Thursday, January 24, 2008

Time On My Side, Part 2

When I made my resolution about reevaluating my relationship with time, and lowering my standards of how much I get done with my time, I was on vacation and had less on my to-do list. Now that I am several weeks into January, and have much more on my list, I have found this goal to be much more of a challenge than I had foreseen.

I think the big issue at hand is that I still “assign” myself too much. I am fighting my perfectionist urges (remember, I am a Virgo and first-born child) and trying to keep up with what “needs” to get done all at the same time. It’s a vicious cycle. And I often end up approaching certain tasks joylessly such as, “Oh god, I still need to send a baby gift to so-and-so, and I never seem to have time to sit down and knit that baby washcloth that I am making to give a meaningful gift and save money.” Do you ever have these thoughts? I mean, I seriously stress about this petty stuff!

I think this morning I am heading into my day with the urge to “pare down” my list to what I really feel will truly add value to my life and take me further toward my macro-goals.

I wish to let go of all the micro-management tasks that seem to pile up and send me into a frenzy of “I have so much to do,” which is not a pleasant feeling and often entirely untrue. My husband will often catch me walking through the house with furrowed brow, sighing while deep in thought about all the things I “have” to do. My stress often gets passed on to him, and that is not something I am proud of.

But can I just take things off my list without feeling guilty about not doing them? I know I have control over my thoughts and how I perceive things. But it’s often very difficult to harness those runaway, reeling thought patterns and focus on what is important – to focus on what I have accomplished, not what is left on my list.

Resolutions take time, so I will keep you posted on how I take on this challenge for the sake of bettering the quality of my life – and those around me.

Do you have any thoughts to share about how you perceive time? How do you pare down your list?

Thursday, January 17, 2008

When A Song Is A Place

When one lives out West, in the open spaces, one can develop a curious appreciation for country music, even when country music used the be the only kind of music one did not like. Now, when I hear the call of the lonesome steel guitar and a voice that sounds like it’s haunting a desert, I long for places in which I used to dwell.

I miss the hollow, steel cold beauty of the winding Columbia River where I drove more than once through the night to get to the Oregon Coast, the Seven Sisters of the Cascade mountains looming in the distance like great ships. It was on one of these drives that I first fell in love with the music of Neko Case - and in the desert along the Green River* in Utah, where I first came to understand that a song can be a place. I was on a five-day river trip with friends when I poked my head out of my tent one cold morning to find Neko Case’s song “Deep Red Bells” staring at me across the parched landscape. A skeleton tree stood windblown, and the land stretched beyond it, hues of dull pink and gray hanging on the horizon. I froze, like the dead tree, as the song lured me toward the edge of something I still cannot fully explain. I could call it misery, but it was something I longed to be a part of forever. I felt as if I had seen a unicorn, as if I was one of the fortunate few to be able to see a place that was a song, even for that brief moment of my life. That vision followed me for the rest of the trip and for many years since. Whenever I hear the song today I get an ache in my gut to see that mythical animal again.

One always longs for something that can never truly be grasped.

How has music mystified you?

*Ironically, it was the Green River Killer of the Seattle/Tacoma area that inspired Neko to write "Deep Red Bells".

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

A New Year, A New Start

Dearest friends and family,
I am finally ready to sit back down to my blog after weeks of holiday fun. I have great feelings about 2008, and I am excited to share my thoughts and ideas with you over the coming year. I have truly appreciated your readership and comments during the past 8 months, and hope to continue hearing from you this year.

I will start my blog entries for 2008 in a simple manner. Without question, this time of year is defined by the resolutions we make, maintain, and discard. I have been reading many blogs lately offering advice about resolutions. Some of us don't make them, some of us do; it is a very subjective and personal decision, and no matter how big of a deal our society and media make them, resolutions can be the simplest of wishes. I won't offer advice about making or keeping them, I will simply share mine for this year. I have learned that focusing on one macro-goal, in lieu of a plethora of micro-goals, is the easiest way to keep the resolution alive over the months. So here it is:

To set lower expectations for what I do with my time, and be OK with what I choose to do with it. What I do and accomplish is enough.

I have been enjoying this fresh perspective as I settle into the new year. Focusing on this larger goal allows the little things to fall into place more naturally. This particular one works well for me because I am a bit of a perfectionist and often feel that I should be doing something else with my time. Enough, I say! And that is what it will be...enough. I will ask myself what I really want to do, not what I think I should do, or what would be the best or coolest thing. I will not apologize for what I choose to do with my time; what I choose to do is the right thing for me.

Do you have any goals for 2008 to share?

Happy New Year!