Let's Make The Work

September 11, 2014

I woke up yesterday in Minneapolis to a sky full of clouds, and when Ben and I walked around our neighborhood at lunchtime I actually needed a sweater. Fall is creeping in. It might be my favorite season, but in Minnesota it's also foreshadowing of a (longa*s, cold) Winter, and thinking about that made me panic a little. I searched for my vitamin D bottle and started thinking through a list of hobbies to jump into when the days get shorter-- maybe I should get more into cooking? Last year Small Dances made the Winter fly by, and when it was over it was (nearly) Spring. And Spring was accelerated by half a dozen transitions. I realize that it can't be a longterm solution to continually distract oneself with moves and major life changes (or at least not one I'm interested in).

When I think about what consistently propels me through grey days and all, I think about The Work, which is maybe an incorrect term, because I'm not necessarily referring to paid jobs. I'm referring to the stuff of life that you're building, love and feel invested in. It's the stuff that might make you feel small (in the best way) or challenged or infinite (yes, the best work is full of contradictions). Something you chew on and put your precious time into. Something you water. It probably takes numerous forms, and might only occupy a little of your day (or week), but it's yours and you discover new parts of yourself in it-- that's the important part. It's an ongoing investigation: it teaches you something. 

The acupuncturist I sometimes see recently asked me when I feel the most like myself-- the most grounded version of me-- and I told her I'd have to get back to her on that one, because at the time I mostly just felt the stamp of my day planner on my brain: fit it in, fit it in. But as I've thought more about her question, I realized that it's obvious: it's when I'm doing The Work. It's when I'm in the studio directing, or when I'm putting together the puzzle of a project or figuring out what to write. (It's also when I'm traveling, but that gets financially tricky....) 

It's easy to think that to make space for The Work, you need a big block of time, or preferably an entire free day (or to be master of your own entire schedule), but that's simply not true. If we wait for that to start, we'll be waiting forever. Every big thing can be broken into teeny tiny chunks, and you might be amazed how 15 minutes propels you through the rest of your day. I started Small Dances with a Daily 20, which worked well for that particular project (and sure, I skipped days, but it kept me going). Ideally I try to find something that I can do in my home, without outside funding or collaborators, so I'm not dependent on those things.

And if you're not sure what The Work is, or it feels like there are too many options, stay tuned-- it's a topic for fall I plan on writing about a lot: connecting to the work you want to make. As I transition into September, finishing up a few Open Field items of business through the end of the month, while playing catch-up with my own clients and business things, I needed a reminder about scheduling priorities: let's make The Work.

[photos from recent travels]


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