7 Quick Takes (Vol. 13): Life is working. Even though it’s Work.

So, to follow-up after that peaceful, grateful post about Rest, I realized it’s been a long time since I made a list of the stuff I’m engaged in. When it turned out to be seven distinct items, and I realized it was Friday, I knew I needed to jump back to Jen’s 7 Quick Takes Friday this week.

Here’s my “life activity list” the list in roughly the order of time consumed:

~ 1 ~

Managing the food.

It still feels weird to say this takes the most time.

I think this is because– judging by our stories: novels, movies, anecdotes among friends– food is invisible.  It just happens. I wish I lived in that sort of house/body. But I don’t.)

~ 2 ~

Managing the household and extras

Technically this ties back into the food, since food makes dishes.

Basically anything I have to wash clean or put away, along with the animals and outdoor work.

Now that the snow’s melted I am discovering all sorts of new work…

And honestly, it’s a toss-up about whether #1 or #2 takes more time.

~ 3 ~

Teaching the kids.

Reading, writing and arithmetic are the emphasis, but we also read novels along with books of science, history and whatever else strikes our fancy.

As I have more energy I also hope to do more management-training (items from the previous categories).  Currently I do most of that stuff because the *extra* required to get someone else into doing certain jobs is the extra I don’t have.

~ 4 ~

On-line Stuff.

Reading and writing and listening to music on-line (YouTube). Keeping up with some TV shows on Hulu (Castle, Bones, and Body of Proof).

~ 5 ~

Off-Line Stuff

Reading and writing and listening to music not-on-line.

My current goal is to swap these last two categories in terms of time.

I’ve had a surge of progress on my 2010 NaNo novel, and taken on a reading challenge that has forced me to look hard at what and why I read. I hope it will inform what I write.

~ 6 ~

Fiber work

On the edges of my life (and usually away from home).

I have the knitting I do a couple hours every Sunday morning (during the sermon and Sunday school), and the hand-spinning I do when I’m going to be semi-on-display.

That is, sometimes I feel like being invisible, and don’t want to talk with anybody, and other times I’m interested in conversation. Handspinning is a painless conversation-starter with interesting/interested people, and it warns away folks who are busy or would be put off by uncommon, saving us both some awkwardness.

~ 7 ~

Finally there is the music (guitar, piano and singing) that I do for quiet space in the house or– here’s an embarrassing truth– when I’m acknowledging or fighting off the tendrils of depressive feelings.

I think it has to do with my moderate level of accomplishment in my instruments, and the deep familiarity of homemade music: it simultaneously roots me, and reinforces (if I play a familiar song) my competency in this specific, measurable area.

It also helps that most of the songs I learn speak directly to my heart and needs.

My Yoke is Easy by Dennis Jernigan contains the lines, as if sung by Jesus:
Heavy laden won’t you bring your load to me
If you’re weary worn and tired of trying
Come and learn of me
Did you know that all you’re longing for
And all you’re dreaming of
Can be found in me, my child,
For I am Love

I find that working on music is very like memorizing scripture; when you are working on specific technical elements, repetition can be fascinating rather than mind-numbing.  The perception of incremental improvement becomes the encouragement for each new try.

~ ~ ~

What I love about this list (and part of the reason I made it) is to remind myself of what I *am* doing. And doing “good enough.”

My biggest pain in looking at weaknesses (or goals I have yet to meet) is that I begin to define myself by those things that are most likely to discourage.

Rather than putting energy I don’t have into creating of something out of nothing (Habits! Strength!) it seems more healthy to consider I’m already doing, and then measure improvement in terms of changing ratios.

For example, reading more novels rather than online articles. (Current goal.)

Reading aloud during arts & crafts time rather than blogging. (The opposite of today) ;)

~ ~ ~

Last night I sold four of my growers– two month old meat rabbits– to a man lately returned to Alaska. He was nearly Santa Claus in appearance, with all the confidence of pleasantly established age, and it was no trouble to talk with him, exchanging advice and experience (though at times it felt a little one-sided, it was comfortable enough).

When we got to the managing of dead bunnies (skinning, gutting, finishing the meat for storage) he asked what I did with the skins. I responded that I’d not been able to find alum by the pound, but someday I plan to start home-tanning the skins to develop a pattern and make fur-bears for the tourist market (I made bears in high school and loved it).

Very seriously the man looked down at me (he is much taller than I) and said, “You’d better grab that someday and get it closer or it will always stay *out there* and never happen!”

I smiled, sadly, maybe, but couldn’t deflect his surety. Finally I explained myself: “I’m writing some novels and teaching my children. Skin projects just don’t fit in my life right now.”

And I’m sure he (an apparent bachelor) doesn’t understand that’s not an empty excuse; but I’ve evaluated, and reevaluated my priorities so many times that I really believe I’m living the life I’m supposed to. I don’t fault him for the warning, but ‘someday’ has been a great comfort for me; it saves me from feeling I have to close a door completely. It’s a way of telling myself I won’t have to say no forever.

And that helps me focus better on now, as narrow as it sometimes feels.

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