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.
You have made me cry. Thank you Beth for this beautiful review!
Thanks to both of you, Beth and Bernadette- a smile may rise from the corners of my mouth before weeks end.
1) I will have ordered Bernadette’s book
2) I will have completed the potato-leek soup and apple/pear/banana pie that I have been talking about all week while shifting ingredients from one counter-top space to another in order to make room for ‘more important stuff’.
3) I will have put away the 3 loads of clean clothes in my room (with intention) while listening to music I love.
4) I will bask in a pace I like to call puttering’.
5) I will have shut down my computer for a minimum of 36 hours – GOTTA GO! XO
Just ordered this and Playful Parenting that I have read about.
I love this. Every.Last.Word. of it.
By the way, I should add that I currently have 25 tabs open on my browser.
Beth…I finally started my homework assignments. I wouldn’t say procrastination, because I thought about it a lot, and I’m not one to procrastinate. I’m the “have to get it done right now type.” But, my life has changed quite a bit, and those things that were once really important are now not (more on that later). My worms for Hunter (my son) and I and of course his Daddy were handed to me…literally. I wanted to start my worms big…do it right and all that. However, today I went to a Children’s Festival at an Audubon where my husband is the director. There, I met a man who creates vermiculture starter kits with his high school students. One $10 donation, a lesson, and a dishpan of of compost, peat, newspaper and worms came home with me today. A dishpan…that’s enough I said. This is how I should start. I’ve been in the opposite of the slow down movement. I’ve been wanting to speed up…catch-up with all those over achieving mommies that I love to read about and listen to. I want to do this or that…until March when my life just went into chaos. Both of my parents were diagnosed with cancer. Stage 4 throat for my Dad, and a month of crazy “what type of cancer and what stage are we at” diagnosis for my Mom. My Mom ended up not having cancer, that rare one percent, but they still had to remove the lower lobe of her lung and reconstruct her diaphragm. My Dad on the other hand is in “the thick of it,” feeding tube and all, being cared for by my sister and her family. What makes this challenging for me is that I live 5 hours away, have a 2.5 year old, one car (that died in the midst of all this), and a husband that works like crazy so that I can stay home with our son. We are juggling a visit every other weekend to help out the best we can. But through this, I’ve learned to say whatever…and stay in the now, right here in this place with my “baby bird” and his Daddy. Sure there is a ton that I would like to do, or read or think about or talk about…I crave it. But, I have enough…right here and now. I smile more and laugh more through all of this. I see my family more. I speak my mind, and say “whatever.” And, I got my worms. I’m still thinking about community, and finding my tribe. I’m sure I will find much more than that, and a ton of life lessons, through this experience. I’ve just got to keep my mind and heart open, and it will appear when I’m ready to accept it just like my worms. [Thank you for your posts. You keep me, and at times my husband, thinking.]
Definitely adding that book to my wish list! I hear bats are great for eating mosquitoes 🙂
My first time commenting on a blog (ever, I think!) but I just wanted to say: thanks for keeping it real! It is your honesty (and humor) that makes me understand what having a “virtual tribe” is all about these days as we try to figure our home in the world as a young international family. I am a mother, a wife, and Waldorf teacher and often find myself wondering how all these crafty, homesteading mamas do it all? As it is a life I achieve to live, I have to remind myself that getting there slowly is just as good, if not better. I can always go foraging for wild foods next spring, or hand-make all the gifts of appreciation to mothers on a random day of the year…it doesn’t all have to be crammed into two days of weekends. Thanks for the reminder (and the humor!).