Friday, March 9, 2012

Spring Cleaning from the inside out

This season, my urgent Spring cleaning has little to do with wielding my spritz bottle of homemade cleaner and cloth rags.  To be sure, I'm clearing dust and attempting to ditch clutter in the house.  In the garden, I'm working my compost piles, plucking weeds, and planting.   The "heavy lifting", though, is going on in my heart and head.

Some weeks ago, my mother remarked, "I don't know how you do it all."  Her words -- well meant, and spoken with admiration -- hit me like a stone.  Family, work, house, garden, community... I don't know how I do it all either!  What's more, I realized that I'm not sure that "doing it all" is what I want as a mark of distinction.  In my 20's and 30's, yes, it was exciting to defy 24-hour days and 7-day weeks.  Now?  Not so much.

This is where I should show you photos of the to-do lists I make for myself.  (How I *love* crossing things off!   Sometimes, I break a task into smaller items so I can check 'em off with satisfaction.)  I should also show you my calendar, its squares too often (still!) bursting at the seams.  I'll spare you; we're here to celebrate Spring, seasonal change, and new beginnings!

Aspects I'm working on "cleaning up" include:

Challenge #1: Getting up early
This had been recommended to me for a while as a great way to prepare the day for myself and my family, to give concentrated focus to reading, planning, learning, and more.  When I came across the same advice in other places, I took that as a call to action.  I've been keeping my alarm set for Oh-Dark-Thirty not only on weekdays, but also on the weekends and holidays.  Sure enough!  Those quiet pre-dawn hours have a special quality to them.  When you add a cup of tea, they are divine.  Which leads to...

Challenge #2: Going to be early(ier)
The rub is that getting up early is directly at odds with the late nights which have been my hallmark for so long.  How hard it can be to hit the "off" switch instead of clicking through to read "just one more email", a slippery slope which can (oops!) easily lead to a second and third email!  Are evening meetings worth the cost of long days which have you leaving the house at 6 a.m., packing breakfast, lunch, and dinner, and returning home just shy of midnight?  Which leads to...

Challenge #3: Changing obligations
Whether the word is voiced or typed out on a keyboard, it's hard to say n-o and it's hard to l-e-t g-o.  I've shed a few biggies on the obligation front, and dropped another one in January.   There's one before me this week, to which I need to either recommit, or... not.  My heart and head are having a little battle with each other over this decision.  Saying "yes" means helping to support an organization which gives our family much value.  Saying <whisper>no<whisper> means more time to stay home, to garden, to sew, to prepare food, to watch the children playing, to visit with friends, to tend the bees I hope to keep... also things of much value, and obligations in their own right.

Really, I should subdivide #3 into smaller bits.  That would let me cross off more challenges as I achieve them - lol!   More seriously, where's that balance between doing it all and doing enough?  Between doing for others and doing for yourself?  Between packing your days full and having space for spontaneity?

"See" you in the comments!  In the meanwhile, I'm off to bed. :-)


bd said...

That's a good question. I seem to always bein the extreme. 6 months ago I cherished a day with no plans. We moved across the U.S. and now I would love to have a community to fill my time with. Sigh.....balance.

Erin aka Conscious Shopper said...

Oh man, the going to bed early thing is killer for me. Once I put my kids to bed, I always have this feeling like, "Woohoo, my time! What am I going to do?" and then it passes all too quickly. And then as you said, the getting up early part is so much harder once I've failed the going to bed early part. Something I'm continuously working on.

Laura said...

I'm in the exact same boat these days... All too often I hear myself talking about the lack of hours in my day but them there I am willingly turning myself into a ping pong ball. Great post!

Betsy (Eco-Novice) said...

I love the idea of getting up early before my children to have some quiet thinking time. Sadly, I don't think that's going to happen for me for at least several more years (I have three under 5, youngest is 3 months).

Sheila@Chinaberry said...

Wish I could have had an older wiser me whisper in my ear that I didn't have to get a million things done each day when my kids were little. Now that I am, yes, older and (a little) wiser, I realize that I need to go at my own pace. Thanks for a great post!


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