Time is a valuable commodity. However we choose to spend it, if we are gaining enjoyment or achieving our goals, it is not wasted. Enjoyment can be gained from sitting still, from contemplation; it is not necessary to be constantly active. Our goals may be esoteric, but this should not invalidate them. There are those who gain satisfaction from being seen to achieve, but there are also many for whom achievement is more personal and private. How we spend our time largely determines our quality of life. Learning to spend it wisely is the challenge.
In my head I carry around numerous lists: things to do; places to go; people to see. I am most comfortable when my life is organised; I do not like surprises. To help me stay organised I keep magnetic whiteboards attached to my fridge door showing day planners for each member of the family, menu plans for dinner and a blank board for general information and reminders. I also keep a small Filofax in my bag which contains The Diary. If any member of my family expects an activity or an event to happen then it must go in The Diary. Once I have written it down, the organisation becomes my responsibility.
As I do not go out of my home for paid employment I have a lot of flexibility in how I spend my time during school hours. The flip side to this is that I am expected to fit in with the needs of my family at other times – that is my job and it suits me well. I choose not to socialise a great deal as I like spending time at home; I like being around when my family are here, catering to their needs and being involved in their lives. My family are busy little bee’s with their work, organised activities, sports and social events. Keeping track of who needs to be where, when and with what can feel quite daunting as all can be heading in different directions on the same day. Getting a family meal on the table each evening, in between all the comings and goings, can challenge my organisational skills to the limit.
During the school day though, my time is my own with the caveat that I make inroads into my lists. How quickly I get to tick the tasks off generally shows my level of enthusiasm, and over the years I have learnt from this. If a task is not necessary and I do not enjoy it then it will rarely get done.
Communities thrive when people volunteer to sit on committees, organise events or help out on the day. I have tried to be one of those involved and generous people and I hated it. The committee I sat on made decisions that I strongly disagreed with, but I had to go along with their plans. The events I helped out at required me to put myself in front of people – I am desperately uncomfortable in the limelight. Even offering to bake a batch of cakes for a fund raiser would be deflating – if you could see my cakes you would understand why, but the comments could be quite cruel. My children assure me that my baking tastes yummy and that counts more than looks. Others can be less accepting.
I am now much more comfortable with who I am and live my life in a way that suits me. If I can stay calm and happy then I and my family benefit, and it is their opinion that matters to me. From time to time I will make the effort to catch up with a friend and I always enjoy these occasions. My friends are very tolerant of my general unsociability and continue to invite me to their special events. These are highlights in what would otherwise be a very repetitive life. Whilst I choose to live my life this way, it is good to have a few, novel events to look forward to from time to time.
My internal lists contain many things that I personally want to achieve for myself. I like to stretch myself, to feel that I am still learning and growing as a person. I have friends who are highly talented at creating beautiful arts and crafts. Whilst I can admire their work and appreciate the skills that are required, the achievements I choose to aim for are not so tangible. I gain satisfaction from reading a good book; I find peace on a walk in the beautiful countryside that surrounds our home; I feel a sense of accomplishment when I can turn our messy house into something that resembles tidiness. Whilst I can procrastinate with the best of them, a good day is one where I have completed the essential tasks and a few more besides. A good day is one where I end up feeling satisfied with my achievements, even if they are not obvious to anyone else.
When I look at the life I lead I realise that it is very far removed from the life I envisaged myself wanting when I was growing up. I expected then that I would always want to work in a challenging, well paid job; to travel; to party. I now feel that I have done all this and moved on. I am happy with where I am in my life and for me, that is the best possible outcome. There are still many things that I aim to do but I am in no rush. I wish to spend my time wisely and to continue to enjoy the journey.