Today is September 1. Have you done anything different than what you normally do on a Tuesday? Or has the day gone pretty much the way it generally does? Did you wake up thinking, "Wow, today's the beginning of a new month, the beginning of a new season"? Did you have a little nudge from someplace deep within to perhaps do something different, something new, to treat yourself to a fresh start in some aspect of your life or to return to a familiar, but set aside pattern?
What does your September calendar look like? For many, obviously, September means returning to school as a student or teacher or parents of students. September means the restart of many activities and perhaps a return to routine after lighter, looser days of summer.
I am quite amazed when I look at my September calendar and see how full it is already. For one thing, we have a road trip planned to see family and friends, but other events dot the calendar.
* A lecture by Atul Gawande, the author of Being Mortal
* A visit from a friend timed so we hear Elizabeth Gilbert talk about her new book, Big Magic, Creative Living Beyond Fear
* A Saturday workshop about writing memoir by a local author, Elizabeth Andrew, sponsored by Wisdom Ways.
* Book Club. We will discuss Ian McEwan's The Children Act
* Monthly appointments with my spiritual directees.
* The retreat I am co-facilitating, "Growing Older With Grace, Spiritual Practices for the Second Half of Life"
And, of course, there will be our own version of back-to school duties. Taking or picking up our grandkids Peter and Maren from school and doing some volunteering at the elementary school. I am planning to work in the library one afternoon a week. We love being able to be part of their lives in this way.
Oh, and writing time. I have a long list of writing activities. Writing has been part of my daily routine all summer and I intend to continue that habit.
With one set of good friends, I am referred to as "Nancy the Cruise Director," for I am usually, but not always, the one who comes up with an idea of something fun or interesting to do or somewhere to visit. This summer, for example, I organized our Donut Day Adventure and also the evening at the ballpark to view the movie Field of Dreams. On the fall docket is Soda Fountain Day and drives to see fall colors. All good fun and not to be missed.
How easy it is to fill the calendar. How much you fill it is in part related to your energy and interest level, your relationships and social network, your work situation, even your financial status. I wonder, however, how conscious you are about leaving empty space in your calendar. I wonder how you view the empty spaces. Does it feel like you need to fill your weeks or does a day without any notation on the calendar comes as a relief, giving you time to breathe?
How much do you take charge yourself of what is entered on your calendar?
I know I must have time to sit in the quiet, to meditate, to read. To sink deeply into spiritual practice. And sometimes that means giving up something else. Sometimes it means staying home from something I have previously agreed to attend. I think of those times as "life happens" times or more accurately, too much life has happened, and I need a time out in order to be in my life more fully. I am quite good, actually, knowing when I need to erase planned time on the calendar.
September seems like a good time to look with new eyes at how you use your time. Your calendar can become a tool for spiritual practice for you, a way to stay awake and aware of how you are moving in the world and how present you are to the movement of the Sacred in your life.
What's on your calendar for September? Is there enough room on the calendar for deepening your spiritual life? I would love to know.