Friday, January 10, 2014

The Vanity of Being Busy


Oh my...this topic has been on my feeble brain for the past couples of years...at least.

Busy Isn't Respectable Anymore

I've been thinking lately how incredibly silly it is to be overdriven and over-committed. And yet, I still fall victim to it. Often I think how different I would do things if I didn't have a family to oversee. That puts all my busyness into perspective. I am a wife, I am a mother, I am a daughter, I am an aunt, I am a MayMay; my life is busy.

But at least I'm not dead yet.

True...when my older three were young I did think it was necessary to be busy.

Afterall, everyone was doing it.

I was raised that if you weren't busy you were lazy. I didn't want family sitting around the table on Sundays after Mass talking about how lazy I was. And so I trained myself to do. And do. And do. And do.

I was also a child of the 60's. My parents grew up during WWII. We were Americans.
Be proud. Stay busy.

Having German lineage in the family only heightened the demand to be productive or, at least, die trying.

Now I'm not saying work is bad. Of course we must work. Of course we must be productive. He who doesn't work doesn't eat.

It's necessary. Good work is a virtue.

But Americans today are working over backwards in order to win entertainment time.

In America today we work more at staying busy than work for anything of value. We spend our money on our health because we've worked ourselves to death.

I finally got to a cavern in my life where I didn't feel the need to show-off to people anymore.

What if I was never busy again? Would anyone notice? Would anyone care?

If we think they do or they will, we are vain indeed. We fall into a prideful state thinking we are wonderful beings simply because we are busy....oh, so busy.

The reality is tha life goes on and one day no one will care how busy we were.

It took me until my forties to understand what this looks like, this unhurried lifestyle...at least what it should look like. Not that I am not often seen going here and doing this but there is a difference in the way I do it.

It's hard to explain in words but...

I finally quit jumping through hoops to impress people. And that has made all the difference.

This is not to brag that I am a lady of leisure these days. If anything I'm *maybe* busier than ever, certainly busier than I'd like, but I tell family that when I'm not busy that will mean I'm six-feet-under so I'll happily keep doing what I'm doing.

What I've learned to do is balance the busy-ness.

It starts with priorities.

My first priority is my family. Everything I *do* serves my family. Basically my whole life falls under this category.

Family time---Housework---Education---Physical Needs---Health Needs

I don't apologize for putting my family first even though I often have too many plates spinning in a raw effort to serve my family.

Though we home educate, we are part of a weekly co-op that keeps us on track. The co-op serves us but we also have to serve the co-op in order for it to run well. One day a week, this takes a huge part of my world. It is such a big part of our lives that I'm tempted to label it as my second priority, except that it would not exist without being a part of my children's lives which is why I am flirted into it. Can't have one without the other so that's why it's a huge part of our lives and I continue to serve that particular wheel. It's also where all my friends are so, in that way, it serves me in many other areas of my life.

The clubs, sports, dance, and recreation activities my children are involved in also falls under this first category. Again, one does not exist without the other.

I balance time for myself by another priority of mine.

My second priority is Me! Some may find it strange that I put myself so close in line to first. But let me explain.  After raising a family and getting a little older and wiser, I realized how much I needed time to recharge my own batteries. I do and do and do for my family. I've learned to be a little kinder to the little girl who sat behind a desk in first grade and tediously spelt out C-A-Y for the rest of her life.

This downtime for myself is often taken in bite-size pieces throughout the day, often as I'm in the process of serving my family. I've learned to stop apologizing and just be in the moment:

*stopping for a cup of coffee with a friend
* meal time with my kids
* date time with my husband
* morning coffee with my parents
* slow, extra slow, mornings (I seldom leave the house before 10)
* lots of reading time at night in bed
* late night movie marathons with my girls
* cooking and baking with my girls
* prayer time
* and, yes, computer time....(Facebook, blogging, Instagram preferably)

And there are things I simply don't do...or don't do much of...in order to give me the downtime I need mentally.

Housework anyone?

I'm only half joking. I don't keep a dirty nasty house; it just isn't as clean as my mother's was when I was growing up. ;-)

That falls in with the above priorities. One would not exist without the other. Also, in being a responsible parent, I need to raise my children to have responsibilities and duties and cleanliness. This house does not only serve only their father and I, it serves them as well. We must work together to make it work well for us when we're there as well as when we're not there.

