Introspection Season

Let’s see what’s rattling around in my brain this Michaelmas season:

I should be blogging more.

I should be making my native plant fairy book.

I should be working more hours on editing each day.

I should be keeping the house cleaner and neater.

I should be making Christmas present already.

I should be doing that artwork I’ve been thinking about for the last few weeks.

I should have done the reading I meant to do so that I could have written this year’s Michaelmas post.

I should be doing some sort, any sort, of regular inner work.

I’ve been very, very busy lately, yet I don’t feel like I’m getting enough done. And I know, these words like “should” and “could” and “enough” are traps, of my own making.

Eve (who created the lovely new header) has been writing about this recently, too. About having plans, goals, visions, even commitments for what to do and how to be. And then somehow, we go astray. We get busy, with only God knows what.

I seem to have lots of plans rattling around, and yet none of them get accomplished. Am I just not prioritizing correctly? Do I need to simplify something else in my life to make room and time? I’m a mom of two young kids, so there already I am busy much of the time. Plus I’m trying to work almost full time, take care of the household, and then there’s the idea I am pondering of getting a second BA. How am I going to get all of this done?

I do know that I spend a lot of time reading blogs when I could be doing these other things. I love all my blog friends and refuse to abandon them! But maybe my feed reader could use a little trim. I don’t really need to read about the 10 all-time greatest sci fi movie death scenes, now do I?

Sometimes I feel like a big anthroposophical faker, because I don’t do any meditative work. It’s like I read Lievegoed’s Battle for the Soul about the three spiritual streams of humanity, decided I wasn’t in the meditative stream, and gave up, because, hey–I’m doing practical work here! I’m a mom, so I’m immersing myself fully in the material world and manifesting spirit that way. Right.

What do you do to get it all done? Or how do you compromise with yourself to let some things slide?

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21 Comments

Filed under Anthroposophy, Blogging, Deep Thoughts, life

21 responses to “Introspection Season

  1. In the summer, I just say NO to house cleaning! I am too busy and too tired 9from farm work) to do it. Sunday mornings I will mop and vacuum the floors and since we are outside all the time the house manages to stay pretty tidy, except for the stack of papers here and the pile of books there (just shut the office door when company comes). I too could take more time when I come in to “de-stack” things instead of blogging around, but…

    Anyways, it takes a lot of concentration to read Steiner and other Anthro books, I just find my head not in the space in the spring and summer, I am too busy doing. Those are just the forces at work. I find as soon as Autumn comes my thoughts go a lot deeper and I am able to read more about Atlantean Epochs and the evolution of the “Earth” and humanity (tonight’s reading after I told everyone to leave me alone and I locked myself in the bathroom to read) and soon, I hopefully will will myself to sit down and make things (I actually worked on my knitting earlier-only because I am sick).

    The first commandment I live by is “Thou shall not Should on yourself”, I have to remind myself all the time; I should be inside the house being a “good mom/wife” instead of being out here playing farmer, I should eat a piece of fruit instead of a piece of chocolate from my secret stash, I should clean the cat litter box instead of leaving Anthromama this very long comment….

  2. Eve

    I was talking this morning with another mom at our kids’ school about this issue, having regretfully told her that I couldn’t attend a regular group she’d invited me to. When I explained that I’d been seeing that I just couldn’t keep up with my family and personal obligations and do every other needful, helpful thing available that needed doing, she suddenly teared up. She said that she’d been feeling so overwhelmed and over-committed, wondering how all these other women “do it all.” I chuckled, because I know I appeared to be one who did it all in the past. But there’s no such creature. Nobody does it all. Nothing is ever “all done.”

    So, that’s my answer. I don’t. I go off track a lot lately, what with the big change of putting our children in school, and I find that the same principles that helped me before are helping me now. These are to consider my commitments and what’s needful first, as they say in AA “first things first.” And then to notice how I feel about life and myself as I add things that aren’t essential or “first things.”

    I let things slide that don’t matter in the big scheme. When my stress and unhappiness level go up because of required tasks, I stop and re-evaluate. For example, we had to spend over an hour and almost $50 on a silly 5th grade project today, something that will end up in the trash but will take hours of additional work for a small educational payoff. I considered just telling the teacher we won’t do it, but since it’s the first such project I went ahead with it. I like this teacher, and I’m learning how to handle having kids in this private school. That’s how I compromise with myself; it’s so subjective and personal that I doubt it can help you.

