Thursday, May 23, 2013

the blessing of balance

i've been a little quiet here on the blog these past few weeks.  it's kind of busy in my house right now.  i mean it's always kind of busy, but this last, most recent, move has taken busy and busted it wide open.  the month of may is just plain crazy for anyone with school aged children, i wouldn't necessarily suggest it as the prime month for changing homes.  we've had everything going on from prom to preschool graduation this past week.  and, oh those end-of-the-year-items...good grief! what mother doesn't need an assistant to wrap up a school year and head into summer?  there's just a lot to do outside of the home and there sure as heck was a lot to do inside of this home -- this month. this merry month of may.  may-hem!

it's like everywhere i turn there's something to do.  something or someone calling my name.  something to address, to fix, to clean, to paint, to pick up, to put down, to organize, to order, to

too much, i tell you... too, too much.

and not enough hours to get it all done. (so i say).  too little margin in life right now. (so i believe).

and i can tell myself that it's only a season...i can tell myself a lot of things.  but, i know it's wrong.  life isn't meant to be lived racing around.  it's not meant to be jamming it all in and juggling it all up.  i know that deep in my gut, and yet... and yet...and yet... i can't seem to slow the wheels.  they spin and i spin and we all spin.

round and round she goes, where she stops, nobody knows...

and then in the middle of all that spinning last week, i look out into the woods and i find this:

and there i am with paint brush in one hand, and pot holder in the other, and i think to myself: now that's good stuff.  two kids hanging out on a sunny afternoon in the their hammocks out in the woods.  brother and sister near the creek, near the the place where we stop and come together and rest.  a chance to renew. the way it was intended. the way sunny afternoons should be spent. yes, they had chores to do and homework to finish -- i knew that.  i knew they were in a sense dodging some of the things they had to do...things they were supposed to do.  but there wasn't anything in me which was going to march out there and tell them that.  nope.

well, i did march out there, but you know why...

this little scene is a good reminder for me.  maybe a sweet reprimand, even.  i needed to put down the to do list and pick up a some extra time to just hang out.  hang in a hammock out in the woods or hang out on the porch right off my kitchen. i need to enjoy my kids in the yard or listen a little better to that teen girl needing to talk.  to grab coffee with a friend or call my mother.  to linger over dinner with my husband or watch that movie that we keep saying we're going to climb into bed and watch -- except that we haven't.  sometimes we need to be tough with ourselves and make ourselves do less.  make ourselves do nothing.  we need to make time to hang out.

i've called it my "one-more-ism" disease.  i can fit one more thing into those available free five minutes.  one more load of laundry, one more errand, one more closet arranged, one more email to answer.  moving or not moving, busy may or boring march, i fall prey to this disease of doing.

how about you? anyone relate here?

heck, even when i go to the beach on vacation i find myself building and designing sand castles with the kids.  except that i get all into it.  i like to see a finished product. i like to have a vision. try explaining that to a 4 year old with a pink pail and shovel.  can i admit to you, that at times i've focused more on the sand castle than on the kid?  true confessions of a project-minded mother!  geez louise! i suppose there are support groups for people like me.

there is an art to being still -- to doing nothing.  and at 44 years of age, i haven't come close to mastering it.  actually i haven't come close to locating it.  i get this industrious nature from my dad. i'll just go ahead and blame him. he lives 12 hours away, back home in ohio. and he's the man who after working 12 hour days would come home and work some more on something else.  something out in the yard or something out in the garage or a project around the house. my dad could do anything.  he could fix everything.  there's something really cool about knowing that when you're a kid -- it's even a sense of security. he "handled" things in our home. i grew up thinking that all dads were like that.  i hardly remember a day when i saw him sit in front of the tv except for an occasional sunday football game or a summer night baseball game.  there's a lot about that which is admirable.  i admire my dad tremendously.  he's going to be 74 this summer, and he is still working most days as a painting contractor. he gets up early, drives all over cleveland and spends his time up on ladders with a paint brush or roller in hand.  it is no surprise to me that i find pleasure in painting anything which stands still. i get that from my dad.  sometimes, he and i, we even talk paint.  "i think you should go with an eggshell finish on that piece, jod, not satin."... or..."what kind of brush are you using?  i hope it's a china bristle...2.5... always use good quality brushes and take good care of them."  my dad believes strongly in china bristle brushes, he believes in good quality and believes in taking good care of things. 

