How busy is your life, and how loud is your space?
Before this stay-home season, were you always on-the-go, and was the tv, radio, a podcast episode or playlist always on rotation?
Not a quiz; just a gentle prompt asked by a former hot-footer. Your answers to those questions aren’t my business but your health is my concern.
Sometimes it seems like we in the west are competing to see who is more busy. Being productive is healthy and there are times when you gotta pump the gas pedal to get moving and gain momentum, but being overwhelmed with work can affect our quality of life.
The idea of quiet, even amidst the serenity of nature can be intimidating or awkward when you’re used to being surrounded by digital sounds or frequent company. Some people become restless or instantly bored without digital gadgets in hand, noisy phone notifications, and a packed schedule for any given day. Are you like that, by chance? Again – not a quiz.
You can hear your thoughts better when it’s quieter; sometimes that’s uncomfortable and can bring up wounds that are tender to the touch but need to be addressed and overcome. At least that’s what I found when I went from being busy on the road to working quietly from home – around the time this blog was ‘born.’
When you live where some vacation (before this quarantine), you’re in a position to observe what means so much to so many.
From the slower pace of life and therapeutic turquoise beaches to sitting barefoot by an open fire eating roast breadfruit, going for country drives, and enjoying places of interest, quality of life is high on the priority list for as long as that plane ticket is valid.
That experience isn’t exclusive to Barbados, nor is a tropical lifestyle the epitome of happiness. Happiness is also a state of mind, and not necessarily (or always) attached to a state in a country.
When you live in a holiday destination, contrary to popular belief, there’s still responsibilities to take care of, work to tend to, bills to pay, crime rate to monitor and things to do. We aren’t all on the sand with a steelpan or at the beach in a bikini 24/7, but you do have a firsthand view of what millions of visitors are compelled to enjoy and experience in the place where you live everyday.
As a Bajan Trini of indigenous Kalinago heritage, it’s important to me to enjoy creation in my location, while I can. But we’re not limited to or defined by our surroundings and circumstances…influenced, yes…to some extent.
And so, along with making a point to make the most of the tropical life, every now and then I do an assessment of where I am on the stress scale. Do you do that too?
There’s stress for the muscles that helps promote growth and development, and there’s that other kind of stress that can promote hair loss, irritability and a dip in health. I’m not a fan of the second one, so pace and quality of life are priorities. I hope they are for you too.
So what can we do to set and maintain a healthy pace for a better quality of life with the time we have?
real short story – The word boredom wasn’t allowed in the house when I was growing up, and now I’m grateful for it. One day I said, “I’m bored” to my Trini mum and without a pause, she replied with, “only boring people get bored. Find something to do and make good use of your time.”
And that was that. As a Caribbean child, rolling my eyes at a parent or adult – even lookin’ like yuh thinkin‘ of ‘talkin’ back’ would have led to an instant loss of teeth or change in walking pattern. Thankful for it too. Without a word, I went back to my room and probably read a book or something. Yes, those pockets of time could have made lovely bonding moments, but let’s look on the bright side. Interesting enough, I grew up reading a book a day from childhood to adulthood. In that ‘no boredom allowed’ zone at home, countless short stories were written, journals filled, barefoot adventures enjoyed, and I started a neighbourhood hood detective agency with a bestie.
When you enjoy what you do, being busy can be exhilarating. It can also get exhausting when we don’t make room for refreshment.
We want to be sustainable when it comes to plastic and planting for good reason. We can also think about sustainability for everyday life (for as long as we have the gift of time, by grace.) That’s why people save up for a year to visit a place they enjoy for a week – why some go for a morning swim and evening jog in between managing a job and family – refreshment.
Because you are more than a career.
Re-setting the pace
I don’t know what the contents and responsibilities of your life are. There are seasons when we have a lot of ‘things on our plate’ and moments that naturally make room for rest. You could be taking care of an elderly relative, managing a household with lots of little ones, working on the frontline during a global crisis, or overcoming another kind of challenge.
But if you’re in a place where you can proactively and purposefully re-set the pace of your life for the better, or if you can carve out time to include a few of these to your day, consider this a gentle invitation and sisterly nudge…while I do the same.
