Priority: Rest

Alright, I’ll go ahead and say it: there are not enough hours in a day.

I don’t always feel this way, but this week, it’s droning along in my head and heart.

There is so much I want to do – and it’s good stuff, too. I want to write more, I want solitude, I want to do more thrifting and sew my own pillows and refinish some furniture.

But I have two toddlers and I’m pregnant. So sometimes, instead of writing a brilliant essay that I just know publishers would clamor over, I am sitting on the floor coloring with my girls or emptying the dishwasher again or turning over another load of laundry.

Or sometimes, I’m just sleeping.

For me, right now, nap time is about naps. Most of the time, I can’t sleep – my mind runs a million miles an hour and I usually think about food: what’s for dinner, what food I can plant this spring, next week’s meal plan and what’s for the next snack…you get the idea – food! (I mentioned I’m pregnant, right?)

Even if I don’t sleep, I make myself lie down and treasure nap time for resting. In the same respect,  evenings are for sleeping. These days, I’m going to bed between 8:00 and 9:00pm. Starting about 5:00pm, I start counting the minutes until I can go to bed again.

The real truth is that there is enough time in the day, but my priority right now is rest and sleep. I know these are vital to health, but it’s hard to put them on my to-do list and check them off – I never feel accomplished after I take a nap.

But rest should find its way onto my to-do list, and maybe yours, too. There are seasons for everything and right now, my season is one of rest. I still have my daily to-do lists and laundry and essay ideas and attempts at quiet time with God, but for now, I’m embracing rest.

What a great season for it! I think the high today is somewhere in the teens – there’s no better time to hibernate than winter in Michigan.

I’m embracing my new priority: rest.

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Taking a Time Out

I can tell you where my fatigue originated: children.

Right now, my children are in a tiring stage – for me, not them, of course. I’ll spare you the details of my 10-month-old’s recent sleep-less schedule, but combine that with a very active day, and I’m pooped.

Last night, I called a time out. I was dragging all day. But I pushed through until David came home. Then I basically went to bed. He played with the girls, bathed them, helped them into bed. I made some cameo appearances during this time, but for the better part of the evening, I vegged.

I read.

I watched Hulu.

I gave myself a break.

And I went to bed early.

You know what? Miracle of miracles, my 10-month-old slept until 8:20am. And wonder of wonders, there’s a blizzard warning tonight – which means a chance to get snowed in tomorrow.

Maybe this is my week of time-outs. I’ll take it.

Happy New Year

Happy New Year! I hope 2011 is your healthiest year yet!
It’s the first of a brand new year and you would think I would be
off to a writing bang over here. Instead, I’m taking a break this
week. It’s a quiet week for our family and I am enjoying the break.
I’ll be back in full swing again next week… Or the next… In the
meantime, I’m curious what new years resolutions you have set this
year? Or what ways are you making change in your life this new
year? I’m focusing on exercise as the new year turns. Over the last
few years, exercise has taken a back seat to pregnancies,
recoveries and the glaze of newborn-ness. But I’m getting a groove
with my little family and it’s time I get serious about exercise.
What about you?

Personal Springtime

It’s a show-offy season right now – fall. I love this season because it is nature’s big finale before the quiet stark of winter. All the trees are the brightest, fullest colors and the air is just about the perfect temperature. Here in Michigan, though, you can’t help but think what is coming next…the cold winter. Things are starting to shut down around here. Squirrels are scurrying around to gather food, we’re stacking wood for fires and hanging melting wire on our roof, and I’m roasting and freezing then end-of-summer harvest.

But personally, I feel something quite different happening in my life. Instead of working toward quiet, I am, for the first time in years, starting to really come alive. I’ve lifted out of the fog of two consecutive pregnancies and two major abdominal surgeries in less than two years.

I’m starting to come alive in so many ways. My writing is flourishing right now, I’m reading again, my kitchen has food coming out of it that I actually made. My prayer life has a steady rhythm, too, and I once again have something to talk about in the present tense. I’m leaving the house for play dates and trips to the park; and tonight, for the second night in a row, I’m meeting someone for drinks or tea after the girls go to bed. In other words, I’m starting to get a rhythm to my life and also have the freedom to jump into the rhythm of other people’s lives.

While the leaves change to bright orange and sunshine-yellow, I’m allowing myself to be a little show-offy, too. My kitchen floors are dirty, but the words I write are growing, my dates with David are lingering, my October calendar is more full than it has been in years, and I’ve got something that’s making me laugh louder and leaving me with what can only be described as a twinkle in my eye.

 

The Peace of Wild Things

There is a new park by our house that hosts nature trails through the woods. Twice now we have strapped our children on our backs in packs and ventured into this space. There is a peace that comes with being in the woods, and a curiosity renewed by nature. I love showing acorns and ferns and sticks to our toddler – her own excitement about the newness of the space transposes to my own heart.

