Look Up

by Sarah on March 29, 2012

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Western laziness consists of cramming our lives with compulsive activity so that there is no time at all to confront the real issues
-    Sogyal Rinpoche

When I step outside my kitchen door, I’m greeted by the call of the redwing blackbirds down near the pond.

The yard – just a few weeks ago frozen and barren – now hosts marauding chickens, robins and a rare venturous mosquito. The dark brown of the garden beds promise green growth to come.

We’ve put our maple syrup in the basement – the first harvest of the year – and we’re gearing up for more harvests to come.

Soon I’ll be juggling my copywriting work with tending chicks, turkey poults, goat kids, piglets and seedlings.

Despite the busy-ness that comes with spring, I relish the change of pace and here’s why:

During the winter, with the farm in hibernation, I try to focus more on my copywriting business. This year I plowed through a Dan Kennedy copywriting course plus a dozen other business books, dove into a new project for Your Healthy Home Biz and increased my client load. I was more than fully booked.

Often enough, even when I’m away from my computer my head was swimming with ideas, strategies and plans based on what I’ve been working on online.

But when the spring comes, even though I keep up a close to full-time workload, I pare down a bit. My copywriting work is broken up with farm chores. In February and March it was tapping the maple trees, boiling sap and starting seedlings for this month.

Essentially, I look up from my computer screen and look around me.

I’m forced by my farm obligations to step back into the real world – in all its glory – and see, experience and live in it.

Now before you dismiss this as something only a farmer-copywriter can do. Or a personal quirk that has nothing to do with you, consider this:

The change of rhythms doesn’t only pull me into paying attention to the natural world outside my door. It isn’t just a farmer’s revelation.

  • It is a reminder to step back from the flow of emails, social media postings, and even my list of books to read in order to have some room to think.
  • It’s allowed me to gain clarity and creativity that I can apply to my work when I make my return trips to the land of computers.

But it goes even deeper.

When I look up I get a chance to consider what’s really important in life.

This year for example, as I extracted myself from my work mode and looked up . . .

I looked at my daughter – 15 – working through the challenges of high school, holding her own against the daily pressures to conform and lose herself in the social hubbub. I watch her developing a sense of dignity and self-worth that will protect her from the ravages of peer pressure.

And I ask myself – how am I offering her guidance and encouragement?

I looked closely at my son – 12 – bright, curious, inventive. But not a disciplined bone in his body. I watch him struggle to get beyond his own inclinations and cultivate responsibility and consideration in his behavior. I watch him get angry with our reminders when he falls short. And I see his deep glow of pride when he realizes how much being responsible changes his world.

I remind myself to stay the course. He needs consistent structure to keep moving forward here.

I looked at my marriage – 16 good years of partnering, punctuated by some tough times, but now characterized by a closeness and real enjoyment of each others’ company.

I look at how much I’ve gained from this marriage and tell myself sharply not to take it for granted (16 years is a long time). But to find ways to show my appreciation.

I realize how easy it is to ignore all these happenings when I’m caught up in my work and the world online.

And I realized that the things I grumble about in my work – a frustrating project or computer malfunction – are nothing when you consider the gifts of life and love.

I also realize how quickly these can slip away, right through our fingers, if we don’t carefully cradle them and tend them each day . . .

If we don’t hold onto them fiercely with the kind of attention someone devotes to holding onto a life preserver at sea . . .

If we don’t look up and notice them – and what we can do to tend them and make sure they’re there in the future.

The internet world is incredibly seductive. As fellow marketer Diana Huff points out, you can feel like the world is going to crash down on you if you don’t keep up – especially if you’re a marketer.

There’s always one more thing you can read . . . one more place you can “go” . . . one more way you can profit if you just spend some time putting it together.

Online there are so many voices promising you millions around the next corner. And all the glory and happiness that this wealth will supposedly bring you.

But it’s the exception – not the rule – that people reach this kind of financial success without devoting some periods in their life to being immersed in their work while the rest of life fades into the background. Some people manage to look up,realign and recapture their lives – enjoying their wealth and the full dimensions of living.

Some people never recapture what they’ve lost.

And some wise people get there by steadily looking up and tending their support system around them. It may take a little longer, it may take a little more effort, but they know that the rewards are sweeter when they can be shared.

Life is too rich to be quantified in dollars and bank accounts.

The best things in life aren’t easy. And they’re never free. They require investing attention and deliberate work to keep them by your side.

But they also can never be bought no matter how much money you have.

Work to support your life. Not the other way around.

Sure, you can make millions – it’s not something I’ve completely written out of my future either. A successful business can give you choices, comfort and security.

But I also remind myself to look up on occasion, beyond the flashing dollar signs and busy internet world. It helps me keep my perspective about what I’m aiming towards. And how I’m going to get there.

It helps me remind myself that the value of the dollar is nothing compared to the value of the life flowing through my body. Or the moment I have with my daughter before she rushes off to school in the morning.

So take a moment and look up.

Celebrate spring and the return of life to the world.

Look up. Smell the earth and the green promise.

Step away from the computer and look around you. Look at your life. Look at what makes you wealthy beyond riches. Cherish it.

Plant a garden. Spend some time feeling the sun on your face. Listen closely without distraction to your child or spouse.

Look up.

Fit your work into this complex, demanding and rewarding world. And stop trying to fit this world around the edges of your work.

What do you notice when you look up? Is this hard for you to do sometimes? Share your comments below . . . and then make sure you share this post with someone else who may need the same reminder.

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  • Hgeorgoudiou

    Hey Sarah,

    Great advice! My home office overlooks our modest garden, I love taking breaks and gazing out the window and seeing the wildflowers and Crepe Myrtle trees awaking from a long winters nap. 

  • http://www.facebook.com/sarah.clachar Sarah Clachar

    Glad you liked it. Sounds like you have a great incentive to looking up. Here I cover the deeper dimensions, but occasional looking out the window breaks are also a terrific way to protect your eyes against computer eye strain.

    You can get the rest of the details here:


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