Recently my friend Crista and I had a conversation that came out of a podcast she had listened to. I believe the title was “opening and closing ceremonies”. With the little information she gave me about it, I’m not sure I understand that author’s intent, but I would like to explore the thoughts I have had since that conversation.
So the podcaster was, as I understand it, talking about holidays and how to be more deliberate in our lives; planning an opening event and closing event which would help us define the celebration. I’m thinking about other undertakings that might happen more regularly. I’m going to lunch with a friend. What is my purpose? What is the best thing I could hope to come from this time spent? How will I make the most of the present? How will our time together bless our lives? This is deliberate living and I believe that it is an important way to value this significant resource of time.
I didn’t always recognize time as my greatest resource, or think much about the “budget”. I think all that changed for me when I decided to go back to school at the age of 44. I knew at the time that I wasn’t ever sitting down wondering what to do with the time I had. Somehow I would have to stretch what I had to fit in more. This was a great opportunity to evaluate priorities because of course we don’t stretch time, we just choose more carefully. I had to learn when to “run” and when to “sit still”. My commute to school was about an hour each way. During this time I learned how to visualize myself actually getting to the studio and starting to work. I would brainstorm about project ideas and work out details. This became a real mental workout time. Other days I would spend this time in prayer, thanking God for everything that came to mind as I drove along. Sometimes my prayers were problem solving, counseling sessions. I had to be deliberate about what that ride was going to be about. When I sat in a class, I was determined to gather up as much from the lecture as I could. If I felt like the topic no longer applied to me, I chose to “disengage” and work inside my mind.
One thing I learned from this time was to be deliberate about what I would be focusing on and when. For example, in my life today, I wake up and study scriptures each morning. I want to give my whole mind to this study. It is pointless to just go through motions, I want to be wholly engaged. If I find my mind wandering, which it often does, I stop and refocus. Then I go to the gym. There I want to appreciate a time to work my muscles and feel my blood pumping. I try not to think past the moment and really live there. If I have a chance to visit with a friend, I hope to make our days better by the conversation. Often I disappoint myself and recommit to do better next time. I have committed to “talk less and listen more”, but I fail most of the time.
So back to the ceremonies idea…I’m thinking about the Christmas season. In our family each year, we make a large calendar for the month of December and put it up in the kitchen. Then we share and write down all the things we love to do to celebrate Christmas. We take that list and plot it in to the calendar. This way we can make sure that the things that matter to us happen. This is a good time to consider what you might also let go of.
A couple of years ago, I started a tradition that came from this kind of pondering about Christmas cards and the value or non value of them. What was my reason for sending them out? Did I have a purpose? After considering, I changed my plan and came up with something that was meaningful to me. Sometimes what has value one year might not be something you need to take up again the next year. After all, you will be a different person in a different place. This will require deliberation and asking the question, what do I hope to make of this time I have been given? I like to visualize the best thing I can imagine for myself and then think about the road to get to that.
Three things I am passionate about...family, creating and Jesus. These are the things that make my life rich.