Saturday, January 19, 2008


"It is the mark of great people to treat trifles as trifles and important matters as important." (Doris Lessing)

Back in dance class, we were taught to “spot” when we were spinning.

Spotting is where you keep your focus on a particular spot in the room, and as you spin you whip your head around in order to keep that point in your focus for as much of the spin as possible. There’s a part of the rotation when you are not focused on your target, but this is brief, because as you spin you whip your head around and refocus on your spot.

Spotting is the secret to successful turns. It keeps the dancer oriented and aware of her movement and direction. It also prevents disorientation from a lack of focus and diminishes the dizziness from spinning.

I think spotting is the secret to success in life as well.

There are plenty of things that compete for my attention as I twist and twirl through existence…

There are the bills and the laundry, the furniture that needs dusting and the malfunctioning computer that needs repair…

There’s a mountain of negativity in the world and on the evening news.

There’s the guy who cut me off on the highway, and the snotty inattentive waitress at the restaurant, and that automated call that comes through at dinnertime every night with “a very important message for the cardholder.”

There are always errands to run and appointments to make.

And then there are all the little surprises that creep up on me when I least expect them and really make my head spin…

But I try not to let less important things consume me and set me spinning out of control. It’s not that they don’t receive some of my attention, but they don’t monopolize my focus. I can’t focus on everything, or I’ll end up dizzy, or back in bed with the covers pulled up over my head.

Though I may turn in different directions during the course of my day, or my week or my year, I try to remember to refocus on the spot.

For me, the spot is filled only by the ones I love most and the things that are important to me.

My family is there. They’re my main focus. They’re the reason I do everything that I do. My husband, my daughter, and my dogs comprise the bull’s-eye of my spot.

The rest of my family is there too, in a ring around my bull’s-eye. And my extended family and my husband’s family are in another ring. I have a ring of close friends, too.

I think at the end of the day, all that really matters to me are the ones I love, and the relationships I have with them.

There are other things I care about, of course. I care about my job, but only because I need to make money to help support my family. It's not one of my central rings.

I’m passionate about photography though, and I’m still working towards making that the main money-maker. Photography gets a ring in my target.

And there are causes that I care about, like homelessness and hunger and animal welfare. I’m going to try to make a ring to do some good this year, even if it’s only making donations. I’ll see what I can do…

I have to remember to include myself somewhere in my spot, because it’s easy to forget what I need. My needs are simple though: I need exercise, I need to be creative, and I need to spend quality time with those I love. I’ll have to remember to give myself a ring in my spot this year.

Even if everything else becomes a swirl of deadlines and to-do lists and problems and inconveniences, it’s my goal for 2008 is to keep my priorities in sight, maintain focus on the things that are most important to me, and make sure I am truly devoting quality time to them and enjoying them. The year will be gone before we know it, and I don't want mine to have been a blur.

"Whatever is at the center of our life will be the source of our security, guidance, wisdom, and power." (Stephen Covey)