My intention with this endeavor has been to declutter/de-own at least one thing, every day, till I reach my goal. The goal of owning less to make room for more. The goal of possessing nothing so that I can embrace all that God has for me completely.
So when I saw that yesterday and today I had not really thrown anything into the donation pile or the trash bin, I was disappointed in myself. I took an evaluation of my days to see exactly why I didn't have the time to put towards my project.
It was then that I realized that I WAS in fact decluttering and de-owning. But it wasn't physical stuff. It was the stuff of busy-ness. It was taking care of the bills and the filing of documents and the planning of parties, and the re-orienting of myself after a weekend away from the home and my family.
I was struck with the idea of mind clutter. That which fills my mind and often times paralyzes me because I have so much to do, so much to be responsible for. I have relationships with people that need me. My time. My presence. I have responsibilities as a mom, wife, and friend. And when I allow things to pile up in my mind, on my to do list, I become overwhelmed and I must spend the time I need to in an attempt to clean up my mind clutter. Mind clutter often results in guilt which is never a good thing.
I am a perpetual list maker. A professed disorganized organizational freak. I don't know how I arrived at this, but it is what it is. I am what I am. So, I make my list, I cross things off, and I get done what I can. My mindset has typically been one of negative thinking..."I still have THIS much to do!" Neverminding what I HAVE accomplished. In my mental crazy box, it is never enough. Until now. I have implemented limits to my to do list. Three things per day. I can manage three "to do" items per day. I might have more than that on my list, but that just means that I have choices. I like choices. I also like progress. I would love perfection, but that isn't happening, so I will settle for progress.
So, three things. I can do three things. They might be big things, they might be little things. But here is the truest thing...if I don't get them done, I can even live with that. My vocation as a mom comes before most everything else. Homeschooling the children should be my very first priority directly after being able to provide for their basic needs of food, clothing, shelter, and love. For years, I have battled the folks who think I have all the time in the world to do things for them. And there is only one reason why they have asked. Because I have allowed them to. And when I say yes to them, it is an invitation to ask again and again.
I have learned a few techniques, but truthfully, I am horribly guilty of taking on too much and trying to "fit" school into the empty spaces in my day. This year has been different in that I have blocked off "school time" and stuck with it more regularly. It means life slows down and sometimes, seems monotonous. But I know it is in these times that I am developing a deeper relationship with my children who see that my time with them is not an after-thought. It is a privilege and it is very important to me.
Mental clutter must be worked through in order to be "free" to be with my children. It is not easy. One of the first things I can do to reduce this form of clutter is to reduce my online exposure. Email, FB, DM, etc. Texting and phone calls can also fall into this category. I try to limit my time in these arenas, but I have allowed these forms of media to invade precious moments of my day that in turn take away from something else.
I recall years ago when my friends and I would "give up email" for Lent. It seems as though that would be nearly impossible today. No one calls anyone anymore. Seriously. The only reason I have a land line is so that doctors can call me to remind me of scheduled appointments and sales people have a number to call! I will admit, I don't miss being on the phone as much as I used to be, but I also will admit, I miss talking with my friends in this way.
Giving up email probably isn't feasible anymore. This is how most communication comes through. It is convenient and I like that I can get to it when I can, but I do have a tip on how to limit email.
Have one junk email address. Any website you visit these days wants your email so they can send you junk. I use mine all the time and I very rarely open that email address. If I do use my regular email address for a website, I will unsubscribe from every single one of the emails if they are sent to me.
I use my vacation response. If I am gone out of town, have many outside obligations, I do not hesitate to use my vacation response to state that I am not able to respond to emails until such and such a date. I might be able to check from my phone, but I do not have to respond until I am truly free to do so. If the person emailing me receives that vacation response, they respect my time away and understand that a response may not be immediate. Funny how that works. I used to respond immediately to email and texts and then was shocked when people expected me to! Now I set aside times of the day to check these things and respond as needed.
FB. I have a hate/hate relationship with FB. I hate that this is how people keep in touch with one another. I long for snail mail. I hate that people think that what is shown on FB is what is truly happening in someone's life. I hate that people think FB is not a good way to have a relationship, but yet, they won't find time for a more personal encounter. I go back and forth with FB. Deactivate, delete, activate, blah, blah ,blah. I will most probably deactivate again for Lent. I need that break. I crave it. I do like to see the pictures of my friends and students and that is about it. So yes, I will miss some things, but you know what? When I am using FB I am missing things, the things of my real life. The things within my home. I'll take a few misses on FB.
I have enjoyed using DM (dailymile) for awhile now. As I try to simplify my life, I find that this social app is also on the list of possible chopping block material. It is a wonderful way to track workouts and I have made some wonderful connections there, but as I am not training for anything big and I am seeking to be less and less, this site is one that I may need to back away from for a time.
So, I suppose the past few days have not really been a lull, but rather, quite busy in fact. My mind wrestles with these thoughts and I take them to prayer. Not because they are huge life decisions, but because my faithfulness grows in the little things. In the details.
I am yearning to find my true, best-version-of myself. I am a long way from it and my version will not look like anyone else's. My expression of simplicity will not be the next guy's. My decision to becoming smaller will not reflect the reason of another. This journey goes beyond the stuff in my closets. Beyond the clutter in my mind. This journey is about cleaning the cobwebs of my soul and making room for Him to move in.