Seeking My Best Self

trying to make sense of my life – and lose some weight

FOCUS!

on September 28, 2012

Back to the FOCUS list. Sorry. I got distracted. Do you know why women over fifty don’t have babies? They would set them down and forget where they left them. My women friends warned me that when I turned fifty, my brains would fall out on the floor. I turned fifty, and I was fine. I turned fifty-one, and my brains fell out on the floor. I discovered that, whereas before I was able to juggle ten or twelve different tasks at a time, now I was limited to one or two. Usually one. I bemoaned this to my son, Gabriel, and he said, “Welcome to the world of men, Mom. We never could multitask.”

I responded, “Wow. It stinks to be you!” But over the past four years, I’ve discovered that it’s good to lose the ability to multitask. The job of ruling the universe no longer belongs to me. I am no longer responsible for EVERYTHING. I can’t be. I’m too busy trying to figure out where I set the damn baby down.

A woman once told me, “We’re not juggling balls. We’re spinning plates on long poles.” She mimed running from long pole to long pole, twirling them like mad. “And the plates fall off and drop. But it’s not a big deal, because we have a whole garage full of plates. We just grab another one and keep spinning.” It was a strangely comforting thought. I have a garage full of plates, so it’s OK to break them. Oopsy! Didn’t keep that one spinning? No worries. I’ll just go get another one!

FOCUS list. I’ll get there, I swear. This is what my FOCUS page on Ariyawen says:

It’s important to know what’s important.

To lead fulfilling lives, we need to spend the majority of our time and resources on the things that are important to us.

That seems obvious, doesn’t it? Don’t we already spend our time on what’s most important? If you’re like me, the answer is probably NO. The reason is, we often mistake the urgent for the important, and they aren’t the same at all.

The urgent is the stuff that constantly leaps to the front of the line, flaming dramatically and shouting for attention. The urgent is often high-emotion and time sensitive. It throws us into fight-or-flight mode and gets our adrenaline pumping. Anything that feels this exciting MUST be important, right?

Wrong. Usually, the urgent isn’t important at all.

Why, then, does the urgent get all the attention? I think it’s because we’ve never taken the time to identify what’s important to us. If we don’t know what truly matters, we’re like April’s pink petals, blowing wherever the strongest gust carries us.

I have many interests, passions and causes. In the past, I tried to ‘do it all’, and wound up feeling stressed. Worse yet, I wasn’t as effective as I could have been if I’d concentrated on just a few things. So, every year, I spend an hour on an exercise that helps me to focus on what’s important. It’s truly changed my life. If you’d like to do the focus exercise, you can find it here: FOCUS EXERCISE

This year, my list 1-7 was:

1.God/Spirit
2. My husband, Bryan
3. Creating Art
4. Knowledge/Learning
5. Health
6. Global Justice and Peace
7. Finances.

Here are my statements:

1. I pursue Spirit, and I help others do the same. I am a holy listener, spiritual speaker, author and artist.
2. I love and am loved by my husband. Bryan and I enjoy improving our artistic home in Portland, which is filled with positive people, good smells, sights, and sounds.
3. I write and photograph the visions of my heart.
4. I pursue academic knowledge (math, science, literature) for the joy of learning.
5. I am normal weight, healthy, pain-free and strong.
6. I write and speak out for social justice and peace.
7. My finances are secure. I have enough for my needs and passions, and to give freely to others.

Are all of these statements ‘real’ right now? No. But they are all true, because they are the truths for my life as I intend it to be.

I read this list every day, so I will remember what’s important. If I find myself feeling torn between different things, I ask: Which of these is on my focus list? and I choose accordingly. If something urgent tries to wiggle in, I point my finger and send it to the back of the line, because the focus list comes first.

I read once that our life’s purpose is where our greatest talents and passions meet the world’s greatest needs. It’s not selfishness to spend our time focusing on the things that are important to us. It’s what we’re supposed to do.

I wrote this before we moved to Portland. Before we planned to move to Portland. We knew we wanted to be there, so I made it a focus list item. The beauty of the focus list is that you don’t have to DO anything with it, other than read it every day or two. Our subconscious or spirit guides or guardian angels or brain synapses or whatever fall in line with the list. It’s like magic. When I first did this, I wanted to travel abroad. My son Gabriel and I spent two-and-a-half weeks in Scotland that year.

Magic!

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