Check Contents Before Opening

Packing Only What Fits?

Every morning, I do a once-over of the children before they depart for school, and make sure they look solid. Before I consider them fully inspected, I give them that one last look from head to toe to confirm no hairs out of place; clean corners at the mouth; smooth, unbent collars; fully zipped coats; smiles all aglow; and covered necks and chests. “Child, don’t be taking no chances with this weather…can’t be coming down with a chest cold!” (Now say it in the most southern twang you can muster.) 😮 I’m beginning to sound like somebody’s grandma…probably got it from somebody’s grandma! Inspection now complete, they walk off, and I’m assured that they are all set. 

Once they leave, I settle into the domestic affairs of cleaning off the table and counters, and putting away cereal boxes and orange juice.  My eye catches hold of a small pile of school papers which contains unsigned permission slips and school announcements, some now moot because of past deadlines. These were all from only one of their backpacks, seemingly from a few days ago. How did I miss that? They probably snuck that past me, I thought. Darn it, I forgot to check the inside of their bags…again!  It occurs to me that I haven’t personally checked the inside of their backpacks in quite some time. I’ve trusted their little growing independent selves to handle this aspect of their organization, dismissing the fact that they may need a little help along the way.

In fact, I haven’t been checking on the inside of much, as of lately. Ouch! I consider the question of how often we check on the inside. Sometimes, my steady auto-pilot feature is so engaged, that I don’t do due diligence to my total self by checking on the inside, so by all appearances, it all appears well. This small example of not checking my children’s backpacks is a microcosm of our avoidance to thoroughly check the inside, and sift through the contents of our personal selves. By all appearances, we appear well, but beneath, lies an emergent self that is steadily evolving as it navigates through life and seeks to apply the wisdom gained over the years. It busily trods through life, hoping to present itself better, stronger, more equipped for the race with each new day, yet, it is bombarded with numerous messages, of things unattended, and of stories untold.

Left unchecked, this emergent self carries its ramblings, notions, musings, thoughts, hopes, dreams, and epiphanies under wraps, sealed, to be released probably never, and most certainly, too infrequently. Occasionally however, there is a need to check its contents. A thorough inspection is required to ensure that we have what we need when we need it. We may very well need to review its contents; discard what’s no longer useful, and replenish what’s needed. In my children’s backpack, it was the announcement of the school’s new SMARTboards, a middle school parent orientation, and a May field trip (which thankfully, I will submit in time). In a broader sense, however, a review might indicate that our priorities are in need of reorganization. It might be the realization that we haven’t tended to matters of the heart. It may be the acknowledgment that we need to nurture some personal connections, rest, or are on “to-do” overload, or that our bodies are lacking some key nutrients, exercise, and quality down-time. Perhaps life has become so routine and formal, so deadline-driven; but within, we are in need of some organization, prioritization, and yes, fixation…on the inside.

Check the contents not only to find what’s missing, but to also celebrate what’s in place; what you deem most important, what you’ve insisted on carrying, what propels you. Perhaps those things are glaringly evident, indicating that you are right where you need to be. Celebrate that as well, that you may give yourself permission to occasionally mess up on those things that show up on the outside. If your personal house – your very essence, your compassion, your storehouses of love, generosity, the very inner hearkenings of your heart, talent, art, ministry, gifts – is in order, who cares what everyone else sees?  Only you know the hard work that you put in to get it that way. Pack carefully, but don’t keep piling it on. Streamline often, to avoid getting bogged down by dead weight. Broom the crap, and groom the rest! Write the stories, and get it out one way or the other. Unleash the uneasiness that comes from avoiding what’s inside, and take joy in seeing it morph into tangible action. Experience the sweet joy that springs forth from releasing the pent-up frustration and seeming inability to move forward on said project, or action item.  Eliminate those things that add no value to what you say is most important to you – your values, your core, your master plan! Cultivate and enhance only the keepsakes – those contents worthy of keeping –  that you may rightfully grow into that beautiful beyond-emergent self, from the inside out!!

And  now, for some musical inspiration on the subject:
Bag Lady“, Erykah Badu
Lively Up Yourself“, Bob Marley

Now You See Me…

Lest I Make A Spectacle of Myself!

A few days ago, a fellow blogger asked her readers to share daily practices that served them well.   By my own admission, I struggle with consistency and organization.  I’ll get into a routine and not before long, I will be on to something else, tossing what originally worked, not because I want to, but because I haven’t stuck with it long enough to remember what worked in the first place! Blame it on my three darlings, who have an uncanny ability to make my thoughts vaporize before I can get them out of my head and on to paper.  Nonetheless, when asked this question about daily practices, I didn’t have to think too long or hard before I could rattle off a list of things. I don’t do these things every single day, but I manage to do them on most days, and from week to week. Together, they’ve become an integral part of my life and are rudimentary to my being, as they ensure that I thrive as a wife and mother, and any other roles in which I am required to be effective. In order, I listed the following:

  • I love.
  • I eat.
  • I find and create the JOY within.
  • I post motivational words on Facebook, or quip about an observation that left an indelible mark on me.
  • I write.
  • I drink coffee.
  • I kiss and tell my husband and children that I love them…again…and again…I didn’t hear those words much as a child (making up for ‘lost’ time?).
  • I crochet orders for my business, HomeSpun Handmades.
  • I workout – 3-5x a week. It’s MY Prozac.  (This usually includes some form of cardio, and most definitely jumping rope and dancing, spinning, or teaching fitness, all while listening to some bangin’ beats!)
  • I dance…like no one’s watching! Seriously.

