Category Archives: tearing down to build up

Your ideal life…

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Last night I sat down with a notebook and pen and wrote out some very basic stuff for my life.

I started with…what did I learn as a child from my parents, what core beliefs were passed down…what was said, what was observed, what was valued in my family growing up and how has it affected me. That was an interesting process as I sat in quiet in my bedroom to see what stuff came to the surface. The first word that came to me was “hard working”. The value of hard work and over the top effort is  something that has been ingrained in me. I also know this…growing up, I felt loved, safe and secure. I had a sheltered upbringing. As poor as we were I don’t ever remember feeling unloved or as if we wouldn’t be ok in time. I learned that life is hard and don’t expect things to go easy on you. I watched my parents struggle a lot…and I think I just kind of figured that’s real life…nothing should really feel easy. We were made to serve…and if you get stepped on in the process so be it.

A lot of good stuff really…hard work is a good thing. The down side being that if you’re not working hard or at least what looks like hard than you’re weak. Being strong and pushing through was important in my family. We persevere against all odds. So for me to opt out of a secure job cuts across the grain of who I am at the core of me. No wonder, it’s such a big deal in my soul.

Will I be as valued without my daily job? Will I be considered weak or lazy by stepping out? What will I have to show for my time off? Am I just wanting a life of ease and if so what does that say about me as a person?

Let me just say…I believe that I have innate value no matter what I do:). I’ve demonstrated plenty of strength and effort in my life and I’m sure I always will and maybe it’s time for me to figure out that weakness and rest are allowed and important too. The showing part…what will I have to show…I think it will be something that will show itself over the years…the long haul. I’m used to the gratification of doing a project and seeing the results quickly. This may be a time in my life when I just do what I feel that I’m supposed to do and trust the results to show up at some point. Work is far too ingrained within me for me to ever really just become a ‘slacker’ :).

Anyway that was my starting point.

Then I started to write down what my ideal life would look like.

Specifics… like

What time would I want to get up?

What chunk of time would I set aside for reading and writing?

When would I eat my meals? Which meals would I plan to eat with my girls?

At what time would I follow up on their school work?

What time is allotted for housework?

What daily time would I exercise?

What time am I going to set aside completely for private lessons?

What time would be put aside for family time?

What time will I go to bed at night? How much sleep do I need?

I went through and very specifically wrote out an entire Monday-Friday schedule of what I would like my life to look like. Lauren immediately chimed in and said…”But mom…life is not ideal :)” She’s right…but if I start there….maybe that will head me in the right directions. That’s what I was trying to consider.

And it works…immediately after I made up a schedule on several pieces of paper as I added and took away until I liked what I saw I was able to start coming up with ideas to head myself in the direction of my ideal life. I started thinking about how many students I would need privately to make it. I started to think about what I would need to do to get there. I started thinking about the reading and writing portion and thinking about what books I want to read, what types of books, etc. I started thinking about 3 books that I plan to publish at some point.

I started to think about finances and how I would budget my life and resources based on this schedule.

I got so involved that it was contagious and the next thing I knew Lydia sat down at the computer and typed up her “ideal” life for homeschooling and so now she has a schedule as well and seemed enlivened by it. I have a feeling Lauren will in time…when it seems like it’s her own idea :).

I’ve been reading the book “Change your words, Change your world” and so many of these changes and thoughts have been brought about by that book.

I’m reminded that we have many more choices than we realize. I don’t think I understand this very well. I think growing up I just felt that we didn’t have many choices so you buck up and accept things the way they are. It’s empowering to find that we do have choices and we have power within to make a change.

I’ve been reminded that when we set the direction of our life into where we really want to go, all it takes is small changes here and there to get us going in the right direction and eventually to reach our destination. I’m making those small changes right now. I can already tell over 3 months time that small changes done incrementally over time yield huge changes when you look back. You can completely change the direction of your life over a relatively small amount of time by just setting a new course. You have the power to do that kind of thing. Focus is everything.

I haven’t mentioned God much in this process…but in my silence and time of listening and seeing what would come to the surface I believe that He was leading me, cheering for me actually. I believe that He helps us to unearth the beliefs we’ve always had and helps us to really think through them and sort through what is worth keeping and what is probably something that needs to go. I believe that He helps us get in tune with our self, our God made self, to understand what would really bring us a well lived life. He helps us to know what’s important. He leads us…beside still waters. I think growing up…that kind of thing, still waters…was not something that was ok. We were all about activity, doing, serving, giving, working…notice all of the ‘ing’ endings. Last night I felt led by the still waters and my soul felt comforted.

I’m not talking about creating a life that is self serving and focused on self. I’m not talking about getting lazy and sleeping til noon and partying til 3am. I’m talking about a life that loves God, loves others and even has enough room to love myself well. I haven’t ever heard sermons on loving myself well…but I believe at the core of me that is just as important in this recipe of an ideal life.