I expect the girls to do their share of the housework. Gone are the days when our oldest daughter lived here and cleaned the house to de-stress. We've learned to live without a professional housecleaner under this roof. One of the girls now keeps up the dishes, the other keeps up the towels. We all do our own clothes (sometimes). For the most part, I seem to be the laundry lady who loads and unloads and carts off forgotten loads of dirty and clean linen. There simply is not white hand towel clean enough for me to wave in surrender, so we move forward with loads of laundry every week. My husband happens to be the most faithful floor cleaner of us all. Weekly I'll assign each daughter to take a main room and dust it completely. They each keep up their own room. That too it falls in cycles and seasons. I keep up all the decluttering of the three main rooms and everyday do a clean sweep of the floors and tables before going to bed.

A long time ago I had to admit that having the children help was good enough for me. There are seasons where I can wear out a room and come close to gutting it, but I'm not, by birth, a very good housekeeper. I've learned to live with myself. One day, the rest of the family may too. ;-)

For me, there's better things to do.

And, at least, all my friends know that I do not judge the condition of their homes. ;-)

My third priority would have to be my outside part-time job. This is where I take very seriously the fact I am being paid to do something for others. I've committed myself. I will be held answerable and accountable for wages earned and spent. It also teaches my children that we all have our work to do. While I do office work (a good part which can be done from home, thank God), they do their school work. It teaches them that at times they must serve themselves, that, while I am a servant to my family, I am not their slave.

My fourth priority is my writing. One day I foresee this moving into my third priority's spot. Until then, it is often left on the backburner because, as long as I'm raising children and being actively involved with them, their education and lives comes first.

Then the thing that I don't prioritize (per se) but that prioritizes my life is my relationship with God. Every spare moment I get to read, study, explore my faith and my God; that's what I'm doing. I take advantage of classes and retreats offered through my work as a director of religious education. I love it. I weave it into my life as effortlessly as God sends me thread and yarn to work with. In part, my little outside job goes hand-in-hand with my time with God. It's not a job as much as a calling. In a way, when I was called to take the job of handling the department of religious education at our church, I realized God was calling me to get to know Him better and to serve Him. I really couldn't tell my God "No." These past four years He's given me the grace, the peace, the time, the ability, the health, and the wisdom to serve Him. When that is taken from me, I will know He is leading someone else to take my place.

And so, I've been mulling about how busy we are as Americans when often people tell me they don't know how I do all that I do and yet I often feel I'm not doing enough or my family leaves me feeling I should be doing more.

I've come to a very peaceful place in my life. The secret is in knowing who you are and what God wants of you. And then doing it. And not apologizing for what you cannot do. And perhaps not having unrealistic expectation about others. I've written about expectations here and here. I've found it much easier and much nicer to accept what others give me gratefully and not to sign up for anything I cannot do single-handedly if I'm left without a umpire catching my back.

I think we need to rest more. Enjoy porch sitting more. Visit in our living rooms again over coffee. Read more books. Go to bed earlier or take an afternoon nap. Learn to enjoy staying home more.

Because these things...that sound so simple and appear so easy...are often the very things that get neglected if not avoided all together. Why? Why is that? That's the answers I'm looking for. I'm at a loss. Why do we avoid those things? Why? Why don't we make more time for them? Why?

Oh, yeah, could it be because of the demands others place upon our shoulders? Or because of the demands we *think* others place upon us?

Our ancestors lived with the seasons and the natural clock of the moon and sun.
Our hours and our happenings have shifted to encompass our whole lives 24/7.
It isn't healthy or sane. Perhaps that's why there's more depression and anxiety today.

I also am well-aware that sleeping/resting all day is no good for our mental and physical health either. A body must get outside and a soul must have something productive to perform each and every day.

We must!

We don't know how to find worth and value in being busy for unlimited amounts of times. We fill our wagon full to breaking and then wonder why the mule is so tired and ornery.

This article was as soothing as spring water upon my mind and soul:
Busy Isn't Respectable Anymore

The article is very good. Please read it. If I had time I'd slice it up here but, instead, I'm going to go and enjoy a book or a movie while waiting for my husband to come home.

It's something to think about...

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