Whether I’m ready for it or not, my week of spaciousness has come to an end. Or perhaps I should say instead that my time to work has returned, because in the end, that would be more accurate. Spaciousness, after all, is always available—if we choose it.
My week of spaciousness was less a week of complete freedom (as I had dreamed it would be) and more a daily (and hourly) lesson in choosing to make space. I’m often dreaming of days or seasons filled with complete freedom and fulfillment. It seems that the grass is indeed greener on the other side, at least in my mind. My desire for days like these springs from something real, to be sure. But those days and seasons of freedom and fulfillment that I cling to occurred less because of circumstance and more because of choice.
That was one of my greatest lessons last week as I sought to create space. In preparation for my time, I had cleared my calendar diligently, ensuring there would be plenty of room to follow wherever my soul leads. Saying “no” and shutting down shop for a week can be difficult, but I was stern. Wasn’t that enough?
I quickly learned that it wasn’t, and that lesson became my theme for the week.
You see, while I was keeping options open to pursue whatever felt spacious to me at the moment, there was one thing I knew I wanted to do during my week of spaciousness: spend plenty of my time in my garden reading. It’s where I’ve felt most grounded over these past many months as we’ve settled back into Seattle. What better place to spend a week of spaciousness? I had even bought a new book for the occasion (Elizabeth Gilbert’s The Signature of All Things, in case you’re curious).
As Sunday rolled into Monday, I entered the week with every intention of spending most of my hours lounging in the garden, coffee or rosé in hand (depending on the time of day, obviously), and reading Gilbert’s latest novel voraciously, looking up only on occasion to contemplate in amazement the vivid blue hue of my hydrangeas. (And, getting up on occasion to refill my bowl of kettle-cooked potato chips—it was a week of spaciousness, after all.)
Dreamy, I know.
And it would have been, except for the fact that last week seemed to be the week that my landlords chose to do repairs on the facade of our apartment building, which meant lots of banging on our walls and men on ladders in our tiny yard—my beloved garden, my thin place, my Sacred space.
I had done everything I could to make my fantasy a reality. I’d cleared my schedule—said “no” to all of the things! I’d cleaned up the garden and bought a new book. I had even chilled the rosé!
But on Monday morning, although the birds’ song was beckoning me outdoors, I sat inside, construction workers hammering outside my window. The only place of complete privacy was the bathroom, and even there you could hear the banging.
I had all the time in the world, but it didn’t feel spacious.
I allowed myself time to sulk, because sometimes sulking is important. It let me know that my soul was upset, and that it wasn’t going to give up its desire that easily simply because it was inconvenient. But once my time of sulking had sufficiently passed (a period that involved the coffee, rosé, and a fair amount of the potato chips), I realized I had a choice to make: I had already made the space. What could I do now that would feel spacious, in light of the circumstances?
And so, I made plans to seek spaciousness elsewhere, at least until they were finished. I went on walks, visited Pike Place Market (one of my favorite places in Seattle), and did my fair share of people watching while sipping lemonade. And during the times I was at home, I baked muffins with the music turned up loud enough to drown out the banging. I also did a fair amount of pinning on Pinterest—if the world around me wasn’t feeling spacious, I could at least channel my energy into imagining things that do.
By the end of the week, the construction workers were gone, and I was finally able to sit in my garden and read away. But even then, there was distraction, and it became a daily (and hourly) practice to remind myself to choose not simply what seemed attractive at the moment (oftentimes it’s looking something up on the Internet), but to choose instead the activity that brings me life. Little bursts of fulfillment can be fleeting, but choosing spaciousness will nourish and root me—satisfactions that last far longer than a moment.
This is the lesson I take with me as I return to work this week. And this is why I started by saying that my time of spaciousness isn’t over, because it’s always available, if I choose it. As I enter back into rhythms of work, I’m contemplating how I can also establish daily rhythms of spaciousness. It begins with clearing time in my schedule, for sure, but it will also be something that I will have to be intentional about, day by day and moment by moment, being flexible when less than ideal circumstances arise (and they will).
It will be a daily practice, certainly. But I have a feeling it will be a practice that, when cultivated, will produce a Sacred garden of delight and rest—perhaps even with it’s own bright blue hydrangea.
How will you choose to cultivate spaciousness today or this week? Leave your response to this question or the post in the comments.