Loving God…Loving others…Loving myself. That’s what my ideal life…beliefs, schedule is going to be about from here on out.

Which means that last night as I sat down and considered some of my extra commitments…some if it I’m going to start saying no to. Some of it I’m going to make minor remodifcations. Some of it, I’m going to say a more enthusiastic yes to!

I even sat down last night and figured out starting in January of 2014 what my official ‘vacation’ weeks will be with my private lesson business.

I sense a greater clarification to my life. A greater sense of calm and purpose. A lot less doing and far more being. I can tell the direction of my life is changing bit by bit…and I’m at peace about where it’s headed.

 

Life and death

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I frequently wonder if the things I feel and experience are “just me” experiences. Somehow if I know that all of humanity is struggling with the same kinds of stuff I am it makes me feel better about the whole thing I guess.

So I’m going to just assume in writing this post that others feel the way I do and if you don’t it’s ok and this post might not seem meaningful to you.

But…if you’re like me you live a good part of your life feeling trapped, closed in and as if you have no choice. Obviously, I’m not really trapped, or really closed in and I do have some choices…but that’s how I tend to feel on the inside of me.

As a result…I see as I get older that I have little things I do to help relieve this feeling inside of me. Little rewards I give myself. Little ways of making the prison I feel a little more tolerable.

It occurred to me today that the little ways I reward myself or try to make things more tolerable actually contribute to the problem.

Let me explain.

I feel trapped into working fulltime, have for years…so how do I relieve some of that yucky feeling…go buy myself a new pair of shoes or a purse or something else that I don’t need. It’s a quick pick me up that lasts for about a day. It’s also a pick me up that costs me longterm. It’s a choice that leads to death for me ultimately. It feels good for a moment but doesn’t last.

These days I don’t shop except once a week for groceries. I make a list. I pretty much stick to the list. The girls and I don’t just walk the mall or go shopping unless we have an actual reason why we’re going. We’ve figured out that shopping actually just clutters up our home and traps us into a life that we don’t really enjoy.

I’ve also done the eat out thing too much. Again, it’s another way of picking yourself up after a long hard day. The thought of going home to cook is not always a great thought at the end of the day. So I would spend extra money taking the girls and I out to eat. The extra money paired with the unhealthy food choices weighs down that reward extremely fast. Totally not worth it.

These days we rarely eat out. These days I try to always make sure the pantry shelves and fridge and freezer are prepared with foods that are relatively easy to prepare and taste good. I try to think in advance and have a plan in place before I even leave for work. If I have a plan in place and the food already purchased I feel much more likely to stick with it. Choosing to eat at home and make good meals for my family is a choice that represents life for me.

Maybe it seems crazy to filter every decision through this process…but yesterday I sat down and easily thought of 10 decisions I make on a regular basis that bring death to me and my family and 10 decisions that bring life. No decision is really neutral.  Everything either contributes in a positive way to our family and to our life or a negative way.

I’m finding that most of my decisions that I would categorize as “death” decisions are really quite small things that give small rewards because of me feeling trapped and closed in. But by making those small decisions and living impulsively instead of intentionally…I further the cycle of being trapped and closed in.

For me to really fly free and to have wide open spaces I have to make sure my decisions are life decisions for me and my family not short term fixes and rewards. I have to think longterm and not let myself off the hook and think that this decision I’m making “doesn’t matter”. I believe that people who live in great freedom and wide open spaces are people who know how to make decisions that lead in that direction. They don’t do the short term fixes and rewards that I am too likely to choose.

I see this being a huge area of change for me as I approach my sabbatical which is coming in 37 more school days. I need to learn to make choices that will further freedom and life, even if that’s hard and takes time.

Here are the quick things I wrote down as life choices when I gave it some thought.

1. Eating at home.

2. Time with my friend Lori.

3. Finishing a project.

4. Preparing in season healthy foods.

5. Frugality.

6. Clearing the clutter out

7. Exercise

8. One on one music lessons

9. Times of work but also times of play

10. Six Flags with Jackie and Star.

Here were the first 10 things that came to my mind when I thought about choices I make that lead to death and loss of freedom for me.

1. Needing to experience too much…too busy.

2. Shopping

3. Eating Out

4. Over eating

5. Impulsive decisions

6. Valuing safety over risk.

7. Over work

8. Public School teaching

9. Over commitment…no time for what matters most.

10. Pressure to do it all, things become duty rather than joy.

As I said at the beginning…maybe you’re like me, maybe not. Maybe you feel free and alive and like you’re living in grand wide open spaces and reaching your potential already. But if you’re like me…you struggle with feeling trapped, closed in and have found that quick rewards and impulsive decisions are only making the trap worse. It’s a vicious cycle that needs to stop.

