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What I learned this week: Focus on what's in my control

Sara Lingafelter
Sara Lingafelter
3 min read

This is going to have to be uber snappy… I’d scheduled my blog posts for Mondays and Thursdays because those are my telework days, so I can spend the time I’d ordinarily spend commuting writing two days a week… but for the time being, due to changes at work, my telework schedule has been reduced (or suspended, still waiting to clarify that).  I guess you could say that’s a step in the wrong direction, but that’s life, and it’s a reminder to me to focus on the things that are within my control, and try not to get spun up about the things that aren’t.

This weekend involved a complicated plan to pack up the car, rent nordic gear, head for the hills, sleep out under the stars, and then take a nordic ski class on Sunday.  We got as far as the bags sitting by the backdoor, ready to be loaded outside and into the car, before realizing that we were pushing it too hard for the weekend.  What we both needed was rest, and some time to pay attention to some life logistics that get missed when you’re running at full speed from adventure to adventure.  So, instead of our original plans, the bags stayed where they were until we unpacked Sunday night, and the weekend was spent at home.  We worked on a puzzle, we cooked a turkey breast and made stock and then soup from scratch with the bones.  I had brunch with my girlfriends (plus a newborn — talk about a marvel, to watch my friend hold and console her baby, while eating a salad, and catching up on the details of our lives — I was struck that I have it quite easy, in terms of balance, in some ways).  We read and researched and wrote to catch up with friends and family.  We took care of some of what needed taking care of, and rested.  And I don’t regret it one iota.  Next weekend will likely be similar, and I am good with that.

It also meant that Friday night I could sit down and work on my annual vision board project.  Make fun of my woo woo all you like, but I did this exercise last year and felt it yield fruit, so I’m back at it again this year.  It’s incomplete, but thanks to a pair of scissors and magazines including Yoga, Poets & Writers, Whole Living, Fast Company, and more, I now have a reminder to check in with periodically through the year to remember that (crap, I don’t have citations – please forgive me… these are words from other writers I clipped from the various magazines):

“Love doesn’t just sit there, like a stone, it has to be made, like bread; remade all the time, made new.”

“Modern business is pure chaos.  But those who adapt will succeed.”

“Make your whole life as you as it can be.”

After I’d cut out oodles of teeny pieces of paper, I arranged them into the themes that had apparently resonated with me, when I went to town with the scissors.  Themes like “Beginning / Starting,” personal evolution / improvements / changes, and professional evolution / improvements / changes dominated.  The middle two, I would have predicted; the first came as a surprise, but I think it’s just about the realization that things change.  I’m learning the same thing through my meditation practice.  My first day meditating this year was in a class, and the meditation practice involves a simple chant.  Sa – Ta – Na – Ma.  Repeated through the course of the meditation.  Afterward, she explained the meaning of each of the sounds:

  • SA is the beginning, infinity, the totality of everything that ever was, is or will be.
  • TA is life, existence and creativity that manifests from infinity.
  • NA is death, change and the transformation of consciousness.
  • MA is the […] joy of the infinite.

I thought back about my meditation, and realized that “NA” was the sound I’d hesitated on or missed the most of any.  I’ve thought about that as I’ve continued my practice — that I, apparently, have some getting used to the idea that change involves a phase of “destruction” and a phase of “transformation.”  I like the transformation part, it’s just the “destruction” part I have a hard time getting comfortable with.  So in little ways, I’ve invited my discomfort with “destruction” over for tea in the last week — especially, for example, engaging in necessary conflicts instead of bottling them up and trying to ignore them.

And now I’m one minute past the time I must leave for my commute to the office, so it’s an awkward stop right there.  Where has your focus been this week?  What are you learning in your own efforts to right-size your life?

Sara Lingafelter

Sara (Grace) Lingafelter takes steps forward and backward toward a right-sized life on a daily basis.