Happy November everyone! Now begins the season of wearing soft sweaters by the fireplace while watching the leaves fall out your window. It’s also the season of non-stop temptation, stress and the overwhelming desire to binge watch Gilmore Girls on Netflix almost daily (ok, that last one may just be me). I’ve observed this amazing phenomenon for many years now: as soon as November 1st rolls around, the holiday decorations come out and the planning begins. In a season that is meant to welcome in our natural desire to turn inward and slow down, most of us seem to do the exact opposite and run around like crazed elves. There’s always more gifts to buy, more to schedules to organize plan, more work to finish before taking time off, more parties to plan and more tasty temptations than you ever thought possible. How can we possibly find the time to relax and enjoy the holiday season when there’s all this work to do?!
I wish I had a concrete answer for you, but it’s different for everybody. I have learned that in order to keep my head during all this madness I must repeat to myself my own personal one-word mantra: Patience. I am a person who likes to get things done. I don’t like to wait around for everyone else to catch up, I want results and then I want to move on to phase two! Add in the stresses of the holiday season (I’m cold! Everyone needs something from me! I can’t stop eating Peppermint Patties!) and you’ve got a recipe for full-breakdown mode. I relocated to Asheville, NC this past summer and one of the reasons behind the move was to live somewhere that moved at a slower pace. While I love the fact that I’m surrounded by nature, people aren’t rushing to get anywhere and most people are very friendly and warm, there are certain aspects of this slower pace that I’m not a huge fan of. Job hunting and getting email responses back from people are two big ones. In New York, if I applied for a teaching job, I was usually working there no more than two days later. Here, while I’ve been hired a few places, some have yet to get going, and the start dates keep getting pushed further and further back. I have set up meetings with people for weeks ahead, counting down the days until they come, only then to schedule a follow-up two weeks later! I want this to go faster! As they sing in the film Madagascar, “I like to MOVE IT, MOVE IT!”.
Being so used to having a routine and a schedule, it has been challenging to have so much free time. I like working and having someplace to go every day. While I am thoroughly enjoying the teaching I have been doing for the last couple of months, I am hungry for more. There are plenty of projects “in the works” and potential opportunities that I’m excited about…but why not NOW?
All good things come to those who wait.
Even if it drives them crazy.
As hard as it is to be patient, I am realizing that that is exactly what I need. This lesson in patience is crucial for my personal growth, and if I hadn’t moved here and been forced to confront it, I don’t think it’s something I would have been able to learn on my own. I had a conversation with my mom recently, who has been dealing with her own struggles of “what if” and wishing she had more control. She said that she’s been in situations throughout her life that at the time seemed impossible to overcome, yet one way or another, things have always worked out. Because of that, because she has experienced it so often over her lifetime, she continues to remind herself, “It will all work out”. Life gives us plenty of opportunities to lose faith in ourselves and what we’re capable of. It’s in these moments that we must repeat that mantra, and surrender to what life has in store for us. It’s not easy. It sucks. It makes me cranky and tends to make others avoid me like the plague. But it’s important and worthwhile and makes this whole journey a little more interesting.
Want to find your mantra? Write down a list of everything that is currently frustrating you or keeping you from accomplishing what you want. Then think back about other instances when this frustration showed itself and see if you can find a common thread between them. From there, narrow it down to one word or short phrase that encompasses what you think will be the best antidote for that frustration. Maybe it’s Trust. Or Breathe. Or “More Tequila!” (just kidding). Try repeating it to yourself whenever these frustrations arise and notice if you begin to sense some relief. You might even weave this mantra into other tasks or practices within your life. Experiment and see what comes, you can always change your mantra, or even have multiple ones. You are in charge of your life, so take the reins and get going!
But not too fast. Patience.