Over these past weeks I remain busy with my coaching calls and Heartwood Group projects, however I do — like so many of us — have more “free” time than I did before. (That’s quite a concept right there – “free” time – the time itself is always free – it’s how we use it that determines its cost.) Ever wonder why we ask people where or how they SPEND their time? Rarely if ever do we ask what they invest their time in. Our time is something we have as our greatest asset to invest. Or we can spend it.
Some of my free time lately has been spent making and playing in sawdust! I am blessed to have a pretty amazing (by my standards) woodworking shop in my basement. I love it! The smell – the somewhat neat stacks of scrap and new wood – the old, worn pieces that I cannot wait to fashion into something new and useful. This is a sanctuary for me. A place of creativity, peace – and most of all, renewal.
This is renewal in the literal sense – right now I’m taking pieces of wood my father-in-law collected years ago and I’m building shelves and cabinets in my shop. He’s been gone some years now. When he could no longer work in his shop it was sad, but he has many artifacts of his skillful work that live on in many places. His legacy lives on in what he built and gave away as gifts.
Many artifacts of his skillful work…live on in many places — in what he built and gave away as gifts.
I inherited his wood collection. He had collected wood from all over the world. Mostly small samples, but also some larger amounts of domestic woods like oak, walnut (he loved this wood), maple, and ash. My goal is to use it all up making some things before I join him and another famous carpenter I know. Not sure what all those things are yet, but that is the challenge. Sometimes, I feel like I am letting the wood tell me what it needs to be.
For example, my wife Gail and I bought 2 prints from the gift shop at the south rim of the Grand Canyon a few years ago. (I put them in a place so safe I couldn’t find them at first!). When I laid them out in my shop on my bench there was a piece of Lacewood and some multicolored Walnut pieces that caught my attention on the shelves. Each fit the colors in the prints perfectly. I had only to decide what I wanted the frames styles to look like. Once I decided I started into designing the frames to fit the pictures. Only I know my successes and failures through the process of making the frames. All part of the renewal.
I’m always surprised at how excited I am to make something new again and useful today, out of a piece that has already served its original purpose well. It’s like a continuous work in progress – something that’s been used regularly becomes worn out or outdated, but it still has “good bones” — or is made of strong, solid reusable material. With some re-cutting and sanding, gluing up the joints again, maybe some new hardware and a thick coat of poly – voila! – I have something new that I can use or give to someone else to enjoy.
It’s like a continuous work in progress. Something that’s been used regularly becomes worn out or outdated — with some re-cutting, sanding, gluing…I have something new that I can use or give to someone else.
Working in my wood-shop creates other forms of renewal as well. The kind that isn’t as tangible as a table or picture frames. It renews my spirit. I become immersed in creating something and not being tethered or restricted by timelines or objectives. It is perfectly fine to become distracted and put one project down while another takes priority. It’s being in the flow and in your spirit that counts. In the shop the agenda finds me and chooses me at times. Other times, I enter with purpose and intention with clear goals. Either is exactly what needed to happen.
It’s being in the flow and in your spirit that counts.
Renewal of Spirit
I think of our spirit as being our “battery” and connector to others. Beyond facial recognition it’s how people really gain access to us and experience us as a person, family member, friend, or leader. Spirit is tied to connectedness. Connectedness is not such a hard concept to grasp intellectually. We intuitively know when we connect with someone (or not).
When we are in our spirit, work and life appear to be almost effortless and even surreal, regardless of how challenging the circumstances. When we’re not in our spirit the opposite is true – things can seem tougher to participate in, heavy, feel pointless – like we’re “going through the motions.” Being in touch with your spirit can be difficult when life is racing along non-stop. Because we’re human, however, all of us have the need within us to connect with our spirit – it is the essential “us.” We can easily disconnect from it – through busyness, excessive worry, negativity, anxiety, denial.
People around us often sense the state of our spirit, even when we don’t. When in “low spirit” we’re experienced as flat, low energy, or adrift. In high spirit, others sense a buzz of energy, positivism, even joy. High spirit is magnetic – it attracts people.
Because we are human. . . all of us have the need within us to connect with our spirit – it is the essential “us.”
Right now, so many of us are seeking renewal of some sort. Our spirits are weighed down. This is a difficult time for many reasons. People have more free time, time away from normal routines and duties, time that is normally “spent” without even thinking about it. We live according to the calendar, and when our calendar gets blown up, we can be set adrift pretty easily. Even the most energetic, accountable, responsible folks are feeling “off” right now.
My offering to you now is to suggest that you spend some of your available time to tend to your spirit and seek renewal. You’ll need to make time for reflection. If you’re unsure how, click on my “A Time for Reflection” blog for some simple questions to get you started. As you grow in your willingness and ability to practice reflection, awareness of your spirit will sharpen. And awareness of your spirit paves the way for true transformation and renewal.
My offering to you now is to suggest that you spend some of your available time to tend to your spirit and seek renewal.
Keep in Mind
- The human spirit is an experience that is unique and not well understood — we see its power, but the spirit itself is unseen.
- Energy drains out of us when we are not in our spirit. Take notice when it happens.
- Difficult tasks become effortless when we are aligned with our purpose and spirit.
- The practice of reflection will sharpen your awareness of spirit.
- Awareness of your spirit paves the way for transformation and renewal.
Back to the Sawdust. . .
Playing in the sawdust is one of the things that renews me – just like I renew the old pieces in my shop to make them new and different and purposeful for today. Shaping wood requires some cutting and sanding. My own life and practice as a coach requires the same. I seek renewal in other ways as well. In relationships we find renewal present in conversation and fellowship. In work we find renewal in accomplishment and use of expertise. In nature we find renewal fresh and new in the spring days. It’s pulsing and alive with it right now.
Shaping wood requires some cutting and sanding. My own life and practice as a coach requires the same.
Spend some time gaining awareness of your spirit. Explore what renews you by investing your time rather than spending it. Invest it in a walk or sitting on your patio watching the birds or looking at the flowers or trees opening up to another season. After you take your allergy medicine, make sure to breathe in the sweet smells of flowering trees and shrubs. Renewal is not a destination. It is a part of the cycle of life and development as a person. It involves reconnecting and refreshing – with yourself, your relationships, nature, everything around you. You may even find that your process of renewal will result in new creations and gifts – much like what happens in my shop.
Renewal is not a destination. It is a part of the cycle of life and development as a person.
Questions to Consider
- What insights came up for you while thinking about renewal? About your spirit? About connection?
- Is there something in your life that has served you well, but is no longer needed, or needs renewal?
- What are your gifts of renewal?
I encourage you to share your thoughts in the comments section and/or reach out via https://www.facebook.com/HeartwoodGroup.