This post is a mishmash of thoughts and ideas from units 1-3 that didn’t seem to have quite enough follow through to become a post, but enough to keep them handy and to think about as time goes by.
What are my burning issues of the moment:
- Debt reduction: We are working hard and have made tremendous progress, but lately it seems we can’t make huge strides. I think it is a combination of beginning of the year appointments (which we pay for because of our high deductible) and a new prescription plan that almost tripled our monthly out of pocket. Our pantry supplied a lot of staples that carried us with lower grocery bills for quite a while, and now it is depleted and we’re buying all our groceries on paydays. Debt reduction is a priority because we will need (and want) the freedom it will bring. We’d like to have all our land systems in place and a retirement cottage built on the land prior to retirement age — all done with no debt.
- Strained relationships: What do you do when a person is toxic to your well-being and yet there is a bond of family? How do you make allowances for age, upbringing, health, and personality? At what point do those things not really matter? These are things I am dealing with — sometimes actively, sometimes just because I know the issue will come up again. Therapy (about this) has taught me that honesty is key–yet, this person is not open to working through issues. Living with a chronic condition makes me realize that pain and fatigue do cause issues, but I try very hard never to use my pain as an excuse for hurting another person or as an excuse for my own bad decisions. I know lots of people living with chronic pain that are kinder, gentler, and more loving because of it.
Routines and Distractions:
- My morning routine works very well for me, so I don’t see any changes that I want to make. Laud, meditation, yoga, walk, and self-care practices. . . .
- My day flows well and I have created enough restful spaces that I can get all my work done (unless it is a truly awful disease day).
- My night routine needs some tuning up so I added Examen (building up form my past simple gratitude list), and started reading from my Kindle or an actual book instead of the phone. I’ve even started turning the phone completely off and putting in all the way across the room before going to sleep.
- I put almost all notifications on “Do Not Disturb” including texts. I kept Kelly, Michael, and Hannah active, but all others are silenced. It helps. I in check between tasks to see who needs what and whether it needs a reply right now or if it can wait until I sit down.
What do I consider work? recreation?
- Work: tidying up house, cleaning house, laundry, dishes, gardening (plants), farming (animals), property management (yard, woods, driveway, firewood), food prep (includes preserving the harvest), grocery shopping, Health Coaching clients, reading non-fiction, writing, exercise (not yoga), making candles, making salves, studying for my classes, Welsh (I almost put this in recreation because it feels fun, but it has the aspect of work because it also must be done),
- Recreation: audiobooks, reading fiction, knitting/crocheting/coloring, leisurely walks, bike rides for fun, watching a show, chats with family and friends,
- prayer/mindfulness: daily offices, yoga, meditation,
Life Long Learning: In trying to live out our way of life, we commit to lifelong learning in order to grow in wisdom and understanding. This isn’t purely academic learning, this is learning with a clear focus and purpose — to keep us from getting too comfortable.
Areas of learning to consider: Bible (read, memorize), creation, experience, saints, languages (human, music, and creatures),reading, writing. The importance of retreats . . .
If I had to sum up this entire section of the way of life with one word, I would choose curiosity. Sometimes, as adults, we lose our sense of curiosity. We get too bogged down in the day-to-day “adulting” and forget that we live in a magical and magnificent world surrounded by mystery and fantastic creatures.
Curiosity is one of my key values. It shows up every time I’m asked to define myself and my worldview. I strive to maintain a curious mind and to explore things that interest me. It is a value I have passed onto my (adult) children. We are always learning something and sharing the information with the family,
For me, one of my greatest joys is my Welsh classes. But why Welsh? I chose Welsh for a few reasons. I have a lot of Welsh ancestry and felt like a connection to the past would be nice. I love (LOVE) Arthurian legend. I was looking for a language that would really stretch my language learning skills.
Why do I stick with Welsh? It challenges us, inspires me, delights me, and I look forward to sitting down everyday to “do Welsh.” I am at the point where I can intersperse my thoughts (and speaking aloud to myself) with Welsh words. I chose an immersion style class — so the focus is on hearing, speaking, and comprehending. I’ve paired it with Duolingo for vocabulary building. I do find myself growing more and more ready to crack open a grammar and get down to the nitty-gritty of the language. That is year 2 and I’m only 130 days into my journey, so I’ll trust the process and see where it leads.
