As my memory rests but never forgets what I lost, wake me up when September ends.
The past month has been energetic, to say the least. Having traversed the pretty tense period of the past few months, filled with practically zero rest (or even a short pause for that matter), my energy levels yearned for a slow down. Although I didn’t want to admit it, looking back I know for sure that I got caught up in the rat race. The daily wheel consumed me: to do; to do; and then to do some more.
Crossing things off a list became the epitome of my mood stabilization: my daily serotonin boost.
- Handling the (many and conflicting!) demands of leading in a new work environment? Check.
- Acquainting myself with new people as the natural introvert that I am (i.e. living with the inner terror of exposure, of attracting attention as the new person in town)? Check.
- Supporting J as he frantically goes through the first year at daycare running at a speed of (at least) two major health-related hiccups per month (the flu, the very-COVID-looking bronchitis, the ultra painful otitis…all that jazz)? Check.
- Getting as much as possible around the house and seeking to outsource the remaining of the household chores? Check.
- Renewing my professional wardrobe as a size Medium with nothing left to wear? Check.
- Submitting essays and reports for the last year of my Master’s Degree. Check.
Only checkpoint I came to continuously neglect, was checking-in with myself. To take a moment and just be. How am I feeling amidst all this? Really.
Last week marked an important milestone for me: I went out into this brave new world and gave my first private seminar as both the learning experience designer and key learning experience facilitator. My very own adult learning content, procured, composed, researched, targeted and delivered, powered by the presence of my good friend (and partner in such crimes) Yiannis, saw the light of day during a lively 8h class. I gave it all I had. I gave it my all. It went superbly well. We both got great feedback from the participants, and by the time the clock stoke 6pm, I found myself rushing my ass to get home to “Celebrate Fall”: an all-hands family bonding ritual I had planned for that same afternoon, by decorating a circular wooden frame with tiny figures in the colors of the season.
As I sat there, some minutes to seven and only a couple of hours away from Jason’s nighttime routine, wearing my “seminar clothes” less the shoes, it hit me. I hadn’t sat down like that in ages. Yes, there were dishes in the sink. Yes, there were toys scattered all over the house. Yes, I had an unpolished Thesis and an essay I hadn’t even touched to submit. Did I really have this time to spare on “Celebrating Fall”? The list could go on. It was practically never ending. The looming stress was beginning to consume me. I was sitting when everything urged me to move. And then I saw it.
Amidst the colorful wooden decorations, all carefully handpicked in all their color-coded bliss and glory, a discord. An outsider. A Frog! A tiny bright green wooden toad. Smiling right back at me. I thought I had planned for “Fall” to be all about orange. And yellow. With a touch of brown! How did that frog get its way into my ritual?
For those who know me, the Frog is not just a watery amphibian. I use it a lot in metaphors and in my productivity talks. And while Brian Tracy urges us to “Eat It” as a means to stop procrastinating and get more done in less time, I narrate a completely different story: one of impactful and prioritized productivity.
In my story, nobody (and I mean nobody!) gets eaten. That Frog does exist, though. Lost in the woods, counting on me for help to get back into the lake. But where I come from there’s more than one frogs out there. And, in my pareto-inspired continuous productivity, I can afford to only save one each day: the Frog with the most impact. So I start each day prioritizing, grooming and counting my Frogs to see which one gets saved. And it works wonders for both me and the teams I lead.
But that one Frog attending my all-chilled-out “Fall Celebration”, with no intention of moving, just sitting there and smiling amidst the orange and the yellow leaves of the wooden forest, became an instant reminder of procrastination. Of my inner struggle between doing and being. Of neither giving nor receiving. Of standing still.
I let the dishes wait for later. I kept the jeans on. I didn’t wash my hair that day. I spent my last thirty minutes before bedtime Celebrating Fall with my beloved ones and our unexpected toad guest, answering all sorts of questions about fall, foxes, mushrooms and leaves. We played a lot with the characters and made up stories of animal lives in the woods. As for the Frog? It stayed there.
There come times where we get so consumed and packed with responsibility and agendas, that our most precious ability stems from picking the right time to go rogue. Be irresponsible. To consciously procrastinate. To choosing yourself over your actions. To being, rather than to doing. How powerful could that pause become? Will we let it show its power?
Jason now gets to play with that wooden ritual circle placed in his room every day. For him, it’s yet another of those wooden toys he has come to love. For me, it’s a reminder that, even during Fall, when everything seems to be falling into place, pumped by the need to do something, there’s room for the Green smiley Frog to just sit there. Still amidst everything. To be.
Where was the last time you got to be that Procrastinating Frog in the Fall?