There is a lot of brain science surrounding the idea that people cannot actually multitask. We cannot be fully present in two or more intellectual or emotional spaces. Not everything will get the same amount of attention and focus. Something always comes out lacking.
No surprise this idea of multitasking vs. another way of thinking how we work, came to me today when I was out in my yard. I have a large yard and many gardens. They vary in size, types of plants, and amounts of sun and shade. I do not think I have ever had all of them at the same time “garden walk worthy”. When I think that is the goal, I begin to feel the job is too daunting.
I have learned over time that I just need to keep at the work: weed this one today, plant that one tomorrow. Stay the moment of that day’s work and tend to the needs of that area. (And don’t think I need to get it all done in one day!) Tending a garden is focused and quiet work.
I have recently learned to do this in the gardens of my inner life. In February, my position was eliminated and I found myself out of work. I have always identified myself with my work because it is an extension of how I live in the world. It was good work. All of a sudden, I was faced with the scary question “Who am I?” as I reimagined how I would live and serve in the world.
I got overwhelmed very quickly!
There were so many things that needed to happen:
· Move past the pain, hurt and anger
· Pack and move the 20 years of personal items to my home
· Say good-bye to friends and church members
· Network and find another job
· Find a new church community
· Move past the pain, hurt and anger (Did I say that already?!)
What I did have was time. I figured it would be easy to just tick things off the list and move forward. It wasn’t.
I realized I had areas of my inner life that needed care and tending; focused, quiet work. Just as in northern climates when gardens lay dormant, I first needed a time of gentle dormancy. My first weeks were filled with quiet reflection, journaling, and watching Call the Midwife on Netflix. Then as my inner gardens warmed, I began reading and seeing friends. Each of these activities were done with the intention of staying in the moment and being mindful of what I could do that day. Only a few times I slipped into the “multitasking zone”. Each of these areas is their own garden and each need focused time and attention.
A few months later, I still have not checked everything on my list. I have become ok with that. I will take time because I want to do this well. I am not done tending my gardens. I don’t think we ever are. As in physical gardening…some days I am very sore!
I am grateful that I have rediscovered parts of myself, found a new faith community, and have the support of friends.
One of my favorite quotes that hung in my office for years is by writer Anais Nin. It speaks to me again now. I will keep tending my gardens until the time is right to bloom.
“And the day came when the risk to remain tight in a bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom.”