Creating margins in our days

December 13, 2023

As a family, we overdid our fall.

We just tried to pack in too many activities.

The girls were in two plays since the beginning of school, which had them at rehearsals every day of the week. October was then performance month, which just about did us in.

The girls had several parts each.
Ryan did all the sound for the shows;
I was in charge of parent volunteers.

We enjoyed being a part of the theater community as a family and volunteering together, but it was full of school, work, and the farm.

As a family, we decided we would never do two plays at the same time.

Katherine came to me one night after the final performance and was just overwhelmed. On top of being exhausted, she was sad that theatre was over and sad about not seeing her theatre friends. We had been rushing to rehearsals right when they got off the bus from school and then we would be out late. Once we got home, we were rushing through homework and getting to bed late. All of this was happening when she had just started junior high.

She was done but didn’t have words for what she was feeling.

After processing the overwhelm, I asked Katherine if she knew the expression “creating margin in your life.”
She shook her head no.
“Do you know what margins are on the page of a book?”
Yes, she replied, the space around the words on the page.

“What if there were no margins on the page?” I asked.
“What would it be like to read? It would be overwhelming and really hard to navigate where you were.”

We discussed the need to create space in our daily lives. When our time is filled and scheduled without breaks to transition and be creative, life just seems to pass us by. We both took time to think about what was really important to each of us.

We asked ourselves:
What do I have to do?
Who and what am I responsible for?
What do I enjoy doing?
What can I remove that doesn’t fit right now?

Here’s the thing: When we say “yes” to something we are saying no to something else. When we say “no” to something, we are saying “yes” to something that is important to us.

First, we must identify what’s important to us; that gives us the framework so we can be ready with a response when opportunities come our way.

Over the past month, I’ve been processing these questions so I can determine what’s really important to me and where I want to put my focus for the upcoming year.

Here’s where I’ve landed for 2024:

  • My family: My greatest obligation and greatest joy are with my girls and Ryan. I truly enjoy being with them and making sure I’m available for them. 
  • Our home and farm: I love being home, I want to be home. This means I fully embrace working from home.  
  • Building Mosaic: focusing on current clients and building new relationships.  
  • Creating: Writing, working towards building a book on Financial Wellness

I’ve had to say “no” to a few things to say yes to what is the most important.
I resigned from the Planned Giving Forum board I was planning to join at the end of the year. It was hard to write that letter and to feel like I was letting people down. However, the response I’ve received has been so encouraging, acknowledging the decision to prioritize my family and Mosaic as admirable.

Life truly is a journey; there isn’t a specific destination.
There are steps forward and sideways, and as we make decisions based on what is important to us and the people in our lives, we find ourselves in places with wonder and surprise. Hopefully, unexpectedly, somewhere greater than we imagined.

As expected, our finances are a journey as well.
When we determine what is important to us, it’s vital to understand where we are in regard to our finances. That’s the start button I have talked about before. When you know what’s important to you, then steps can align to start moving you in the direction you want to go.

As we close out the year I encourage you to get out a pencil and write down:

  • Where you could use some margin in your life? 
  • What things are you not willing to give up?
  • Where do you feel overwhelmed in your finances?
  • What are you looking forward to in 2024?

I love this time of year, and as a family we celebrate Christmas, full of music with lots of baking, time together, and creating space for wonder in the coming year. I leave you with my most loved Christmas lyric:

“A thrill of hope the weary world rejoices, for yonder breaks a new and glorious morn.”

Happy Christmas, and here’s to a 2024 with some margin.