I’ve been watching my calendar fill up with holiday plans, wondering when I’ll have time to make gifts, to listen to music, to sit by the fire and read—much less write—in the midst of all the holiday festivities. All the plans are traditions we enjoy and won’t give up: listening to the beautiful voices of the women’s Pro-Musica choir fill the lovely chapel at Bastyr, celebrating Solstice with dear friends.
But I also need to finish the quarter, turn in grades, get gifts in the mail to family on the other side of the country. So John and I will sit down and do what a friend calls “Calendar Control”—reserve time and space for us to be home together, whether reading, making gifts or cleaning house.
This isn’t a new idea, but it’s helpful to be reminded that we need to make time and space for what matters, for our calendars do fill up. A book that can help you do this is Sarah Susanka’s The Not So Big Life: Making Room for What Really Matters. Yes, you likely recognize architect Susanka’s name from her bestselling series The Not So Big House, in which she encouraged us to look at the expanding size of our homes—in the era of the McMansion— and see how we might make better use of our spaces. Now she’s applying this philosophy to our busy lives, showing us how we might better inhabit them.
In her Introduction Susanka describes her own moment of realization, and how that insight spurred her to begin writing books:
“…alas, the life I had fallen into, although it fulfilled one or two of my early aspirations, had no room for anything else. It wasn’t so much full of meaning and the pursuit of my heart’s desires as it was overstuffed—so jam-packed with obligations, in fact, that I felt almost suffocated. Without some intentional shifting of priorities on my part, I realized that this is how things would continue to the end of my days….But some instinct warned me that I was missing the most important part of the journey—the part that requires alertness, awareness and full engagement…. Although I continued to work as an architect, I also started watching myself and the way I engaged my life, observing the underpinnings of its design…I began to simplify my life and focus on those things that were truly meaningful to me.”
This month, as we head into a frenetic holiday season, see if you can create space in your days for what really matters to you. It might be joining a community choir to sing the “Messiah”; it might be making jam to give as gifts. Whatever it is, try observing your life as Susanka did, and see where you might trim back a few activities so you have time for what matters. We hope you’ll share what you did with us here, so we can all be supported and inspired by each other.
May we all create time & space for what matters most in the busy holidays ahead,