Where is your white space?

Photo by Sarah Dorweiler on Unsplash

Henry Cloud is one of my favorite teachers and authors. I began reading his books many years ago, and I now grab every new one he publishes as soon as it comes out. I have written a few summaries of his books on this blog (see links below). Now that I think about it, I may write some more this year!

Recently, I read a short post by Henry Cloud on the Global Leadership Summit (GLS) blog (which is a great blog, by the way!). Henry was talking about the importance of having WHITE SPACE (or rest) in our life.

too much stuff + too long = overwhelmed and tired brain

Henry was endorsing the valuable research and work done by a woman named Juliet Funt. Juliet spoke at the GLS, and you can find some excellent short video clips of her ideas on YouTube. Her company, WhiteSpaceAtWork.com, helps organizations reduce their busyness, schedules and digital habits so that people can be more engaged and creative at home and at work.

Research has shown that the highest performers in life
have a pattern of not being “on all the time.”

Henry Cloud

Juliet shares some great tips for protecting the WHITE SPACE in our schedules:

  • Take some thoughtful time and inventory your motives for saying yes.
  • Try to separate the emotional (the enjoyment of being asked) from the practical (will this opportunity truly move your goals forward?).
  • Attempt to mentally envision and realistically consider all of the inevitable to-dos and busyness of the time around the date of the request.
  • Make “No” your default answer. Let “less” be your guiding principle. You will  never regret having too much time.

Which of these tips could you apply in the next few days to find some WHITE SPACE in your week?


Henry Cloud book summaries: Integrity  •  Necessary Endings

one day at a time

calendar file000786402730I am scheduling my calendar from now until Christmas. Lots of routine, plus two special family get-together events, which are a big deal because we all live spread out across the country. Getting us all to the same place requires a bit of advance planning… and a more-than-a-bit of money.

I am also working on my final project to complete my MA. The last hurrah to a three-year long endeavor. There are assignment deadlines. I can see the light at the end of the tunnel, but it is still a long tunnel.

Work is ever-present, but less settled right now. Since my team focuses on serving others around the world, it is hard to commit very far ahead, and crisis like Ebola, ISIS, and international conflicts change the best of intentions.

On top of these things, my mom has decided to end her chemo treatments and begin hospice care. She is very tired and fragile, but is still mobile and mentally sharp. No one knows how much time she will have.

I have to live one day at a time.

I am keenly aware that I have to hold all the plans I make with a loosely open hand. There is no certainty that they will occur. No guarantees. Because of my mom’s condition, at any moment this Fall could easily take on a very different personality.

The truth is every day is the same – I don’t control them and they could be very different in an instant.

Only my level of awareness has changed. And my attitude.

I am more grateful for what I do receive each day – a long phone call with one of my children, fun times with friends, a walk or bike ride with my husband, a deep conversation with my mom.

I worry less on the front end, and I am more at peace with those plans that don’t turn out. I can often reschedule, plan something else, or just enjoy some time to rest rather than keep up the pace I thought I wanted.

I actually plan better and more. Because of my recognition that each day is a gift, I want to fill them well. I crave valuable experiences, efforts, communication, and relationships.

I don’t want to waste a single moment.

I am learning to more quickly let go of the anger and forgive the offense. I am trying to take the initiative to clarify misunderstandings and express appreciation and love. I want to listen well to others and encourage and empower. I am attempting to criticize less and give more generously of myself.

Isn’t it ironic that the awareness of death gives greater meaning to life? 

How are you living each day?

crash and burn

computer crashI’ve been burning the candle at both ends for a while now. Not much margin. Not much sleep. Running late. Not remembering all I have to do. Just barely keeping my head above water… sometimes going under.

Last night I sank.

I have spent many, many hours during the last few months transitioning to a new computer. I have a definite love-hate relationship with that process. Its is nice to have more speed, more space, and new apps, but I dread the work it takes to set the new computer up with my programs, information, and personal settings. This new computer seemed more difficult than others before. More frustrations, more questions, more things I didn’t like… but I almost had it working the way I like…

and then it crashed last night! Dead. Black screen. No coming back.

We called technical support, and they hinted that it was probably my fault somehow – that didn’t help my frustration level (just saying). I have to ship it away, and it will be two weeks before I get it back.

Guess what? I haven’t left myself enough margin in my life for a two-week detour! I don’t have enough “free” time to do that transition work all over again. But it doesn’t really matter. I will have to find time to repeat the process.

I have been wrestling with my bad attitudes, panic, and discouragement all day. I am also feeling guilty for having my life wound up so tightly that this kind of bump in the road has me so flustered.

I mentioned my crisis in a Facebook status and received lots of empathy and encouragement – that has helped. I had my data backed up. I actually have an old computer I can use, so I remember to be grateful and not complain too strongly when others around the world have none. And I am wondering what other lessons I might need to learn…

Do I need to make some schedule changes? Am I reverting to old habits of few healthy boundaries? Is this just an inevitable season of life or a result of bad choices? What can I change to handle situations like this better in the future?

Have you been through a crash and burn experience? How do you handle it?