It’s been one of those weeks for me (thus the lack of posts). Not the too-exhausted-to-get-out-of-bed type of week, and not quite the crazy-overwhelmed-and-in-over-my-head kind either, but more like the oh-my-gosh-I-can-hardly-contain-all-these-great-ideas-and-would-everyone-please-just-stop-saying-MOM-before-I-snap-under-the-weight-of-endless-petty-NEEDS type of week.
Fortunately(?), I’ve been here enough times to recognize the source of my imbalance, and the solution is pretty much the opposite of rocket science: I need to slow down.
There’s evidence of this all around me:
I have at least 15 tabs open on my computer at all times. Currently, they range from a self-publishing site I was recently turned on to, to Hyperbole and a Half, who just officially announced she is posting again!, to an article about Coca-Cola I am referencing for a piece I’m writing. Why do I keep them all open? Because they all feel important enough to give attention to, yet not important enough to add to my to-do list. And besides…
I write to-do lists and then never even look at them again before writing the next one.
I’ve slipped back into the habit of helping with homework while stirring tomato sauce, washing dishes and writing, then wondering why I’m not particularly enjoying any of them.
The number of comments I’ve yet to respond to is starting to make me feel like a big jerk (sorry friends – it’s not you, it’s me).
Not only am I backed up on the laundry, but I actually have a rewash pile specifically for clothes the bats have pooped on while drying and I haven’t felt like dealing with yet. I have a bat poop pile in my house, folks. If that doesn’t say something about my priorities…
Huh. Sounds a whole lot like the life I once lived before I realized I didn’t want that anymore.
Thing is, I’m on fire right now. I have not one, but three books waking me up at night begging to be written, I’ve got more brilliant blog posts stewing than there are hours in a month, I can’t ever study enough Spanish to satiate this new love of mine (no worries, Hunter, it’s only mastery of the subjunctive I crave) and now there’s a farmer’s market right next to a permaculture site within walking distance of my house.
Hello again, Beth Berry, multitasking addict/overachiever with impossible standards for herself. How did you sneak back in??
I actually know how. I’ve taken on a grand new pursuit that I happen to LOVE (no, not kiteboarding just yet, but writing), I have a clear vision of where I’m headed (with written goals) and no matter how slow the immediate world around me, my north American tendency toward busy feels about as natural to me as siesta to my neighbors. (Not good natural, mind you, just default natural.)
So this week, I decided to scrap my writing schedule, do shit tons of yoga and intentionally slow down (I even chose restorative hatha classes instead of my usual vinyasa power flow. That’s progress, right?)
And as usual, just as soon as I decided to make a positive shift, confirmation came out of the woodwork (or cinderblock, as it were) — this time the form of a friend’s new book: Slow Family Living.
Bernadette Noll is a fellow mother-of-four from Austin with many perspectives similar to my own…
Nowadays many of us live away from our families and so the village must be formed. If there is any advise I can give to young families–no matter whether you are urban, suburban, rural or somewhere in between–it is to build your tribe, find your people, create your village. And once you do, gather with them regularly for comfort, for solace, for rituals, and for fun.
As well as tried and true ideas for connecting with the family that I never would have thought of:
In the bathroom I have fixed a plastic sleeve to the wall across from the toilet. It isn’t the fanciest thing I have ever created but it is utilitarian in design and completely effective in its usage. It is not a place for appointments reminders or other calendar events, rather it is a place where I can forward onto my family all the inspirations I recieve throughout the day…prose pertinent to something we might be experiencing as a family or comics that are relevant to our situation.
All too familiar with the precarious balance of intentional motherhood, rich family life, personal growth and self employment, she’s done us all a real service by spelling out simple, practical and creative strategies for slowing down, connecting and creating more joy within our families.
With chapters like:
Beneath Every Behavior Is a Need
Listen With Your Heart Open
Play Hooky, Family Style
and Don’t Sweep Until the Rice Dries
Bernadette does a beautiful job pointing out how little is needed beyond our time and willingness to slow it back down and reconnect to what matters most.
I highly recommend the read.
As for me, I’ve got her book on my nightstand, I’m setting work hours that end well before the kids come home (rocket science, I tell you) and thanks to Bernadette, I’m once again reminded that now is enough, there’s really no big hurry and connecting with my kids can be simple as a bathroom bulletin board.