Friday, July 30, 2010

July "I Believe" Challenge - Day 28 & 29: Time & The Value of Work

Well, what do you know, I found a couple of topics ripe for combining - getting me ALMOST caught up in this challenge.  And furthermore, the reason I'm a bit behind relates to the topics.  So here we go.

The world I live in on a daily basis skews the concept of time and defines and prioritizes work in interesting ways.  We slot activities and chores into hours between work and sleep until we find ourselves running from one thing to another with no time for reflection and no room for feeling.  Time is money.  Time flies.  The early bird gets the worm.  We spend a large part of our days and weeks working, either at a job that brings in a paycheck or running a household and raising kids or both, and when we clock out we don't disconnect.  We stay accessible to troubleshoot, solve problems, make contact, plan and schedule.  For our kids, we define their work as school and sports and music and scouts and any other educational activity we can think of.  When we heat up and start to flame out, we reclaim a few hours "downtime" and make do and for the kids that downtime often means screen time of one sort or another.

My kids have had a fun summer.  One trip to West Texas to stay with grandma, 4 camps, one trip to Six Flags, a couple of waterpark adventures, bowling, ice skating, most of the new release movies, swimming, the aquarium, ice cream Sundae School, the arcade, Wicked, the circus, and the requisite back to school shopping.  And we've had more "do nothing" time this summer than usual.  That's sad to me.  Things have changed and they cannot leave on their bicycles in the morning and come home after dark full of non-parental adventures.  It just isn't safe.  And while I view most things from my childhood through a pretty realistic lens - I do idealize the long lazy summer days spent at leisure.  And for the first summer in 3 years, I have truly enjoyed some down time.  A few weeks of no obligations to school or job.  But come the end of August, all of that will change quickly.

The work we do carries weight and import.  I'm excited about venturing out into a new season in my life doing something I love and helping people along the way.  My children enjoy school.  My husband loves to be a techno-geek.  We find value and fulfillment in our work.  But when work consumes all our time, priorities need to be checked.  Because there is value to time spent as a family.  Value to time spent simply being.  Value to time used to play and laugh and create and feel.  Time to read.  Time to write.  Time to sit and breath.

It's easy to say we value these things.  But harder to actually commit the time.  I don't want to feel like I am missing out on a learning opportunity or a chance to advance.  I don't want my kids to feel like they are missing out on participating in something they might love or be talented at.  We watch our friends encourage their children to high levels of athletic and artistic endeavors that take tremendous dedication and time - they obviously value those activities - and we feel compelled to keep up with the Jones.  And we lose track of other things we value.

September and the start of school always marks the "new year" for me.  My internal calendar revolves around the rhythm of school bells.  The calendar already attests to the ease with which I fall into a schedule that prioritizes work - for the grownups and the kids.  So - besides work - here's a list of ten things I value highly - and my new year's resolution is to put my time where my mouth is - because the only way to truly value something is to invest some time.

I value:
1.  Rest
2.  Eating healthy
3.  Time together as a family
4.  Time alone
5.  Time with my spouse
6.  Friendship
7.  Writing
8.  Reflection
9.  Nature
10.  Creativity

Most of these things are not compatible with a packed schedule and constant running.  I have a color coded calendar.  I think I will add a special color for these things I value - as a visual reminder to slot out some time.

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