impact vs. productivity

Today I woke up with anxiety over my giant to-do list and the weight of responsibility on my shoulders. This is normal for me, but this morning felt particularly heavy. So I did what I often do repeating to myself like a mantra….”You are not saving lives. It’s ok. If stuff doesn’t all get done today, so be it. It will be there tomorrow. It’s all going to be ok.”

It kind of helps, along with some deep ocean breaths, but on my bike ride to Grow Hub I was feeling a pang in my chest. Guess it wasn’t working enough. I talked to myself out loud all the way there, going over all the things I needed to do today, tomorrow, and next month to try to organize it. It’s  also common for me to talk out loud to myself and I’ve been observed doing this much to people’s amusement! I have entire conversations with someone, I’m not quite sure who. Like, all the time. 

I arrived, parked my bike, and greeted the smiling people that are always happy because they’re at Grow Hub! I passed off some of my list to Sarah, helped her wrangle some details and people, talked to a reporter there to do a story, ran around helping other folks get what they needed for their day, and then finally started trying to “get to work”. 

Well, it was one of those days where nothing would be checked off my list. I took a deep breath. But there is JUST. SO. MUCH. Deep ocean breath. Sometimes I get really frustrated and resentful in these moments. But not today.

I just surrendered. Crumpled up the list, to save for another day. Today was a day to lean in, and remember and revel in the why I work, and not obsess over the details. For the first time in a long time I said to myself and agreed- “It’s OK to just sit here with these folks who you care a lot about and simply enjoy their company. You don’t have to be here today to check things off your list. And anyway, why can’t this be something that’s on the list?”

Myself and 6 of the lovely people that work at Grow Hub chatted as we fiddled with a few seed packets on the front porch. Later a few other members of the Board of Directors wandered in for our monthly meeting. Everyone was chatty today. The weather has been a relief and so lovely, the sun shining, the sky super duper blue. Those Florida skies and fall days! So why not just forget the list and enjoy the day?!

With a porch like this, why not enjoy it more especially on these gorgeous fall days?!

I realized as I was talking with one of the newest employees at Grow Hub, that we were all experiencing a profound moment together with her. At 30 -something with severe social anxiety (and somewhere on the autism spectrum I would presume but I don’t really know), smart as a whip- she had never been able to maintain employment. After a few weeks of coming out of her shell, slowly being coaxed to join us in the gardens, in the gallery, and on the porch, she was entirely comfortable- enthusiastic actually- to just sit and chat. Here, challenges are met with acceptance and kindness in a beautiful space. She was overflowing with ideas of how she could help Grow Hub, and was excited to share them all and know she was valued – as is. 

Gwen told me how much she loves packing seeds (I already know this, she tells me every time!) and to let her know when we do it again. Deal! Joan was so relaxed she nodded off sitting upright. I wish I could do that. Rosa quietly and attentively put little stickers on seed packets (also her favorite thing except maybe for crocheting little pot holders). She was happy to be back after a health scare that had her away from us for a couple of weeks. We missed her.

I didn’t know which way to go when I arrived, scattered and anxious. Then it became clear, when I was just able to let go.

After most of the rides came to get the crew and whisk them home,  it was just the new girl and I left sitting on the porch. She told me freely how much she loved it here. How much she looked forward to it, how it was the first job she had where she felt safe. Where she didn’t feel as though squashing herself down to try to fit in was necessary. Where she didn’t melt into a puddle of despair after a hard day. She was excited to come to work and share her ideas.

This is why I work. Today may not have been productive, but it sure was impactful. I accomplished and participated in some seriously important work today, and not one damn thing was checked off my list. 

However I will say, that while I sat and received this gift today, due to previous days of  organizing, discussing, coordinating, and calling….nearly 60 yards of compost was delivered to the gardens over at GRACE Grows and one of our youth program sites at Wilhelmina Johnson Center. Sarah and our awesome volunteers sowed hundreds of little seeds, watered them and loved on them, in the hopes they will grow into nourishing plants tucked into home, school, and community gardens around the city. That’s something! And someone’s life shifted today, having found a safe place not just to land, but to grow. And I was there to see it. 

After a day of impactful work, the bike ride home felt a lot different than it did coming in. I got home and changed quickly to head out for my annual check up from the oncologist. I don’t get scans anymore, just blood work, vitals, 20 questions, and a little poking and prodding. Everything was all clear. As expected, but you never know. 

Yep. Today was a day to just revel, surrender, and be grateful for this beautiful life and day. I had these lessons revealed to me loud and clear during my ordeal with cancer. But they have faded over time, as I slid back into the crazy world most of us inhabit that values productivity and busy-ness over all else. Today was a day to remember that life is too short to be dominated by an anxiety-inducing checklist.

Besides, every checklist for the day should have “enjoy!” written at the very top.

Ashley, Joan, Cyd, Shaquille and me. Love!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s