I'm pretty sure I could write a year's worth of blog posts about time. When I think about time in the most straightforward way, it's very simple. There are a finite number of seconds, minutes, hours in a day, days in a week, weeks in a year. We have agreed on that as a humans. We've counted time the same way for a very long time. It gives us a way to mark night and day, how many years we've been on the planet, when the weekend is here, and when enough of the day has passed that opening a beer is socially appropriate.
For me, practically nothing else about time is easy. It's difficult to even know where to start in trying to talk about it. A few of my swirling awarenesses (is that a word?) about it are these...
My very good friend Kara said once to me...
that there are people who are about the process and people who are about the product. While there are many stops on that continuum, when she said it, it really hit me. I'd never thought of it like that exactly. I'm way on the "about the product" end.
I love the completed thing. The success of the process. Or, the lessons learned if not so successful. Because a completed things means that then I get to move to the next thing. Or do that thing again, incorporating those lessons learned. And while I do the next thing, I'm likely to be thinking about the design of the next thing. And often in the meantime, I've seen something...a piece of wood or fabric, or a shape or new technique that could be used for the most interesting ever earrings...so that goes on the list. The true life confession that accompanies this however is that often the joy of the process gets lost in the quest for the product. The being-present-in-the-moment hasn't even been in the room. I have come to realize that I'm giving those moments away.
So I think about this often. It starts with what I know about myself. I will always love the product; the accomplishment. But I want to love the process as much. I want to see myself finding joy in the all the moments. Because it is not what comes naturally, it is something that takes thought, strategies, practice. I think this balance will be a life long challenge, but worthy. So far, I have identified a few strategies to help in this journey.
I can get anxious, and therefore distracted, sometimes if I feel like production is lagging. Projects that are tedious or are simply going to take a long time to complete can find me feeling not productive. I've learned over time that breaking up the big projects with other easier-to-accomplish small projects addresses that anxiety. Two or three hours working on something like a new dining room table top, which gets me about 10% further down that road, followed by 30 or 45 minutes of sewing, which completes one entire side of a floor pillow, gives me that "yes!" feeling. I've had to work on my patience for process itself. This is not particularly fun, but is particularly good for me. I've designed big projects, that have little parts, so I have to work slowly and find joy and success in process.
This was a big project....a winter project. Dining room table. Involved building the table top, cutting hundreds of wood tiles from 2x4s, sanding individually, setting, grouting with sawdust grout, sanding more, staining, varnishing.
Another thing I've learned about myself is that sometimes I have to be deliberately social. (Does this sound crazy?) My full time job can be so consuming that I can spend most weekends alone, in my house/studio/woman cave, being alternately consumed in making. It's great as long as it's great, but it can also lead to that swirling drive to produce. (Thought bubble: "I have this whole day to make, create, produce! Go girl, go!") When I get to that point, or if I'm especially self aware that day, before I get to that point, I remind myself to get out of the house. Do it now. Walk. Work out. Phone a friend. Make plans for the evening. Get out of my own head!
The best, if not most difficult, practice that improves life in almost every way is meditation. But it's hard. I know almost no one who meditates who thinks it's easy...at least I'm not alone. The goal is to connect my sitting bones (this will sound like a funny phrase unless you do yoga) to my meditation pillow or some other quiet place once a day for at least a few minutes. That's sounds so easy! And yet, I find myself avoiding even looking at that pillow in the mornings, as if it's going to suddenly say, "so really, avoiding me again?" The hard part of course, is achieving a quiet mind. And not judging myself over and over and over as I practice letting those intruding thoughts go as they appear...practice, practice, practice. However, meditation is without a doubt the best way for me to find the moment, be in the moment, love the moment and honor the moment. When I can do that, time is my best friend, my soul mate.
So where does my journey with time go? Will I find the place that offers me balance between the way I embrace process and product? Will I achieve that easy partnership with time that results in joy in every moment? I don't know...it's a process...
Hi, I'm Donna. Long time artisan/creative. Full time work in nonprofit world. Mother of two adult sons. Currently, also mother of two cats.
The patience project. Because patience is a virtue. And a creative challenge.
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Tile and wood floor...this year's winter project...kitchen renovation