A couple of times a year, generally around Labor Day / the autumnal equinox / Rosh Hashanah / my birthday / the start of school (give or take a couple of weeks), I go through a full-blown crisis of direction and self. Our summer is over and the reality of our real lives bombards me. I look at all that we have accumulated:
- possessions, out-grown clothes, gum wrappers (and recycling - why so many papers?!)
- time commitments and obligations (when did we sign up for all this?!)
- a muffin top and high blood pressure (hopefully it is just the stress and lack of yoga)
- homework, chores, errands, tasks, spreadsheets, & lists (so much mind-numbing monotony & busy work)
- cobwebs and weeds and dust-bunnies (everywhere!)
- bills and a dwindling bank account (I thought we were living frugally)
And I quickly become over-whelmed with all that threatens to close in on us. I look around and wonder how it got like this. By living day to day I've allowed life to encroach so that I'm actually no longer living; I'm just maintaining all that has accumulated. All this chasing is exhausting and I find myself laying in a stupor with a glass of boxed wine, in front of the TV, surfing pinterest, or with a cotton candy escapism book and dreading what comes next. Obviously, not the way I want to live.
I just read a fantastic blog about becoming a minimalist. Joshua Becker talks about the enlightenment that came when he realized how much of his time and energy were being wasted on possessions. It reminded me why this happens every September. We've spent the summer living without entrapments and instead taking time to simply breathe and think. We have very few electronics / screens to obsess over. We have only marginal time or energy commitments to weigh us down. We eventually return home, or to our real life, that although clean, is full to the point of being packed; not just with possessions, but our space, time, energy, and talents are all at their max.
It is sort of unrealistic for us to physically downsize (mostly because we are underwater on our house) but it is possible to accumulate less, in fact, clear-out what we do have. We can't cancel all of our obligations or commitments or homework but we can limit the insanity by focusing on relationships and priorities rather than just opportunities. We can't starve but we can eat simply. We can cut back on screens and refresh our souls. I can bring the simplicity of the summer into the other three quarters of our lives.
I personally have always held a barometer for our family and right now, I look at our family and know that it is in a dangerously high pressure zone. The fine line between boredom and over-scheduled has been breached. I need to make an effort to personally refocus, refresh, and prioritize, which Aunt Tish (mother of four grown kids, mentor, and friend) reminded me of in her most recent blog. She encourages moms especially to take at least 4 hours a week for support and solitude; time to commune with supportive friends (thankfully, I've had no shortage of that) and find moments of inner peace (totally lacking).
As parents, we (especially me) need to remember in all this chasing, we are not doing our family (or ourselves) any favors. A peaceful life will give ourselves, our Dear Lovers, and our Children more grounding and happiness than the newest stuff or the most wonderful opportunities, because isn't there always more new stuff to possess and aren't they all great opportunities?
So today, in the tradition and spirit of Rosh Hashanah, I am re-prioritizing. I am clearing out the internal and external clutter to uncover that Simple Sanity that I know is buried under this mess somewhere.