Oh my heavens...doesn't this picture just give you the heebie jeebies...it's just that it communicates SO concretely how my life feels sometimes....there is WAY too much going on...
It seems to me that in my reading of essays lately, I've come across more and more conviction and dialogue about the value of paring down our lives, saying "No" to more activities, and learning to be ok with having less, doing less, and being less.
Perhaps it just happens to be the books and authors I've been drawn to, or perhaps it is a tide of feeling that is beginning to swell in an attempt to counter what seems to be a culture that is pleading with us to do more, more, more. Buy more, more, more. Become more, more, more.
It's making me kind of tired...How about you?
I've started to throw out the pottery barn catalogs before I even open them. I've had to stop buying so many women's magazines because they are all telling me how to "live a better life", "buy better jeans", "make better meals", "be a better mom" and thus after a while reinforcing the message that my life needs to be improved significantly.
What if it doesn't?
What if I simply need to make do with what I have? Not decorate one more room, sign my kids up for one more activity, organize one more space with expensive organizers, etc. etc. etc.
What if I stopped reading all of those books, and magazines, and watching all of those shows and spent that time simply organizing a room based on my own ideas, or making a simple meal with ingredients already in my cupboard, or just coloring on plain paper with markers with my kids rather than feeling like I have to come up with some sort of decoupaged life sized animal that I will not have space to store.
In one essay the author mentioned that we need to begin living as if we have enough...which brought me to my title, something our parents used to scream at us when we were yelling, and carrying on and fighting with one another..."ENOUGH IS ENOUGH!"
Perhaps it's what we need to start yelling at ourselves when we are carrying on from thing to thing, activity to activity, store to store, place to place...tiring ourselves out in an attempt to live a full and meaningful life.
I can't say that I have put these thoughts into action in a meaningful or life-changing way yet.
I was invited to be part of a Bible study this fall and I'd really like to join. I enjoyed watching Ava in gymnastics this year, and I think she enjoyed it to, so I plan to sign her up again. Scott has worship band practice on Wednesday nights. I'm considering running another 1/2 marathon in the Fall. Not to mention Ava starting pre-school, and all the many Fall/Winter pre-school, MOPS, and family activities that are certain to be just around the corner.
So you see, it is a struggle. There are a LOT of things I want to do, Scott wants to do, the girls want to do. Then there are things we have to do. And then lots of other things start to pile up on top of all of that. Sigh...How do we find...balance?
I hesitate to use that word because the practical living out of a "balanced" life seems illusive and unachievable, an ideal that we are always pursuing, but that is not attainable.
There is a lot I don't know about all of this...a lot of figuring out I need to do.
In the meantime, I can tell you a couple of small ways I've tried to live in a place of enough though:
-throwing out many of the catalogs that come into the house. I don't need any more baby stuff, or furniture, or house gadgets at the moment. If and when I realize I really need something I will go and find it instead of allowing it to find me.
-trying to consolidate my errands. I find that I can tend to run to a different store every night of the week sometimes. Enough is enough! I have better things to do, like blow bubbles with my daughters or sit on our patio with my husband. I'm trying to make lists, and realize that NOTHING I need is really that urgent...it can wait a day or two until I'm driving in that direction, or until my next trip to the grocery store.
-giving more and more to the goodwill. We've hung on to a LOT of stuff. TOO much stuff. I think I often tell myself that I'm going to have a garage sale, or take it to a consignment shop, or find a way to sell it on Craigslist...and, in the meantime, it sits in our garage and our basement and our closets just taunting me with it's presence. It's not worth it anymore! I probably will consign some of the kid stuff eventually, but everything else is getting purged from the house and donated.
-trying to be intentional about not booking, planning, organizing too many activities for me to do with the girls throughout the week. I LOVE to go, go, go with them, often because it is a distraction from the things I really don't want to do; laundry, house cleaning, etc. The irony is that on the days I actually stay home to get the cleaning done, I feel WAY better...it's all a balance...
Well, I've said enough...this post was inspired by the essays of two women whom I've recently read...here is what they have to say on the subject:
Katrina Kenison, Mitten Strings for God
"It is hard for a mother to say no, both for ourselves and for our children, for we live in a society in which people are defined largely by their activities and their accomplishments. Yet if se don't set these limits, who will? If we don't say no we become the weary victims of our own schedules. In a rush to do everything we miss, the genuine pleasure of experiencing one thing fully. We we race through life, we miss it."Shauna Niequist, Bittersweet: Thoughts on change, grace, and learning the hard way
"We all have a kooky set of fears and loves that makes us do what we do. For me, I love experiences, and it makes me scared to think of missing out on anything at all. So that fear drives me and takes over my life, pushing me to do more, eat more, try more. But I don't want to be ruled by fears. There will be more life to experience tomorrow. And the next day, and the next day. And I don't have to be running after it all the time. Breathe, rest, practice the idea of enough...
...I don't know the way through to the other side of this one, but I do know that I don't want to be rule by ravenous anymore, and that full life is not the same as a full calendar. Full life is lived when the whole system works together, when rest and home and peace live hand in hand with taste and sparkle and go. I've believed the craziness for too many years, and while I still have a lot of questions, the answer I need to be giving most often these days is NO."
Here is to living like we have enough...