    How do you compromise with yourself, or how have you done it in the past? What worked in the past may well work now.

  3. Lisa Anne: I guess I’m just feeling guilty, and feeling the age-old (for me) sensation of having lots of ideas and not ever bringing them to fruition. Must be bad nutrition, like Steiner said!

    Eve: What I’m realizing is that I get into the mental trap of feeling that after the kids are in bed, I “deserve” to veg out. But then vegging out doesn’t 1) feel really that good in the end and 2) doesn’t help me get things done that a large part of me wants to do. So I need to remind myself that *I* decide what I’m going to do in my free time. And I need to observe what will feel best to do in that time…and make sure that I’m not doing it out of a sense of obligation, but rather a sense of personal accomplishment, or joy, or satisfaction.

  4. I don’t know. What I’m feeling at the moment is that I really need more sleep, except to do everything I have to do, that’s impossible. So sleep suffers. I’m trying to maximise my writing time, which means I’m constantly racing around trying to do everything in the times I’m not writing. I feel so guilty because I shouted at Kiksy this morning. I have to fit my writing time into when he’s asleep, so I’m tired when he’s awake and not so patient with the constant power struggles – it’s so hard to do everything well! Then the inevitable remarks pop up: “Oh? You’re not working at the moment. Lucky you,” and I want to scream!! A large cause of the panic, to me, is the modern perception that taking care of children full-time equates to doing nothing. I’m constantly asking myself: “What am I doing? I should have time to do more!” But then, I think longingly of doing a 9-5 job just to have a break, not that I can do that right now and it would take me away from where I want to go. I’ve come to the conclusion that all I need to do is to cope with the workload from day to day and try to block out how others perceive me.

  5. Bex

    Arrrgguuhhh!
    I spend my whole life beating myself up with the “shoulds”. Very dangerous word that one.
    Taking the time to stare into space is as far as my meditative state gets these days, I do think about it A LOT though…should get back to it I suppose…;) XXxx

  6. Well, I’m scuffing about in a sea of dog hair right now and my flower garden has turned into a clover garden. I’m slowly learning to let some things go. I also see Michaelmas as the time before you turn inward…so, enjoy the final flourish of autumn and go collect leaves ๐Ÿ™‚

    Good luck. I get overwhelmed as well. I don’t have small kids anymore, but now I have homework and violin practice….

  7. Keep in mind also that we tend to judge ourself at our worst against others at their best.

  8. Yeah the bad nutrition thing, I was just reading that again last and thought the same thing. I am not able to bring things into fruition because of bad nutrition, either that or all the potatoes I have eaten in my life. There are so many projects that need to be done around the farm but I cannot bring the forces up to do them. I think this is when we need to call on Michael to intercede for us and help strengthen our will, bang on lots of iron, and drink nettle tea.

  9. Combine beating oneself up with the “shoulds” with acute procrastination, and you have where I am. When I finally achieve one of the things on my long, long list, I feel brief relief and then the stress starts again.

    However, what I do manage is to switch off from my imperatives, by reading, writing, running, yoga, reading blogs – basically doing the things that make me happy. And in order to fit these in, I definitely let things slide, usually the laundry!

    I hope you find the space to do the things that bring you happiness.

  10. Wow…from reading this post and all the comments, I feel better. It’s nice to know that I’m not the only one in this boat. The school year is my busiest time because of home schooling, and I have to loosen my standards of how I want things done so that I can make room for teaching. For example, I don’t hang the laundry on the line as in the summer. Instead, I use the dryer…and then it sits, waiting to be folded for a very long time. ๐Ÿ˜‰ I think it’s important though to make time for things that make you happy just like so many others said.

  11. Helen: You definitely need to ignore/avoid those who think parenting “not working”! Being tired is a real struggle for parents, because patience goes right out the window. Hopefully Kiko will start going to preschool more and you can fit your writing in during the day, and get some sleep at night.

