Possibilities Playground Newsletter

Finding the Rhythm in Your Life

I don’t know about you, but there are times when I get really frustrated with the self-growth industry. Sometimes it feels like no matter what I’m doing, I’m not doing it good enough; or I’ve forgotten about this other nugget of wisdom; or I’ve totally overcompensated and landed on the other side of the spectrum.

Today I was listening to a video blog by Kute Blackson that talked about the importance of slowing down. It was good and something I’ve harped on now and again myself. As I’ve mentioned before, my license plate and personal email address have the words “just be” in them, and most of this year has very much been “down time” for me. So I totally get and appreciate the wisdom in Kute’s message.

But then I realized that just last night I was creating an “activity tracker” for myself so I could keep a spotlight on what I’m getting done specific to my intentions to help maintain traction. Even though I created it to be flexible and avoid losing myself in the busy-ness all over again, for a few minutes I questioned whether or not I was going about all this the right way. Am I forcing that which is not ready yet – or – getting too comfortable in my island lifestyle and not getting back on track? I was left feeling dazed and confused. (One of the curses of being a Libra is I’m forever looking at the other side of things LOL.)

After sitting with the question as an observer and not a judge, I was left wondering: is it possible to have room in our lives for both fast-paced productivity AND time to just be? Can we have our cake and eat it too?

Being a fan of cake, especially the eating part, I’m sure you can imagine what my answer is, right? Of course we can have it all! That’s the brilliance of this magical thing called life! The sticky part (and not just because cake is involved) is of course – how??? More on that in a moment, first I want to make sure we’re clear on what I mean by “fast-paced productivity” and “just be.”

We take such pride in speed. From cooking with microwave ovens to flying thousands of miles in mere hours to multitasking our butts off; we are a society who gets a lot of things done quickly and we like it like that. Personally, I think we’re lured into believing that by operating in a fast-paced productive manner, we’ll end up having more time to enjoy the good life on the weekends, vacations, or when we retire. Unfortunately, it becomes a way of being and the lines between being productive in the “I’m in the zone” sort of way blurs with just being busy for the sake of, well, you know the rest.

Make no mistake: I have lived most of my adult life in the latter, so I’m well versed in it. And, while I may not operate in that fashion non-stop as I once did, I absolutely wear that crown proudly from time to time and occasionally slip back into the habit of beating myself up when I’m not checking things off my daily to-do list. Happily, in the last few years I’ve found fast-paced productivity is so much better when instead it comes from an inspired place within and is aligned with a goal-oriented intention. You know, the times when you’re so enthralled with what you’re doing you totally lose track of time? Yeah, that’s more enjoyable than losing a day to a bunch of minutia.

With that in mind, when I am busy (regardless of whether it’s the in-the-zone or chaotic-busy type) and hear the reminder that I’m a human being and not a human doing, I can get thrown off balance. Why? Well, while that phrase is a cute and concise reminder to not get caught up in the destination and lose sight of the journey, it’s not the whole story. After all, isn’t “doing” part of living? Of course there’s merit in stopping to smell the roses, but hellllllooooo?! Smell is a verb, a verb is an action and, correct me if I’m wrong, but action requires doing. UG. (She says while sighing deeply and laughing at the same time.)

Now back to the big question, How can we have our cake and eat it too?” Meaning, how can we enjoy both the fast-paced productive aspect of life and the restorative need to just be?

Some would say the solution is in that elusive thing referred to as “balance.” That’s the ticket; clearly I’m supposed to spend half my time moving in warp speed like Captain Kirk and the other half meditating like a monk. Ha, ha – doesn’t seem likely. Do you know why? There’s this thing called momentum and while traditionally momentum refers to the mass and velocity of an object, I feel like it applies to the tasks we’re working on and the speed at which we’re able to complete them effectively. So, while I could be in the zone knocking things out of the park and then choose to go sit outside and watch the clouds, it feels awkward (not to mention a waste of good in-the-zone mojo).

But if balance isn’t the right word to describe how to solve having my proverbial cake and eating it too, then what is? I have an idea (which is why I’m writing this book of a newsletter) and can’t believe I didn’t think of it sooner, considering I’ve been swinging from one side of this pendulum to the other for years now!

The solution can be summed up in one word: rhythm.

Generally defined as a “movement marked by the regulated succession of strong and weak elements, or of opposite or different conditions,” momentum is essentially a repetitive pattern of sorts. I liken it to music; the beats in a particular rhythm can be stronger, longer, shorter, or softer than others. And it doesn’t have to be identical over and over and over; lots of different rhythms are found in a single piece of music.

I suggest we will find peace with both fast-paced productivity and time to just be when we find a comfortable rhythm in our lives. Specifically, when we allow:

  • our levels of intensity to beat stronger at times, softer at others
  • our time spent working to be longer at times, shorter at others
  • our minds the freedom to change rhythm when it feels right

Rather than fight ourselves trying to meet someone else’s expectations, what if instead we ebbed and flowed from fast-paced productive tasks to those that gave us the space to just be still? Ahhhhh, the space between the musical notes – have you ever thought about those? Once again, I can easily relate this to music since it’s not just the sounds that make it beautiful to us, but the space between the notes as well. They are both an integral and equally critical component of the overall masterpiece.

Let me put this into perspective with an example:

Kelly works for a company and typically puts in 50-60 hours a week. Happily, the holiday season has arrived and she finds that of the four weeks vacation she has each year, she still has a little over two. Since it’s a bit slower at work she elects to take her remaining time off and pats herself on the back for taking some “me-time.” As her vacation nears, she finds herself filling her calendar with all kinds of fun things like putting up decorations, cooking for a charity, doing the bulk of the Christmas shopping (after all, she is the one taking time off from work right?), and generally playing Martha Stewart hostess extraordinaire until New Year’s Day.

Does it sound like the momentum shifted from go-go-go to being aware of each moment along the way? Not initially. What if I added that Kelly also slept in late, enjoyed the luxury of adding yoga classes in three times a week, watched movies and laughed with her kids, and finally read the book that’s been sitting by her bed for months? Would that make a difference? Perhaps. In the end, it’s all relative and only Kelly will know for herself how well she’s following the natural rhythm of go and slow.

I think the important part to remember is that we don’t have to turn it ALL on and ALL off in order to find the sweet promise of a balanced and peaceful existence. We can have our cake and eat it too. We just have to find our own personal rhythm – pay attention to it, listen to it, and trust it. That includes taking note of what our bodies and emotions are telling us: they always help us know what we need. But that’s another topic for another day.

For now, here’s to you finding your own unique rhythm and owning it like Aretha Franklin’s RESPECT!

image gif sara sig clear


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Finding the Rhythm in Your Life by Sara Russell of Feel the Possibilities
Visit Sara at: www.feelthepossibilities.com
Send email to sara@feelthepossibilities.com