated that I couldn't keep up with all of the blogs that I want to read. I noticed that I would first go to the sites that I could easily scan through - or the ones I didn't have to think about too much when reading. And sometimes, that's okay. Sometimes, I just need to look at pretty pictures or to laugh a little. So, I'd put off reading the sites that really matter to me, telling myself that I would come back to them when I had a little more time, when I could really stop and soak up what they were offering, or when I could take the time or have my hands free to comment.
And then, I noticed that this was happening every single day. I noticed hat my RSS feed was sometimes showing dozens of unread posts on these sites that I love so much. And then I noticed that I never seemed to have the time that I was hoping to have - to really stop and read, to truly think and reflect, or to type out a few words in a comment. So, I would then either just skim through the posts, not really giving them the attention I had hoped to. Or, I would just click "mark all as read" to make that glaringly large number of unread posts disappear.
So, day after day, this was happening. I was spending a good bit of the time that I had for reading blogs on sites that didn't even matter that much to me. And totally missing so many good things that were right in front of me.
And then, I was a bit horrified to discover that this was happening in lots of different places in my life. I looked at the stacks of books lying around our house, the ones I have been letting sit there until I had time to slowly read and absorb them - all the while skimming through others just to confirm that I wouldn't want them later before I donated them to someone who would put them to good use. I realized that I had dozens of emails in my inbox waiting for replies, ones that deserved a thorough and thoughtful response. Instead of trying to answer one or two a day, I focused first on ones that I could quickly reply too, leaving the ones that probably most needed my attention unanswered, sometimes for weeks. Those are just a few examples. Trust me, I could go on and on.
It's no wonder that I feel like I've spent most of my days waiting for something other than what is right in front of me. Because this is in fact what I have been doing each and every day.
But now I'm paying attention. I still have a good bit of inner work to do to uncover why I seem to measure my self-worth by productivity and how many items I can manage to check off of my to-do list. But, in the meantime, I need to act. So, I'm trying to be conscious of shortening my lists - to only write down what I realistically think I can accomplish in one day. I'm taking a lesson from Karen Maezen Miller over at Cheerio Road, a dedicated monotasker. And I'm putting first things first.
It's a start. And right now, I need to start someplace.
Do you have any habits hanging around that are hindering your growth? What helps you to change these deeply rooted patterns?