    Bex: You mean staring into space doesn’t count? ๐Ÿ™‚

    Sarah: Housework is always an issue. For me, I need to decide which things are really important/need to be done so I can feel sane. So there are at least three priority levels: Necessities (cooking, doing dishes, cleaning the litter box), Optional for sanity (clearing away piles of clothes and papers from the living room floor so we can actually walk through the room), and OK to put off indefinitely (dusting the tops of the bookcases, sorting through outgrown kids clothes).

    Tammy: Oh yes, that’s so true! We just never see those other “perfect” people’s messy closets and undone projects, do we?

    Lisa: Oh no, we live in potato central now! I need to get my son back on his meteoric iron remedy, now that you mention it.

    Charl: One thing I always forget is the idea of enjoying what you’re doing now. Figuring out a way to really enjoy and be glad to clean toilets is a struggle, but there is a payoff. I feel like my tendency to procrastinate has decreased over the years, but it’s still a struggle.

    Dawn: Lots of wrinkly laundry here too ๐Ÿ™‚

  12. I don’t get it all done โ€” not even half of it, but I’ve learnt that it really doesn’t matter. I don’t even remember what I didn’t get done last year. But I do remember time spent with family and friends โ€” some of them who are not among us any longer.
    Margaretha

  13. mominmadison

    It is hard! I have a business and many clients right now, a few volunteer projects, a website I do for local moms, a few boards I moderate, two blogs, and 2 homeschooled kids. Oh, and a husband! ๐Ÿ˜‰ And I try to keep up with my art as well. Whew. Sounds totally insane, eh?

    But our days actually don’t feel it – it works. I just try to do bits at a time. I clean as we go, and keep everything neat day to day. I do dusting and toilets and all that on Sunday. I can and preserve and garden in small bits – hour here, hour there. I bake and make batch meals on Sundays. We keep Saturday for family time only. I say daytime is kid time so don’t work until the boys go to bed (although I do reply to client emails, just don’t work until late night). I put in laundry in the wash every night before going to bed, and put it in the dryer every morning when we get up. Seems to work OK.

    As for the me stuff…I try to read a bit every night before I go to bed, even if it is at 1AM. Yoga and meditation I can only do with the boys … sounds crazy, but they love yoga and chills everyone out a bit mid-day. I write and paint and sketch ideas when the boys are focused on one of their projects. Or when they are doing OK playing together. Then we also try to just not over-schedule. We have a schedule of playdates or group field trips and all that, but keep it simple.

    In the end, though, if I go to bed and the kitchen isn’t perfect, oh well. If I don’t paint or sew one day, oh well. Things balance out in the end. ๐Ÿ™‚

    I’m rambling. But all moms with kids have to juggle, and we all have a feeling of what we must get done/want to get done/kinda sorts think we are supposed to get done, and we all manage somehow. Some weeks better than others! ๐Ÿ˜‰

  14. Nana

    Some words of wisdom from someone who’s been there, done that.
    1. You cannot do it all. Don’t even try.
    2. Don’t sweat the small stuff (trite, but true). And you get to decide for yourself exactly what the small stuff is!
    3. People come first. The spouse, the kids, yourself. Then your pets and your farm animals.
    4. Obligations must be met, because you promised to do it, whether for pay or because you volunteered.
    5. The only rooms in your house which really need to be clean are the kitchen and the bathroom(s).
    6. There are lots of things which can be done while one machine washes your stuff and another one dries your stuff.
    7. If you fold your laundry right from the dryer and put it away, it reduces the visual mess and the mental stress.
    8. Put away the stuff you don’t use much and only keep the stuff you need daily and the stuff which you love out where you can see it. Put bits of stuff in containers.
    9. Your kids will get older and will be able to help more with housework. Plus it teaches them to be responsible.
    10. Your kids will getter even older, go away to college, get married and move far far away with your brilliant, beautiful grandchildren. Then you will have lots of time to be creative and more inner directed.

  15. I love Nana’s list! I want to print it out and stick on my fridge for every time I feel guilty about my messy sitting-room.

    I also think #10 is also important for all of us in our 20s, 30s, 40s – there will come a time when we have loads of time, and we don’t have to achieve Everything Now. Time is actually on our side.

    Thanks, Nana, you are a wise woman.