What does that look like? Well, it can look like:
- 10-15 minutes of early morning quiet time with fresh air fanning your face
- a stretch series on the floor in a softly-lit room
- journaling prayers, thoughts, art designs and personal discoveries
- setting a timer as a reminder to take a break, if you’re a workaholic
- baking something instead of frying it (and reading in the meantime)
- taking a siesta from social media or pacing posts with pauses in between
- starting a garden you can keep up with, enjoy, and eat from – without overwhelm
- pencilling-in pockets of refreshment, without holding yourself hostage to time
- abiding by a no-rush rule. Speed has different settings, and even hummingbirds take regular breaks throughout the day while getting work done and making time for meals.
Exercise: In your journal or digital note-taker, add some better pace-setters you can start today.
Re-setting the volume
Do you ever notice how some comedians and musicians seem surprisingly relaxed – almost reserved in tv/online interviews while onstage they turn the volume all the way up? That’s always intrigued me; how some people – when the camera or mic is off, become…different, or more themselves. Maybe we have a daily quota of hype and a portion of calm?
After singing on stages like Madison Square Garden and HammerSmith Apollo, I can relate to those moments right after a concert standing beside massive speakers, when you don’t want to hear one.more.kick.drum.or.one.single.note. You just need to re-set, rest ya brain for sec, catch your breath and drink some water without bass rumbling through your ribcage.
Audio engineers tend to typically be quiet people (generally-speaking.) They are meticulous listeners who are surrounded by sound and various frequencies constantly, which would be extremely challenging to do if they were constantly chatty.
What volume is your life set to right now, and how well do you follow-through with those creative projects you’ve been meaning to tend to?
If you find there’s a dip in your momentum, examine the sound setting in your space.
Make a note of the most quiet part of the day in your home, and slot in a calm activity for that pocket of time.
Volume is key when it comes to taking care of tasks that pair best with either softer or more present sounds. Hmmm – a bit ‘too’ poetic; lemme be more clear.
Ok so, up to the 2nd or 3rd paragraph in this blog post, I was listening to some music in the background. Not barking loud – but within listening distance one or two rooms away. When I found myself hovering over the laptop keys for longer than usual, I turned the sound off…and the words started flowing again. There was an option to switch to softer instrumental music, but to complete this particular post and walk through it with an editor’s eye, the only things on the playlist right now are the standing fan, birdsongs in the background and occasional passing car…and it’s going well. Writing posts like these tends to use more brain power than one with mostly pics and a few captions.
But, if the neighbour cranks up their weed-wacker within the next few minutes, I’d have to challenge myself to either press on and write, pause to re-schedule or turn up the volume on some music and get in a good workout to make the most of the moment. An annoyed sigh or sulking moment are options I sometimes audition, but not for long. I find those ‘boring.’
While we aren’t in a position to mute others or control every sound in our environment, we can assess how, where and when we work best and recognize natural pockets of quiet or rest.
What does ‘quality of life’ mean and look like to you – in general or in this season?
Are you getting through well with work while at home and setting aside time for rest and refreshment?
Again, not a quiz – just a gentle question with light reminder that pace and quality of life matter…and so do you. Try doing your own assessment while journaling, in a quiet moment of reflection or by sharing in the comments section.
Thanks for taking the time to visit the blog today.
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RE-SETTING THE PACE AND VOLUME OF YOUR LIFE FOR THE BETTER | PERSONAL GROWTH was first published on itsjoywithin.com
P.S: If you’re in a position right now, where your quality of life and contentment supply is being severely challenged, lots of compassion your way. I remember what it’s like to dream of joy again like it’s oxygen, and want to encourage you today to keep prayers up, count every single blessing that comes your way, and keep hope alive. I am not a counsellor or a doctor – just a writer who found that pain doesn’t have to be permanent and joy truly comes in the morning, by grace.
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P.P.S: Deepest condolences to the family of my schoolfriend bestie who just lost a dear loved one, and to the relatives of one of my two most influential cherished English teachers, Mrs. Wendy Griffith-Watson. Ms. Griffith (‘Aunty Wendy’) continually challenged and encouraged me to keep writing and growing throughout the years. On weekdays at school, she was a stern yet sunny, approachable form teacher and on weekends at her home, a loving and patient English tutor.