Archive for September, 2009

More Musings on Routine and Creativity

September 30, 2009

Two weeks ago, I posted some initial ponderings about how routine and creativity work together. I’ve been thinking about this topic fairly steadily ever since. In fact, I was surprised that it had been two weeks since I initially posted on this subject because it is on my mind on a daily basis.

This past weekend, I had some glimmerings of inspiration about routine and creativity. On Friday, Joey and Tim and I were preparing to go to the fall NOU meeting. We were hoping to leave before quiet time would typically have been over, so I didn’t take Charlotte up to quiet time right after lunch as I normally would have. This gave me some extra time to investigate some options for a crafting trip that Joan and I have been planning to take. As I was surfing the web for different crafting workshops, I came across the Embroiderers’ Guild of America.

Be still my heart.

I was immediately pumped about becoming involved in the Guild. I was buoyed in my spirit just contemplating starting an embroidery project. My mind started racing with all kinds of thoughts about reviving an idea I had 8 years ago involving designing embroidery patterns. Then, something really interesting happened.

Due to circumstances beyond her control, Amelia was delayed in getting to our house to babysit the wee folk so Joey, Tim and I could leave. I knew that Tim wanted to get to the meeting on time and I could have just fallen right along with him into being stressed about being late. BUT, I was so excited and happy thinking about embroidery that it was easy for me to cheerfully deal with the situation.

The next day, I contemplated the whole scenario while we were driving to different birding locations. What I was seeking was a way to incorporate that positive influence of creativity into my daily routine. Yet, the mental roadblock to that goal seemed to have to do with a small voice saying, “You don’t have TIME for creativity. You have tons of small people to home school and all of their physical needs to attend to. You cannot justify spending time on creativity on a daily basis.” I had to get over or around that roadblock.

Two thoughts helped. First, I recalled the easy cheerfulness that came with even contemplating embroidering. All of the small people that I home school and feed and keep in clean clothing would definitely benefit from that kind of maternal attitude. Being able to easily attend cheerfully to my daily responsibilities is justification enough for making creativity part of my daily routine.

Second, I vaguely remembered something I had read in Sink Reflections. In chapter 7, Flylady talks about SHEs being very creative people and hating structure because it bogs us down. Then she says that routines solve this problem because “they free our creative minds to think about other things because our bodies are doing the daily rituals of our home blessing.” This was a huge “Aha!” moment for me. My routines are only a means to an end. They are not the end I am seeking!

My routines are not intended to satisfy my need for creativity. They are there to allow me to be creative by clearing my mind from guilt and anxiety over not adequately taking care of the important responsibilities that God has given me. Having a clean house and timely meals and laundered clothing and enough exercise and adequate sleep and planned home schooling activities is not a substitute for creativity.

For so long, I had been struggling with frustration that keeping up with my routines didn’t give me a feeling of cheer. Yes, it was very, very satisfying to complete the routines and MUCH better than the alternative of having a messy house and the guilt that goes with that. There was no way I was going to give up on the routines. Yet, I desired some cheerfulness in my day. I now realize that I was just looking for cheer in the wrong place. Now, I can see that the routines pave the way for my mind to be creative and that creativity brings me cheer.

Now that I can see the big picture and easily justify incorporating creativity into my daily routine, I am so excited about the possibilities!

Stay tuned….


Mission Accomplished

September 29, 2009

I am happy to report that declaring Clara my accountability partner in getting my Mission done yesterday worked. I knew she would ask me if I had done the Mission, but I put it off until right before I went to bed. I went through the living room to find the things that didn’t belong there. I found three things. THREE. I took the pair of baby socks, one hair holder and a pajama top (that had been deposited there in the last few moments when Charlotte decided to wear something else to bed) downstairs with me to put away. The entire process took me 3 minutes, at most. If I can’t squeeze three minutes out of my daily routine, I’m in trouble. So, at least for yesterday’s Mission, I’m thinking that the actual issue isn’t that I don’t have time, but that I think I don’t have time.

And when Clara asked me if I had done the daily Mission, I responded with an enthusiastic and guilt-free, “Yes!”

We’ll see what happens the rest of the week. I may be onto something….

