Last year in January I had just completed a complete overhaul of our home and, therefore, my mind. Through our marriage class at church, I realized my clutter was affecting my family. My husband and children are all pretty messy themselves, but their chaos doesn't have quite the effect on the house as mine. I always had a stack of papers in the kitchen, on my nightstand, on the dresser, sometimes in a box in the closet, and the laundry room countertops were riddled with projects. Those crafts, activities, and toy repairs I thought would make me a better mother and wife when, in reality, it took a toll on all my relationships because I never completed them.
The cabinets and drawers were full. And I could almost feel the weight of the multitude of boxes in the attic weighing down on me at all times. Though I was nowhere near A&E's Hoarders status, it was a problem. I didn't even realize how paralyzed I felt until I began lifting the weight. I went through the entire house (ok, maybe my sorting process is reminiscent of Hoarders- I had to touch everything) and cleared out the junk.
It seems so simple, right? You don't need it? Get rid of it! If it was so simple, then why hadn't I done it sooner? Why? Because life stops for no woman- especially one with clutter up to her ears. The process was, for me, extremely time-consuming, aggravating, and tiring, not to mention disruptive to our daily lives as a family. Thankfully, my mom helped me throw together a garage sale at her house right before Christmas. Everything, and I mean everything (including almost all of our baby gear- yes, God willing, we're stopping at two children), sold like hot cakes.
I hadn't felt more relaxed or more at peace in, probably...decades. However, without protecting the goal, it would still be sitting on my list. It's easy to jot things down that sound fun or smart at the time. But the real question is, what are you willing to give up for your ambition?
When I was in my early twenties and getting a taste of what my life as a grown woman would look like, I began sketching a picture. I wanted a cozy, inviting home that reminded visitors of the clean lines and warm colors of their favorite vacation spot. It would be in this home that I host small dinner parties, serving everything made from scratch on our wedding china. When we weren't busy with school activities, family outings, and the occasional vacation, I'd spend my day gardening, hanging newly-printed family photos on the wall, refinishing vintage furniture, grabbing lunch or a movie with my girlfriends, hitting the gym 5 days a week, reading a book, cleaning the house with my leftover time, all the while looking put together with a smile on my face.
We all know how that story ends. We don't own wedding china. I only added a few new recipes to our rotation and, with the exception of a birthday party and Christmas, never had anyone over for dinner. I have too many sad, empty frames hung on walls all over the house. (What? The frames were pretty.) We spent many back-breaking days building a retaining wall for our vegetable garden that has been filled with weeds ever since. I lost a few pounds and began to see some old, familiar curves of...could it be??...actual muscle??? in my limbs, but a foot injury has left my on my laurels pretty much since fall. I watched four newly-released films last year and three of them were kids' movies. I have several more noticeable scowl lines in my forehead. Oh. And we hired a maid. (I'm in love with her.)
|The wall we built last February. FEBRUARY. I was a rock-placement Nazi.|
|My girly girl loves dirt.|
I realized last year that you can have it all, just not all at once. I'm sure there will come a time when I have friends and their families over for dinner. But not now. If I would stop over-booking our family, I'd have more time and energy to do things like garden and actually print one of the thousands of pictures I take. And if I'm ever going to finish a book or make a dent in my dress size, I'd have to say no to other interests, like watching so much tv in bed at night with a pita draped in hummus in hand, for example- never mind finding huge blocks of quiet time to pursue my writing career. (sigh)
It's not enough to set some goals. I have to protect the goal. I must be on alert at all times, prepared to knock down any intrusions, any distractions, any detrimental advances. I need to spend less time helping others when I can't even help myself. I can't commit to play dates, dinner with the girls, or weekend barbeques and then complain there aren't enough hours in the day. I have to be the goalkeeper for myself and for my family by, funnily enough, keeping the goal.
Yes, I have a few repeat intentions on my mental list this year. I'll probably spend the rest of this month reorganizing the house that fell apart over the holidays. And I better stop wasting time floating around the social media abyss and start figuring out how to grow plants and keep them alive before it's warm enough to fill a garden. The good news is, my goalkeeping skills for my writing is actually producing a result. It's not much, but it's a start. I hope you're having a great start to the new year as well!