Rhythms

Rhythms

Rhythms

I crave rhythms. Thrive on rhythms. And when Fiona was born, it completely changed our rhythms. In fact, for the first few months, there was only the remotest semblance of rhythm. I was just figuring it out when I had to start back to work and that threw us for a loop.

Fiona is almost 5 months old (already!) and I am determined to start developing some new rhythms for our life. And our life is full, very full. Husband and I both work full time, I have two hours of commuting every day, I drop off and pick up Fiona from her nanny’s every day, washing bottles and diapers, feeding Fiona and putting her to sleep; washing, drying, folding laundry; farmer’s market Saturdays; camping weekends; and it goes on and on.

It’s a lot.

But I know we can do it.

I want to do it.

I want to collect eggs from the chicken coop and carve out the time to ride my pony. I want to sit and read and drink a cup of tea. I want activity to be a regular part of my life — long walks, bike rides, canoeing, kayaking, hiking etc. I want to be fully present with Fiona. I want to attend church and dive into small group regularly.

Little things are helping me develop the rhythms I need to make it work. A few things that I think will work for me:

  • Throw a load in the wash at night, dryer in the morning, folding in the evening. (And asking Husband to put away his own clothes!)
  • Baby laundry once a week, might need a few more outfits.
  • Diaper laundry twice a week, might need a few more diapers. (Also, hanging a clothes line in the backyard so I’m not hanging covers all around my pantry/laundry room.)
  • Baking: Once a week maybe? Mondays?
  • Getting up early. I am so NOT a morning person, but if I can manage to get up at 5am, I’ll have time for a cup of tea and breakfast before I hit the road.
  • Robotic vacuum. I so, so want one. Having a Roomba would help keep up with the dog hair situation (not to mention dirt from the garden, flyaway flour from making pizzas, and the errant leaves that always come in on the produce we pick).
  • Keeping the sink clear of dirty dishes. Everything must go directly into the dishwasher (this especially helps when it’s time to bathe the babe, because we do sink baths!)

I’m sure I will come up with a few more, but these will hopefully make a good start to our new rhythm!

Slowing

Slowing

I don’t know if it is just the season we are in, the circumstances of our lives that are beyond our control, or if it is the choices that we make. But one way or another, we are busy. Too busy.

It feels like in this modern age “business” is a badge of honor. “How are you?” someone asks at church on Sunday morning or in the grocery store aisle or wherever you happen to bump into each other. “Busy,” you say with a smile and a sigh.

Busy.

Maybe it’s the “protestant work ethic” (although I don’t think so), or a need to succeed, or that elusive “American dream.” I don’t know. But when it takes over a month to find an evening to have dinner with friends, something is off.

I have to remind myself sometimes that busy doesn’t equal productive. And productivity shouldn’t necessarily be our priority.

Yes, God created us to work and work to be a good thing, a gift! But work is not everything. Chores, errands, running around–that isn’t the mark of a good life.

I keep a schedule because it keeps me from going crazy and simultaneously guarantees (or at least helps) that all of our responsibilities will be met. But I never want to be chained to a schedule. I don’t want the calendar to rule our life. It should be a tool, nothing more. And if that means things need to be juggled and rearranged in order to make room for some good community time, so be it.

Is it naive of me to constantly think that the next season, the next step, the next year will be smoother, easier, simpler, slower? Probably.

If I can’t manage to simplify my life now, what on earth am I going to do as life compounds and grows?

While I cannot control or change many of the circumstances we find ourselves in, we can work within those to make the best choices possible. And I think sometimes we let the rat race of American life determine those choices rather than wisdom. I’ve shared before how hard it is to find the balance, the rhythm.

Choices — hard choices — must be made. We chase after dreams (good dreams, God-inspired dreams) until we are exhausted. Maybe I need to lower my expectations, my standards. But I believe in excellence, so maybe I need to pare down the various things that require my time and energy. But where? Work is a must, marriage obviously requires effort, involvement in church is paramount, small group is one of our top priorities, animal care is necessary…

And so I return to my original place, tired and busy with nothing changed.

But God reminded me of something recently — it isn’t through my strength, but His.

This weekend, I’m going to start moving a little slower. I’m going to take time. I’m going to live.

Want to join me in slowing? I suggest watching Carl Honore’s Ted Talk for inspiration…

God’s gift

God’s gift

Sometimes life is heavy and hard. And it feels like Husband and I have had more than our fair share of that lately. The days of laughter and joy seem so far gone. But I take courage, that while Christ warned us of the trouble we would face in this world, there is hope.