Though I’m pleased that I can do these things on a regular enough basis, I’m not so pleased about what I conveniently left out – those practices that I find myself guilty of not doing on a regular enough basis.  Undoubtedly, their incorporation would also serve me well. I think that if I am to engage you in conversation about authentic relationships, and owning up to our own truths, I should at least be transparent and allow you to touch and feel me in my wholeness – in my abilities as well as my limitations, in my convictions as well as my fears, and in my shortcomings as well as my successes.  I want you to get a glimpse of my fullness as I believe that it is what makes me uniquely designed for this ministry of writing, of inspiring, of relating, of creating. 

Therefore, in an effort to present myself whole, balanced, flawed, and human, I’ve put together a list of those practices in which I know I come up short.  (Warning: This list is by no means exhaustive.)

  • Pray – I would like to pray more…more actively…more fervently…more meditatively…without ceasing.
  • Intently study the Bible and the Quran, as well as other spiritual books and principles of thought on the subject of God, his centrality, his universality. 
  • Read.  Allow me to qualify.  I read, but I find that I don’t complete enough books.  On my nightstand is my nook, as well as a few other books that I go in and out of, all of which require completion.  On my windowseat is more of the same, including Wally Lamb’s “I Know This Much Is True“, Walter Mosley‘s “This Year You Write Your Novel“, my leather-bound journal, and a black hard plastic spiral bound notebook in which I also keep my writing.  I am often reading more than one book at a time, for different reasons.  For instance, I’m currently reading “The Crafts Business Answer Book” by Barbara Brabec, and “Traveling with Pomegranates: A Mother-Daughter Story“, by Sue Monk Kidd, and Ann Kidd Taylor.  (I kid you not! 😮  Aside: One of my personal literary goals is to penetrate, explore, and ultimately demystify the mother-daughter mystique through my own experience, while referring to the vast knowledge already written on the subject.)  I imagine that the abundance of books, and simultaneous reading of a few, is typical and necessary for burgeoning authors.  Let’s hope that I’m right!
  • Be a master administrator.  I’d like to be more consistent in managing the administrative end of my home-based business.  Admittedly, it’s so much easier and rewarding for me to create the products than it is for me to track expenses, enter sales, and build an online presence.  Though I quietly acknowledge the importance of the behind-the-scenes work that goes into any business, for-profit or non-profit, I despise the minutia that goes along with it.  The devil is in the details, I know.
  • Give myself enough quiet time.  Ummmm…Namaste.  In the hurriedness of my day and managing my household and all that comes along with it, the desire to devour my to-do list whole, not burn daylight, and meet deadlines (many of which are self-imposed), leaves me with little unadulterated, unfiltered quiet time to do absolutely nothing.  This is a guilty pleasure in which I need more indulgence, as I’m certain that it will afford me clarity in many areas of my life, but I sometimes tend to override it when it’s within view because somewhere down the line, I’ve been trained to “get it done”.    

Whew! Glad I got that all out there! Don’t judge me! LOL! 😮 Are there some areas in your own life where you feel you come up short? Better said, are there practices that you’d like engage in more regularly, that you know without a doubt, would make you more effective?  Please don’t tell me that this is a one-woman show.  Do tell!

Yay Me!

How many times have you turned on the stove to boil water for tea, to remember that you did so only when you actually heard the whistle?  Too many times, I manage my day based on what screams for my immediate attention.  “The squeaky wheel gets the grease”, goes the old saying, but today I vowed to take care of the bigger and more critical matters that would transport us well into the future and pay dividends for our family in the long run.  Though less demanding and intrusive, I knew that these matters had the potential to bubble over as they seemed to only require that I check on  them sporadically as they were now on a slow, less threatening simmer setting. 

I find myself wanting to streamline my visible spaces, and de-clutter them in a big way as their physical existence beckons for my touch.  I look at everything in my home with a keen eye, asking myself whether it should stay or go.  I’m on a mission to give away the things in our home that can bless others, discard the stuff that nobody would want, and organize what’s left. 

Lately however, despite my deepest desires to cut the clutter and trim the fat in more places than one, I’ve had to become much more disciplined about managing my time versus organizing my tangible space and things to ensure that the “must-do’s” don’t fall through the cracks.  As a result, I’m left with very little time to focus on the “nice-to-do’s”, including any major de-cluttering.  Since I’m not diagnosed OCD – self or medically – you don’t have to worry about finding me on my hands and knees cleaning out corners or color-coding towels in the linen closet.  After all, I’d hate to raise the bar too high. 🙂 Nonetheless, I’ve had to become more diligent and discerning about those matters that should command my time and attention, versus those matters that only seem urgent because of their visibility. 

So today, while I didn’t do a whole lot of organizing or de-cluttering, I was most definitely in the zone!  I rode that wave of productivity and held her hostage until she said “I surrender! No mas! Qué quieres de mί, mujer?” 🙂  I so needed a day like today.  Though it began with my being less bright-eyed and bushy-tailed than usual, I felt really good.  Like most mornings, I am so happy to be alive when I wake up, that I’d jump to kiss the sun if I could…especially after a really great cup of coffee!  Seriously.  I revel in the knowledge that I’ve been given another day, another tabula rasa…another chance to get it right.  What unseats me more than being sleep-deprived is not being productive.  When I know that I’ve procrastinated long enough on something, and can’t find the words to explain why, I feel less than adequate, because I have only myself to blame.  So despite my needing a few additional hours of sleep, I was determined to make it a good day, to organize myself versus my things, to be productive, to be at peak performance, and I would not, and did not, settle for anything less! 

Should I learn tomorrow that some things did, in fact, fall through the cracks, I will chalk it up to them just not being all that important in the first place.  Today’s clarity will not be contested.  I still might not get the doctor-recommended, coveted eight hours of sleep tonight, but I will rest well with the contentment that came from a day well-lived.  Yay me!  Everyone needs a “yay me” day.