When Something is Better Than Nothing

I have an alarm set so that I can wake up before my kids in order to snatch a minute or two of quiet for myself. I have about a 50-50 chance of it working as planned. Sometimes, IMG_7282someone is up in the middle of the night and I need an extra 20 minutes of sleep. Often, someone wakes up early and we’re all downstairs, starting the day with the sunrise. Naptime is often a guaranteed time of quiet when the house calms down and I can breathe. 1:00 is not my most productive time of day, but I’m learning to use it.

Sometimes, when I’m gifted a silent morning, I don’t know what to do. The house is too quiet; my thoughts have trouble organizing themselves; I’m used to writing in the chaos. It’s not ideal but it’s become my practice.

It makes me wonder how many other things are being done in a less-than-ideal space. I have a hard time balancing this idea of fitting life in all the spaces and waiting until a season makes sense. Right now, my creative outlet of writing is firmly in the margins. I know I don’t have the capacity to work beyond a blog post and I wonder, what’s the point? The point, of course, is that if I didn’t write blog post after blog post, I wouldn’t be writing at all. It’s a small discipline but it’s a discipline, nonetheless.

For a time, I did a traditional “quiet time,” reading the Bible at a set time every day. Our schedules have changed and I haven’t found that perfect time again. I know it will return someday and in the meantime, I keep my Bible out and ready. If I didn’t snatch a bit here or there, nothing would happen.

It’s the same for cleaning, for entertaining, for date nights and conversations. I’m learning that something is better than nothing, even in that most imperfect form. I was talking with a friend who reminded me that I won’t be snatching moments forever; that our lives and schedules will change soon enough. But I have to ask, what am I doing now in preparation for that time?

What are practices you must squeeze into the margins of life, when doing them imperfectly is just as important as having all the time in the world?

Linked with Five Minute Friday, a time to write without editing. Today’s prompt is “silence.”


Kindness Looks Different Every Day

I just finished writing my post about being kind to yourself when I completely flipped out on the family of disgusting pigs I live with. I have a fairly long fuse when it comes to building-blocks-1563961_960_720clutter and everyday filth. I quickly learned that nap time is my time and I rarely clean or do chores. The playroom is a constant source of stress but not enough for me to actually do something about it. I have an idealistic hope with realistic expectations of what living with young kids is like.

But when the end of my fuse is reached, there is absolutely nothing that seems right. Every speck of dust makes me think that we are wallowing in the depths of unhygienic dispair.

After skipping church for a much-needed pajama morning, we were herding everyone toward the car for some playground and pumpkin picking family time. I looked at our toy-strewn dining room table with crusted leftover sauce from dinner a few nights ago and the idea of leaving this house became too much.

Frank suggested I stay home and write. His go-to solution for these moods is that I need quiet time to read or write. And he’s mostly correct. After he drove the girls off, I recognized that I couldn’t write when I knew what was looming upstairs. So, I did a quick tidy, vacuumed, and wiped down the table. Our bathroom and kitchen counters still need to be cleaned. There are toys on the floor that I vacuumed around. Yet, it was just enough for me to be in a better space mentally.

I think it was Elizabeth Gilbert who said something along the lines that if you want to pursue creativity, you have to give something up. Meaning, there is not enough time in the day to write and clean and make beautiful fall memories and take a nap and exercise and…. We have to choose. We have to prioritize. We can’t have it all. (Does anyone know this quote? I googled all sorts of ideas but couldn’t find it.)

I need to remember this in my own path toward kindness. Sometimes (most times) being with my family wins above writing or cleaning or whatever else is on my to-do list. But sometimes, I have to skip the pumpkin patch so that I can vacuum and write and be quiet.

The vacuuming took less than ten minutes. Could I have done it another time? Sure. But, it was getting in the way of my outlook–toward myself, toward my kids, and toward my mental wellbeing.

I’m learning that there’s no prescriptive formula for self-kindness. What I need one day will be different from what I need another day. I need to remember this as I pursue loving kindness toward my neighbors. What they need one day won’t be the same isn’t what they might need on a different day.

As we learn to love kindness, I think this is important to remember. We are complex beings who need all sorts of different things. When we remember this and learn to shift with our ideas of kindness, perhaps we’ll understand each other a bit more.

How do you enter into a creative space? Do you have to have a clean workspace or are you ok with a bit of clutter? 

BackyardThis post is Day 17 of the Write 31 Days Challenge. I’m spending the month of October writing about the Backyard Justice. You can find the entire series over at my Backyard Justice page.