BY DEB LUND
Whidbey Life Magazine Contributor
April 22, 2015
“It’s all good!” We hear that a lot around Whidbey. Because it is all good. But we often say those words to gloss over the times when we’re spinning our wheels instead of getting to where we want to be.
How do you spend your time? Most Whidbey folks I know are busy. Many are too busy, which is hard for some non-Whidbey folks to fathom. They are shocked to hear that we do more than stroll on beaches and watch sunsets, as if we’re all here on an extended vacation. But the “Wherever you go, there you are” statement applies to us, too. And when our busyness keeps us from pursuing our creative projects, we don’t feel very Whidbey-like. We feel off. We can’t put it into words, so we settle for “It’s all good.”
So many meetings, commitments, volunteer opportunities, concerts, arts and nature events… It’s all good. And because we’ve grown to love the Whidbeyites who are involved in all the things we, too, love, we don’t want to miss anything. It’s part of why we live here, after all.
Do you ever say that if you had more time you’d like to paint/write/sing/fill-in-the-blank? Maybe the “it’s all good” isn’t working as well as you’d like.
My family and I spent time in Haiti this month with a group of 10 young people and five adults. We hauled cement, shoveled gravel and carried buckets of water, sand and dirt until lunch, then either continued through the afternoon on construction projects or worked at a “Kids’ Club” providing music, crafts, games, and snacks for about 100 kids at a time. We focused on goals, worked toward them and saw progress. It was all good.
We got back from Haiti and I spent two nights in my own bed before going to a conference. The cultural difference was stark. My room at the Redmond Marriott was nothing like the hot and humid room of bunk beds I shared with another adult and five teenage girls in Haiti with intermittent electricity and just one cold shower to share. But no one complained. That room at the Marriott? Once in a while the bathroom light would go out and I’d have to hit the reset button. And yes, though the shower was hot and the air cool, I complained about the much-less intermittent electricity at the Marriott.
And the conference? It was all about the creative work of writing and illustrating kids’ books. For most people in Haiti, there isn’t a lot of time to pursue creative projects. Here on Whidbey, we feel entitled to chase our creative dreams. That’s okay. It’s all good. But working toward a common goal together with our new friends in Haiti? Beyond good.
Don’t get me wrong. I don’t want to live in Haiti, and I don’t have a glamourized view of life there. It’s harsh, full of pain, hunger and death, which we saw multiple examples of during our short stay. And the conference inspired me and fed me in ways that trip couldn’t. Both had a shared sense of purpose, but without the Haiti trip still vivid in my mind, I would have missed the real gift of the conference for me, which was the decision to be more proactive about how I spend my time.
I love Whidbey for what it has to offer. I’m not planning to give up much of what I do here, but I could spend less time online and make better use of smaller increments of time that appear here and there in my busyness. But what else can go? Do you feel this way too?
Here are some questions and thoughts to ponder…
We are blessed with opportunities to serve here on Whidbey. If your sense of being too busy is due to wanting more meaning in your life, choose activities that will provide that for you. On the other hand, if you find yourself feeling resentful about your current volunteer work, find something that’s a better match with your gifts and interests. While serving others takes time, you’ll feel better about how your time was spent.
Does your Whidbey-style “multiple streams of income” require too much time to organize and market? If you want to create, to see progress on your goals, does it still make sense to divide your work into bits of time that don’t allow enough real progress in any one area? Perhaps you’d be more productive if you focused more time on your main passion and let go of ones you’re no longer passionate about.
What feeds you? Keeping a journal, going on walks, reading, calling a friend? Schedule them into your days, too. Are you getting enough sleep, eating well, exercising and taking care of your health? While it might seem like you don’t have time for self-care, you’ll find that your productivity will soar when you take time for your own needs too.
You know your priorities. Just because you can do something doesn’t mean you should. We all want to help others, to keep them happy with us, to contribute. List your priorities and goals. When you’re tempted to add a new activity to your schedule, weigh it against your list. If the new option doesn’t fit anything on your list, say yes to yourself instead.
If you keep catching yourself creating fillers for your creative time instead of projects, dig deeper. See if there’s a fear or belief you need to haul out. And if that doesn’t work, you could head to Haiti and do a little digging there. Or hauling buckets of rocks and dirt. I’d like to go back there again someday, but for now, I’m going for a taste of that extended vacation feeling right here on Whidbey or wherever I go by valuing my time and using it more intentionally. It won’t happen all at once, and I’ll stumble and regroup as always, but it’s all good.
Deb Lund is a writer, teacher and creativity coach who helps others find more joy and meaning in their lives through claiming their creativity. Wherever you are is the perfect place to begin. It’s all good. You can learn more about Deb and her services at www.deblund.com or hear her speak about creativity at Trinity Lutheran’s Adult Forum at 9:30 a.m. on Mother’s Day, Sunday, May 10.
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