Last summer, I was sitting in Greece breathing a huge sigh of relief that our whole family including two pets safely arrived on this first leg of our trip. I had created some goals for my time there. I have so much I want to accomplish each day. And I found I follow through if I make it official and write it down. My goals for these trips are different than my regular life ones. Some are small like, walk every day or do yoga with my daughter. Others are more aspirational like; create another painting with the kids. And yet others are just fun, like try out at least 5 recipes to add to our next cookbook.
I took stock as I sat there on the end of two full days with only a tiny dent in my “to dos” – all of which I really wanted to accomplish. I had close to zero energy and motivation to do anything about it. It dawned on me that my big life change required me to take a different approach, a rebalancing. I try to make my life like the suitcases I packed to fit in our car with 5 people and two pets. I tucked t-shirts, underwear and socks in every crevice, not wanting to waste any space. I want to live my life that way too; filled to the brim with things that matter to me; time with friends and family, giving back, my work, my garden, my writing, the list goes on. But it takes me effort and focus to find ways to fit it all in again when my foundation shifts as it did with our relocation to Europe.
I was reminded of a work call some years ago about a technical issue where load balancers were discussed. Apparently, because of an unexpected event we had reached near peak capacity and some load balancers “fell over” which led to downstream effects. There was a discussion by techie types that you needed to always have excess capacity to handle an expected spike, which they had in this case. But the spike was much bigger than planned for; so they were adjusting for the future.
The discussion stayed with me over the years. I don’t want to waste “excess capacity” waiting for the occasional spike. So I load up my life to nearly its full potential. But the unfortunate result is when I have a spike, like last year’s international assignment and move, my personal load balancers fall over. It takes me some time to get everything working back as it was before and that is okay, even good.
Time is so precious; I don’t want to waste it. But I also want to leave time to breath and just be. This is a constant tug of war inside me that is most exposed during times of transition. One evening during the summer, our handyman, who honestly is less handy than you would expect but he is pretty much the only game in town, was fixing our hot water heater. Suddenly the house went dark. Apparently his screwdriver slipped and he cut off our power. Much about that explanation didn’t make sense to me either.
My daughter and I were on the coach watching TV; I was catching up on some writing and emails. When the electricity went off, we headed out to the patio where the last few rays of the setting sun over the Mediterranean highlighted the night sky. We just snuggled together with her sweet head on my lap as I stroked her beautiful curls. It was priceless and perfect; all else could wait. This was a moment to savor – and just be.