Friday, August 13, 2010

Just Busy. and a Book Review.

I haven't been around the Cottage much lately. My two latest posts were "grabs" from elsewhere. I've been wondering whether I'm even "thinking" about anything anymore.

I finished The Gift of a Year by Mira Kirshenbaum. Let me tell you a little about the concept. I won't be "quoting" from the book, but these ideas are taken from it:

Imagine your life as a wood-burning cookstove. We don't even know how to cook on these anymore. The things you need to cook more slowly go in the back. Got the picture in your mind?

The stuff in the front of the stove is the Urgent Stuff. Your water heater goes out. Your child breaks his arm. A funeral. This is the stuff that takes precedence, no matter what time of day or night--it's going to get done. Right away.

In the middle of your stove is the Important Stuff. Paying bills. Balancing the checkbook. Groceries. Taking kids to lessons. This is stuff that needs to be done on a timely basis, in order for your life to go smoothly. Add to that, your job outside the home, or homeschooling, which take hours and hours every day.

So what's on the back of the stove? All the stuff you've shoved back there "until a later time." All the stuff that you dreamed about when you were young. Piano lessons. Travel. Reading for enrichment. Those things that were so important early in your life, that you've been putting off and putting off, because of the Important and the Urgent stuff.

So eventually, there are more and more pieces of "you" back there. All the stuff that makes you, You. Because, as we know, there will always be more and more Important stuff crowding You out.

But that stuff on the back of the stove is Still Cookin'. Still there, asking for attention. You're still there, behind all those other things. And what happens if you ignore You for too long?

Best case scenario? Fatigue. Desperation (where did that girl go who was going to do [fill in the blank]?" Worst case scenario: It gets so bad that we completely lose sight of ourself and try to get it back by doing something,
anything, just to "feel" something. We maybe start drinking. Or get involved with someone else. We can throw away the most precious things in our life (marriage) just because we haven't taken care of ourselves for too long.

So. The idea of the book is, for a year, to pull one of those pans off the back of the stove and move it to the front. Well, at least to the middle. The book shows you that you *can* find time to do something for yourself. You may have to say "no" to one or two of the other pans in the middle. Or you may take time by going to bed earlier and getting up earlier. You get the picture.

Wouldn't it be so, so cool to be able to do something for yourself for an entire year? Dust off that longing to take art lessons that you've wanted since you were little. Prepare for a trip-of-a-lifetime to Paris. (spend most of your year researching the geography of France, and learning to speak French.) Read an "important" book every month. Learn to sew. Fall in love with your husband all over again by re-courting one another.

The really interesting thing (the author puts in loads and loads of testimonies) is that, for many of us, at the end of the year, not only have we "found" ourselves again, but sometimes we find new directions, new purpose.

Remember that when we are happy and whole, we have a lot more to give to our husband, children, church, and community. "love your neighbor as yourself," but remember to Love Yourself. If we take care of our bodies, we need to take care of our souls as well.

I have my own list of things. How to choose? Well, I decided that I could give myself the gift of a year more than one time. If I have already carved out so many minutes or hours a week for myself, I could just keep going after the year was up, right?

So, get the book from the library. See if it resonates with you. And maybe I'll see you on the journey!


Jen said...

That sounds very interesting. I feel lost right now in all my urgent and important stuff.

G.L.H. said...

Me too! And besides that, I don't know one end from the other. But I'll be thinking about this book in the days ahead...