The Process

“If life’s about the journey and not the destination
Then maybe we should all take time to do more procrastination
Eat the cake, smell the roses, take time to stop and stare
Walk along that sunset beach, be the tortoise, not the hare”

So penned a wise woman I know in a song she wrote and sings (spoiler, it’s me with my ukulele!)

It’s a cliche-ridden verse in a clique-ridden song, but cliches are cliches for a reason ie they are true, relevant, pertinent. Davies, Scarlett and I have been chatting about next steps for them recently. Davies got his results for his access course this week- a very high scoring pass which we are all delighted with. He will begin his BSc in October and is looking forward to that. Scarlett reaches official school leaving age in Scotland at the end of this year and having had a taste of online distance learning and how it works we have been looking at interesting short courses that she can work through over the winter – to have some varied options to maybe spark her interest in studying more in depth and to build her CV. These conversations have included talking about ‘the process’ with different types of activity.

My pre-parenthood employment was a mix of retail management and recruitment, while Davies and Scarlett were little I did various bits and pieces including freelance CV writing. Over the years I have used the terms self-motivated and goal-orientated countless times but in recent pondering I have come to realise I possibly never fully understood what they meant in terms of being neither positive or negative character traits particularly, just different types of personality. I’ve talked about methodical approaches, being ‘super organised’ and looking back at teams of people I have worked with or managed I can see that it was more often than not whether a person was goal or process driven that made them more or less suitable for certain tasks than anything else, including their actual skill in that task. I can tell you which of the members of our family is process driven and which are goal oriented. Neither is better or worse, just better suited for certain tasks, motivated and rewarded in different ways.

It will surprise no one I suspect that I am about the journey, the process, finding if not joy then at least fulfilment in every step. I’m happy to stop halfway up a mountain and enjoy the view just where I sit (another song lyric) without feeling the need to reach the top. And I realise that most of what I have constructed around me as my day to day life, way of making money, long term plans are all about the details, the process, the unhurried finding joy in the details and every step of the path. From my jam making where I love the growing the fruit, harvesting the fruit and planning jam flavours, the actual making of the jam itself and then the making the labels for the jars and displaying them in the shed, to my crochet which has the additional pre-step now of having sheared the sheep and spun the wool to choosing colours and textures, crocheting component parts and constructing a blanket, a soft toy, or other project.

I’ve been walking up one of the steep Rum tracks for the last month, not every day; I took a break while my parents were visiting and if I can’t fit the 90 minutes or so it takes into my day then that’s fine. It is partially about being active, for the health benefits that brings but also just as much about the views across Rum and out to sea, to Skye and the mainland, over to the Croft, the portfolio of pictures of me sat at the point I walk to each time with different backdrops of weather, of plant foliage and of wildlife, about the people I sometimes meet and sometimes stop to chat with. It’s about the headspace, the chance to listen to a podcast or some music, or enjoy the sounds of Rum – the crunch or splosh of my footsteps, the river running or trickling, the wild flights of fancy or new ideas that occur to me when my mind is empty of other things, or as my friend Joyce calls it the ‘mental tupperware sorting’ of organising your chaotic brain into tidy compartmentalised thoughts and the sense of peace that that can bring.

Learning new things is a fantastic gift that I think one should strive to enjoy every day, at every stage of life. Learning new things about oneself along the way is really interesting and probably goes a long way to explaining some of the choices in life I have made and why I am most happy in certain situations. I am so lucky to be able to live in a way which embraces these traits and to be able to share that life with people who are also celebrating their natural inclinations instead of working against them.

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