I used to live in an imaginary world.
It was a world where appointments could be scheduled back to back, where a meeting on the other side of town was possible in the middle of the day. Showers, getting dressed into real clothes and eating were somehow going to magically happen even though I had no plan or time allotted for them. I didn’t even have room for essentials, much less the inevitable problems or possible opportunities that might present themselves. I was scheduled to the brim.
On Fridays, my kids get out of school early. This used to be one more slot I thought I could schedule but now I keep it open specifically for margin. If my week works as I plan it, then Fridays are for fun, for errands, for a spontaneous coffee date. This week did not work as I planned. Several really neat opportunities opened up to me and I jumped in with both feet–I am so happy I did. Because of this, I got behind on some writing and the laundry. It was wonderful to know that I had this morning available just for this kind of make-up work.
As I mentioned during the 30 Days of Rest, as best I can, I do plan for and schedule my essentials (what I know I need). Now, I actually have time set aside to prepare food, blow dry my hair and clean the house. This is such a discipline for me. One of my personality’s primary weaknesses (according to the enneagram) is pride. It is not pride in the “I am better than you” kind of way, it is pride because my default is to opperate from a belief that I don’t need as much as everyone else does and I have more to give than everyone else does. Of course, this awareness also lines up with entering my 40’s–an age when my body, mind and heart are gently asking me to slow down, to let me fill up before I pour out.
Margin is intentional empty space on my calendar waiting to be filled with the unexpected. Unexpected things that have entered this space this week include a porch visit with my neighbor, a little visit with my parents, an important conversation with one of my coffee moms, a trip to the bank and the grocery store, a television shoot, a dinner party with friends, attending a student performance, helping my kids with their school work, making Thanksgiving plans, getting Christmas lists organized…
So much of the juice of life is in the unexpected. I love having time in my life for my life, making room for the chaos that is intrinsic to having a family while still having a structure in place to get things done. Who knows what any of this will look like through the holidays? Maybe I need a holiday schedule.
It makes me happy to think of approaching the holidays with this appreciation of margin: celebratory space waiting to be filled with the unexpected.
May you curate margin in your day and enjoy the subtle shift of anticipating the unexpected.