Monday, March 7, 2011

On Peace ...And Lent All Year

"It's not hard to decide what you want your life to be about. What's hard... is figuring out what you are willing to give up in order to do the things you really care about." 
~ page 54, Bittersweet by Shauna Niequist

I know what I do do. 

I have this list {both in my journal and my head} that I refer to many times in a day to prioritize my time. That being said,  I was inspired by this chapter to make a list of what I don't do. I found that was so, so much harder. 

Coming home after many weeks of traveling was a unique opportunity to gauge my lifestyle from a fleeting objectivity. There is a short window where everything seemed both foreign and familiar, new and wonderfully old. It gave me almost an outsider's peek into our home-life.

One thing I keep hearing in my head was a phrase someone spoke at my Grandfather's funeral. (I am paraphrasing) "Don't let life get on top of you. It's too easy to do and too important to not let it."

When I have been feeling stressed or overwhelmed this week, I have been taking a step back and taking responsibility for it. And asking myself - what is within my power here to not get under, so that my home is peaceful and my kids aren't victimized by my emotions under pressure?

Peace in me, I am realizing, is completely independent of my family's choices, the amount of hours in the day, or what others do or don't do (say or don't say.) I've thought a lot about this before, but I am seeing it through fresh eyes right now. Busyness and stress (usually) can't be blamed on anyone else. 

I have been meditating on John's words he quoted from Jesus: "Do not let your hearts be troubled..." Accepting my limited capacity, my personality, my inherent weaknesses is haaaaaaaaaaaard. I know I am human - I just like to still think possibility!  The fears of being compared to, of being judged, of coming up short is not fun. But the pay-off of peace is more and more worth it for me. So I made my -  completely practical - list for this season in my life. 

Things I Don't Do:

1. I don't over-schedule my calendar. When I am overwhelmed and grouchy with my family, I am the one that planned it and said yes to things. No one else did. 
2. I don't keep a perfect home. There are stacks and piles and dust-dunes I tackle semi-regularly. But compared to the pictures in my head, this is brave omission. 
3. I don't keep pretty garden beds or mow the lawn. I do potted plants well. But my dreams of tulips waving in the spring and well-planned landscaping are just that. 
4. I don't wash windows. (Except maybe once every year or two.) 
5. I don't mop or iron. Vacuuming, yes. But the other two? Nope.
6. I don't rush. Or I am trying not to. I realized rushing is my over-scheduling (or procrastinating), so when I am, it's my fault. 
7. I don't answer the phone very often during the day. I miss spontaneously talking to friends a lot, but I have learned I can't be present to my kids and my day and answer the phone. 
8. I don't stay up late and I don't do much in the evenings. I miss that, too. But it's one way I have just accepted who I am and what my limitations are. 
9. I don't say yes without thinking about it. (Even though my first impulse is usually: Yes!) I don't always know why I say no, but I follow my intuition more and am learning to trust it. Sometimes it takes me a long time to realize why I didn't feel good about something, but it's usually a good reason.
10. I don't have a clean garage. I wish so bad I did. But I don't. 
11. I don't always take a shower every day. And  I don't sweat it if my kids go a few days without baths. (It rains a lot here. They'll be damp/fine.)
12. I don't have any photo albums. I so wish I did. But I have a blog - full of how much I love my family. 
13. I don't clean the car. It drives me crazy - but I don't. 
14. I don't sweat the small stuff. Kids' hairstyles, how they dress, their personalities in their rooms - anything non-permanent that will not endanger them? I don't fight it.
15. I don't finish books that make me feel heavy/dark/awful or haven't grabbed me in the first few chapters. They affect me too much and time is too short. And I want reading to be the gift it is.
16. I don't mend clothes. I wish so bad I could sew. But I just don't know how. So if it's torn, ripped, unravelling - I don't beat myself up. 

Shauna said it well: "It's brutal making the list of Things I Don't Do, especially for someone like me, who refuses most of the time to acknowledge that there is, in fact, a limit to her personal ability to get things done. But I've discovered that the list sets me free."
 ~ page 60, Bittersweet  [emphasis added, mine]


Leslie said...

oh Misha.
Love the honesty in this list...
and its a lot of what I've been thinking on a lot lately.

a lot.

what I don't do.
that list has been freeing to me lately and Im ready for it to grow..

totally nodded in agreement over several of yours.

I love your heart.

Jennifer Jo said...

One of my guiding quotes: The key to the spiritual life is the willingness to miss almost everything. (anonymous)

I like your list.

Jen said...

Misha, your list is the reason you are who you are and that is wonderful.

Jessica said...

This is so helpful- I need a list like this!

Misha Leigh. said...

