Stop the World -
And journal. Or journal as the world turns.
I can’t keep up. Let’s just get that out there right off the bat. Yes, I’m a project person with too many projects, and I am working to find that balance of work/play in life, but the truth is, I am attempting the impossible.
For example, today I am spending the day learning about our new refrigerator. It’s smart, digital, and lovely — but I really do not have time to learn how smart it is. I just want it to keep things cool/cold. Right now, it seems the refrigerator is smarter than I am. But it just sits there and cools things. It has one purpose and function, whereas I have many.
Sometimes I feel pulled in so many different directions, I feel overwhelmed and exhausted just by the options. Do I feel like cleaning? Writing? Working? Accounting? I make to-do lists to remind myself of my priorities, and learning about a refrigerator’s brain was not at the top of the list. But it’s here, and I love it, so I must invest the time to get to know it and learn how to care for it.
I was recently amongst a group of women (new friends and old) when one friend admitted, “I’m not the best housekeeper.”
I asked, “Didn’t you tell us you work 60-70 hours a week?”
“Yes,” she replied.
“Okay,” said another, “You’re forgiven.”
I know there are women out there who have it all together. They work, maintain an organized house, raise children, and do all the things. They amaze me. Do they sleep? Live on a strict military routine? Do they take injections of caffeine?
I recently attended the funeral of my great-aunt Margaret. She died five days shy of her 108th birthday. Aunt Margaret was a simple, church-goin’, country woman. Priorities were God and family—work, serve, love, and pray.
I cannot truly fathom how a woman who experienced the last century maintained grace and virtue, but she did. She knew men who served in the Civil War (and all wars since), endured two pandemics, survived The Great Depression, and Women’s Liberation, spent nearly 50 years married and the same widowed and witnessed more change in this world than most. And yet, when she passed at 108, she still carried an air of grace and innocence.
Amazing. Astonishing. Is that even possible anymore?
Certainly the end of an era. The last of a mold broken long ago.
Many times, Aunt Margaret was asked the secret to long life. Her answers changed once she reached 100, the age when she began her first prescription medication — for high blood pressure. By 103, she was tired of the question, knowing by then that long life was not a secret, blessing, or goal. By 106, when her eyesight and hearing began to fail, she began to worry that God had forgotten her.
But this week, at her funeral, the secret to her long life was barely discussed because it was so clear: she maintained a simple life, with simple priorities — faith, and family. The lack of stress and anxiety alone in such simple living is enough to add years to your existence here on earth.
As a Gen Xer living with the benefits of women’s liberation, the first generation of girls who were told we could do or be whatever we chose, I am one of the thousands of women my age who were simply overwhelmed by our options. Instead of choosing one path, we chose many. Instead of wearing one hat, we have a collection of hats. Aunt Margaret never attended college. I have three college degrees, and a job unrelated to any of them. I can’t seem to ever get my house organized and have no children, but we have furry and feathered kids, and my refrigerator is smarter than I am. This is not simple living.
I admit, there are days when I just want a life like Aunt Margaret’s. A life of service to those I love—keeping the house clean and organized, cooking meals, serving my community, and maintaining my faith. A life of simple priorities, all under one hat. Life with a corded landline phone and no call waiting, mornings in the garden, evenings on the porch, and four or five television channels that went off-air at midnight.
Of course, hers were the days when a single income home could cover living expenses, the church community included the entire community, women were expected to be stay-at-home moms, and refrigerators weren’t smart.
But still, we can simplify. Possessions are burdens and responsibilities that need to be maintained and cleaned. Fewer possessions result in more time. We can disconnect. Limit television time, and set our phones aside. We can re-evaluate our values to discover our true passions and goals. The world has grown too complicated, full of distraction. We have to resist going along for such a ride and regain our focus.
I recently received my certification in Journaling for Wellness. So few of us truly know ourselves, take time to explore what we truly value, what we truly want. This lack of self-knowledge makes us puppets of the world’s distractions.
To share what I learned during my certification training, I have written and offered a series of articles about the benefits of journaling. You may very well be surprised. Here are the articles currently available:
If you are feeling a lack of focus, quiet dissatisfaction, or a lack of purpose, journaling can help. Of course, Aunt Margaret would advise you to pray. Perhaps, in order to improve and extend our lives, we should try both.
Aunt Margaret lived simply, and peacefully. I truly believe she will rest the same. May we all be so blessed.
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