I sat in a rocker on my back porch as the sun set. Beneath a purple sky, geese honked and barn swallows circled overhead. The list of things I had not accomplished today loomed larger than the list of things I had checked off my to-do list.
My chest felt tight with anxiety. Moving is stressful in the best of circumstances, and I would definitely count this as one of the best. But, I tend to give myself deadlines that turn out to be unrealistic then beat myself up when things remain undone. (Hang gallery wall by Friday. Put up curtains by next week. Decorate guest room before our first guests arrive.) So far, none of those things have been done.
And, honestly, who really cares? I’m betting they will be happy to have a soft mattress and good coffee. I doubt they will be shaking their heads in disappointment that our family pictures are still stacked in my office.
Despite the pandemic-induced shutdown, life has resumed a near-normal pace. That is both good and bad, in my opinion. Bad for me because I just don’t have enough hours in the day to do all the things. Good because my kids are happy to have resumed basketball practice and dance classes in between zipping around our land on the golf cart and fishing in the pond. My classes are in full swing which requires me to be online to watch lectures and work on assignments, plus small group, church responsibilities and (oh yeah) sleep and exercies. All good. All requiring time.
Then, we started homeschooling again this week and didn’t ease in. We hit it hard and, on day 3, I had to catch my breath. I definitely overscheduled us. I forgot how exhausting it is on all of our brains at first. Adjusting to new curriculum, new expectations, new books and a new schedule (in a new house with new workspaces, no less) on top of knowing there are still pictures to be hung and shelves full of random garage stuff to be organized turned out to be…a bit much.
Then, today, my oldest left for college and I’ve just walked around with a big ole lump in my throat, which has made getting online to sign forms and straighten out accounts, passwords and zoom links for the music classes that start next week the last thing I want to do. It feels…complicated. Unnecessarily so.
I loved it when we were going nowhere. And now that we are here at Arundelle Green? Where long shadows stretch across the rocks and the sun casts her rays through the distant woods before pulling back the curtain of stars? Where bunnies nibble on the birdseed fallen from the feeder and give my dog a good run as she chases them back through the hole in the fence through which they snuck in? Now that we are here I just want to breathe and watch the earth sigh as Autumn starts to tinge the first leaves yellow. I just want to keep life slow.
But we are busy. Busy with a million good things, but also busy with what are too-often frivolous pursuits. My cello sits neglected in what will be our library while the news blares anger from whatever station I turned on just to hear the weather. My phone lights up despite turning off almost all notifications and I threaten to delete social media once again because I caught myself scrolling mindlessly and wasting precious time.
But I won’t. I know I won’t because social media is as much a part of life as driving to the store for groceries. It is what it is, so I just need to be diligent in giving it it’s proper place. I need to pull bad habits before they are out of control just like I pulled countless weeds at our old house this morning (It is on the market! Know anyone who loves a good golf course view?) and lamented that I had let them go so long. (My stained fingernails will remind me why I need to stay on top of the weeds for at least a week or two.) I have to create structure and stick with it in order to keep from missing out on the things I really want to do because I’m having to clean up the mess left by neglect.
I know the effort will be worth it.
How? Because there are two hummingbirds who fight every morning over the red feeder by the pool. A pair of cardinals have decided to hang out by the feeder near the back fence as I drink coffee and read my Bible at sunrise. My cello sits, waiting to be tuned and enjoyed because it brings calm to my spirit to play along with beautiful songs even when my scratching will never be heard outside these four walls. And writing? Gosh, I have neglected this craft that I love. In the overwhelm of the to-do list I have forgotten to start with this, the cheap therapy of working out my thoughts and feelings on paper. Of sharing the goodness of the Lord here, with you.
I must remember the joy we found in the slow-down caused by the shutdown because we were all content, less tense, and better rested. My gas tank didn’t demand to be fed every other day and my table was laden with homemade food nearly every night.
I don’t want to go back to “normal.” Honestly, I think there are very few people who do.
So I guess you can call this my attempt to refocus. To get my “mojo” back and renew my commitment to create something beautiful as often as possible. Because beauty brings joy.
And joy is life-giving.
When anxiety over my to-do list creeps in, I can step back and breathe, work out my thoughts on paper, or draw a bow across the strings. I can let my phone stay in the house so, as the sun sets over the pond, nothing will distract me from what God is doing right here. In front of me.
Showing off, as He does so well.
The gallery wall will have to wait. I have a glorious sky to enjoy tonight.