Hannah asked me an interesting question recently, “Do you know you are changing when you’re in the middle of it?”
Fantastic question, right, and exactly the kind of thing I love to mull over. When you are really changing, you’re just trying to keep your head above water and you don’t have time to think about it. Like when you have an infant. Or when you move and are finding your groove in a new place.
It was also a great question because I realized that although I’m doing new little things all the time, I’m in a pretty comfortable place overall. Which means I’m probably not growing/changing all that much. I like to think otherwise, and the truth hurts a little bit.
I am needing a good challenge, something that takes more than the little bits of me that I devote to various things. I do my Bible study and that is comfortable. I exercise in a comfortable way. I share a comfortable amount with other people. I am comfortable most days in my routines. That sameness is good in some ways and certainly it’s good for our family.
That doesn’t mean that it isn’t good for our family to stretch a little too. Last weekend we did a snowshoe on an icy small peak that was tricky with the littles. We were sliding on the way up, literally bear crawling to keep from slipping back down the peak, and it was definitely running through my mind that it might not be our most brilliant move….we did have to come down, after all! But we plodded on and when we turned around to head back, not only were we all filled with satisfaction, but, despite my fears, the kids had the time of their lives. Sammy sledded down much of the way on his bum. I sat on the back of my snowshoes and slid. It was fun and silly and we all felt more alive for the challenge and discomfort.
It’s a lesson I need to apply personally.
Yet, I will be fair in saying that despite my need for challenge, I’ve been learning lots. I’ve learned that my attitude makes all the difference of whether or not something works for our family. If I am stressed and rushing, an activity does not work, where if my attitude is better for the same tight scheduling, it’s just fine. The power of thought is so great, in this and other situations. It’s easy to think about discipline in a physical sense, but harder and much more important to discipline our thinking- the mind is so powerful.
I’m realizing my penchant for excuses that boil down to laziness. There is always an excuse! An easy example is getting things done in a day…there are a million reasons I can give you of why I didn’t practice piano or exercise or pray but really, it’s just that I didn’t feel like doing whatever it was in a given moment. Humbling thought to realize that I can’t lay blame.
Confession: Until this week, I hadn’t cleaned my house in a really long time. I’m always picking up. Constantly picking up. I call that cleaning. Somewhere along the way, I had given up on real cleaning as a worthless cause (excuses again!). It wasn’t conscious but I just stopped doing it. A friend mentioned that she, in homeschooling, was training her kids for life, and I loved that concept. Hello! Cleaning the house. Life skill. So, we cleaned the house instead of doing school one day. I’ve been decluttering for months (Life Changing Magic in slow motion, but steady!), but I couldn’t really feel the difference because the house wasn’t clean underneath. It was a huge present to all of us to have a clean house, and it didn’t take us all that long (the decluttering paid off). I’m not going to go crazy and say I’ll clean the house every week, but cleaning the house and feeling good in my space is an effort worth the work.
And because decluttering is an obsession, I feel like I have turned a corner in understanding the need of this practice. I suddenly got a vision of having a home where the things I had brought me joy, that there were not things piled up that I hadn’t finished or hadn’t decided about, a home that reflects who we are as a family currently, not who we were in the past. It’s not rocket science but I understood it more than I had before. And I’m making progress. This week I took 7 bags to the thrift store with things that were harder to part with….I’m getting there. I got rid of a sweater I had knit that isn’t my style. I got rid of practical shoes that I don’t like. I got rid of some unfinished projects that I didn’t find worth finishing. This was huge! I want to walk into my house and feel uplifted and joyful. I am still culling the excess and then I am lacking cozy, homemade elements to make it personal, but I’ll add after I’ve taken away. It’s a long process but so worth the journey.
The next step is making it more “lean” around our house and farm, to be intentional in our movements and actions, but cleaning out is the first step. I’m still too much in that stage to move on to where I need to redirect energy.
From the bookshelf…
- Oliver Twist by Charles Dickens
- The Lean Farm by Ben Hartman
- All the Places You Can Go by John Ortberg
- A Maine Hamlet by Lura Beam
- The Artists Way by Julia Cameron
Have you ever found yourself in a comfort rut? What helped you?