“I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” – John 16:33

Beach

And today, these verses that remind me that it is not only in heaven that we will find happiness, but even in the rhythm of life.

“I have seen the burden God has laid on the human race. He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the human heart; yet no one can fathom what God has done from beginning to end. I know that there is nothing better for people than to be happy and to do good while they live. That each of them may eat and drink, and find satisfaction in all their toil—this is the gift of God.” – Ecclesiastes 3:10-13

I used these same verses in a post about rhythm in early 2012, but my focus was on other portions of the passage; somehow I managed to skip right over the part where we are told that being happy, doing good, and finding satisfaction in our work is God’s gift to us.

God’s gift.

Weekending

Weekending

On Mondays I always look back on my weekend with a sense of longing… Longing to feel unhurried, unstressed, unscheduled. Longing to be home, surrounded by my loves, living life with each moment.

But the weekend, as lovely as it is, is only part of my life. In fact, while it may make up 90% of what I love about my life, it only consists of 28% of my actual living…

Brown and gray outfit.This past weekend was filled with productivity. While Husband cooked up a storm in the kitchen, the rest of the house got a spectacular cleaning. The filing got done, and the filing cabinet even got organized (these kinds of things bring me no end of joy). Out-of-town friends dropped by for a quick tour of the house and garden before heading off again, a birthday party for little ones offered enough sugar and squeals of laughter to last a lifetime.

There were little things, like pairing brown and gray together for the first time (I’m a rule follower–like goes with like–but this time breaking the rules was fun…)

And I found a perfect-for-me, like-new leather purse at the thrift store for $10, it’s a Tyler Rodan handbag that normally goes for $89–these finds always make me happy. We went to the yarn store to pick up another skein so I can continue my wrap. We picked out a copy of Winnie-the-Pooh and The Secret Garden to donate to the Girls and Boys Club; I like to think that somewhere a little girl or boy is being exposed to some of the greatest children’s literature ever written for the very first time.

Husband and I even had a few uninterrupted hours to make homemade pizza, enjoy the use of a private hot tub and settle in to watch a movie. Sometimes these little things really do make all the difference. Because, really, life is in the little things.

Ginger and I had some quality time together…and proved that sitting still for photos isn’t one of her strong suits.

Photo fail.

I woke up this morning refreshed, but not quite ready to face another week. That seems to be how it goes. I’m not sure if it’s the sudden loss of time spent with Husband, the necessity of rushing home to clean stalls or the thought of sitting at a desk for nine hours that gets me, but something about a Monday morning makes me long for the weekend.

The funny thing is, I don’t dislike our weekday life. In fact, I love my job. And I treasure the fact that I get to see my horse so regularly. And Wednesday night small group is one of the highlights of our week.

Perhaps it is less the things we DO during the week but rather HOW we do them that I regret. Hurried. Stressed. Busy. Always checking the clock. Always one more thing to get done. Never enough time. Never fulfilled.

I guess I’m unsure how to implement the weekend rhythm to our weekday life…I’ve tried, but rather unsuccessfully. Maybe instead of trying harder as I always do, I need to try smarter. Maybe there is a way, a theory, an approach as yet undiscovered by me that can transfer the rhythmic productivity to the chaotic rush. Maybe.

Decorative bowl.

Back to school?

Back to school?

School bus

The first year that I could ever remember not going back to school in the fall was a tough one. I had graduated from college the December before, was working as a reporter in a small town in Ohio, and it hit me surprisingly hard that I didn’t need to purchase school supplies and books or travel half way across the country to return to college…

For a few weeks, I was desperately missing school.

As I look back, I think that I was actually missing the fresh start that fall always brought. I missed the new adventure, the change of pace. As an adult, so much of the year runs together in a muddled mess. There aren’t the time markers that you have as a child–new school year, Christmas break, summer vacation. Instead, it’s just one day of work after another.

It isn’t bad, but I had to learn to adjust, to create a rhythm of my own.

By the next fall, I was returning to school–graduate school. Three years later I graduated, and now I’m experiencing my second fall of not returning to school.

It’s different this time.

I’m married, I have a home, a family (as small as we are). I have more responsibilities. Honestly, I’m glad that I don’t have to add the stress of school back into my life.