and just for the record, my mom's no slouch either.  with the first thaw of spring my mother is out in her massive perennial gardens weeding and trimming and digging away.  she has terrible arthritis but it doesn't stop her.  most people would be wrapped up in a blanket sipping hot tea and watching reruns of daytime television with the pain my mother is in, but not my mom.  she's out in her garden or running around ohio buying up antiques. in her 70s now, and she and my dad just expanded their gardens.  most people downsize on some things right about now, but not sandy and larry. no, the last time i was in town they filled me in on their vision for "the oval garden." (yes, they name their gardens).  my parents aren't the type to play bridge or golf or tennis in their retirement, they are busy working and doing what they love.  hands in paint.  hands in soil. arthritic hands. busy hands. happy hands.  hands full with creating...full with living.

my mother's amazing gardens in ohio
sometimes my sisters and brother and i all want to just tell them to take it easy.  dad got pretty sick this year with pneumonia and was told to take some time off. he was literally told to sit still. each one of us rolled our eyes and wondered, "now, who in the world is going to make that man sit still?"  after a couple of days in the hospital he was back home and out washing my mom's car in no time flat.  it's just who he is.  we called from our far away places and gave him our far away lectures about listening to the doctor and about following orders.  but we all know our dad. he is happy when he is busy. sitting still just isn't his thing.  and, seriously, i praise God that even with his aches and pains he is able to be busy and do what he loves most every day. my parents have given me a lot of great things in life, but one of the best gifts is the enjoyment of doing something we love and pleasure of doing something well.  it is also the ability to take delight in the project while working toward a finished product. that's a hard thing to teach these days.  we want quick results and maybe even someone else to do things for us. i struggle with giving my own kids this lesson all the time.  "take pride in your clean room.  enjoy the organization of your closet or desk. doesn't it feel good to climb into a bed that's made?"  i'm not sure it's all sinking in with my brood quite yet...

no doubt my parents have given me the gift of finding beauty in the paint color of a wall or the flower color in a perennial garden. but they have also taught me to not be afraid to work hard at get my hands dirty. the results are worth it.

"whatever your hand finds to do, do it with your might..."  ~ ecclesiastes 9:10

so, back to my own busy-ness.  i guess it's clear where i get my project-personality from.  and, i guess it's not entirely a bad thing.  i mean, we get a lot done most days.  we finish things.  i like that part.  the part that i want to work on though is the hammock hanging out part. the part when in the middle of it all i can just stop and be still.  i don't need to finish the dinner dishes or fold the laundry right away.  i don't need to paint that wall or pot that plant before sundown...somedays i just need to put down the project and pick up the possibility of what doing nothing brings.

i need to open myself up to the less so i can have more.

and i have to tell you, it's all my own doing. all of it.  it's not like my husband hands me this daily to do list.  in fact, he likes nothing more than to hear i'm doing nothing.  he's quick to hand me a cup of tea or a glass of wine.  he likes when i join the family for a movie or  lounge on the porch with a book.  he's never once complained if i've left the house for a pedicure or a shopping trip or a walk in the woods.  he's all about me taking it easy. and honestly, i have to say, i have it easy.  yes five kids and our life and home and schedules keep me running...but it's all good.  really good.  and i don't want this piece to sound burdened, i want  it to sound blessed.  there is a blessing in this busy-ness.  but it's like anything: blessings come when we look for them AND blessings come in moderation.

so it sounds like i am talking out of both sides of my mouth in this post.  is it good to be busy or is it better to be still?  yes! yes to both.  it's all good.  we do need to feel productive and to have a purpose.  i like jumping out of bed in the morning with some things to do.  there's nothing wrong with that.  but what i do know is that i can quickly make the great "to do" list an idol.  it's about balance.  do a little.  rest a little.  right?  we learned that back in kindergarten.  but sometimes we find ourselves in the busy month of may or in the middle of a move or in the middle of BOTH! and we have to give ourselves a good lecture about that balance.

and with summer just around the corner, we watch our kids hanging in hammocks out in the trees and we are reminded...

just in time.


i don't have an eno hammock in the woods...but this is my hangout spot!  found this wicker set on craigslist -- great deal!  it gave me something else to go pick up another project "to do"...but i sure am enjoying it now.  =)  planning to spend some serious summer time right here...

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

you have captured the essence of psalm 46:10
be still and know that I am God