Take Action

It’s easier to be idle, or to sit down and stay home than to stand up, be in motion and take action. I admit, I am naturally a home body, and so often there is nothing more I would like than a nice day in comfortable clothes, with a hot cup of coffee, a nice couch and maybe a book or good TV show. There is little to nothing I need to do to make a day relaxing and pleasant.

It’s rare that I can do this, as, on the surface, my life is very active and very busy. Like so many women, I have a demanding job, a family to care for and a house to run. There’s always a deadline at work, a meeting to get to, an appointment I need to book, a child’s feet  just grew and needs new shoes, or a dog I need to feed. And that’s just on Monday!

Clearly I am not idle, nor do I sit much or stay home often. I am always on the go. The fact is, I really don’t slow down often enough (that’s for another blog another day!). But in recent weeks I can’t stop thinking about how I spend my time and what my priorities are. I am busy, for sure, but am I busy doing the right things? Am I balancing my time properly? Does each day feel like the repeat of the last one, almost like my life is automated?

Like being idle, it’s easier to just keep things as-is. Many would say that routine is good. It’s predictable and keeps life simple. For children it’s great, and for me, for some tasks, I think it’s important. But when every part of the day becomes routine, are you living your life the way you really want to?

So, what sparked these thoughts for me? I can’t point to one aha moment, rather a series of events in the last six-nine months, which is making me ask myself if my life has become too passive.

First, I had a great summer. I’d say part of the reason was that it was so different from the rest of the year. I spent considerable time away from the city, out in the country, my kids went to camp for six weeks, and our whole family went away and celebrated a milestone event together (so what if we all got sick after?!). I also didn’t take the easy way out after a busy work day all summer: I went paddle boarding, or for a walk, or swimming – I took action. I exercised, or I was simply outdoors. And you know what, it felt great.

The fall began and I felt energized about my future. As many of my readers know, a significant part of my family lives in Israel, and the events of October 7th, 2023, have impacted my mental state more than I could have ever imagined. As family texted me to let me know they were okay after a siren and rocket barrage, or I watched my children enter their school in the morning through really a police checkpoint to ensure their security, I was shaken. I started to ask myself: is Toronto the place I want to live? Is this what I want for me kids? What are my priorities? Where is, and what is my future?

I didn’t act, but it’s in my mind all the time. And when a day is very routine, I can’t get these thoughts out of my head: do I need to take action? Do I need to change my life?

As the Fall continued and we moved into winter, work became increasingly busy and demanding. I am not unique, and I know that I need to do what is expected of me. People rely on me, as they should, and actually, I thrive when I am stimulated at my job and am surrounded by smart, skilled people. But, as can happen in any work environment, some things changed, and some people left. It happens, almost like a cycle.

I think what this did is get my mind going again, like it did in recent months. Was I bothered by the changes, or were they really nothing, and I still have my routine? Or, really, as I think more and more about it, is what’s irking me really nothing to do with work but more to do with my general feeling of being idle while also being so busy, all at the same moment? How can I balance these two things?

Why I am writing today is that while I don’t yet have any specific action I will take, I know that I need to take action. Most of what I realize I need to do is really simple and small. Back to where I started – it’s easier to sit on the couch in sweatpants than to go out for dinner with friends. It’s easier to take a nap on a Saturday afternoon than to exercise by taking a walk or 30 minutes of yoga. For sure it is easier to watch a new show on Netflix than to write this blog!

I need to prioritize what matters to me, and really, what I care about and what makes me happy. Just sitting here, writing this blog, helps. I’m going for dinner this week with some former colleagues, instead of rushing home from work and cooking dinner. I am going to try to do at least 30 minutes of exercise today. That’s a start. I also need to book a haircut. I mean, I really need to get a haircut!

I also need to help my kids. And I don’t mean buying them new shoes, making sure they bathe or getting their lunch ready in the morning. My son is in grade 11, and we’ve started to look at universities for him. The list of items to take action on is long – book the SAT, visit potential schools, ask my former sports colleagues about a co-op opportunity for grade 12. For my daughters, the action items are maybe a little less significant, but still they matter. I need to have a daily chat and check-in with my older daughter, and the younger one is in the most wonderful children’s chorus (she has the most beautiful singing voice) and we need to practice daily. It’s so easy to skip a day, or delay doing anything. But I need to get on this.

My husband and I need to spend more time together. We need to be adults – go out more, do things without our kids sometimes. Maybe go away for a long weekend. It’s something we noticed in the summer, when our kids were away for 6 weeks. Life was not routine. We need to make that time outside of those 6 weeks in the summer!

I need to make time for quality family experiences. As I just discussed with some colleagues last week, it’s so easy to pass on a family celebration, especially one that is far away, than to make plans to participate. In recent months, I have often chosen not to join family for dinner, as it was a school night and just logistically too hard. Or I had decided we would not attend a family wedding overseas because maybe work would be too busy or we didn’t feel safe to travel. I need to be smart about it, but I need to participate. Life flies by too fast, and you can’t get time back with family. I need to think about a ski day with three generations, or a hike in the desert with four generations. My kids need to have winter weekends with their cousins in Canada or a Passover Seder with their vast family in Israel.

I am not ready, nor do I think I need to take profound action to change my life. But every day I need to think about what makes me happy, what makes me sad, or sometimes why I need a day on the couch. Even that, in its own way, is taking action. Making the decision to not do something, to not make a significant change, is another form of taking action.

Every time I write here is my way of taking action, to remind myself that I love to write. It is my release, it is cathartic for me. I remind myself what the name of this space is: Kinetic Motions. Kinetic energy is the energy an object has because of its motion. It’s about action, moving forward. Every time I write I am moving forward with my life. I need to remember that every day.

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