Leaving The Space Open: I’m Taking A Break

By Sunday, January 11, 2015 10 0

Open space makes us richer in what matters.

Last week I wrote about how we can make 2015 better than 2014 by setting clear intentions.

That’s because intentions can be supple like evergreen branches, while New Year’s resolutions tend to be brittle, like kindling.

My intention for 2015 was/is to be of service to two family members with health issues, including my sweet, frail 91 year old Dad.

I’ve realized  that following through on that intention means I’m letting go of my blogging for the time being.

I’m a little sad, because I love writing about how to be rich in what matters. But my deeper feeling is relief. I’m opening up space so I can be more available to people I love.

And I feel gratitude that I have the first-world problem of too many good choices, too many meaningful things to do with my time.

Speaking of time, with 168 hours in a week, why don’t I have time for all the above? In theory (the theory in the second half of my last post) we each have a full five waking hours/day we can use for our higher intentions, even if we work full-time and need another whole 40 hours/week for eating, chores, self-care, etc.

But here’s what I’ve woken up to: not all hours are created equal. For me, morning hours are golden. They’re when I’m sharpest, so they’re when I write blog posts, and tackle the toughest parts of my paid work (coordinating rural transit and intermodalism for the state of Oregon). And, the new part: helping my family navigate the health-care system. All those take my keenest concentration, so they are morning tasks. I’m still productive with normal work in the afternoons, but by 6 p.m., my brain is fried. I need evening hours to rest and rejuvenate. I’m not able to plug the family service or the writing or the paid work into my evenings, because not all hours are created equal. So something needs to go.

I checked my thinking (as I often do) with my friend Vicki Lind, who at 70 is a wise, happy, juicy crone. She is also Portland’s top-rated career counselor.

“Leaving the space open [for people we love] is what God cares about,” Vicki said. She also said,  “When our schedules and brains are maxed out, any new little thing, like a sore tooth or traffic ticket or plumbing problem, can tip us over into tears or aggression.”

I see the truth of that. I’ve tipped myself over at times in the past, thinking that doing everything, all at the same time, would make me the richest in what matters.

My understanding is different now. Now, I believe that choosing some things over others makes us the richest in what matters. Those choices, those riches, can be driven by our deepest intentions. My friend and coach Maren Souders of Dream Into Change has been encouraging me since 2008 to live from my deepest intentions. If everyone could have someone like Maren in their lives, the whole world would be richer in what matters.

Finally, let me be clear: I’m in no way a martyr. My family members with health issues whom I’ll be helping are cool, lovable people. They appreciate me and make me laugh. As Dana (an ICU nurse) points out to me, I’m lucky in this regard :).

I will be checking back in here at Diamond-Cut Life within the spring. I hope that you and your deepest intentions will be creating a 2015 that’s rich in what matters. If you’d like ideas on how to do that, here’s a list of my top twenty posts (culled from the 635 I’ve published since 2007). If you enjoy fiction, here is my novel Revelle (rhymes with gazelle). It’s about a woman with lots of problems and almost no money but who still manages to be rich in what matters: community, connection to nature and Spirit, work she loves, health and vitality. And loving relationships, which sometimes trump the rest.

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  • Lisa
    January 15, 2015

    Alison, good for you for living with such purpose and integrity. I admire you so much. I’ll really miss you, but your family needs you more at this point. Be well! Lisa

    • Alison
      January 16, 2015

      Thanks, Lisa. I’ve loved the way that whenever we see each other, you’ve raved about Diamond-Cut Life in your quietly passionate way. Your support means a lot to me. I’ll be back!

  • JohnnyK
    January 14, 2015

    Hmmm Maybe it’s your diet. Not so much what you eat but how you eat and when you eat. To gain energy where there is none you must have fuel. For us the fuel is food. Na now I am not talking eating 3 square meals a day because for most of us that is not enough and for others that is too much. I am talking about figuring out what works best for you. Most people don’t need a big meal at 8AM to start the day maybe a little fruit or something simple. But many of us need their must substantial meal at around 2 or 4 PM to see them through the rest of the day. I find that if I eat a good sized meal in the afternoon then I have energy to burn and I am still going after 6PM. However all through out the day I snack a lot. At night a simple small meal should be good to hold me till the next day because I am sleeping with not much activity. So I guess what I am saying is that with the proper energy you may be able to do everything you need to do. Remember God will not give you more than you can handle. Maybe you just need to pray about it. Anyway I have enjoyed your blog and I don’t want to see it go but in the end your Family is what is important. God’s speed and may the Lord bless you in everything you do.

    • Alison
      January 15, 2015

      Johnny, I agree that eating well is key to keeping our energy up. I’m similar to you in that I eat/snack steadily during the day. I’m happy that you enjoy my blog. I see this as a break, not as an ending. I love that you are wishing me Godspeed — that is not very commonly done any more! I’ll take that with me as I travel to Southern California on Saturday to spend a week with my family. Blessings to you too, Johnny.

  • Jen
    January 12, 2015

    Sounds like you are listening to your deepest wisdom. Blessings on this time!

    • Alison
      January 13, 2015

      Thanks, Jen. See you in church.

  • Kathy M
    January 12, 2015

    You will be missed. I faithfully read and enjoy your posts (via email). I wish you the best in all that is ahead.
    Thank you, you have been an inspiration.

    • Alison
      January 13, 2015

      Thank you so much, Kathy. My whole body smiles when I hear that my writing inspires you.

  • Dana
    January 11, 2015

    It’s great to hear you acknowledge that all hours are not equal. Compared to you, I’m a total slacker! …and, I suspect, will continue to be. Ahh, but it’s good to hear you’ll be tapping down a bit on your schedule. Just being emotionally/mentally available to help out/check in/listen to your loved ones is what’s really important.

    • Alison
      January 13, 2015

      Dana, I can’t imagine the words “slacker” and “ICU nurse” co-existing in the same sentence. At any rate, you encapsulated my thoughts and feelings in this sentence you wrote: “Just being emotionally/mentally available to help out/check in/listen to your loved ones is what’s really important.”

      Exactly. It’s not as if my family members are handing me to-do lists. They’re not demanding of me at all. It’s more that I can help elevate their quality of life in a hundred ways, large and small . . . but I can only discover those ways if I’m steadily available to them. Now, I’ll be more steadily available to them. Thanks for being so supportive over the years, Dana. I treasure your friendship.