Calendar Carving

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Simplify – that word has as much buzz right now as essential oils. Maybe it’s winter. Maybe it’s that a good number of people are actually admitting that they are exhausted. I admitted my own exhaustion 4 ½ years ago when I stopped teaching my kids at home and filled out the papers for public school. At the time, I felt like a failure. I looked around me and there were all these other moms that could pull it off – along with swim team, club soccer, traveling baseball, dance team, etc… And of course, many of them were growing organic food in their backyard or raising chickens or dashing off to foreign lands to adopt children or build clean water sources for African school children or some other mind-blowing venture. I couldn’t get my kids to finish their math workbooks, and all the plants in my house were dead or dying.

So, I stopped, or at least i slowed WAY down. I still had stuff going on, but I can’t begin to list how many things I cut. If most moms saw the empty space on my calendar today, they would either die of envy or sneer with scorn at my obvious laziness. Believe me when I say my empty calendar is not a source of pride.  I am confessing that I just can’t do it.  I don’t have the energy – physically, emotionally, spiritually. And honestly, my days are still quite full, just not full of lists and set activities.

Every now and then, I’ll hear it from my son that he wishes I had put him in tennis at 7 because he would be higher up the ladder. And there are nights when my daughter mumbles at me under her breath because I am not willing to drive her 30 minutes away for volleyball skills training 3 times a week. But I think my kids need this time and space too. Maybe they just inherited this need from me, but I think it’s more than that. They have so much thrown at them at school and from the media and from their own developing brains that they desperately need room to unwind it all and to process. Sometimes, we need to be free for those big conversations that require a lot of time and space. When I realize it’s been a while since I really talked with my kids about something significant, I know it’s time to step back and see what’s crowding us.

Sometimes it is lonely. There are many days when I am free to enjoy a walk or lunch with a friend, but it is really hard to find anyone else with time for that. My kids often have time to play at the park or hit tennis balls on the weekend, but the rest of the world is booked solid. It’s good to keep that in mind if you intend jump on the simplify bandwagon. You won’t fit in the stream of things, and the quiet can be a little haunting at times.

There is no moral to this story. I watch some of my friends from afar and they seem to be much better at juggling than me. Some families seem to be thriving while fitting 10 times the activities that we do into any given week. What I would say is that it is a good thing for everyone to evaluate every now and then.

If you do feel that you are drowning, try being absolutely ruthless for a season. By ruthless, I do not mean that each of your 2, 3, or 4+ kids gets to pick one activity (on top of their obviously vital music lessons). I mean go for the calendar kill – NOTHING that is not necessary to core education and basic health. Maybe just for 1 semester – just to see – just to breathe. Check out Bill Hybel’s book Simplify: Ten Practices to Unclutter Your Soul. Also, read this fantastic article by Louis M. Profeta MD. If you live around here and things get too quiet, maybe we can go on a walk!

A note to my NJ friend Roslind. Thank you for modeling a simpler way for me and showing me the joy of doing life with a friend. I still miss you – 6 years later! Can you believe it? Still hoping we get to be neighbors in heaven.

Sweet Home

Family

I am very thankful for my current house – a great 1-story w/ 3 bedrooms and a open living/kitchen area that has room to cram 50 people if needed. I chose the cool paint colors and, although I wouldn’t have picked the kitchen counters, they are expansive. But this is the truth – the reason this house is home is because of the people and animals that inhabit it. I really do believe that I could move into a tent (maybe 2 tents) or a trailer or whatever and make it work with my clan. It doesn’t hurt that my husband’s got some skills and could take care of us in all kinds of crazy situations. Point is – I have found my home with this husband and these children not just because we are related, but because they are “my people”.

When it comes to feeling this sense of home in friendships, things are a little different. Unlike marriage, where the hope is that you select your 1 person and stick with it for better or worse – for good, friends can come and go without any legal nightmares or social disgraces.  Friends are a daily choice. They only remain if you make a conscious decision to make it so. They do not wake up in your bed by default every morning, so in order to have them in your life, someone must be making that happen. What an amazing thing then when you find a handful of people like this that stay in your life no matter what – for as long (or even longer) than a marriage. I have a handful of these treasured relationships, but today I want to highlight one in particular. She’s special, and it’s her birthday.

If something awesome happens – I want to tell Sharon. She will be so excited for me. We both want to win the HGTV Dream House in Nantucket.  If I win, she will hate me for a couple minutes and tell me flat out how jealous she is and how evil I am for entering because that was meant to be her house. Then, we will plan our summer in Nantucket together before we figure out how to divide up the furnishings and sell the house because the taxes are too high.  One the other side of life, if tragedy strikes – I also want to tell Sharon. There is nothing you can’t throw at her. This quote from Henri Nouwen’s book Out of Solitude (such a lovely little read) sums it up perfectly.

“When we honestly ask ourselves which person in our lives means the most to us, we often find that it is those who, instead of giving advice, solutions, or cures, have chosen rather to share our pain and touch our wounds with a warm and tender hand. The friend who can be silent with us in a moment of despair or confusion, who can stay with us in an hour of grief and bereavement, who can tolerate not knowing, not curing, not healing and face with us the reality of our powerlessness, that is a friend who cares.”

I am thankful for Sharon, for my husband and children, and others (you know who you are) who can tolerate the authentic me without pressing me to be anything else.  I want to be this kind of friend in return.  I want to be this kind of wife and mother and daughter and sister.  I wrote this song, Sweet Home, on many levels.  It started as a simple song about finding your physical home, but it was really much deeper than that.  It reflects the home I have found with my family and the home that I instantly feel with my friends.  It is about the seeking and the finding of that kind of place, and about the time and space and freedom it takes to find it.  So, my precious family and friends, it is a song I will sing over you today.

Sweet Home

V1:

It’s in silence that our words gain their meaning

and in listening that the speaking truly heals

Space will bring us closer to the truth that keeps us free

Lose it all so someday we will find it

Chorus:

Give us room to roam and time for thoughts to wander

Slow the pace and let the wonders be revealed

Leave your striving far behind and rest in who you are

It’s a solitary healing for the heart

Let it go, let it go, all the worries of this world, let em go.

 V2:

Seek the stillness — breathe it deeply

Find the peace that’s hidden far within

Let the sun be your embrace, the sea serenity

You’re a part of all the beauty that surrounds you

Bridge:

The waves roll in and your heart expands

Dreams reaching for the summer sky

The birds cry out with their morning song

Beckon you to come on out and sing along

You are home. Oh, sweet home, sweet home, home to stay.

 Second Chorus:

You have room to roam and time for thoughts to wander

A slower pace to let the wonders be revealed

You left striving far behind and found the truth of you are

A joyful journey for a grateful heart

Let it go, you are home, your heart has found its resting place

You are home