"In order to seek one's own direction, one must simplify the mechanics of ordinary life." -Plato
"Life is what happens when you are busy making other plans,".. or whatever that quote is. Life has sped right by me of late which means a few things get left in the dust.
But it is always a good indication for me that I need to re-calibrate and balance out the things that may be taking too much time. Sometimes things happen and you kind of have to roll with it, but other times need choice applied...
there is a time for every season under heaven...
anyway, getting back in balance is key for me this week. I can always feel it in my bones when there is too much and crisis mode kicks in which means you are functioning only on the "what needs to happen or get done at this moment", mode. Not good. Fortunately I am not there yet. The usual indicator for this is skipping morning coffee...
bad, very bad.
But like I said, not there yet, but there is much on the horizon to consider. We are approaching fall and I have a conference to prepare for, a book to finish, and a planet to manage ;-). The list from 07 needs to be revised due to some things sort of being out of my control but a couple of the biggies are still on my must do list...like finish the backyard. and complete the designs for Exnihilo. So, keeping the big ones in mind I may cut back on a few other plans in order to stay balanced. I need to blog, and I need to paint, and neither of those have been in their proper place for several weeks. They feed the well that enables the rest of it...
the art of living.
You know things have gone completely south when stuff ends up on my dining room table...
but I am not there yet either. Close? yes. Looming? maybe. Good time to catch life becoming business and snap it back to art. Otherwise life becomes no fun at all. How does one snap it back?
Good question. What I have found is that sometimes it takes radical measures like cutting some major commitments out of your life that seem to be sucking the joy out of things. Of course some commitments are unavoidable(like a job) but sometimes there are those that may have gone on for years and you wonder why you are still doing it. Time to rethink. Then there are other little things that we sometimes choose to do that may be unnecessary. My personal favorite example of this is grocery shopping.
yea, I have mine delivered.
Some people LOVE to shop. But for this introvert the grocery store has never had much appeal. Maybe it stems from the early married days of going down every aisle with calculator in hand pinching pennies until they screamed and buying the generic brand not because it was the "green" choice but because it was all we could afford. Maybe it stems from the fact that the whole activity of going through a grocery store (or mall or other shopping place) always leaves me tired and tapped. So it makes sense for me to go online, check off my list, and then go about my business until the doorbell rings with my groceries.
This is not an extravagance, but a practical choice. It enables me to apply that otherwise spent energy to something else. Something I value more. But it took me years to understand that.
The "keep life in balance" principle is not easy. I think it requires an intentionality that can feel like swimming upstream against the flow. And there are so many contributing factors that can knock things off kilter. Some are tangible, some psychological, some uncontrolable, some are even self-inflicted. But I have found that artful living is a worthwhile pursuit and I continue to throw myself at it. So this week I am going to employ my favorites...
My top ten ways of living an artfully balanced life:
1. Have at least one room in your house that is meant to be a disaster. For me this is my studio, and as much as I like it to be clean, the rule is that there is permission given for that room to be whatever it needs to. Sometimes it looks like an ikea show room and sometimes it looks like a tornado hit and dumped an art supply store in the process. That is the point. There is freedom in having a place where martha stewart would dare not enter. Relish it.
2. Have at least one room in your house that is always put together. For me this is our dining room. It is where we gather for dinner and every other room in the house can be a bit cluttered as long as there is this haven at mealtime. It is a place of calm. Having another room as a private haven of escape is also a good thing. I have a bathroom that we remodeled with an old clawfoot bathtub I got off of ebay. A lot of my best ideas have sprung from a good soak in that tub.
3. File the mail the moment you look at it. Toss the junk and file the bills. This seems silly but it helps things from getting out of hand. For me mail is an icon of the world spinning out of control and taking care of it everyday gives me some sort of peace. Weird? Maybe, but three days of unattended mail is a bummer. Now if I could just apply this principle to email...hmm...
4. Never say yes right away. Always give yourself some time to think before making a commitment. "I'll get back to you on that", can make the difference from being impulsive and making a mistake to thinking something through and being wise. We have all committed to things that end up taking more time than we initially realized. Taking a few minutes to ponder the ramification of a choice can serve well later on.
5. Never answer the phone. Ok this doesn't work for everyone, but I have to screen my calls or I would never get anything done. The mental energy spent on sales calls alone would be a waste.
6. Eat right, sleep right. This seems so silly, but who does it? Eating good food at normal times helps the body to run smoothly. Sleep? Duh.
7. Delegate things you hate to do. This may sound selfish, but it is actually a very practical approach to time (and sanity) management. We all have stuff we have to do, but if there is just one thing you can hand off... for me it's grocery shopping. Get rid of overcommitment and strive for simplicity.
8. Never forsake a creative moment. When given the opportunity to do something creatively, do that. This one is hard to explain. For me, a recent example of this was that my grape vines needed a trellis. Hence the picture below. A more daily example would be simply setting the table with cloth napkins, but for some people that extra laundry would tip their balance meter. Depends on the person.
9. Have a time set aside every week to recharge. For me it is my artist date on fridays. Sometimes it is an hour, sometimes (if I am lucky) it is the whole day. Having a time designated for rest is something to look forward to and balances out other times of the week that get mundane or tedious. If you have trouble justifying this think fourth commandment. If God thought it was a good idea, maybe so should we.
10. Practice being grateful. This is sometimes hard for me because I often get bogged down in the details and then get sullen. Popping my head out and looking at all that has brought me to this point in my life, the who, the what, and the how, is something to be grateful for. Cherishing the people in my life is the main thing, then all the other things, material or otherwise, are just a bonus.
"Be content in all things..."
Anyway, just a few of my favorites. There are more quirky things that keep things going in my little world, but this week we are keeping it simple.
handmade copper trellis for the concord grape vines