Gratitude is happiness doubled by wonder.
~ GK Chesterton

Saturday, June 7, 2014

Having It All, Part Two

More on that “having it all” theme.

Nailed it!  Brooke blogs at Slow Your Home.  I enjoy her writing because she provides concrete suggestions in how to slow down a bit.  She’s good at highlighting the silliness of organizing more stuff than you need, rather than passing on your extras - and not amassing too much in the first place.

In describing single-tasking, Brooke says first what it is not.  What it is not is what I’ve been doing for a long time: washing up at the sink whilst trying to write a list of plans for the upcoming weekend; reading news headlines when flossing my teeth; working on the grocery list and coloring with a toddler.

As technology makes it easier to get things done, studies are telling us that multitasking doesn’t work.  We aren’t that good at it, anyway. It makes you less productive than spending smaller amounts of time on a single task.  Those links are just a few of many I’ve read over the years.

Brooke suggests we rein in those multi-tasking horses and choose to single-task, instead.  Living in the moment.  Embracing the beauty before us.  Heck, finding the beauty before us, in order to embrace it.

Here’s her example in how to take a mundane task and turn it into something special: hanging the laundry on the line.

Are you hanging out the laundry?

Instead of planning dinner, or thinking about the meeting you have this afternoon, or what you will do when the kids wake from their nap, try this:

·         Focus on the fresh scent of the wet, clean clothes
·         The coolness of the damp fabric in your hands
·         The snap of the pegs on the line
·         The way the sunlight hits the linen
·         Appreciate that you make time to do this simple task so your family will have clean clothes

Brooke uses the word “zen,” but I find such an activity to be a very Carmelite thing.  Take, for instance, Brother Lawrence of the Resurrection:

“During our work and other activities, even during our reading, no matter how spiritual, and even during our religious exercises and vocal prayers, we must stop for a moment, as often as possible, to adore God in the depths of our hearts, to savor him even though in passing and on the sly, to praise him, to ask his help, to offer him our hearts, and to thank him.” 

Or Blessed Elizabeth of the Trinity:

“As for interesting things, we’ve done the wash.  I set about it with such ardor that I had blisters that night, but in Carmel everything is delightful, for we find God everywhere.”

I am making it my focus, this summer, to try to stop multi-tasking.  Rather, to find a balance when it comes to multi-tasking.  If I am waiting for a child at a lesson/appointment, I can work on a grocery list.  But if the kids are frolicking in the outdoors on a lovely summer day, I’m putting away the smartphone. 

Not just avoiding multi-tasking, but I am going to try to be more mindful about single-tasking.  I know I’ve been guilty my entire life as a mother of talking to my children without making eye contact, mostly because we are talking while I’m folding the laundry, cooking food, driving the car.  But, as a mother, I do need to fold laundry, cook food, and drive the car.  I think the balance comes in by making sure that I’m being a better listener when I do sit down.

With that said, I’m finishing this post so that I can go spend time with my children in our lovely, leafy garden.



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