Monday, 17 August 2009

Making Time To Do Nothing

By Notes From The Frugal Trenches

I planned this post before I read the wonderful post yesterday by Bel about Burnout. It is a post I could really relate to. When I left the corporate world I had so many ideas, so many plans and oh so many lists. I wanted to learn to knit, sew, crochet, grow my own fruits & veggies, have flowers perfect for giving away, learn how to make jam & preserves, and bread too. I could just see myself being an amazing cake maker, flower arranger and seamstress. I look back now and see just how much expectation I was putting on myself and what a recipe for disaster it was going to be, of course at the time I couldn't see it. None of the veggies I tried to grow this year worked, neither did the strawberries. My knitting is moving along at a snail's pace, we won't discuss my sewing abilities or crochet skills.

The truth was, I was transferring the busyness of a corporate career into busyness at home. I was measuring success by how many new skills I learned and how bountiful my growing abilities were. Hardly simple and hardly joyous. It took one failed crop to make me realize that I was supposed to be learning to live a new, simpler, quieter more joyous life, not a life measured by the number of skills I had. I knew there had to be a better way, a more balanced way, a more wholesome way.

So I stopped, instead of daily and weekly lists of achievements I must accomplish, I created a vision of experiences I'd like to have and either realistic time frames or no time frames at all. I'd like to crochet a blanket for someone who is homeless or a child in an orphanage, not become an expert in crochet. I'd like to grow some fruit and make a fruit salad with fruit from my garden, not be inundated with more apples that I know what to do with in year one of my new journey - although I hold out hope for year 5 or 10 ;0). Simple changes & less pressure have made all the difference, I've gone back to seeing a simple life as a joyous one, not something I'm failing miserably at.

Over the past two weeks on my personal blog I've been blogging about reclaiming simple Sundays. There are no rules, just an acknowledgement that for most of us each day is filled with tasks we "need" to accomplish and lists of things to do. The point of reclaiming one day each week to do simple activities is to find joy, to make time for nothing in particular, to step away from errands, away from shops, away from stress and just be alone or together, making time for the joy found in nothing.

I've already found with just two days dedicated to nothing more than long walks, or a spot or knitting, perhaps some prayer or quiet reflection that there is a great deal to be said for nothing, and that nothing is perhaps filled with the most important somethings.

Do you practice setting time aside each week for quiet reflection, peaceful activities and rest?


A Bun Can Dance said...

I've just found this blog via a link on "Tea With Willow" and I am so glad I found it!
This particular post is very pertinent for me, as I gave up my Headteacher role a couple of years ago in order to have time out and find a new balance in my life. Similar to this article, within 2 months I had already committed myself to running my own business - I had as you say, continued to fuel my busyness habit !! Now, two years later I am moving away from my own small business to finally, have the simpler lifestyle I had set out to achieve all those months ago. Similar to you, we have also begun to set aside Sundays for rest and to BE rather than DO.
I shall pop over to your own personal blog too.
Wishing you well for the future,
Denise x

Hill Country Hippie said...

Most definitely, for not only is it key to the simple life, it's also key to living a creative life! My blog is about "living the good life" in the Texas Hill Country, which to me, is all about finding this balance that you speak of. I call it "seasonality" (both the blog and this balance) because it's all about learning that there is a time for everything - even for doing nothing.

Sandy said...

Yes, nothing is 'filled with the most important somethings'. Hard to remember in our culture, but needful if we are truly going to live a simple life.

d.a. said...

Hill Country Hippie: were we separated at birth? Surprised and laughing to see you here, too! (note to others: I live in the same area; HCH and I have been running into each other on other's blogs).

Am finally learning this thing called "downtime". The lists are long, but as I'm learning, few projects are of immediate importance. It does my soul good to simply sit and hang out with the geese now & then.

Kimberly said...

Oh my!
I used to be a classroom teacher. I did all sorts of wonderful extra things as well. I was always busy. Always. I was able to do many things and so I was expected to and so I did.
Life changed for me when my son was born. We had always planned for me to raise our son and not work outside the home. I love the new freedom I had. I nurtured my creativity and discovered how much I enjoyed managing my home. I still did a few things, but the stark difference to my old life was huge.
Now I have two wonderful boys and I do little else. I have a get together with girlfriends once a month that always on the calendar, but for this season that is all. No committees, no meetings, no activities, no rushing from thing to thing.
I love it, but I sometime am lonely. Most of my friends now are other stay-at-home Moms. The only problem is, they never stay home!!! They all rush from thing to thing-activity to activity. They comment on all the things I do from scratch, say they wish they could, but in the next breathe run down a list of things they do that exhausts one just listening to it.
I didn't know how to do most of the things I do now when I first started either! I just decided I needed to know them and started reading.
We seem to think our value lies merely in all we accomplish, not in simply who we are. Those days of rest are so important. We need to be mindful. We need time set apart. God knew what He was doing when He ordained a Sabbath, a day of rest each week. How sad and harried we become when we think we know better than He does what we truly need.

Bohemian Single Mom said...

amen to that!
Great post - I can so relate!

renee @ FIMBY said...

Yes, I do. I'd just like to say sitting and doing nothing only works until you have little ones. Little ones don't sit. And don't do nothing. But there are still ways to unwind and for us that involves physical activity.

Anonymous said...

You are a wise young woman.

Katy said...

Thank you so much for this post! You helped me to see that I have been doing the same thing. I took the goal and success-oriented mentality that I had in the business world and transferred it to my role as a homemaker, and I have often been unhappy as a result. In recent days, I have been working diligently on changing my thinking, and I am looking forward to where it leads.

Manuela@Pleasures of Homemaking said...

Thank you for this post! That's so me! I wanted to learn to knit, can, sew, quilt, have chickens, weave (yes weave)! I actually have learned a lot. It's just not working out how I expected! I guess I expected to be brilliant at everything! I finally realized I don't have to do/learn everything at once - I'd really like to enjoy the process!


eag said...

Absolutely agree,Simple Sunday is a great thing to strive for, doesn't always work as there is so much to do but sometimes even for a short time it's possible.And how it's appreciated!
One of the biggest learnings when retiring from the world of paid work and living on the land is the need to look at goals more long term.If it's not achieved this year/day/month it might be next year/day/month.Remember to feel proud of what you do achieve and celebrate your success whether it's a new tank installed and filling, a new recipe tried and found good,a row of beans planted or some goose eggs sold to a top restaurant.Life has an abundance and fullness that is nver possible in the world of paid work.Would you change it for anything?