Full and Empty | February 2022

Full and Empty | February 2022

At the atomic level, the glass is 99.99% empty space. Hope this helps. ― John Alejandro King

This month I have spent time thinking about the opposite of my word and while there are many antonyms for full, but I have focused on empty this month… and what is lacking, missing, needing a bit more of.

And I also considered what is overly full…overflowing as it were.

Of course the list of empty is significant… but perhaps that is always the case. After all, we gravitate to the things that we like, things we do best, things that are easy… so yes, there is lots that is empty.

But in making my list, I discovered that there are some things that are empty because not because I don’t like those things… but rather it is because I am not making time for them.

And once I got to the time quotient… oh boy. Yeah. I began to look at my empty and full minutes, and you know what… I waste lots and lots of time. Doomscrolling is the main culprit… Open app and before you know it an hour has just vanished…Hello Twitter, IG, and even web browsing (looking for recipes is a category unto itself…sigh) I am looking at you.

Now, I do not believe that cramming every single thing you can into your number of waking minutes equals a satisfied fullness… sadly, I think it is the exact opposite. You know… the full you feel after Thanksgiving Dinner Full… too much, uncomfortable, ready for a nap full that might be good once a year, but on a daily basis… hoo boy, not how I want my minutes to feel like.  Instead of trying to cram more in… I have stepped back and really examined why I am wasting time… i.e. what am I really avoiding.

Yeah, that… avoidance is such an insidious thing!

And so this month I began to look at my day and how I spend it. Actually, I began thinking about this way back in January, but I have really spent time tweaking it more this month.

I am not a fan of lists, although I always had a lengthy list of “must do’s” and… confession time… so many things I put on the list always got moved to the next week because they were not completed. And those things just kept moving from list to list… but!! I had them on a list, and sadly, that is as far as it went.

So back in January I began trying a new way of “list making”… and it is having some good success, especially with the tweaks I have made this month! My new lists… “start” – “progress” – “finish”

When I began this in January I was of the mindset that each list needed to have the same amount of things… balanced, as it were… Oh boy, that was a big wake up! By the end of January… Progress and Finish were not having much success, and they kept growing…and approaching the the same result of what I was trying to get away from… lists that exist, but they are perpetual… same things, different week.

So I started by not putting anything on my Start List… it was gloriously empty. Which allowed me to work on Progress and Finish…with much greater success.

And suddenly, the lists are no longer the enemy… they are becoming partners in making my time count for something better than being wasted.

A month with less empty minutes is a very good thing! (and I hope that this leads to days that are more full!)

I want to thank Carolyn profoundly this month… she has kept her link up open even for very late stragglers (me!) But really, you should go and see what others have learned this month in their word journey!

See you all back here on Wednesday!


Full and Empty | February 2022

And so it begins | January 2022

Fill your bowl to the brim and it will spill. Keep sharpening your knife and it will blunt. — Lao Tzu

My process of unpacking full…. has been full of defining – thinking – and writing. I really love full as an adjective: not lacking or omitting anything; complete. And in order to achieve that, I need focus on using full as a verb: make (something) full; fill up.

Okay… so at this point, you might get the idea that I am thinking this year is going to be incredibly easy! (and after all that work from last year, there is a part of me that thinks that I have earned an “easy” word!) All I need to do is fill my days… right? Seems too easy on the surface… and if you scratch a bit deeper… being full does not necessarily mean one is happy. Or to borrow from my previous words… it does not mean focused, intentional living. Because I spent a year working on releasing some very not good things that were filling my life.

And then I began gathering full quotes… and Lao Tzu’s wisdom just jumped off the page and grabbed me! And it is there that I started really thinking about what Mary Oliver might have meant in these lines from The Summer Day: “Tell me, what else should I have done?”

And I am beginning to see that being full does not necessarily mean being full up to the top.

These are the questions I have been mulling over this month as I start this new journey to being full. And as January winds down (how is there only a week left in this month??) and I contemplate what else do I want to fill this month with. Or perhaps the better question is what does not need anymore filling?

I want to thank Carolyn again for hosting us this year and for providing the tools to begin this process.

See you all back here on Wednesday for some very fun Unraveling!



Full and Empty | February 2022

On my way to full | 1.3.22

Early in 2021… when I really wanted to bail on release…I began to ponder a new word and have had a bit of a running list for most of 2021.

Despite adding words to my list, I persevered with release but once the 4th quarter arrived I began thinking in earnest about what my new word might be for this year and I spent lots of time thinking about all those words on my list.

Unbelievably, not one of them made the cut… I know, it even shocked me because they all have so much potential!

In late November a couple of things happened in my life…my sister’s ongoing issues and the anniversary of my mom’s death – one thing I’d like to solve, the other I’d like to forget – but those are a story for another day. Anyways, those things kept me focused on release for the remainder of the year.

December was so heavy and as a solace I spent lots of time reading poetry and listening others read poetry and the things I discovered were amazing.

First, I stumbled across Mary Oliver’s The Summer Day and a phrase from the poem just jumped off the page and into my head. I had never heard those words before… even though I have read/heard the last sentence of the poem dozens of times… this bit was a revelation to me: Tell me, what else should I have done? Doesn’t everything die at last, and too soon?

Wow. Just wow.

Now my intention is not for this to be the most morbid “Hello, New Word” post in history, but true facts… I am 61 years old. If I am blessed to live as long as my nana… I just have 26 more years on this earth. And if I am not that blessed… well, you see the dilemma. So this year I want to begin to really use the things I learned in my Year of Focus and my Year of Intentional Living (and yes, in my Year of Release) and begin to fill my life with the things that matter and stop with the things that don’t matter all.

But what are those things? I think have some ideas, but this year I am going to really try and not waste any time on things that don’t matter. I want to be able to look back and see there was nothing else I should have done because I lived a FULL life to the last moments. I think I am so blessed to have spent such a hard year with release… because release led me to this path.

It is almost as if release said to me… now you are ready… fill yourself up!

(And in case you think my word should have been fill… I wanted to focus more on the result of being full which I hope will help me make my choices of what I “fill” wiser.)

Because being full does not mean just doing all.the.things.

Just before the year ended I listened to an episode of The Slow Down and Ada Limón shared these words of wisdom:

One question that I often get asked is how to overcome writer’s block. And the funny thing is, I overcome it, by not overcoming it. I think it’s OK to not write. I think it’s OK not to talk, not to make, not to create, not to produce, produce, produce. How can we listen to the world if we are always talking to the world?

Wait, what? It’s okay not to talk, not to make, not to create, not to produce, produce, produce?

These words were a bit of a balm for my spirit, let me tell you and coupled with Krista Tippet’s conversation about listening to the silence with Gordon Hempton, I knew I was on the right path. (sometimes I need to have the message hit me in the face multiple times before I get it… thank you, universe for making that happen so brilliantly!)

So I invite you to come along on this journey to see what I will fill myself up with this year and,  hopefully, as I am ending 2022 and on the cusp of 2023, I will be on my way to being full of lots of wonderful things!

P.S. If you would like to hear Mary Oliver read her poem, you will find it here!

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