Balancing the Intentional and Interruptions
I have to admit, I used to love control . I had drive and discipline, and when I knew the path I wanted to take, I threw interruptions or obstacles to the side. No thank, don’t need those. I have a plan and an end game and I focused on that (college athletics might’ve caused some of this). Usually I’d take the prescribed way, and I almost always wanted to get there as fast as possible. No scenic routes for me. Figuratively and literally. (I also have a large pile of speeding tickets from this time in my life).
Two things entered my life that taught me there is no balance in living this way and there is certainly no appreciation in the journey.
Kids was the first lesson. Babies are what taught me to slow down and it’s ok to slow down (especially when in a car). There is a journey, and every moment on that journey involves not only yourself but others around you (this was true before kids but I chose to ignore it).
Art was my second lesson. I am sorry to say there is no end game in art. There is no finish line, and if you don’t accept the unexpected or the interruptions, you’ll miss the serendipity that occurs in art. Bob Ross used to call them happy accidents. What if we viewed life like that – then any interruption becomes a happy accident.
March roared itself in and my girls were at home for school. Seemingly it was bliss that I left behind. 7 hours of absolute quiet in my house to get all the things done. My driven self was working it (and I needed to be) and my introvert self was basking in the quiet. Oh, and coffee with my friends once a week for a couple of hours gave me the socializing I needed. Life seemed great didn’t it?
Was it like that for you too? Quarantine was like a slam on the brakes in traffic with frustration levels rising and relationships with kids straining. Homeschooling is hard – something I thought about for 1 second 5 years ago and knew I wouldn’t like it and this only confirmed it. But it’s time to put my big girl pants on and embrace the interruption. Find the good in it and the path God wants us to follow with it.
Since then I had to completely reevaluate my planning skills. Skills I thought I was good at. So this summer I ruminated on my planning and asked myself what was working and what wasn’t working.
What was working: doing small things in small chunks. I saw great progress when I focused on doing the small things and not worrying about the big picture. These small steps brought me more peace, a sense of accomplishment, and allowed me to accept interruptions (and even mistakes) without frustration or stress. When I looked back over my calendar in the past year, I saw I was great at taking small steps and those small steps led to big growth. I actually reached 3 goals this year because of the tiny steps, I didn’t realize it until reevaluating!
So, to what’s not working. Looking at the big goals I made and trying to achieve large chunks at one time. When I wrote those kinds of plans in my planner, I rarely crossed them off. I’m not sure if it’s because I couldn’t get a lot done at once or because the chunk looked to big to handle in the moment so I procrastinated or moved to something else. I do know that having to complete big chunks also doesn’t allow for interruptions.
I also believe small steps create momentum as I complete each one. Moving to the next one is even easier. And since it’s so hard right now for me to complete the larger tasks as a whole, I gain no momentum from these.
I want to give you an example of what I’m talking about. One week I created a goal of creating 3 patterns on 3 of the working days to give me 9 patterns total at the end of the week. I finished up Wednesday with 7 patterns but I wasn’t loving 3 of them. In the past I would’ve called this an interruption or mistake. A point of frustration that I spent time on these 3 patterns and was throwing them out and to spend more time on replacing them. But I was ok with it. I spent Thursday working 3 new patterns and finished out Friday with 9 patterns. The best part is, I love these patterns! And they only help me get closer to my end of year goal to create a portfolio I love.
If I had focused more on the end goal of having a finished collection by a certain date, I wouldn’t have loved that collection. When I allow change and interruption to enter into the process, I end up with work I love much better. I think life is the same way. When we allow change and interruption to enter and we embrace it and move forward with it, we might find we love the journey more.
So with the next 9 weeks of more schooling at home, I know I have to allow it into my heart and embrace it. There will be something good brought from it and the process will be beautiful if I only keep my eyes open to it and expect the good.
Now, I know I’m not the only one, so if you’d like to follow along my journey as I plan during this time of interruption you can join up below!
I love planning but it’s also a place of frustration when I don’t get done what I planned. So I want to make my planning transparent here in the hopes it might help you if you’ve felt the same frustration.
My goal for now is to give attention to the intentional and the interruptions together, moving between each. The journey then should be an adventure.