In this park, there is a rock with a plaque enscribed with a Wendell Berry poem. We read the poem out loud twice yesterday- once on our way into the park, and once on our way out. It reminds me to keep trekking out into nature – to watch the seasons change by being in them; to look up into the trees and find space where I can’t hear a car, but I can hear the trickle of the water down a path.

The Peace of Wild Things

When despair for the world grows in me
and I wake in the night at the least sound
in fear of what my life and my children’s lives may be,
I go and lie down where the wood drake
rests in his beauty on the water, and the great heron feeds.
I come into the peace of wild things
who do not tax their lives with forethought
of grief. I come into the presence of still water.
And I feel above me the day-blind stars
waiting with their light. For a time
I rest in the grace of the world, and am free.

— Wendell Berry

Summer Reading

One thing that is helping me stay balanced and thinking like an adult as I transition into life with two (two babies, at that) is reading. I’m not saying it’s easy to read when you’re a mom, but for me, it is necessary to make time for this. My TV is on a lot less and sometimes I ignore the laundry, but my mind is in a happier place when I’m reading.

Here’s what I’ve been reading this summer:

Seven Storey Mountain by Thomas Merton
This one isn’t quite summer reading – I started it in February. But I finished in the summer, so that’s something. It’s a beautiful read – challenging and interesting. I love to read other people’s stories, and this is Merton’s journey to becoming a monk. It’s well written, and is very insightful into his own heart and spirit.

So Brave, Young, and Handsome by Leif Enger
Of course, I need to read Peace Like a River, but I started with this one first. It’s wonderful! My all-time favorite book is Huckleberry Finn and this book reminded me of that – I even pictured one of the main characters looking just like Mark Twain. I love his descriptions and connection to nature and the human spirit as well as the themes of redemption and love.

The Mermaid Chair by Sue Monk Kidd
We rented a beach house named “The Mermaid” and it was no surprise to find this book among the other beach reads on the shelf there. I picked it up, excited to read what all the fuss is about with Kidd – I’d never read her before. I got sucked into the story, but about halfway through, I felt she was repetitive in all ways and I started skimming. Honestly, I didn’t even finish the book – just skimmed the end to see what happened. It was grotesque (and not in a good, Southern lit kind of way) and odd and I didn’t appreciate the way she painted the church and faith.

I’m currently about halfway through Eat, Pray, Love – a book I’ve been meaning to read since it came out. And I am loving it. It’s a read I need right now – when I’m grasping to find pleasure and devotion and self in my new rhythm as a mom of two. As an added bonus, Gilbert is a fantastic writer, so there’s that.

I have also discovered the COOKBOOK section of our library! Who knew! I am in love and have a few books sitting on my kitchen table waiting for perusal, including Nigella Lawson’s How to Eat – I love the sensuality she brings to her food, and I’m hoping some of that comes across in her book as well.

What are you reading? Any good suggestions?

Developing a Life Pace

I think this is the first holiday season when we are not going to stop and drop everything for more than a day. Usually, we travel out of town to see family or take some days off work. But the way things are working out this year – and with a toddler around the house – life isn’t going to slow down at all in the next few weeks.

My husband, David, and I often talk about not wanting to crash into our vacations. We talk about wanting to develop a life pace that affords and builds rest into our daily lives.

There’s no time than right now that we need this life pace. I am on the verge of feeling jipped out of any kind of holiday break, and that’s not the kind of attitude I want to take with me through this season – I love Christmas!

So, I am purposely taking the time to do things that I would want to do if I had more time – like turning on the stereo during the day and pumping the Christmas music (nothing gets out the ‘blahs’ and pity-parties like a little jolly music!), setting my table scape with crystal (my 13mo hasn’t learned out to climb yet, thank goodness!), and forcing my family to rest.

How are we resting in the midst of work and other holiday demands? We are purposefully taking it slow and letting things slide. David has to work all week, but he is mainly preparing for our Christmas Eve services at church (where he works). So, Monday he worked us into his day and bundled us into the car to help him decorate the stage for the services. Now, we weren’t much help and David had to significantly slow his pace during the hour and a half we were with him, but we did get to spend the time together as a family. And last night, instead of cleaning and organizing and checking e-mail and wrapping gifts, I made us sit on the couch and watch National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation.

There’s no better time to practice incorporating a sane life pace than during the craziness of the holiday season – and trust me, it does take some practice! I challenge you over the next few weeks to build in a slower pace – a life pace that doesn’t make you want to crash into your vacation or your weekends off.

Get your coffee “for here” instead of “to go;” let the high school kids at the booth in the mall wrap your gifts; drive around and look at the lights on the houses; light a fire and put your feet up after the kids are in bed; stop by the bakery and buy that pumpkin pie instead of making it – and read a Christmas story during that time instead.

There will always be laundry and e-mails and a long to-do list, no matter what the season. Set a precedent for yourself now of the life pace you want – build in rest … you won’t regret it!