One of my big goals for this year is to work better within the cycles of my life. There are so many cycles! When we think of how time moves, culture tells us it is a line, but ancient wisdom focuses on the cyclical nature of time, not the linear one.
Old calendars were more tuned to the cycles of nature, of the moons and the sun, of the seasons and the stars. But even in the very modern world, we have cycles: daily, weekly, monthly, yearly. We just don't pay attention to them in the same way.
My life is made up of a number of cycles, which all effect me in different ways. Of course the daily cycle of waking and sleeping, and I have learned that if I don't allow myself enough time to sleep, my waking day will be wasted. The weekly cycle of days where I get up early and days where I sleep in. I may not have this cycle for much longer, as son is about done with school. I haven't really thought deeply about how I will cycle my weeks once I no longer wake with him to see him off to school.
I will probably shift my wake schedule to mostly match my husbands work schedule, which is another crazy cycle. Yes, crazy. He swaps days and nights every six weeks, and works 12 hour shifts, 3-4 days (plus overtime) a week. So it is a very fluid cycle, one that I have realized effects me greatly.
See, I do some things much easier when I am alone. It is easier for me to stick to my plans, to write and work and just embrace that freedom that comes from having no one else here, no one else I have to adjust around. When hubby or son is home, we all adjust so that we do certain things together, like eating, cleaning or running errands. When I am alone, some things are much less rigid (I find that I eat whenever I want, not at a particular time).
There is a beauty to this balance that I have been fighting for a while. I was scheduling my days, irregardless of who was home, and this led to me being frustrated by my own plans. So, I am trying something new! This was something I had intended to do, working with the moon cycle and my own hormonal cycle, but I have realized I can benefit from working with my family cycle as well.
This comes back to the idea of energetic ebb and flow. This is something many people feel from the moon cycle, that there are times where the global energy is lower, and times where the energy tides ride high. When working with the moon, you tune your actions to the energy of the moon, following the waves as they feel the pull of the moon. There is time for rest, time for growth, time for opening wide and time for releasing.
As a woman, I have a similar hormonal cycle, and learning to be kind to myself, to work with my own biological peaks and low points means that I can really nurture myself in a way that doesn't involve fighting where I am at.
I think this is where it gets complicated though. Even just trying to figure out the best way to plan so that I can get everything I want to get done in a way that meshes with the moon cycle and my personal cycle creates a complex pattern that is hard to wrap my head around. This is one thing that I can see a bit better with the moondial I keep (which tracks both the moon and my personal cycle), but I am not very good at really stopping and looking ahead, to try to prepare for those low tides in both cycles, and make sure that I'm not hitting 'crunch time' when my energies will be low.
Right now, I'm pretty lined up. The rest times in both cycles are synced up. But this is not a constant for me! I tend to loose about 3-5 days, each moon cycle, so my personal cycle keeps going back a moon phase each month. Sometimes the energy tides will be at complete opposite times, which makes for a little mental puzzle: what do you do, when the inner and outer energies are in opposition?
It takes a little creative thinking, but I feel like most of us have different things that refresh us. So 'rest' doesn't always mean the same thing! I definitely have days where I need to fill my cup, and what appeals to me is sitting curled up with a blanket and a book. But other times, what I need is to do something, to dance or paint or write furiously.
Thinking about the external energies, if the moon is calling me to rest, but my personal energy is high, I can devote that energy towards more behind the scenes things. Instead of writing something to be sent out into the world, I can journal and go deep. Instead of creating magic to work on family issues, I can create an altar or other container to hold the work I will do later.
One of the first steps, in figuring out a plan based on the cycles of our lives, is to start paying attention to the things we crave at different times. When I was first introduced to the idea of working with our energetic ebb and flow, the suggestion was to make a list of things you can do when your energy is low versus when your energy is high. And also, to make a list of things that you crave when your energy is low, but also I think when it's high.
For me, when I am just all worn out, I can do little things but don't want to do stuff that feels like it would take more than five to ten minutes. I'm reading a SARK book right now that talks about micro-movements, which are basically that: small steps that can be done quickly. What I love about these micro-movements is that it helps break up that really heavy energy that I can get when I'm low. The kind of stasis that makes you just sit and do nothing. I don't like being in that space, because it is oppressive. Being able to do something small, and feel like I've done something, helps break up that energy into something more restorative, so that I can then do something that will help build me up instead of bring me further down.
My micro-movements might be as simple as getting up and washing the coffee cup that I left in the sink, or opening my current writing project and writing one line. It can even be opening up my calendar and seeing if I can check anything off.
I actually have to watch myself when I'm running on full as well though. Because I can bite off more than I should be chewing and exhaust myself. When I'm really energetic, I have the urge to do all the things, all at once, right now. And trying to do multiple things at the same time makes me a little crazy. I don't really do any of them well. It is much better when I slow down a tiny bit, pick one thing to work on, and decide how far I am going to go with it when I start...and stick to my plan. I might think I want to clean the bathroom, and if I don't set my limits, will find that has grown into washing down all the doors in the house, which leads me to washing the outsides of the doors, then the columns out front.
Picking one thing, working with it until it is finished, and then stopping, lets me get a lot more done, in a way that doesn't deplete my resources. I also try to make sure that I plan on something to relax, especially on days where I am on a roll. Setting the intention to stop at some point and do something fun, helps me stay balanced and reminds me to not over-extend.
It's definitely a work in progress, but realizing that I can plan my days differently based on what is going on in my house was like a weight being lifted off my shoulders. I had always fought the changes in my daily schedule, and felt guilty that I wasn't sticking to my 'plan' for the days. In the end, I usually tried to push through and sort of go through the motions of what I had intended to do, which made me a little resentful.
Making it a conscious decision to change my plan, to align my tasks when I can do them the easiest, means I can do more with less, leaving me more time in the end, and with less stress! I still have to pay attention, because of course we sometimes have days that we are either up or down, irregardless of the many cycles we have going on in our lives. And this is when those lists (of things that you do/need during your ebb or flow times) come in handy. When your intended plans need to be adjusted, you can check in with your lists and see what you can do instead, and then change your plans in the future to accommodate your current energetic mood.
It will definitely take some getting used to, being more fluid like this. But I think it's time. I will always have some things that I have 'hard' deadlines on. My blog gets posted on Wednesdays, I write a story by the end of the month, I set goals on Mondays, but with son finishing school this year, my main time block will no longer exist. I'm excited to see where this will lead me.