I found him asleep on the floor of our bedroom. Head tucked beneath the curtain, his little nose pressed against the glass of the sliding door, waiting for Mum to come home.
He had, the babysitter said, followed my car up the driveway tonight. She’d had to chase after him, her petite dancer’s frame wrestling all 23kg of him back to the house, howling all the way. His Dad was working late in the city again, and lately there had been one too many meetings, one too many babysitters and simply not enough Mum.
I lifted him into my bed and snuggled in beside him, ignoring the breakfast dishes still on the counter. Knowing that I’d be up before he woke, trying to tick a few things off my to do list before the breakfast rush. Right now this sleep time cuddle was the best I had to give.
Anyone else need a holiday?
Lately I’ve been reflecting on what it means to live a good life – right here, right now, inspired in part by Jonathan Fields’ new book on exactly that subject.
I know that I’m so privileged, but events of 2016 have shown me that endless rushing and busyness can get in the way of truly cherishing the people, opportunities and joys in my life.
Working for yourself has many benefits – flexibility being one – but it can take over your life. I’m a bit of a workhorse, capable of juggling multiple roles and managing on little sleep. There’ve been many times I’ve wondered if it would be better to have a job, with fixed working hours and a steady income. I might be less available for the kids on some days, but perhaps I’d be more present or less grumpy when I am there. Ouch.
Luckily that thought lasts only a second. I’m not giving up my work – but I am committed to figuring out how to make my business work better for me and my family in 2017.
Here’s a few things I’m going to be working on – feel free to hold me accountable:
- Boundaries. Next year I’m finally going to learn how to gracefully decline, when the request is not truly aligned with my capacity to serve. This applies to both voluntary commitments and work deadlines – I shall pause and reflect before I commit.
- Closing up time leaks. I’m going to be stricter about my time keeping. Free trial sessions will no longer spill over and I’ll be deleting those early morning appointments designed to suit others’ time zones. I’m also going to experiment with scheduling my coaching calls on set days each week – leaving uninterrupted blocks of time for the creative work.
- Shaking off the smartphone. It’s time to say no to constant distraction and get focused. I’ve turned off notifications on my phone and will resist the urge to check my email (or Facebook) before 9 in the morning, or leave these sites open on my browser. Instead, I will check in only at pre-determined points in the day.
- Taking mental breaks. Yeah yeah, I’ve heard people go on about mindfulness and I’ve tried meditation many times – I’ve just never been able to stick to it. But lately I’ve been reading about the potential health implications of a non-stop lifestyle, a head full of mental clutter, feelings squashed down and resentments left unsaid. This stuff is no joke people. I am making a commitment to take care of my mental and emotional health, with regular moments of stillness. If you need inspiration on this front, check out my friend Kelly over at Cultivating Calm.
- Creativity. Through Angela Murray’s Dream Big Paint Big experience I’ve learned the value of taking just one evening a week for pure creative play. I have more than one book idea doodled in my journal – and these will never get written if I don’t allow space in my schedule for creative experimentation. A big part of this is my writing workshops, which are a regular feature on my 2017 schedule. Creating a peaceful space for others to come and write is a beautiful thing – why not come and join us?
- Feeling more joy. What’s the point in any of this hard work, if we don’t stop to feel and appreciate the moments of joy? Last weekend, I watched old Mr Bean videos on Youtube with my kids and their giggles were infectious – and any time I manage to turn making breakfast into a goofy comedy sketch, our day gets off to a great start. Daily moments of pure joy will be a priority in our house.
- Exercise for life. The older I get, the more I realise that a gentle daily walk would be better for my body and soul than my lifelong habit of binge exercising (doing little for months and then throwing myself into an intense boot camp or half marathon training, while loathing the whole experience). To become truly fit and strong, I need to be willing to be both consistent and patient. Feel free to kick my butt would you?
How about you? What are you committing to in 2017? Share your commitments in the comments below.
The next Blog to Your Heart’s Content Writing Workshop is happening in Matakana, New Zealand on Saturday 18 February 2017. You can secure your bean bag right here (with just NZD$49 deposit.)