Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Work. Rest. Play.

I've kind of gotten away from feeling the compulsion to write a "review" on every single book I read. That self-imposed obligated feeling of needing to do it was just more of a burden than anything else. Mostly, I've told myself that it's fine to just share my absolute favorite quotes and ideas from a book in my What I'm Into posts each month and be done with it. So, while reviews are an unnecessary burden these days, a "response" is an altogether different thing.

One of the concepts that really registered with me when we read Work was that it's important to have a good theology of work, rest, and play. I've thought a bit about this and how these theologies manifest in my life in practical ways.

Work
I wrote a little while back about finding the work that "sets my soul free" and how incredible that feels. The first couple of years of marriage/motherhood were the complete opposite of this. Probably primarily because I didn't do much work at all. I really struggled with it, but I couldn't even figure out how to do better and I was just constantly overwhelmed. Sometimes, I look back with deep regret for all those wasted hours. But most times, I'm thankful that I was gentle with myself during that season. I really think if I had set the bar much higher I would have faltered and then crumbled and then wound up in a mental place that was not very good. Anyway, I haven't thought a lot about the future, but I know in this season there are a handful of things I'm called to do. It's been empowering to realize them and strive to daily accomplish them well. I've learned to view things as a joy instead of an obligation (most of the time) and I'm learning to find the balance in it all. Especially with the things that have a concrete benefit for my family, I'm learning to delight in them (like, for example, GASP!, cooking).

Rest
This is a weird one because I'm a weird bird when it comes to sleep. I sometimes blame it on Peyton's schedule, but truthfully I've always been a night owl. When I student taught I'd stay up late and then teach all day and then take an afternoon nap. I'd get up, feeling refreshed, do a few things, go to supper, and begin my second "day". I LOVED it. I also loved my senior year, when I had a super accommodating, really relaxed roommate :) After becoming a momma, I enjoy the night even more. Especially once AP dropped her nap and there was no TRUE alone time during the day, nights became almost sacred. Of course Annie still has rest time, but the constant potty use and a few well spaced pleas for water are enough to make me want to lock the bedroom door. I used to view myself as so selfish, and in some ways I know I am being just that. But I've also come to realize that there's an introverted side to this extrovert (another post, another day- promise) and I just need to carve out time away from people in my days. Anyway, I stay up later than I should, but it works with our schedule because Peyton's sweet about letting me sleep in a couple of days most weeks and I take a nap if I really need to (sometimes with a snuggle buddy named Annie).

But of course rest is more than sleep. I certainly don't consider reading blogs "work" really, but it's also not what I'd call relaxing, per se. So, I try to do a few things that create a "restful" mood. A few of these involve eating- I really, really like to eat my lunch after the kids go down for rest time. I usually eat in solitude at the table and just enjoy the bites and my own (non-frantic) thoughts. I also like to, at the very least, spend a few minutes reading my devotional on the sofa in the sunroom during their rest time. Throughout the day, I've learned it's important to just stop at times. Just to cease.

As an addendum to the conversation on rest, I think we do well to consider and implement things that makes us feel peaceful, make us feel "centered". For one friend of mine this, in part, means making sure there's enough white space on her calendar that she won't be overwhelmed. For some people, it means a candle or a glass of sweet tea. For me, I think one big way I feel peaceful is when I create routines and rituals. Maybe it's the teacher/Harry Wong lover in me, but I'd even go so far as to say I love a good procedure. Now, don't here me say I love a schedule. I don't. At least not anymore. I think I used to be more of a schedule person, but Peyton's (work) schedule made that a practically impossible lifestyle. I guess I could keep myself and the kids on one, but I don't think that would work well. Anyway, what I mean by routines and rituals are really very little things. I like to make a to-do list within the first hour of my day if not the night before. I enjoy having a "midnight snack" and watching the news every night before I fall asleep. There are other things that aren't exactly rituals or routines, but I'm not sure what to call them (maybe "rhythms"?). I like having a new "kitchen quote" each month and also just filling the place with good words. I like my monthly playlists and changing out the candy in the candy jars each season. I like making sure my blog has a little change up each month. I like the "Winter Soup Challenge" and "Summer Salad Challenge". It's just how my mind works. I think these things create some structure within our flexible (see: no schedule) days. They create an environment of consistency and stability for me.

Play
This is probably the one I struggle with the most. Not because I don't think my life is fun, quite the contrary. But, at this juncture, play and work are so very intertwined. For example, Friday nights at my parents'. That's actually a good example of all three. I get to rest (e.g. wear gym shorts and a tshirt), play (interact with people that do not belong to the toddler/pre-school set), and work (because, unlike when it was just infant Annie and they'd basically do my job, save nursing her, I really still have to be "on"). There are just not a lot of activities where I'm not doing my "job". And that's a normal thing. This is true for most parents of young children. And it's a good thing. I love being the primary influence in their lives. But it's an exhausting thing, if we're being honest.

"Play" for Peyton looks like physical activity often times- hikes, bike rides, kayaking. All of that looks a hell of a lot like work to me. Play for me comes mostly through community, fellowship and discussion. Play comes through sharing ideas and laughter and love. Sometimes this is having lunch with wonderful people from our church or through phone conversations with a soul friend or through a life affirming play date. A lot of times it comes from a late night conversation with my husband over something mindless that anyone else would think is stupid or something so vastly important it seems all life hinges on it. More and more it comes through conversations with my daughter and that is breathtakingly beautiful. But often times it also comes, during a particularly rough day from a laugh with a high school friend over Facebook, or an email from a dear friend and mentor, or even a stranger-friend on Twitter who I feel like I've gotten to know pretty deeply.

I'm still working out my thoughts on all this, but I'd love to know your thoughts on work, rest, and play and their place in your lives.

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