Jennifer Jo - that is an INCREDIBLE quote. It's so, so hard to write a list like this and not immediately want to justify it. What you said is so beautiful!

Jen - I think that's the beauty of all our No-Lists. It summarizes by default who we ARE, too. : )

Les and Jessica - Would love to see your lists! I think they are so inspiring - to see what others aren't doing, too. : )

emily wierenga said...

what is within my power here to not get under, so that my home is peaceful and my kids aren't victimized by my emotions under pressure?

how did you know? did you see me bawling today, trying to hide my tears from my little boy who wrapped his arms around his mommy?

oh misha. you, and this list, and this place... thank you.

erin said...

i don't have kids or a family yet, and i read these words today and thought this little baby business that i am growing feels like one or both of those (for better or worse), and i groan under the pressure of all these things you listed. sorry about the run on sentence. thank you for the honesty. it inspires the non-navel-gazing kind of reflection that just might lead towards change.

hifidelnorte said...

You and Bon are soooo cut from the same cloth!

Hi I'm Sarah said...

Great List! So refreshing to see the don't list, we so often have to do lists that blunged us with guilt. I don't keep a spotless house either nor do I sweat about misspellings on my blog..there are many. I don't blog if I don't feel like it, and I don't shower everyday either. I read something a while back about moms and homeschooling mom's at that who are too concerned about clean and less about real time with their kids. I do real time...sounds like you do too. Micheal Card's wife Susan says in her homeschool experience she listens for the voice of comfort. this is usually from God. She says it is hard to remember that His voice can sound like that. Michael reponds...why would you think it would be different? May you find that God in His to do list for you today has an easy yoke that is comfortable for especially you to bear.
BTW your trip pictures to NZ are fabulous!

Rachel said...

It's this sort of transparency that brings such encouragement and hope to others- especially those struggling with the superwoman myth. You have inspired me to embrace my beautiful imperfections and start writing again.

Anna Johnson said...

AMen Sista! I don't do most of those things either--so glad I'm not alone!!
Love ya,

Leslie Umfleet said...

you helped my heart today misha... thank you.

Alishia said...

I don't do lots of that stuff either. Even stuff that seems like it would be "good" for me. I just can't. Glad I'm not the only fuddy-duddy ;)
Dreaming of a beautiful B'ham summer just for you and your family. You deserve it!

tonia said...

woah, darlin'. Are you ME?

I could write this list too. Thank you! So lovely and refreshing.

Nikki said...

This is something I really, really need to do. I am so reticent to take responsibility for a lot of the stress in my life, when it is clearly due to my own choices. Thank you for this. I think I need to read that book, too!

I chuckled at #11 on your list--that your kids will be damp/fine.

Katie Schomberg said...

This very thing I have been thinking a lot about. We all only have so much time in the day and it has become more and more precious to me! As my kids grow and our life grows...I have to remember God's priorities for our life...the life I chose and He has blessed me with. It is so easy to say "yes" to so much that I put my family's at the risk of stress and an overwhelmed momma. In today's society there seems to be such an emphasis on doing, doing, doing...even when your kids are so little. My prayer this during this lent season is to stop...don't say yes until I have heard from God what His will is...even in the little things and only DO what He will have us do! Thanks for your honesty!

Misha Leigh. said...

Oh I am SO glad I outed my self. You all made me feel so much better about it. : ) I loved each and every one of your comments - and thoughts. I would just love to see your lists, too!

Anna Johnson said...

Here are some of mine:
In general, I DO NOT(or try not to):
~Overschedule myself or my
~Ignore my body.
~Say "yes" to everything that sounds like fun.
~Deep clean my house very often.
~Always answer my phone.
~Watch Rated R movies.
~Make important decisions hastily.

Suzy Q said...

I share a good many of your "don'ts" and can add a handful or two of my own :)
Thank you for this lovely, refreshing post!
By the way, love the quotes on your sidebar!
suzy (Popping by from "Study in Brown)

corli said...

Aaah yes, I need to make one of those lists. I think it is about time. Thank you for this post.

Sandi said...

I found my way here through Tonia's place.

I could have written the same list. I kept way, her too! My problem is applying the list in the moment and not equaling my "don't do's" to failure. One grace filled day at a time.

And the line about victimizing my kids with my emotions...ummm, working on that :o)

Andi Mae said...

Really really love that book Bittersweet so much. I read it a few weeks ago + it is funny because I had no idea you were reading it too! I am hoping to write a post about it soon- it has seriously been one of the most life/thought changing books I have read in a long long time. Really wishing we could talk more about it!

And I love your list. Ever since I read that chapter in the book I have been so convicted to write my own...