Learning Welsh has naturally led to learning about Wales: geography, stories, saints, food, holidays, customs, etc. This all feels like its leading up to a trip to Wales. That may just be a dream, but it feels right and natural. It feels like me.
In the past, and I really would like to resurrect this, I have kept track of what birds I see at the feeders. I would choose one, draw it, color in details, and then do a bit of reading in the bird books and on-line to learn more about the bird. I did one per week. I really think that next Fall when the feeders go back outside that I will keep my notebook and binoculars by the table. I never did the sounds of each bird, so that would make a nice addition.
Other ways I implement lifelong learning:
- my daily yoga & meditation practice
- my daily use of the BCP bible reading schedule
- keeping up with sustainable small farming information to make the best choices for our land, animals, and family
- Nightly gratitude list that has slowly morphed into Examen
- My new reading plan that centers around clusters (2 fiction, 1 educational, 1 memoir/biography)
- daily writing even if it never sees the light of day, just knowing that each day I will be writing something
- twice a month Spiritual Companion Group followed by a retreat day
Unit 2: A Rhythm of Prayer, Work, and Recreation
R. Simpson — It is essential to establish a good rhythm before all else.
J. O’Donohue — to be spiritual is to be in rhythm
Rhythm — a link to creation, looking towards a way of life that keeps a balance. There are three labors of the monastic day: prayers, work, and recreation. Prayer creates spaces in the day for balancing the body, mind, and spirit. So be mindful of those spaces.
Take time to think about the things that are “daily” in my life. What makes it difficult to manage my time? What can I do to overcome those obstacles? What does a day in your life look like?
A Day in my Life
I’ve been fortunate enough to be able to structure my day and my work into four periods of time where I focus on different things. I learned early in my Anglican journey the value of the daily offices and from the Enneagram (specifically, The Road Back to You) the value of SNAP. So I transition into my day and through my day with prayers and small moments of meditation. My day is a practice in interruption — a cute interruption called Jasper, the pup. “I need out.” “I need in.” “Here, throw this!” “Can I sit on your lap?” “Hey!” ” Intruder Alert!” “RED alert!” “Rabbit!!”
Morning (6 – 10 am): As soon as I know I am awake, I begin the day with the daily devotion Laud. I have it memorized and say the words aloud as I stretch and move for those first few moments. Upon leaving the bed, I quietly sit on my yoga mat for about 5 minutes, just breathing, and seeing what I feel and where I feel. That leads to my yoga practice, a walk, a shower, and then breakfast. After breakfast I have a system of tiding up (maintenance) and cleaning (focused attention) the house. I work my way from east to west, gathering laundry, and end by starting the washer. In the gardening months, I do my garden work after my walk and before my shower. I like to get out there early and get it done before it gets too warm. In order to make this work, I get up about an hour earlier in the gardening months.
Prime (10 am-2 pm): This time begins with a SNAP meditation and moves me into my academic and work part of the day. Things here aren’t nearly as structured as my morning. I have a list of what needs to be accomplished and steadily work my way through it. Bible reading is usually first and I read the passages from the chart in the BCP. Then I generally do some writing. I try to write every day, my assignments, blog posts, letters, snippets of story, etc. I also try to write before I’ve consumed any news, blogs, or writings by others. It helps keep my words my own words. After writing, I usually spend time studying for whatever courses I am taking that semester/year. At 1 pm, I get up, reciting Sext in my head, prepare my lunch, and take a short break to eat, check news, and surf a bit. After lunch I do my Welsh. This is a highlight of each day and I look at more as a reward than a course I am taking.
Afternoon (2 -6 pm): Another SNAP meditation leads into this period. I start by either doing some strength training or a 15 minute Pilates session — I’m not trying to exercise so much as work out the kinks from four hours of primarily sitting still. I also take some time to switch laundry around. Because we have chosen not to have an electric dryer, laundry needs to be rotated on the racks by the stove or on the lines outside. This normally works out to be about an hour of moving around. Then I sit down with my knitting (or crochet, or coloring) basket and listen to an audiobook. Dinner preparation, another tidy up of areas where I worked, reading for pleasure, more laundry work, and dinner all happen in this time too. I conclude this time with lighting a candle and saying Vespers.
