I had one of those weeks this week. Between computer problems, impossible to find sources, rescheduled meetings and odd editorial requests, everything was taking about ten times as long as she it should have. It was apparent by Thursday morning that, while I was fully caffeinated and more than ready to work, nobody else was.
So I said “screw it” and built snow art instead. It was awesome.
Let me back up for a second. My high school friend Katie runs a marketing agency in Mahnomen, Minnesota and she wanted to try snow art messaging to (completely unoffically) promote Frostival (a winter party here in Fargo-Moorhead), so she asked me to introduce her to some people to help.
If you would have told me that I’d spend one of the my favorite days of the new year balancing on my tiptoes on a ladder with people from my high school, having surprisingly informed discussions about snow consistency and blowtorches, I’m pretty sure I wouldn’t have believed you.
But life is random that way. And it’s certainly more interesting.
It rained on Friday (Rain! In Fargo-Moorhead! In January!) so our work washed away after about a day. And you know what? I didn’t care.
It was fun. It was challenging. It was something we did just for the joy of doing it, just do see if we could do it. And even though it was completely transitory, it still felt a lot more productive than sitting in my office and getting increasingly frustrated.
So I’ve been making a point to get outside when it seems easier to stay in and catch up. I’ve been trying to be more active when it’s tempting to sit. I’ve been making an effort to really see my surroundings instead of just rushing on to the next thing. And I’ve been trying to embrace winter, with all of its beauty and challenges.
Being active and mindful has made me see even the most familiar places in a completely new way. My ugly old snowboots aren’t really the best hiking footwear, but they’ve carried me through my neighborhood, where I realized that the prairie sky can be just as breathtaking from the middle of the city as on the prettiest scenic vista.
And when my brilliant plan of cutting through my alma mater’s courtyards and corridors turned into an impromptu one mile wander (weekends = locked doors) across the snow-covered campus (in heels, no less) I realized quickly that I’d be late. Way late.
And then I realized that it didn’t really matter. I could get the shot and interviews I needed after just as easily after the event as before. And I realized that, even though I graduated from Minnesota State University Moorhead, I hadn’t really looked at it in awhile.
So I watched it snow. I noticed little details and art and hidden nooks. And it was a totally worthwhile detour.
These tiny choices have made a difference. They might not be making me more productive, but they’re certainly making my life more interesting.
I clearly didn’t need to go to the Frostival party to make s’mores and drink beer and go to a street dance in downtown Fargo in January. But it felt like a much better use of my time than trying to play catch-up during a week that clearly wasn’t interested in my glorious plans for productivity.
Frankly, productivity is overrated. The goofy photos with the band weren’t productive. Drinking cocoa and hanging out at the bonfires with strangers probably wasn’t productive either. Drinking a couple PBR pounders at the VFW (’cause that’s what you do at the VFW) certainly wasn’t productive.
But it was fun. And if I hadn’t done it, I would have missed dancing and random conversations and meeting a new Instagram buddy and the odd, spontaneous conga line with a couple hundred other people. I would have missed my friends Frode and Naomi playing the cowbell (it’s a long story). And I certainly would have missed the cowboys dressed in sequins. (That’s an even longer story. But if I would have known I’d get out-glammed by couple of dudes, I totally would have worn lipstick.)
As Naomi and walked to our cars, we couldn’t stop laughing. It was one of those weird, completely random, one-thing-leads-to-another kind of nights that makes you laugh long after it’s over. And as I curled up in bed, with the smell of wood smoke still in my hair, I was still smiling.