Choosing Between Two Commitments

IMG_2915Have you ever had that experience where you are pulled in two different directions? Where you have agreed to, perhaps, volunteer to lead a day at the soup kitchen or you have a big work deadline, and your child’s team makes the playoffs and their game is at the same time.

A while back I had an experience that shifted my world view. I am someone who, once I make a commitment, I stick to it. If I tell you I’m going to do something, I will do it.

Over the years, I often felt the tension between a commitment to an entity outside of myself (work, community, charity) and my own or my loved ones’ needs. I realized that I would sometimes sacrifice my loved one or myself for my commitment to another entity.

Through the years, I became more aware of this disconnect. I worked to have fewer commitments, to have less on the calendar, to allow for more empty space.

The big shift happened one time when my daughter was visiting me. We were supposed to have some friends over one evening. My daughter came to me that afternoon. She was really burned out and needed some down time. She just didn’t have the energy to be social.

In the old days, I would never have cancelled the dinner plans. I would have wanted us to muscle on and put on a brave face. “We wouldn’t want to offend our friends.”

But, this time, I asked myself, what was most important? What was the goal here? It became perfectly clear. I called the friends and cancelled.

WOW! That was a first!

The reward was my daughter felt heard. We both relaxed and had a lovely low-key evening on the patio, talking for hours. The evening was a gift.

This was a lesson for me. The world did not shatter or fall apart. I was not deemed a “bad” person. And both my daughter and I felt tended to and fed.

Instead, I learned to stay focused on what was truly most important. Sometimes it’s not clear and there are ramifications for our actions. But asking the question, “What is most important?” helps guide the ship.

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One Thing At A Time

ant

“Just focus on one thing at a time. The data clearly shows that we can’t multitask and do things well. Just do one thing and do it well.”

Lordy, I’ve been telling my clients this for years. Heck, I’ve been telling myself this for years! And it is such strong, beneficial advice. And it’s true that we can’t multitask without losing like 37% of our brain’s bandwidth! (According to the American Psychological Association) No wonder we feel scattered!

But how do we do this?

I recently had those tiny little ants crop up in my house. Again.

This is not the first time they have appeared, so I wondered to myself, what is the Universe trying to get me to pay attention to? What do ants make me think of?

Well, they are busy. They are super busy, but each one has one duty and that’s why they are so effective! For instance, the queen does one thing: lay eggs. That’s it. She is not foraging for food or anything else. The survival of the colony depends on her doing her one thing.

But, as a human, I often struggle with the how. How do I tend to the different aspects of life that I want to nourish?

There’s the physical part: Am I getting my walk or hike in today? Do I have healthy, yummy food in the house to eat? Have I gone food shopping for that food?

There’s the spiritual aspect: Am I meditating? Am I feeding and being fed by my spiritual community? Am I going to Meetng? Am I involved in the life of the Meeting?

There’s the social part: Am I tending to my friendships that feed me? Am I involved in the life of my community and building it?

You get the point. There are so many facets to a healthy life that need tending. How does one balance them all? If one is out of whack, they all are. If I am working out like crazy and eating great food, but I am not in a job where I feel valued, that is going to affect me in all the other areas.

So how do we balance it all out?

I am no expert, but I suspect at least part of the answer is time, space, and presence.

To not fill my schedule so full that I am constantly chasing time, so there is space in my calendar to just be and to allow myself to hear that still, small voice from within that is always guiding me. And, in doing one thing at a time, I can be fully present to it and do that one thing well.

Thank you little ants, for the reminder that a mountain can only be climbed one step at a time. And, the call to relish that step, and the next one, and the next is what life is about.

Photo and content © Copyright 2018. Blessed Journey Blog. All Rights Reserved.