Tuesday, September 2, 2014

On the Simple Life

So we just returned from a week (almost) in the wilderness. This is a picture from our trip two years ago, and that was ALL the stuff that our family brought.  I think one of the reasons I love camping is that it's the only time I'm away from our stuff.  When we're on a canoe trip, everything on my To Do List, I can do that day.  And there is little enough of it that I needn't write it down.  And I do do it.  No regrets.  No crying over the undone, or hauling piles of Undone up and down stairs. 

I love, in the wilderness, how little we can live on.  How we don't need so much because we have learned what just the right things are, and just how much.  I find that there's less in between me and God.  I can hear better.  Think better.  Breathe more deeply.

Every time I go, I want to bring it back.  I want to cast aside everything that hinders.

I want to imitate my train-hopping friends who carry all their stuff on their back. 

So, because of that, and a series of consecutive days with long bouts of crying over my inadequacy at cleaning, which I've been trying so hard at for YEARS and my overwhelmedness at life's big busyness, and some prayer and really feeling ready to do something drastic, (in a constructive, ok, I really need help kind of way) I tentatively signed up for Simplified Organization by Mystie Winckler.

I think this woman is a genius.  I've been trying to put it together.  So hard.  This summer I did some creative directing/ design work for our church's day campish adventure for kids, and it was so clear to me--I can do some creative things other people can't, but I am deficient in organizational and administrative ability.  I flourish when creating, but give me a list of things to get done, and I will not only not get the things I blithely promised I could pick up, I will likely forget which notebook I wrote it in, worry about it a great deal for a while, and then
forget I ever had it. 

Over the years, I've learned a lot.  I've been sighing with recognition, taking notes, bewildered, and stymied by FlyLady, Messies Anonymous, Getting Things Done, Hoe Comforts, Pomodoros, and a host of other people and groups teaching about homemaking, housecleaning, simplification, and organization.  I even had a wonderful housemate who invested a great deal of time helping me clean and simplify and purge every room of our house, including the basement.  It was a labor of love!  I needed a lot of hand-holding in order to let go of things.
Doing lots of projects like this may be a contributing factor to our home's exuberant spirit and lack of tidy.
I've learned and implemented a ton from Leila Lawler's great blog, LikeMotherLikeDaughter, Margaret Kim Peterson's profound and unlocking book, Keeping House.  I've really learned things.  I always have a meal plan and (twenty minutes after my husband was ready to leave for the grocery store) a shopping list.  Still, I read another book, underline everything, and discover that I already know what I need to do. I figured it out when my first son was eighteen months old. I did it for two weeks, stopped, and forgot what it ever was.  My house is not usually reasonably tidy.  Neither is it usually disastrous.By y standards, at least!

But it is usually too chaotic to comfortably host another family with little kids for a day of lessons and play.  Which we need to do regularly!

So I'm trying this e-course.  Which is a big deal for me, since I'm kind of allergic to technology and screen time.  But it's self-paced and I got two real-life friends to sign up with me.  I figure we can talk in real life or at least on the phone; that make it more friendly and realistic for analog me.
It's safe to say that nearly everyone in my family is  better at making things than cleaning them.

So, after that lengthy prologue, a short update:

I'm getting our space for lessons ready this week.
I'm not going to use google calendar, but may try to get more space for my calendar in my planner so it will be more effective.
I'm using simpler, shorter daily to do lists.

I was initially frustrated by the first module's philosophic emphasis on attitude.  I decided to work through it faithfully.  It is more practical than I first thought. As in, she addresses practical stuff too.
But the attitude bit itself was also practical. For me, it means replacing critical thoughts with gratitude.  This has made an immediate difference.
I realize that most of the books I've read advocate an apocalyptic cleanse of the house.  That I have done.  More than once!  Apparently what I need is more a change in behavior.  And deeper, my mindset and expectations?  Still getting my head wrapped around this.                                                                                                                                            
Smiling when I'm overwhelmed and discouraged?  Sounds cliche.  Sounds Little Orphan Annie fake.  But also sounds kind of pleasant.  I'm giving it a try.

1 comment:

Mystie said...

Thank you so much for sharing your story. I've done those apocryphal house cleansings, too, and always feel worse the next day because of how quickly they are undone!

It's easy enough to say "Hey, change your attitude." But when we're stuck in seeing all that Undoneness, it seems impossible. But it's really the key to unlocking the possibility to reasonably clean, partly because it's only after we change our attitude that we can see "reasonable" for what it is. :) I hope the practical tips for how to do it help and work for you!

Thank you again for sharing!