More Missions

September 28, 2009

Ah, Monday. It’s a fresh start to the week. It’s another opportunity to get the weekly Missions accomplished. (Can you tell that I’m still trying to sort out how to fit the daily Missions into my routine?)

This morning I am mostly wondering whether my challenge to the complete the Missions is mental or physical — or both. Is my routine really so “tight” that I don’t have 15 (or, even, 5) minutes to tackle the Missions on a daily basis? Or is this more of a slightly rebellious mental game? Or, as I’ve been asking myself all weekend, is it time to set the Missions aside temporarily and quit guilting myself over not getting them done?

I think I’m not quite ready to give up the fight to fit the Missions in, though. Not just yet, anyway. And I’ve just had a “God Breeze” (as Flylady would say). I’m going to ask Clara to be my accountability partner and have her ask me specifically if I’ve done the Mission each day.

I’ll keep you posted….

Library Books

September 27, 2009

I am happy to report that, with a Flylady-tidy house, and a very specific place to keep our library books and DVDs, we are able to keep ourselves relatively fine-free, even though, at any one time, we have dozens of items checked out.

Are you reading this, Dad?

Toenails and Flowers

September 26, 2009

One thing that makes me feel that I have done something nice for myself (a concept that is still somewhat difficult for me to justify, guilt-free) is having polished toenails. When I know that, inside my lace-up tennis shoes, there are polished toenails, I feel cheerful. Polished toenails make me smile.

I have never had a professional pedicure, so, obviously, I polish my own toenails. And I don’t really want to re-do them every week. That means that I really appreciate polish that stays put, chip-free, for a long time. And I have decided that the polish that meets my expectations is New York Color polish. However, I came to that conclusion by mysteriously acquiring one bottle of beautiful red polish. I did not buy this bottle. It appeared on my shelf. As much as I love red polish, I wanted a little variety, so, I started searching for the N.Y.C. brand of polish. I was repeatedly unsuccessful.

Then, I asked Amelia. I should have asked her in the first place, because I would bet that little bottle of red polish originated with her. She informed me that she uses N.Y.C. make-up and that I should be able to find it at Wal-mart or Target without a problem.

So, I ran into Wal-mart the next time I was near one and, sure enough, there was a whole section of N.Y.C. make-up. I’m not sure how I’ve missed that repeatedly. I think that I kept looking at areas in the make-up sections that had a lot of bottles of polish, not realizing that N.Y.C. had an entire line of make-up. Is it painfully obvious, yet, that I don’t wear make-up?

Anyway, I came out of Wal-mart with my beautiful (very inexpensive!) bottle of New York Color Minute Quick Dry Nail Polish in fall-ish Lincoln Center. And because I was obviously on a “do something nice for me” roll, I also came out of Wal-mart with a lovely bouquet of flowers. So, our table is brightened by a vase full of festive mums, sunflowers, snap dragons and carnations.

And my toenails are an autumnal maroon.

Relationships and Routine

September 25, 2009

As I’ve mentioned before, my love language is quality time. I love to just sit and talk to people for hours on end. Now that I have an established Flylady routine, it seems that I never sit down during the day, except during meals and quiet time. I am always moving from one task to another.

I am very happy with the results that I get from staying focused on my tasks and getting them done. I love the peaceful atmosphere in an uncluttered home. I love not having to rush around to pick things up if someone is coming over. I love having clean laundry, prepared meals, time for academics and music practice and family fun and spiritual renewal….

The other day, however, I was remembering how I used to just sit and watch a video with the kids. Now, I would have to “schedule” time to watch a video. And I started wondering if I were missing out on some relationship-building time that I had with the older kids. I know that watching a movie isn’t the same as playing a game or just talking, but watching videos together did provide many common experiences to which we often still refer.

I was consoled by one thought, though. I know that by establishing routines that keep our home running smoothly, I am a much calmer mom most of the time. I honestly feel that I don’t raise my voice as often as I used to because I don’t have to direct the kids to “hurry up” and complete some task because, now, the expectations I have of their contributing to the household are much clearer and evenly spread out over time. There is not so much rushing around to get things done.

So, even though I might not be building relationships by sitting down with the kids as often, I think I am building relationships by being a calmer mom.

