I am making a list of 22 things for 2012- my list of new things I want to try and habits I want to incorporate in my life in the new year. Turns out, I’ve had to revise this handwritten list 2 times, and will be revising it a third time later today, there is so much mulling over in my head that I’m telling myself it’s a labor of love and important to keep making the revisions as new ideas present themselves.
Christmas is a day away and I’m thrilled. I’ve come home to my father’s home on the west coast and I’ve come to realize the intersection between love and frustration yields patience if you truly care about someone. My dad is not known for his tidyness, or even for his ability to see basic tasks to completion. That being said, I came home to mess. Trash on the floor, a dirty kitchen and plenty of unfinished projects and unbathed pugs. I also had the epiphany that some of this “problem” was my fault and instantly found forgiveness. When I moved out a year ago I cleared away much of what Gram and I had collected in my Dad’s house (she passed away in 2008 and it’s been hard to donate or clear her things away) I cleaned up much but left plenty of emotional and physical debris. I sought to rectify that this trip and just started purging everything- momentos from my old business, random knick nacks and paperwork that was no longer relevant.
In my dichotomous life between Chicago and here, there was plenty to be dealt with in either of my “lives,” and I have a lot of cleaning up to do. It’s come to my attention that in my Chicago life that I don’t need to just clean, but to build. This last year was a whirlwind- much of it spent with my head in a book, pouring over texts to work on my M.A. degree but also others to build my blog and create that “life.”
This new year will be a time to really live life. While I don’t think I’ve completely failed at living- truly, I’m happier than I’ve ever been, I must admit it’s been a lot of work and I’ve forgotten how to play. Even when I’ve been out this year, my mind was always on the next task, and when I wasn’t scheming I was buried deep. There was never time to just decompress, be present and be human.
I find that I’ve been great at working- but the other necessary element to creativity and productivity has been lost on me. While it’s necessary to put in your time each day to work towards your goals, you also must insist on cultivating creativity with time spent outside, with people, with no intentions or goals- just to be. The best work takes time- and that time cannot be forced or scheduled. You best bet is to create wise habits and your best work will bubble to the surface in time and simple beauty without being forced.
I can no longer approach work like a machine, I must be truly human to do my best work. To be with people, to develop my soul, to build a schedule around my priorities that allows for time to simmer. I’m going to really push myself this year to schedule in time for habits that matter- taking time for exercise, cooking my own food, walking my pug and doing yoga and gasp- mediation!
Again, and again- it’s become clear: If you want to produce your best work you cannot approach it as a machine would- working all day to hope genius appears. You must schedule time for work, and time for healing and relaxation for the soul.
I’ve learned if you don’t cultivate the human being behind the work you seek to produce, it will appear as cold and machine like as the being you’ve let yourself become. While there isn’t a true “balance,” you must approach life as you would a garden- nurture a tree with a variety of supplements- water, nutrients, sunlight, pruning and of course, affection- and it will eventually yield fruit. Too often though, we plant our own trees with just water and maybe some basic soil- hoping it will bear a harvest instantaneously, or we see it yields fruit and then keep demanding and demanding more production without taking the time to ensure production is sustainable and it becomes unhealthy.
I’m going to give up Top Ramen and Lean Cuisine for real food. I’m going to push myself (uncomfortably so) to take time to stretch each day- physically and metaphorically. Expect to see more photography, more crafting, more creation- and hold me too it. I’m not sure how my waist line will do, but I plan to eat, drink and be merry all year long. I’m going to treat time for “me,” as seriously as I would treat time with clients or for employers.
I’ve read enough- it’s time to live.