R is for Rhythm vs Routine

The problem with getting into a routine is that all too soon it turns into a rut. Or the routine gets interrupted and then never resumes. What I am really looking for is a rhythm to my days. For once I am finding the balance of accomplishment and quietness. I  climb into bed at night pleasantly tired, not physically and mentally exhausted. I  feel good about the work done maintaining our home and life while having the time and energy to pursue personal goals. I am spending my time more mindfully.  I am having it all, albeit in small amounts.

One thing I am learning is that taking care of myself really makes the rest of life better. Most times working on my personal goals first actually leads to more household tasks getting done later in the day and doing them is far easier.  This is a huge shift for me because I have always been a get all the work done first kind of girl.  I have learned the hard way that the work is never done and I was making myself miserable in the trying.

The best thing I have been doing for myself lately is what I call ‘Quiet Time’.  As early in the morning as possible I spend five to thirty minutes sitting quietly. Not meditating but planning my day, thinking about how to best use my time. I find starting the day with this small pause keeps the day from feeling rushed. When I have more time (which is most days) I usually work on one of my current projects, listen to the birds and enjoy a cup of tea. But even just a five minute pause help sets the tone for the day.

Once in awhile I do the same thing in the evening, usually right after dinner clean up.  I retreat to my office and sit at my work table.  I typically gaze out the window and watch the day end.  It is very soothing to stop everything for a just few minutes.

The rhythm of my days is right for right now. As the weather heats up, school ends and vacations begin the routines will change, as they should. The challenge will be to find a way to keep the rhythm going while embracing the extra time with small child. To find a balance to our days that works for both of us. I believe the key is to remember that I count too and sometimes a mere five minutes is enough.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
I grew these flowers from seeds!  A rare and wondrous thing for me here in the desert.

A Laundry Experiment

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
A lovely little breeze helping to dry the clothes.

Lately dinner and laundry have been battling for who will be my top nemesis. Right now dinner is winning. As for laundry I decided to try something different this week: I didn’t do it. For six straight days I ignored dirty clothes as they piled up in the hamper. On the seventh day I sorted all that laundry into four piles: reds, whites, darks and lights. But I still didn’t wash it.  The only reason I sorted it out was because the hamper was at max capacity.

I decided to wait until Friday (today) to do the laundry for a purely devious reason.  My husband was off work and he was planning on painting the large gate that the HOA had sent a letter complaining about.  The fact that I pointed out months ago the gate needed painting made no impression.  A thirty day deadline seems to have worked.  Now I know my husband and he will pretend incompetence in order to somehow suck me into helping (as he does with any major task that he really doesn’t want to do).

I have learned to be prepared and am becoming adept at planning an avoidance strategy.  My mission this time has bill paying and finishing the taxes lined up to commence as he starts his painting project.  I decided to throw the laundry task in as well.  It would add another layer of “see how busy I look” to my day.

I feel snowed under by laundry these days.  The sad thing is I used to enjoy doing laundry.  A basket of clean clothes always seems like such a nice accomplishment.  Now there is just too much.  I typically do two to three loads,  four or five days a week.   I hang much of it outside to take advantage of the dry air, heat and sunshine here.  In the summer clothes dry quicker on the line than in the dryer!

Each individual step of the process doesn’t take much time but at the end of the day it all adds up. I know delaying doing laundry isn’t going to be very helpful.  The same amount will still have to be done. But it felt really nice to not do laundry for a whole week.

Here is what happened when I didn’t do laundry for a week:

  1. No one complained about not having clean clothes.  This is America, our closets are full.
  2. The washer did not start crying from neglect.
  3. I did not get a ticket from the laundry police.

After a week off my loathing for laundry seems a bit less intense.  Interesting.  Maybe I just need a new routine? Hmmm.  Do I really want to think about how I do laundry?  No. I think I just want to do it fewer days a week.  At least once in awhile.  I can make that happen.

Happy Laundry Day!!

Changes (Part III)

IMG_6445

I cannot believe how the snow has lingered on the Catalina Mountains!

In my continuing quest to make 2016 a really good year I decided I need to take better care of myself. I have my list of habits to work on and I am becoming more aware of just how much of an impact my thyroid issue has on my life.  I came up with the crazy idea to set aside more time just for me.  From 8:30a to 2:00p, Tuesday through Friday to be specific.

It seems a huge amount of time, 22 hours to be exact, but as a mom there are no weekends or holidays or even time in the evenings to relax.  I have become crabby and frustrated and bored with life.  I considered going back to work but that is not what I really want to do.  I want to be here for my son after school and on holidays.  I don’t want to even think about trying to juggle three schedules while planning vacations and camping trips.

But I need a change.  I am tired of cleaning up after my husband and son who are both slobs. I don’t mind the dusting and vacuuming but the unending piles of stuff left everywhere should not be just my problem.   I am also doing all the cooking and laundry and after meal clean up. I have felt like because I am home all day I have to do all the household stuff.  Enough is enough though.  So I am going to try something different.  I will still cook and clean and pay the bills, but I won’t be doing everything alone. I suspect it will take a fair amount of time to make running this home more of a family event,  but having them see all that I do will be a good start.  The idea is that I will feel happier having taken care of myself and I will be able to gently and nicely ask for help with small tasks.