What Jacob Accomplished By Having a Control Journal

September 24, 2009

Yesterday, Jacob had a couple of unexpected appointment postponements.  Because he has been diligently maintaining his nice clean grooming shop, he didn’t have to use that bonus “free” time for any kind of cleaning at all.  Instead, he got to be creative.

Check out The Red Poodle on Cafe Press!

(If this link doesn’t work for you, try pasting:

Body Clutter

September 23, 2009

I am excessively grateful to be rid of the Body Clutter that was dragging me down over the last several years.  And I am now realizing how very like “house clutter” it is.  I’ve done the serious work of de-cluttering and now I have moved into maintenance mode.  Yet, I must be ever-diligent in keeping new clutter from accumulating.

Just as keeping the Hot Spots in our home cleared off on a daily basis is part of our routine, keeping Body Clutter under control has to be part of my daily routine.  Some days, I just don’t feel like putting the mail away, but I do it anyway, out of habit.  Some days I just don’t feel like making sure that I don’t have too many servings of “good” carbs or fruit.  But, I do it anyway, out of habit.

Yesterday was one of those days in which I was extremely tired of constantly monitoring what I was eating (or not eating).  Our American society doesn’t generally support healthy eating and sometimes I just get weary of swimming against the current, anticipating having to provide my own healthy foods for many occasions.  Sometimes I’d just like to eat whatever I felt like eating with no negative consequences.

But, that was yesterday.  Thanks to routines that develop into habits, and God’s strength to keep me going, I will hopefully, keep the Body Clutter from accumulating again.  One routine-filled day at a time.

Flylady and Being Away from Home

September 22, 2009

For various and sundry reasons, I have been out of the house for significant periods of each day for the past five days. Last Thursday, we had all-day medical appointments for Peter and Anne. Friday morning, I had my volunteer stint at the Scenic By-way Interpretive Center. Saturday, I was birding and violin-ing with Tim. Sunday, after church, we attended the free matinee at the movie theater and then spent the rest of the afternoon and evening helping Amelia organize her basement so that she can get her sewing business up and running again. Yesterday, I had a massage (my first massage ever — it was a gift from Jacob for my birthday last year and I didn’t want my gift certificate to expire before I got to use it — and I hope it won’t be my last since I loved it) and a hair cut. Need I say that this was a very unusual week? Most weeks, I am home, home, home all day.

Yet, because of Flylady’s routines, I am NOT facing a messy house or Mt. Washmore or an empty refrigerator or any dirty dishes. Today, I can just slide right back into our typical weekday routine and not feel that I am trying to play “catch up” with anything. When I was home last week, I was able to focus on the meals and laundry and homeschooling and Hot Spots and my shiny sink because they are parts of our Flylady routines.

Thanks, Flylady!

Spiritual Renewal and Music

September 21, 2009

Our routine includes a time each week to practice music together so we can contribute special music at church on a regular basis.  Yesterday was our first special music contribution this fall.  I LOVE doing special music with my family!    I love practicing together.  I love tweaking a piece.  I love, love, love hearing my children make music together.  My spirit is renewed every time we practice as well as when we contribute at church.

Yesterday, Amelia, Margaret and Eleanor led the singing of the opening chorus and I accompanied them on the piano.  We chose “See What a Morning,” and Amelia introduced it by reading in I Corinthians 15:

12But now if Christ (the Messiah) is preached as raised from the dead, how is it that some of you say that there is no resurrection of the dead?

13But if there is no resurrection of the dead, then Christ has not risen;

14And if Christ has not risen, then our preaching is in vain [it amounts to nothing] and your faith is devoid of truth and is fruitless (without effect, empty, imaginary, and unfounded).

Amelia (on the piano), Clara, Jacob and Tim played a strings medley of “Glorify Thy Name” and “We Will Glorify.”  Clara played melody on the cello.  It’s so nice to have Amelia and Clara around to fill out our strings group again.  We really need that cello!

So, I am blessed and my spirit is renewed every time we practice and I’m blessed again when we play at church.  All of this blessing occurs because we set aside a specific time in our schedule to practice.  We are not rushing around practicing at the last minute.  We are not trying to figure out on Saturday night at 9pm what we are going to play on Sunday morning.  We are not avoiding volunteering to contribute music at church.  All thanks to Flylady routines.

Now, I’m going to go order some more strings ensemble music to practice over the next few months.