In 2014 I decided not to choose a word to guide my year – I decided to give control of my year over to the Universe.
Ohhhhh, how the people who know me well laughed!
And justifiably so. I’m not really one for giving control of anything over to anyone.
But you know, I did it and for the most part the Universe delivered some pretty good stuff.
Especially when it sent me this column from Angela Mollard. Once read, I just could not stop thinking about the things Ange learned from losing her driver’s license for three months.
“Being unable to drive makes you confront your own
busyness and self-importance”
Well. That was a bit of a ‘huh’ moment for me because, up till that point in time, my motto (and the motto for this blog) had always been “embracing the busy by living intentionally”. I’d always believed it was ok to be busy so long as you were busy doing something you loved. In perfecting the art of being busy doing stuff I loved + removing the rushing from my life, I felt I’d truly nailed ‘A Life Less Frantic’.
Yet … after reading Ange’s column, I just could not stop thinking about the space she’d been forced to create in her days when she didn’t have the convenience of a car to get from one place to another in the minimum amount of time. And I was curious about how it would change my life if I started creating the same kind of space.
So I began to experiment.
I started planning my days as if I didn’t have access to a car. Instead of scheduling each day’s activities for maximum productivity and efficiency, I started to factor in extra ‘travelling time’.
This extra ‘travelling time’ saw me doing things like rocking up to a doctor’s appointment at the booked time (instead of ringing ahead to see if he was running late.) And if he was running late (always!) I would sit and enjoy the space to do some extra reading instead of seething about him ‘wasting my time’.
Instead of forcing my whole family to come into the shops with me on the way home from work, I’d drop them off at home first and then go back to the shops by myself.
When I dropped our car off for new tyres, I didn’t schedule myself to get some work done during the two hour wait. I gave myself the option to do so if I wanted. (It turned out I didn’t want to. What I actually wanted to do was have a coffee, meander around the shops and do a little bit of reading!)
The net result of all the extra ‘travelling time’?
Well I clearly remember being at the bank one day and after spending ages in line, the thing I needed to do proceeded to take FOREVER. The teller gave me an apologetic smile and said “I’m so sorry, I know you don’t time for this.”
And I thought to myself, “Actually, I do have time for this.”
And can I tell you something? That was just about the best feeling in the world. As was:
Having time to be stuck behind a slow driver on my way to the shops.
Having time to stand in a long line because a shop’s eftpos machine was broken.
Having time for an unexpected phone call from a friend.
Having time to sit and cuddle my clingy toddler for as long as she needed me to in the morning.
Having time for creative thoughts to enter my head.
Having time to write words I’ll never use for anything.
Having time to be a better person because I’m not constantly irritated that other people’s lack of organisation is messing with my own careful planning.
This has been a revelation.
I never realised how much time and energy I used to devote to being (quietly, seethingly!) angry at people!
And now I’m putting that energy to much better (read: more positive) use.
This has been such a huge shift.
My whole life I’ve used my powers of productivity to maximise the hours I have available to me (same number of hours in the day as Beyonce right?) And I’ve prided myself on this ability. But I’ve also come to realise that it’s hard to truly lean into life if you’re always operating at maximum efficiency.
This all brings me to my one word for 2015:
2015 will be all about me ensuring that I continue to create this lovely amount of whitespace in my life.
Fellow graphic designers will know that whitespace is a design element that:
- Allows the other elements on the page to breathe.
- Reduces tension between elements.
- Allows the most important things to come to the fore.
- Is essential for balance and harmony.
If this is what whitespace can do for a design … imagine what it can do for a whole life!
So come on 2015 – let’s do this!