- I noted with the relief the email from Stephen's team informing me that we had overpaid fees and had a credit. Then, I ignored the note from Nick's team reminding me of the October payment. I figured the credit would cover it. Nick's team manager gently pointed out they were on two different teams. Oh, yeah. Right. Got it.
- I parked the van in the driveway, gathered up my purse and the groceries and headed for the house. Stephen asked if maybe I'd want to turn off the car and bring the keys in with me.
- I set aside an hour in the morning to cut out a dress to sew for Katie. Four hours later, I still hadn't finished. Ten pieces, total, and I just couldn't get it done. There I sat. Scissors, pins, fabric. Moving in slow motion.
My friend Megan checked in late last week to see how we all were doing. I told her I needed a life coach.
A life coach. Someone to assess the situation, design a training program, nag me until I get it done. I need a life coach.
Or do I? What if I were to be my own life coach? What if I stepped outside of myself and devised a plan? Surely, I can do this. I know--in my head--how to pull out of a deep rut. I've written an entire chapter in a book and countless posts on how to battle back from burnout. I know this stuff.
This time? This feeling of being wrung out from grief and beside myself with worry over really big things? Why not apply the formula?
Prayer. Definitely. My prayer life is way off-kilter. To ease back in and to refine it for this season, I begin with what I know: Divine Office, only Morning and Night Prayer at first, with time spent with an open Bible both times. Then, I can add the other components to my personal prayer. This time, I've also stepped way outside my comfort zone and asked people to pray for some very specific intentions.
Sleep. We are all seriously sleep deprived around here, the kind of sleep deprivation that will require far more than just one good night to get back on track. We need to encourage sleep for one another. A corollary: when an entire family is sleep deprived, a concerted effort must be made to extend grace to one another, to be especially patient, especially kind. Arguments are easily enkindled and easily flare into a roaring fire. We have to make one another aware of favorable burn conditions and be very careful with each other.
Planner. When the days and the details begin slipping away at an alarming rate, it's time to take my planner in hand and fill it with carefully penciled notes. Everything--every.last.little.thing--must be written. That means every deadline, every date made, every fleeting thought that flits between my ears must be committed to paper. And then the planner sits open on the counter in the kitchen. Don't know what to do next? Check the list. Do the next thing. Just keep moving. Oh, and ...
Laundry. Get the laundry caught up and keep it that way. The rest of my house follows as the laundry goes. If laundry is out of control, most of the housekeeping is scattershot at best. I don't know why this theory proves true, but it always does. Wash clothes. Dry. Fold. Put away. Repeat at least three times a day for the foreseeable future.
Meals. For two solid weeks, I didn't want to eat, cook, or shop. The grocery store just glared harshly at me and the mere thought of walking those aisles made me shudder with sensory overload. Still, my children expectantly pulled a stool up to the counter every morning and expected to be fed. Recovery begins when meal planning begins. If I plan and then I shop, I will be compelled to cook. I admit to needing to stop at the coffee shop on the way to the grocery store in order to clear this hurdle. I bribed myself with a dirty chai to buy food. But... that was the last of the coffee runs. It's time to take good care of ourselves. Everything into our mouths must be for the noursihment of our bodies.
Move. I have promised the children we will get back to the gym. I keep my promises.
Then there is the matter of education. We must keep learning, must move forward, even as we process the enormous lessons we are learning about ourselves in this season of grief and growth.
We had a very carefully crafted plan for September and October. There was a death in the family and an abbreviated week of school the very first week. Six weeks later, there was a bigger rupture in the fabric of our daily lives. This time, a shift in direction is indicated, an opportunity to focus sharply on just a few things and give ourselves the time and space for pulling stitches through crisp cotton or slicing apples and tossing them with nutmeg and cinnamon. We need to pay close attention to soul-nourishing even as we sharpen our minds.
The abbreviated "school" plan:
Math. I hate it. They hate it. Math must be done daily. End of discussion.
Writing. Stephen will begin the National Novel Writer's Month on November 1. He is spending this week exploring the site and preparing to begin. Mary Beth is going to work on a project with me in November; we are going to try to create an online workshop based on Real Learning. Nicholas, Katie, Karoline, and Sarah will each progress along their individual IEW paths.
Reading. Everyone has at least two novels for the month of November. Instead of being swept into the mini-dramas of Facebook timelines, we are going to be drawn into compelling, timeless stories.
Nicholas and Stephen: We are listening together to the first in the Mysterious Benedict Society series. Nick and Stephen have the last three to read independently.
Mama: I have some non-fiction going, but it's going ever-so-slowly. I actually lent David and Goliath to Kristin before really getting started. Beth suggested The Breath of Peace. It's on its way. Perhaps fiction is what I need right now. I might just borrow that fourth volume from the boys' set while I wait for my book to arrive. Or I'll choose one of the three set aside for Mary Beth.
Creativity. Each child has some creative endeavor at hand: a quilt for Grandma for Christmas, a first embroidery project, a long list of Rainbow Loom custom orders, photo album projects, homemade healing salve, and mama's new knitting. These things are key components and handwork is especially necessary to the success of the program.
In the absence of something creative with which to occupy our hands and our right brains, we have a tendency to hold some sort of electronic device and slip into mind-numbing clicking. When we are tired, when we feel disconnected from community and are not inclined to purposefully engage, we can so easily slide into cyberspace and not even notice that we are being sucked down a hole. There, in the hole, feelings of inadequacy and boredom and despondency are nourished far more than they are expunged. It's a cycle of acedia. Genuine connectedness online usually happens within the first fifteen minutes. After that, it's likely a disheartening time-suck.
A creative project to hold forces us away from the internet lull-drug. It gives us something to do with our hands--something that yields to continuous, observable progress. It also offers us an opportunity to sit a bit with our own thoughts. With hands purposefully engaged and minds working creatively, it's a good thing to wrestle a bit with our thoughts, to think them, and sort them, and perhaps successfully resolve them. Silence is healing. November is to be set aside for some purposeful silence. Yes, a bit of yarn, some beeswax, inspiring fabric, and time to touch and to ponder--all good things.
Same yarn, all three pictures. It's called Opaline and it really does seem to change color with the light. I think the first picture is the truest color. The first ring Mike ever gave me was a tiny opal. I was 16. His dad teased that he needed a magnifying loupe to see the stone. I loved that ring.
This yarn, this project, is a gift.