Enjoying the Simplicity of Life

My blogging buddy Danielle (whom I have actually met in real life) posted a wonderfully profound blog entry on loving the simple in life.    It took me back to where my life has been over the last few months.

I stepped away from some work this summer that was really wearing me out.   With a lightened load, I have been learning how to enjoy a life that is increasingly uncomplicated, allowing me to focus on those items that I consider my purpose.   I have more time to invest in my work, both mentally and physically.   I have more time to hang out (minus a laptop) with the family.   I have more time to manage my household, and even though the house doesn’t look like the museum about which I fantasize, I am learning to work within the ebb and flow of the kids’ school days and eating breaks (the one bit of value I took from the Fly Lady).

I am learning to release some of my Martha-like tendencies and take one day at a time.

But there are times when life does not allow you the luxury of simplicity.   This weekend was one of those times.

In drafting this post, I began to detail the three days that attacked me at once, but just listing it made me tired.  Rather than bore you with the day-to-day, I thought instead to reflect on how God lovingly perfects all that concerns us, even the smallest of things:

I’m thankful that God has complemented me with a husband that doesn’t mind getting out and driving around; he loves to be on-the-go.   I, on the other hand, am one who relishes a full day at home.   So, even when he has to make two trips into town to the Whole Paycheck Foods Market because I forgot something, he goes without complaint.

I’m thankful that others in the house are teaching me to be flexible, so that when the oldest threw in an unexpected need to travel an hour away to research a college project, I didn’t sprout too many more gray hairs.    Similarly, when my husband asked us to postpone the weekday field trip so that he could join us, everyone was okay with a school-related activity (she says, tongue-in-cheek) on Labor Day.

I’m thankful for two girls with heads full of hair.   Even though it takes me the better part of a couple of days to wash/twist/ braid it, it’s healthy.   So in spite of the hard time they give me about oils and butters, I smile as they pull back ponytails or put on headbands. 

I’m thankful for a son who is focused enough in his interests as to give up his Saturday mornings to pursue his passions, even if it means that Dad or I must give up our Saturday mornings as well.

I’m thankful that, in the midst of the chaos that permeated this weekend, I felt the breeze from the bay in my twists, I visited with alligators, and observed my first flock of red-winged blackbirds.

 

So this morning, as I got up later than I wanted, and scolded myself that I didn’t get all these little projects done that I had planned before the kids awoke, I reminded myself of the things that I did get to do.    My two hands crafted homemade biscuits with fresh fruit this morning, and enchiladas for lunch.   The kids finished school well and early.    Football season starts tonight.   I commit to being a better me on tomorrow.

Simple is good.

Thankful

Plan A was to write this post on last week before we began our fall semester, but the days have been busy, friends.   With what looked like an open window of time and opportunity, I decided to take advantage of an offer to complete a certification for work over the next four weeks.   I’ve also spent a significant amount of away-from-the-computer time completing last-minute preparations for school.   Those preparations included modifying my original syllabus for the 2nd high schooler in our home, detailing economics lesson plans for our budding junior (11th grade) and taking advantage of the recent tax-free weekend to purchase a few last resources for our growing littlest girl, now in 3rd grade.  College ended a couple of weeks back, and for seven days we rested.   Then we were at it again.   Dance began the day after school started for our youngest, at least.

Before any flurry of activity began, though, I had an opportunity to attend the Heart of the Matter online conference.   I make a point of listening in when I can each year.   Usually, our school has been in session for about 3 weeks by then, so my immediate take-aways are few, and I have to wait for the mp3s to be available for longer-term inspiration.   This year, because of the oldest’s college schedule, I had whole mornings to sit while the younger two slept.  I absorbed so much richness, and, almost as if by divine intervention, the schedule of my days at that point afforded me ample time for sweet reflection before our school days kicked off.

We are now entering our 8th year of homeschooling, and though anxiety will, on occasion, rear its unattractive head, on most days, I’m truly thankful.

I’m thankful for my earliest homeschool education in the importance of setting the environment for learning to occur.   I sometimes look over my pre-homeschooling wish lists and plans to make our home friendlier for all day.   Little of that has actually happened.   Our learning centers are still not full of all the many educational games and toys that I intended to buy.   I never purchased the piano I wanted (and placing one in the space I’d planned for it would now severely limit the kids from moving freely in their self-created dance space).   Thank God I couldn’t afford all that pricey curriculum that I took the time to extract from the catalogs; I don’t know that the kids would have been more knowledgeable, but we would have been a lot more broke.

I’m thankful for the couple who introduced us to the Charlotte Mason approach years before we actually began to homeschool.   We don’t get out of doors nearly as much as Miss Mason prescribes, and there are semesters/ years when my lack of expertise in poetry and music history is glaringly obvious.   But, the kids have learned to stop and take notice of a bird at the feeder, and to be curious enough to find the field guide and discover a name for this visitor.   They have learned to stop and look at clouds and take note, not just of their imaginary figures, but also to notice what type of cloud has captured their attention and what its existence might mean to our weather.   They can enjoy Tchaikovsky and identify Vivaldi’s “Four Seasons.”

I’m thankful for a routine that works for us.   I know that some schools thrive in spontaneity, but in our home, little changes in terms of class days and times.   I want us to spend as little mental energy as possible on “what are we going to do today?” and instead delve the work that is before us.   Yet, as much as I am thankful for a routine, I’m also thankful that there is enough new-ness, enough rest in the schedule, and just enough change in plans to keep everyone energized, including me.   I loved sitting down with each of them on the 1st day and talking about what was new, what was the same, and what our expectations were of each of them at this step in their educational process.   Our son read through his “syllabus,” asking questions as if he was signing away his birthright.   The oldest was a step ahead, asking the day before school started, “Is there an assignment that I need to start reading now for later this week?”   It may not sound like much, but my long-term readers will perhaps remember that this is the same child who convinced me that she’d be less distracted, and therefore more productive, if I let her work upstairs in her room; math, consequently, started taking 5 hrs. to complete, science took 4, etc.   So much for less distracted.   It’s difficult, looking at her now, to believe those types of days and months actually were a part of our school day, but God did a mighty work—in her and in me.

I wrote this because, for many homeschoolers, this month is the beginning of that next school year.  And for many brand-new, fresh-out-of-the-box homeschoolers, this might be your first week.  Hopefully things went well, but maybe the time happened very differently than you would have planned it.   Maybe you’re questioning your decision, whether that decision was to begin homeschooling, or to homeschool this year.   Though we’ve had fabulous starts (and finishes) in the last few years , I shudder as I vividly remember years when I toyed with the thought of public school for the sake of peace.    There is always something to be thankful for, and the Lord is always at work in our lives, if we trust Him.   If you didn’t have the week you planned, make your “I’m thankful” list.  If you don’t blog, grab a friend and tell him or her about it.   You’d be amazed at how uplifting a different perspective can be.   I’m looking forward to Monday already.