This is another reason I wanted to move my office back upstairs into a room with a door.  I can retreat into my cocoon and work on projects, meditate, read and write.  I will have time to exercise or go for longer walks. I will need to learn to ignore all the things that need to be done around the house, at least for a few hours.

Honestly, I have no idea how this is going to work.   I have to admit I am  excited about the idea though.  I keep thinking of new projects I want to do. Will I be able to place my needs ahead of the household for a that many hours a week?  All I can do is try and see what happens. I might need you to send me a bit courage and perseverance for this one!

Upheaval

The chaos of the new flooring install has begun. It is a bit of a relief to have it started. I am surprised at how stressed I have been feeling. We spent the last four days moving everything we could upstairs or out to the garage.  I have made a list of things I can do upstairs and created a little work space in my bedroom.  I even remembered to make a lunch for myself and stash it in a cooler upstairs.  Hopefully my husband remembers to bring dinner home.  Today the workers are taking out the tile in the kitchen and everything is covered with plastic.

 

 

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
See how scary this looks?  This is my old office, now the playroom, currently the storage area of downstairs items.

 

Five days of no cooking, laundry or cleaning.  Five days of not being able to find anything.  None of my precious bits of solitude.  A complete disruption of the normal rhythm of my days.  I can’t even watch tv as “my” tv and dvr are downstairs.  Every time I think about it I feel the start of a headache.

Instead I am trying to focus on what I can accomplish this week. I can do lots of stuff on the computer:  research Christmas present ideas, work on my calendar for 2016, create a sheet for counting the hunger loose change jar at church and of course write a blog post or two.

Other projects for the week include setting up a bullet journal for a One October start date.  I have been reading a lot about it and want to give it a try.  It seems like it would be my sort of thing. I want to spend an hour a day cleaning out my son’s room.  I have a needlepoint project I can try and finish this week while listening to the “Treasure Island” audiobook.

I may also sort through my books using the “KonMari” principles.  Since they are all upstairs and pretty much together I thought this would be a perfect opportunity.

I have set aside most of next week to moving things back downstairs. The plan is to do more KonMari type purging with the focus on DVDs and CDs.  I also want to rearrange the dining room/office area a bit. I really miss having my office upstairs.  As I feared, my son doesn’t use his new play room much at all.  I debated swapping back with some more modifications but I really don’t want the toys scattered downstairs again.

Instead I am going to tweak the office set up a bit and see if I can make it more to my liking.  And if that doesn’t work and the play room is still  being under-utilized maybe we will swap back after the first of the year.  I love the idea of redoing my office from scratch.  I would like to get rid of all the makeshift pieces of furniture and buying a new set up that really fits the space and my needs. Doubtful but a girl can dream!

So I have managed to pass the first couple of hours.  I am still feeling pretty stressed.  There is a lot of noise downstairs:  a loud fan, their radio, loud conversation and all the banging and scraping of tile being removed.  And now there is the added fear of “what if I don’t love the new flooring?”  Agghhh.

I remind myself to breathe.  I am going to go sort my son’s Christmas books.  I will not panic!  I will consult the list of things to do this week and keep busy.  Deep breath.

 

 

 

Spring Fever?

The weather has continued to be very strange. We had rain on Monday and temps are back in the 80’s so I have turned the a/c off.
I woke up Tuesday in no mood for the normal routine. The routine is starting to feel like a rut. This really doesn’t make sense as I have been doing lots of different projects lately. In addition to making my triptych and organizing my closet I sewed a pair of curtain panels for our trailer. So I have no idea what the problem is.  Spring Fever?
I need to find someplace new to walk the dog. I have gotten rather bored with all the nearby little neighborhoods. Much of the urban desert southwest all looks the same.  Same houses, same landscaping, mountains in the background. I need to find some new, nearby places to explore.

After getting my son to school I decided to do whatever came to mind.  I washed my two pair of older sneakers (it didn’t help much) and hung a load of laundry outside.  I made a pitcher of iced tea and a batch of hard boiled eggs.  Then I walked the dog around the block.  It may be boring to me but he seems able to find lots of interesting smells.  Then I decided to hop on the treadmill and read blogs and write my own.  As tempted as I was to sit on the couch watching tv and eating ice cream I know how much this walking contributes to a good night sleep.

Next I cleaned out the desk drawers, an item on my declutter list for this year. Accomplishing that task felt pretty good.  Then I took the rest of the homemade bread that was getting stale and turned it into croutons.

Wednesday morning after walking the dog I washed my car.  Another overdue task I can now check off.  I have pretty much decided to throw my routine out the window until the end of the school year when a new routine will be created.  I am rather enjoying doing random tasks and not knowing what I will be doing the next day.  Plus the house is getting really clean.  Only 10 more school days!