Evening (6 -9 pm): Another SNAP before news (and sometimes during news, because holy cow!) then quiet family time, sometimes a movie or tv episode (iTunes), usually just everybody sitting around together but doing their own thing. I choose to read, do Examen, and Compline before turning in early.
It is a quiet, predictable, life. I have chosen carefully the best way to get enough rest to manage my disease and yet have enough interaction and busyness to keep me engaged and active.
We all like to be in control, but wildness is not to be feared but embraced. Where does my wildness lay? Is there room for it in my life? Can I nurture it? or do I try to tame it?
This question reminded of that great thought in C.S. Lewis’s The Chronicles of Narnia:
“Aslan is a lion- the Lion, the great Lion.” … I shall feel rather nervous about meeting a lion”…”Safe?” said Mr Beaver …”Who said anything about safe? ‘Course he isn’t safe. But he’s good.
This thought has stuck with me and guided me through many faith transitions. It is good to know that God is wild, beyond my control, and yet always good. So when I see those expressions of faith that claim to tame him, control him, or place their own “badness” onto him I tend to lead with skepticism. This has led me to explore paths of faith expression until I settled in the Anglican Communion.
Here I find enough wildness and enough structure to make me comfortably uncomfortable. We are always challenged to “live into our baptism” and we never shy away from the hard issues. There is grace enough for conflicting conclusions, so long as we all agree that Jesus points the way to God. Kyrie Eleison!
This idea of wildness and of being comfortably uncomfortable allows me the freedom to make somewhat unconventional choices for our lives, our home, and our property. As a family we have almost 5 acres and a small-ish home to tend and keep.
We’ve done things like allowing the majority of the land to grow up through wildness into woods. We have paths through the property and we try to limit human incursion to those paths. We use the acre set aside for people and garden as smartly and intensively as we can. We compost religiously. We do (and will) raise our animals, not for food, but for manure production (and in the case of chickens, for eggs). Due to wild animals, and packs of domestic dogs, we won’t free-range or pasture for our animals, so we will do our best to mimic that freedom in safe conditions. We have a vegetable garden, fruit garden, and fruit/nut trees scattered around. We have a pool for keeping cool in the summer, and use downed trees to heat our home in the winter. Michael has dug a system of trenches and cisterns to help the land drain better and to store water for the dry months (garden only). Our new animal enclosures will all have their own rainwater collection system built right into the design. I have been slowing adding pollinator, butterfly, and hummingbird gardens closer to the house.
Our pup Jasper is another area of wildness in our lives. He isn’t particularly well-trained, but he is affectionate, friendly, and generally well-behaved. He is, however, all dog and loves nothing more than to run through the property sniffing, peeing, barking, and letting the wind ruffle his hair. He “commands” the front yard (the human used area) from a perch built onto the front deck. He brings us such joy and laughter as we watch his antics.
I also love to feed and watch the birds at a bird feeder. I hope to bring more wildness closer to the house by increasing the bird feeders and types of feed available next winter. And bees! I’d love to add a couple of hives (we have wild honey bees on the property).
How do I see? Hear? Touch? Taste? Smell? Can I change the way I approach the world through my senses? Can I catch a glimpse of something else? Might I be surprised by inspiration?
I began wearing contacts at age 18 and wore them exclusively until 12 months ago. There used to be a clarity to vision that I took for granted. After a major relapse of my auto-immune disease I was no longer able to wear them for long periods of time — more like for a few hours at time. At the time, it seemed like the worst thing in the world. How would I see? How would I get around? How would I cope to wearing glasses and having multiple prescriptions for various purposes (which is not the same as bifocals or trifocals)?
Then about six months ago, I just quit wearing them due to dry eyes. I switched to just my glasses and occasionally not wearing any corrective lenses at all. I am learning to lean into the fuzziness at the edges and appreciate the crispness of vision in my “good range.” I’ve noticed a gentleness as I switch between various lenses and uncorrected vision. I am seeing more while actually seeing less. I notice little things and I appreciate small pops of color.
I’ve even noticed a shift in my favorite colors. I used to prefer greens and browns, Now, I want red, blue, and purple. Although not together, land sakes NO! I even bought a bright red winter coat! It has been a great surprise, but I love it. I love that I can see it. I love the way it feels like a ray of brightness in an otherwise gray world.