OK, I thought, nevermind the bugs, thirty minutes. That’s all I have to do. Focus Holly.
I narrowed my visual field and chose one set of shelves, telling myself that was all I needed to tackle today. I could organize one set of shelves in that time, right?
Thirty minutes later my phone played a happy, if somewhat muffled jingle from the back pocket of my jeans and I looked up to realize I had accomplished more than I set out to do. One whole wall of the pantry was neatly organized. I had a pile of recycling outside the door and a bag of trash. The children’s chairs sat in the next room awaiting their new home. Paper goods sat primly in their own corner of the space. Plastic containers, out of season kitchen equipment, disinfectants and cleaners occupied another set of shelves. Serving dishes and items for entertaining took up still another, ready for the next party. The time had whisked by and I was pleased with how much more open the pantry felt. I almost didn’t want to stop there, but I knew that if I left the job feeling that way, it would be much easier for me to pick it up again the next day.
Within a few days, the pantry was reorganized and I'd enjoyed the whole process, celebrating the product of my efforts. And that’s the secret, enjoying the process as well as the product.
But what could possibly have been enjoyable about organizing the basement pantry? I mean really, it’s the basement. The concrete floor and walls are cold. There might be spiders, or worse, those thousand-legged crawly things that jump out at you when you move stuff off the basement floor. Shiver. How is that a good time?
Well, let’s take another look at what actually happened.
First, I set a timer. I limited the amount of time I would have to spend on that particular job, on that particular day. This allowed me to quiet the voice in my head that whined about what a big job this was and kept asking me if I wouldn’t rather be reading that good book I started last night.
Limiting the time also encouraged me to focus my attention. I had to narrow my field of vision. No falling down the rabbit hole of figuring out where those children’s chairs or anything else that didn't belong were going to end up. Just pick them up and move them out of the pantry so I could reach the set of shelves I was working on.
As I focused my attention, I got fully present with what I was doing, and that is the key to enjoyment. I had all my attention centered in the process. I knew I wouldn’t finish the pantry that day. I wasn’t rushing or thinking about the future product of my efforts. I was attending to what I was doing in each present moment, flowing from one into the next, and that was really enjoyable. In fact, I’m looking forward to my next reorganization project.
Also, not a spider in sight, and the crawlees kept to themselves. 😉
But before I get further into that, let’s get to the point of this blog. Yes, this blog does have a point, and that is, that I’ve realized there are two ways I’ve gotten things done over the years.
The first was to decide what I wanted to do, make a plan and then rush through it to completion. I was motivated by fear, most particularly the fear of not enough. Not enough time, not enough money, not enough energy, not enough ability to create whatever it was the way I really wanted it. The result being that I often settled for “good enough” in what I created.
The second way was to decide what I wanted to do and carefully do my homework, researching and planning. This process was akin to priming the pump. Once the pump was primed, I released my hold on the process and allowed the project to move at its own speed, unfolding one step at a time. A little bit of guidance received here, a synchronicity there and the end result often looked very different from the original plan. Yet I was delighted with the outcome everytime.
The two processes are not unlike traveling on a river in a boat. You can paddle furiously along, not understanding the current that carries you, believing you won’t move unless you work hard, and exhaust yourself with your efforts. You arrive at your destination tired and anxious. You don’t appreciate the journey or enjoy the process. Or, you can trust that you will be supported, put the paddle away and allow yourself to be carried along on the current. You arrive energized and calm. You enjoyed your journey and the process of it. Either way you get to where you are going. The experience however, is very different.
In the past, I held several office jobs in which I remember taking the first approach. I felt pressed for time, worried that I wasn’t doing a good enough job. I couldn’t stop paddling furiously, the results were predictably mediocre, though I didn’t understand why at the time. My response was to paddle harder and harder until finally I was exhausted and quit.
Recently however, given a project to do, I’ve taken the second approach and it’s worked a whole lot better for me. The results not surprisingly, have been successful.
The difference is working from fear and lack of trust or working from love and trust. So simple, and so profound in its implications.
Anyway, I’m trying to figure out what to do with five or six of those tentacular cable things. I think they’re breeding back there behind my TV. Worst are the baby ones. They haven’t grown long enough, so there are enormous plugs to be dealt with half-way to the wall outlet. Grrr…
OK, enough ranting. I’m breathing deeply and relaxing now. I’m approaching this part of the basement project one step at a time, priming the pump with research and planning, allowing space for intuitive leaps of guidance, taking the next step that feels right, then some more research and planning, a synchronicity or two, and taking the next step after that. Allowing the process to unfold.
I’m right in the middle of it and even with all my planning, I can’t see what the outcome will look like because I don’t know where the current will carry me. I’m going to trust in the process and take my time. Sooner or later I will be successful, and my TV set-up will be neat, take up minimal floor space, and blend in with the décor, because I'm going to allow that to happen. That’s how I roll nowadays. 😉
Life is full of spiritual lessons. Some feel good, some not so good. All support us to grow. This blog is about my life lessons. Perhaps you'll find yourself within these stories.