I think as we become aware of the choices we make that lead to death we can then come to a place where those things will actually no longer be a reward. I really don’t care to shop these days. In fact…I avoid it unless necessary. I don’t even enjoy eating out as much. Several of the restaurants we used to frequent we’ve completely come to the place where they don’t even sound good to us. This is a good thing. Progress. I would even guess it’s a  miracle from God and maybe some of the ties that limit me are being released.

I believe that God made us to want to choose life, to be free and to explore. He made us to live in wide open spaces. He didn’t create us to live closed in, trapped lives where we feel we have no choice. If that’s how we feel than it’s time to take a closer look. That’s what I’ve been doing.

I’m more and more convinced that the smallness I feel inside of me is not from God. It’s my own doing, or even possibly Satan’s doing.

Do you feel trapped? Do you crave freedom and wide open spaces in your life? Do you see yourself living in a the vicious cycle of unhappiness leading to short term rewards leading to more unhappiness? I sure would like to think that I’m not the only one.

Choose life…that theme returns to my life often. It was the theme of my husband’s funeral believe it or not. Today I’m ready to focus back in on choosing life for me and my family in all the decisions that fill my day.

Time for a change

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It’s become obvious to me that simplifying my life and purging down to the basics on every level is where I will find the greatest freedom and feel really alive.

Some of it’s physical stuff. I’ve purged my closet to the point where I have lots of room on the rod…seems incredibly nice. I don’t even care that I wear stuff more often.

I’ve purged all kinds of other stuff too. My filing cabinet…trash bags full of paper work that had just kept getting larger and larger. Gone, except the essentials.

I’ve closed my Pinterest account. I hadn’t got on it in forever anyway. I know it’s a hub for ideas…but not really for me. I don’t actually cook any of the recipes on there or do any of the house ideas…well there was that time when lauren and I hung on to old pallets in the hopes of making some grand piece of furniture only to eventually end up carting the dumb things out to the road to throw away after moving them about five times. Ridiculous and we didn’t need any pallet furniture anyway. I have plenty of ideas already.

I’ve just gone through my Facebook friends and gone from over 500 friends to less than 300 all in the matter of about an hour. I just realized that I don’t want to maintain contact with that many people…and in all honesty I doubt they want to keep in that close of contact with me either. I’m going to keep going through that list and hope to get it closer to around 100 eventually. I realize this is backwards from what most people would do…but I want the circle of connection to get smaller.

I’ve used Facebook as a great tool for sharing my blogs. Makes it where many read but don’t really have to “follow”. Some might make comments on Facebook but never actually leave a comment on this blog. It’s alright. I don’t mind. But I’m starting to think that I might make my blogs a little more exclusive. Again…I know this is backwards, I’m supposed to be generating a platform and getting followers if I’m anything like the rest of the bloggers out there…but honestly, I’m getting off that ride.

I’m happy to have you read this blog. And yes it does my heart good to see it shared and liked and commented on and followed…but I think it’s just time in my life to make the circle smaller. So that the people who read my writing, the people I interact with are people who really are wanting a relationship with me.

This is what I’ve found…in teaching private music lessons…I am AMAZED at how awesome it is to teach one on one, and to teach students who really get excited about music and want to learn. I’ve been teaching in the public school system for so long and have dealt with so many students who didn’t want to learn or be in music that it’s blown me away at how lovely life is when I use my talents and education with people who are worth me pouring my life into. People…who actually want me to pour my life into them.

It only makes sense.

I feel the same way about my over 500 friends on Facebook…a bunch of people probably could’ve cared less or maybe even been annoyed by my posts. I do post frequently and I blog a ton. Maybe it will seem nice and make sense to pull back to the people who really…really want to have a relationship with me. How do I know who these people are? They are family, church, close friends, people who I could sit down with right now and have a great conversation…people who actually interact with me on Facebook rather than just scroll on by or stalk. I want to engage with people who care. Bottom line.

This going on sabbatical is teaching me that it’s not about the numbers…it’s about quality. I knew it deep down but from time to time I’ve been tricked into thinking the only way I would get my writing out there was to make a ‘friend’ with every person I might remotely know on Facebook…not anymore. It’s pointless.

So…I’m just going to tell you…If this is a blog you only access on Facebook and it’s a blog you want to stay in touch with you might want to consider becoming a follower because soon I won’t be posting it to Facebook any longer. It’s here…it’s easily accessible and it’s incredibly easy to follow. Just click on the follow button at the top right hand side of the page and you’ll be good to go. You won’t miss a post :).

If you were never that committed into this blog I fully understand and respect your time. Feel free to check it as often as you like. You know I update it frequently. But if you only clicked on it by chance because you were Facebook scrolling…I think those days are winding down for me.

I will leave the Facebook share button on my blogs…if you ever want to share them, that would be fine by me.

Would love to see you, to hear from you through a comment or to see you commit by choosing to follow. I also understand that you might need to purge too. So if this is something that should go in your life. I completely understand.

Blessings…