  16. The only rooms in your house that really have to be clean are the bathrooms. Notice I did not say they had to be sterile.

    I am like many of the commenters above. In the summer I neglect my house for the gardens outside. This year it has been particularly bad since we have been working on the stroll garden, as you no doubt are aware. There is quite a bit of dust on the flat surfaces in here, but the new flower gardens are flourishing and almost weed free.

    I try not to lay too big a guilt trip on myself over the stuff I don’t quite get done. And I commit to do something to nurture my body and spirit every day. Sometimes that takes the form of weeding, as I crawl around on my knees pulling up plantain I tell myself that I spend a lot more time on those joints than a lot of the “christian” folk around here.

    I rarely neglect my stretching routing. Boy, when I do forget to do it, I notice it the next morning. Plus I have learned that ibuprofen is my friend. It helps me sleep so my poor sore body can heal.

  17. I love your Nana! Can she come post on my blog, too?? This post is so timely right now, as I struggle with the fact that my children aren’t playing outside so that I can get these houses cleaned out. I keep saying, “if I don’t get it done right, and right NOW, it affects our family in the long run.” But today, as I heard my children watching cartoons, I did cringe a little. I sometimes find prioritising our practical needs as adults so hard to balance with the emotional needs of our children. And then I repeat my (humour) motto: when their 25, they’ll find SOMETHING to blame us for and demand that we pay for their therapy!! no parenting is ever perfect ๐Ÿ™‚

  18. Mon

    I want to join in with the anti-should parade. I removed it from my vocabulary about 6 years ago and am more at peace.
    I also let go of perfectionism some 10 years back – and was that ever a path to freedom!

    As a mama and person interested in many things, I know I will never do all I dream of, I will never read all the books I covet, and I will never live all the lives I can imagine.
    It’s a work in process though, and every success lessens the insomnia. Sleep, I’ve learnt to appreciate, is a ‘doing’ for my body and mind.

  19. Margaretha: You reminded me of the longer view. Thanks.

    mominmadison: You are crazy busy! I need to start doing some meal planning, soon. But I can’t do 1 am and function the next day any more.

    Nana: Farm animals, ha! Two cats is almost too muchb right now. And I don’t want to wait until the empty nest to be creative ๐Ÿ˜ฆ

    Charlotte: That Nana, she’s a keeper alright ๐Ÿ™‚

    HMH: Ibuprofen is a useful thing, for sure.

    Goodwitch: Nana has had years of wisdom from being a stay-at-home mom, a working mom, and a working Nana! You’re in a special situation right now, so I don’t think you should worry about what the girls are doing while you’re so busy. It’s only temporary, and they’ll know it’s not their regular life when you get back home.

    Mon: Welcome and thank you for commenting! I do need to prioritize sleep a lot higher than I do. It’s the best restorative.

  20. Alida

    A load a day and a slow cooker. That and realizing that just as if I worked at an office, everything on my to do list won’t get done.

    I used to be overwhemled by two laundry days a week. There was so much laundry to do that I would literally spend two days a week doing nothing else.

    Now I do a load a day, everyday except Sunday, but then Sergio does one. It’s never done, but it’s never overwhelming.

    A slow cooker has become my best friend. Every morning I throw something delicious in there and every evening I have a wonderful dinner without a lot of effort.

    Also since I’ve been homeschooling, I’ve been fanatic about planning meals. I go grocery shopping once a week, (not everyday, like I used to.) and if I run out of something, I live without it until the next grocery day.

    The house, well it’s neat, but not necessarily sparkling clean. Baby wipes are my friend. (by the case at Costco) I wipe down bathroom sinks, dirty shoes, scuff marks on the floor, dirty hands and faces, dining room table…

  21. Alida: I’ve been using my crock pot a lot lately, too. It’s really helpful. Do you know The Crockpot Lady, at crockpot365.blogspot.com? She’s very funny and cooks both regular recipes and odd things in her crockpots every single day. I also do about a load of laundry a day, and when I don’t, I get really swamped with it! We had a big box of baby wipes left over from when the kids were finally potty trained, but we didn’t bring them on our move. I’ve heard those work well in unexpected places ๐Ÿ™‚

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