Why? I think there are many causes, but it comes down to a basic lack of self-discipline. We were both people who were seriously lacking in this department. Although our morality has never been compromised, we have lived by the mentality of "if it sounds like fun, let's do it!"
Let's just say we've had a lot of fun over the years.
In addition to seeking out fun, however, we also fall victim to the classic sickness of overcommittedness. Is that even a word? My spell checker doesn't think so. But you all know what it means. If we had a spare hour in our schedules, we would fill it. If we didn't have a spare hour, we would find some way to justify how it would be OK to commit to it anyway. It never worked well, but we would do it anyway.
Let's see...what else? There's some serious workaholicism (another made up word!) mixed with laziness. I know; those two are hard to combine. For the most part, Andy is the workaholic these days, and I am lazy. Occasionally (and these occasions are somewhat rare), we reverse roles. I get fed up with my own lack of accomplishments and kick it into whirlwind mode (also not very healthy, I think) and Andy gets exhausted and so we switch. A little balance would be nice.
In my defense, I'm not always lazy. When we have woodworking classes in session at our school, I run the catering and hospitality end of the business. That's a lot of work, and I'm so exhausted at the end of the day that I don't do any of the basic maintenance that having a normal, non-chaotic life requires. I also educate my kids at home and run them to countless activities all up and down our valley. That takes some time. And when I get on a scent of something interesting on the internet, boy-howdy, I can stick to it like a hound dog and research a topic until I know more about it than should ever be necessary. Let's not even talk about what happens when I get into a good book. Of course, this usually leaves me realizing at midnight (or later, sometimes much later) that I didn't do the dishes yet and I never moved the morning's load of laundry to the dryer, let alone put the next three loads in. I wash up a few essential breakfast dishes, give up, and go to bed.
So I guess it's not that I'm not doing things; it's just that in the process of doing a lot, I'm not getting very much done. More of my crazy logic there, free for the taking.
But I think the lack of self-discipline in so many areas of life (go back and read the list in Day 1's post--they are not hypothetical situations) over the course of so many years has lulled me into a sense of hopelessness. I give up. The task of getting our lives back to some sense of what we would want normal to look like seems too big. Insurmountable. Why bother?
Hopelessness is never a good place to be. It rarely inspires action, and action is exactly what would be needed to emerge from the chaos.
I could go on and on with how messed up our lives have become. In the coming days and weeks, you will see more glimpses of that. But now, I'd like to switch gears. It has come to our attention that our lives could be better--much better--and the task is not impossible. It will take a lot of concentrated effort. It will take some serious growth in the self-discipline department. But it can be done. It should be done. It must be done. We are up for the challenge.
On Friday afternoon of this past week, in anticipation of this project beginning, I posted this on my refrigerator:
These are my goals for this week. For normal people, these would not look like a list of goals; they would just be a summary of regular life. We, of course, are not normal people. Here's how it breaks down:
Accomplish three notable things per day (these could be returning calls I've been avoiding, cleaning a corner of a room that needs it badly, doing loads of 'non-essential' laundry--do you have those, too?, making a meal ahead and putting it in the freezer for a busy day, etc.)So that's what I want to focus on this week. So far, it's going really well and I've stuck to my schedule, at least for the weekend that it's been posted. Having it posted is really helping. I have accomplished lots of little extra things. I washed, dried and even FOLDED a load of beach towels from summer. I washed all the extra pots and pans that had been "soaking" (for days). I kept the dining room table cleared off and ready for meals all the time. I made a big breakfast this morning and we still made it on time to church. I have stopped working at 8 PM and relaxed with my kids. I have had my relaxing evening beverages. I even went running today and planned out tomorrow's slow cooker meal. It's been a good weekend, and knowing that all of you are waiting to see how I do has been such a boost.
Finish work by 8 PM (this includes everything that I'd hoped to accomplish in the day so that when 8:00 comes, I can be DONE)
Relax with the kids (most of my evening time with the kids is currently spent with me on the computer, my back to them--ugh)
Consistent bed times for kids (they have been lacking in this, since we moved to educating at home and the bus doesn't come for them at a set time anymore)
A specific time set aside for blogging (this is great because I am thinking about what I want to write throughout the day and I can't spend too much time on it)
Time to relax with Andy (of course, this is contingent on him finishing his work day, too)
An early bedtime on a consistent basis (yes, 11 PM is early for us and sounds wonderfully exciting)
Up early (for most of you 7 AM is late, I know, but again with the night-owl habits and the working from home and the educating at home, we set our own schedules)
Go running (this helps me; I know it does; and I still ignore it--not too bright)
Have morning devotions (if you are a person who tries to live in fellowship with Jesus, you know how vital this is...and how easy it is to NOT do)
Start school at 9 (this is late, yes, but that's the way we do it--too often it gets pushed even later)
Slow cooker meals (we are really busy this fall with a handful of great activities that tend to fall right over the dinner hour)
Have kids help with dishes (my kitchen is small--very small--so it is easier to just grumble and do them myself...oh, and no fancy automatic dishwasher thing in this house--no ma'am)
So here's what I would like for you all to do. Are you ready for an assignment? If you are also ready to emerge from the chaos, make a list like mine. It can be hand-written or computer-generated (it was revolutionary for me to do something not computer-generated, but it was an intentional choice because I knew I would waste way too much time trying to make it look like a professional graphic design project--another useless time suck for me), but one way or another, make a list. I don't know what your chaos looks like. I don't know what you need to change, but you do. Post it in a prominent place in your home, someplace that you will see it OFTEN. For me, this was the kitchen. I even took down all the assorted kids' school papers and the poetry magnets and then cleaned the exterior of the refrigerator (cleaned the exterior of the refrigerator!) so this would be the only thing there.
After you've made your list, photograph it and send me the photo. Seriously. I posted mine for all of you to see. Send me yours and I'll post it, too, so we can all be loosely held accountable to each other. In the comments sections after each of these posts, we can encourage one another. Wouldn't that be the greatest? I think so. Here's how you do it: Send your photo (please make sure the file size is not enormous) to chidwick dot readerphotos at blogger dot com. Include your name, the one you want to use in the comments section, and perhaps what part of the world you live in. Tomorrow night, I will post all of your Week 1 Goals Lists. On Saturday night, we will report on how we've done.
Crazy, huh? But cool.
It's like this, friends--either you want to take action and make some changes, or you don't. Let's do this thing together. Let's cheer one another on. Let's emerge from the chaos.