But I do miss the freshness. The starting-over-ness. The change. The rhythm.

Perhaps it’s time to start some different early fall traditions. Ones that can mark the start of a new season and give my life a new rhythm.

Lifestyle changes…

Lifestyle changes…

As the rhythms of life ebb and flow, change and transition, I find myself changing and transitioning with them. It’s good. Growth is good.

But it’s change, and change is hard.

We are in the process of selling my pretty little sports car (which I have thoroughly enjoyed for the past three years), because it is simply too small. Too small to fit very many people. Too small to even really fit Husband. Far too small to tow a horse trailer.

So my lovely little lady will be looking for a new home.

My old car

However, in it’s place, we purchased a 2004 Tacoma; ie. more room, more power, more everything. And I have to admit, for a truck, it’s a thing of beauty.

My new truck

I might miss my zippy little sports car, but we need a truck to hold all the blessings in our life right now! And that’s nothing to complain about =).

And, as an added bonus, once we get around to installing a hitch on the new truck, I can tow this lovely thing around:

My horse trailer
Photo is from our return trip from Ohio last Thanksgiving, where we actually purchased the trailer. We had to borrow a truck to make that trip!

Which means I can take this girl trail riding:

My little girl, Chappy.

So even if it is a little bittersweet, this change is more sweet than bitter.

My new truck

Rythms

Rythms

Coffee Dates with God - Rhythm

There are so many encouraging verses in the Bible. Ones that tell us to be strong and courageous, ones that exhort us to have faith and move mountains, ones that tell us we can do everything through Christ. But while I love the strength I can gain from meditating on these, there is a different part of Scripture that brings me more comfort and peace.

Ecclesiastes 3 starts out like this:

“There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens:

a time to be born and a time to die,
a time to plant and a time to uproot,
a time to kill and a time to heal,
a time to tear down and a time to build,
a time to weep and a time to laugh,
a time to mourn and a time to dance,
a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them,
a time to embrace and a time to refrain from embracing,
a time to search and a time to give up,
a time to keep and a time to throw away,
a time to tear and a time to mend,
a time to be silent and a time to speak,
a time to love and a time to hate,
a time for war and a time for peace.

What do workers gain from their toil? I have seen the burden God has laid on the human race. He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the human heart; yet no one can fathom what God has done from beginning to end. I know that there is nothing better for people than to be happy and to do good while they live. That each of them may eat and drink, and find satisfaction in all their toil—this is the gift of God. I know that everything God does will endure forever; nothing can be added to it and nothing taken from it.”

You see, while we sometimes need our courage and faith bolstered by grand, empowering verses, I have found that my biggest struggle is simply with daily life. The ups and downs, ins and outs. These verses bring so much hope and comfort that the Lord understands our need for rhythm. That life has rhythm and life is rhythm.

I used to think that I needed a routine to be productive, rested and content. So I tried taking my usual patterns and forcing them into a strict routine carved in stone. But all that did was add more stress to my life as I tried to perform this routine in vain.

That’s when I realized that it isn’t routine I crave, but rhythm.

wave

I eventually came to realize that God doesn’t just understand our need for rhythm, but He created it. Morning and evening. Work and rest. Planting and harvesting. Ebb and flow. Rhythm is apparent throughout all of creation. Why would we be any different? Because our fancy alarm clocks can wake us up long before the sun rises? Because energy drinks can keep us going long after our minds should be resting?

I am trying to grasp more of the concept of rhythm and apply a new vision to my life–with hot tea, more rest, a little yoga, leisurely mornings…

Real life

Real life

After a weekend of wonderful guests, rich food, and once-in-a-lifetime celebrations, Husband and I have returned to real life.

It’s not the exactly the withdrawal that I we often feel after a much anticipated event like Christmas. After all, Christmas is a part of everyday life for a month or more, before it suddenly vanishes.

Graduation on the other hand, was more like stepping out of my life for a weekend in another world, and suddenly I’ve been plopped back down in real life. Not a let down so much as whiplash.

But real life is good too. Real life has rhythm and harmony. Real life has rainbow colored soap at the car wash.

Rainbow of soap

Real life has bike rides down a country lane…

Riding bikes in the country.

…and signs that make me smile.

Hollydays sign

Real life is beautiful too, in it’s own quiet way.

It just takes a little time to adjust to the quiet after so many late night conversations and rich, glorious laughter. But the truth is–I like quiet.