I have so much to say that I am not sure it can be relayed in one blog post, but here it goes. Seriously people, chill out. If there is one thing I have learned over the last five years, it is that life is brief. We never know when our last breath is going to be, or what is going to happen tomorrow. If we spend the whole thing fretting about the next thing on our task list, we miss the important stuff. Most things are small, a few are big and important.
What instigated this title and post this morning were a couple of things. Last week I turned 56 years old. Days seem to move incredibly fast these days, so I am being mindful of making the most of each day. I still set an alarm for 6:30am even though technically, I don’t need to get up that early. I find it is a good time to be in the quiet, start my coffee, and do some reading. Most mornings, I have a pretty similar schedule. I get up, go to the bathroom, start the coffee, feed the cat, take my vitamins and head back to bed drink the coffee while I catch up on “Words with Friends”, emails and Facebook.
This morning, the first thing I saw in my Facebook feed, was a dear friend talking about the loss of one of her children’s teachers. It was a sudden loss, made more difficult by the fact that the COVID-19 pandemic had kept kids out of school and funerals need to be kept small. The children will not be able to properly mourn this loss, and that is sad. This teacher is lost to the earthside world and won’t be here for her own children, which is so sad. She thought she had more time here, but her to-do list will go undone today.
The next thing I saw was a message from a student who I had cancelled an appointment with for tutoring yesterday. She had been notified several hours prior to the appointment that I was dealing with a situation, and she could reschedule. The email this morning was a panicked one, stating that I had no appointments available until next week, and she HAD TO HAVE ONE TODAY to finish her research study.
As I dissected this email in my head to formulate an appropriate response, several things came to mind. First, I had a flooded basement and house yesterday, combined with spotty satellite internet due to the storms. I didn’t cancel the appointment with her to get my nails done, but for a situation that I would have preferred not to happen. Second, she has been working on her dissertation for two years. I don’t believe a one-week delay on help coding her data is going to cause any huge issues in her life. I had to step back and remind myself that we all view urgency in a different way, and it is not my place to judge hers. Third, she had not sent the email directly to me, but to my supervisor. That did not make me terribly interested in being responsive to opening an additional appointment on an already over-extended schedule to accommodate her.
I took a few deep breaths, and formulated an email including the events that had happened yesterday, my apologies for cancelling, and two options if she would like to meet yet this week. I hit send and will await her response.
These two events reminded me of the week we lost Ben. No one in my business life gave a crap whether we had a death in the family. Since I had not died, all tasks and schedules should be met. I remember my phone ringing in the car, as we left the funeral home. It was a client calling to complain about something I had left in the hands of one of my employees. I recall my response being along the lines of “we are at our grandson’s funeral. You will need to contact *insert employee name here*. I am unable to help you right now” and I hung up. At that moment, I seriously could not comprehend the world going on, and people actually being worried about tiny inconsequential things.
That moment defined how I moved forward. I got rid of that client, along with several others. I closed up one business, and let my employees go. Part of that process was grief, but another part was realizing that life is far to short to spend it with people you don’t want to spend it with, doing things you don’t want to do. I still worked a lot, but I started to weed out the things that didn’t resonate with me, and replace them with things that did. Money became less of a defining factor in what things I chose to keep in my life. I got rid of things, reformulated plans and spent some time in deep contemplation about how I wanted to spend my days.
Fast forward to 2020. This year has been a pile of chaos in every sense of the word. I am now teaching and writing almost exclusively, which I thoroughly enjoy. I just finished writing six courses for a new finance program, along with teaching accounting and statistics classes in a completely online format, rather than going on campus. I learned so much about how to connect with my students in a meaningful way, even when I couldn’t spend physical time with them in a classroom.
I also learned a lot about myself. I like to work alone. Managing others is not something I enjoy. I thrive on order and structure in my time, but with big chunks of “self-care” time built in. I enjoy being home, and the challenge of living simply. I love spending time in nature, not driving my car and learning how to navigate life without many of the conveniences we took for granted.
I am spending my summer at my cabin, creating an online community platform for solopreneurs, consultants and gig workers that I hope to launch this fall. The premise of this community is helping them to slow down. To simplify the financial part, work within their passion and purpose, all while meeting their money needs through proper pricing and mindful money management. I have had this dream in my head for years, and this summer, I have the time to make it happen.
I am running A LOT, practicing yoga A LOT, and trying to find time each day for at least a few minutes of a mindfulness practice. I have a garden, my cat Cecily and the hummingbirds that come to my porch every morning to keep me company. I meet with friends virtually or meet up for a run.
Finally, at the age of 56, I feel like I am creating the life I always dreamed of. It isn’t about the house you live in, the car you drive, or how much money you have in the bank. It is about the relationships you build and the lives you touch along the way…..so please…take a minute today and notice the world outside. Connect with a friend, read a book, take a walk, dig in the dirt or just sit for a minute. Let the to-do list rest.