Recently my friends came over for our monthly brunch. As is customary for the season, we carved pumpkins. We weren’t simply carving snaggletooth faces. We carved images of ghosts, cats, and bats into our giant gourds, which is a lot of work. I realized we weren’t just carving pumpkins; we were carving out time for what matters to us. Things that matter are worth the effort. After some self-reflection, I was reminded of a few things that are important enough to me to carve out time.
Whether listening to a podcast or attending a class, learning is a real passion of mine. Therefore, not only do I invest time and energy into my own learning, I share that passion with others. I teach college classes, fitness classes, corporate workshops, and I teach life skills for women and at-risk youth. It matters to me because I see how it makes a difference in my life and the lives of others. I know that education -- whether formal or not -- can change perspectives, change behavior, and catapult a person into an entirely new direction. I am now carving out time to read two books each month. One book I’m reading for entertainment. The other text focuses on self-development.
Most of my family is more than 500 miles from me. Fostering relationships with others is essential for me. It ensures that I have a community I can count on. Whether its attending book club meetings, riding with my cycling team, or hosting dinner parties, I'm committed to staying connected. My latest commitment is to pay attention to others’ communication preferences. Typically, I only have phone conversations with my mother, brother and significant other. Phone calls are not my preferred means of communications. But I have friends who prefer talking live, so I am committed to calling them. I have relatives who prefer texting, so I'll text. I find that when I meet people where they are, our relationships flourish.
When I was a teenager, my summers didn't consist of working a summer job. My summers consisted of volunteer service. I was a Volunteer In Public Schools. VIPS -- as we were called -- read to younger kids and aided teachers in the classroom. I even worked in a hospital where I rocked babies and visited with patients. These days I volunteer my time to support cancer research and support domestic violence survivors. It makes me feel like I'm living up to my full potential when I can help others do the same. This season I will carve out time to deliver food and blankets to the
Most people who know me, know that I'm a bit of a health enthusiast. Ever since my days as a dancer in high school, I've been conscious about my nutrition and exercise. My mother still fondly recalls the days when I would snack on rice cakes and granola in between dance performances and drama rehearsals. If health really matters to a person, it will show up in how much that person invests in it. My newest commitment is to carve out time for at least 4 hours of activity each week; and take a friend along with me.
Finding what matters
What really matters isn’t the same for everyone. Therefore, the process of discovering what matters starts with knowing oneself. Some people say that what matters to you is evident in your bank account. They say that what you spend the most money on is what matters to you most. If you spend a lot of money clothes shopping, maybe your wardrobe is very important. If you spend a significant portion of your income on vacations, it's possible travel is an important thing to you. I've said before that I believe time is a more valuable resource than money, because you can't make more of it. So, when I'm reflecting on my priorities, I look at how I spend my time. If you ever feel like you could be doing more to enrich your own life, the lives of others, or perhaps have a bigger impact outside your own household, examine how you spend your time and money. The answers likely lie there.