Always Be Learning

Since I’m not going to a job every day there are so many more hours to spend on learning and exploring. 

While I’ve had my share of binge watching, most of my time is now focused on new projects and getting organized. (Okay, I admit it, I recently started Game of Thrones now that the series is over and am admittedly having a hard time not throwing myself on the couch for more.)

There are some days I feel completely fulfilled and happy about how I’ve spent my time – traveling with mom, a docent tour of a beautiful building, a lovely hike or ballet class – and there are days where I feel completely stalled, unmotivated and wondering if I’m doing the right thing. 

Those days I’m usually lacking focus and letting myself get sucked in to crap Internet or puttering around the house fussing with everything but really doing nothing. When I reflect on those days I usually find that I’ve let my meditation practice go sideways. 

When I meditate in the morning, it’s like starting the day with a smile on the inside. My head is clear, I have a more positive than usual attitude and I feel less frazzled.  I am able to focus on things that matter and let the rest just fall away.

Note to self: meditation is always a good thing. But more on that at a later time. 

So to boost my confidence and ensure my Virgo-self that I’ve been productive, I decided to write down how I’ve been spending my time. Yes, I am also the type of person who adds something I’ve already done to a to-do list just so I can cross it off.

How am I spending my time?

I organized the items into several high-level categories, in no particular order. 

It’s by no means an exhaustive list, but provides a general overview of where much of my time has been spent. It’s a bit all over the map, but so are my interests…

  • Health and Recharging: meditation; Vipassana courses; ballet; hiking and morning walks; downsizing and simplification, non-religious veganism, golfing, travel, exploration working on being a calmer, nicer and overall happier person
  • Side Gigs: Airbnb hosting; selling on eBay, at flea markets and garage sales
  • Creativity, Art and Design: new bathroom and laundry room addition, furniture restoration, ballet, gardening and landscaping, museums, docent tours, writing, website design for this blog and a new business 
  • Personal Enrichment: launching this blog and learning WordPress, improving my French, learning Wix for another site, typography course, flower design classes, reading, listening to inspiring podcasts, learning pointe as an adult
  • Personal Finance and Financial Planning: investing, estate planning, real estate 
  • Family and Friends: traveling to 14 countries with Mom, helping Mom downsize her home, spending time with my nieces and brother’s family, having more time for my boyfriend and friends, hanging out with my 19 year old cat PC, staying connected with former colleagues, volunteering, helping my boyfriend with our new goats (Carmine and Hank), planning two upcoming trips to Europe and the Middle East

Okay, I’m now feeling pretty good about adhering to my “always be learning” mantra. Every day I spend time on at least a few of these efforts and many of them are things I’ve recently started exploring.

Pointe in particular, is something I’ve just started learning and wow is it challenging! I had never considered that as a middle-aged woman I could learn ballet, let alone get up on pointe shoes. My body is fighting it for sure, but it still feels great, both physically and mentally.

There is always an opportunity to learn.

Even if you feel you are not active and like to spend a lot of time on the couch with Netflix, you can still be learning. What are the key messages in the shows you watch? Think about the characters’ behaviors, how they interact, their dialogue. Where is the show taking place? Is there an historical importance?

What may seem like a waste of time to some can be deep learning experiences for others. Learning can be found in most anything, but if you’re not approaching it that way then you may be missing out. 

Recognizing what you are doing and being in the moment, whether you are physically pushing your limits training for a marathon or waiting in line at the grocery store, there is opportunity to learn.

When we get caught up in the whirlwind workweeks and the daily obligations, sometimes it’s easy to go numb and be unaware what is around us.

Write it Down!

Whether you are taking a break, sabbatical or still working a day job, writing down what you do outside of the work hours can be a good exercise to reinforce that you are so much more than just a job and that your days are full of learning, giving and being.

Try it. Get into even greater detail than I did. Think about what you do in the course of the day outside of working hours. Who are you interacting with? What are you seeing when you’re driving? Did you strike up a conversation with the cashier at the market?

However, if you find there is nothing on your list outside of “waking up, eating and sleeping” then it may be time to take a detour!

We are complex creatures; we are not defined by one thing though society tries very hard to do just that. We like to put people in boxes and label them: actor, garbage man, CEO. Imagine how boring life would be if we were only that one thing – if we were only defined by our jobs – if we were only defined by how we were paid. 

If that were the case, there’d be no place for friend, partner, parent, child, volunteer, nurturer or learner…