Monday, May 1, 2017

Hanging Laundry

We're all different. I'm a maximizer. By that I mean that all my life I've tried to do the most with every minute, be very efficient. I don't dawdle. If I can be doing something rather than sitting, I'm doing. I'm Martha, not Mary. My worst nightmare is to have nothing to do.

I don't like it about myself especially as I get older, but it's a decades-long, well-ingrained habit of living. I don't even think about it. "It's just how I roll." I wake in the morning and have a hard time staying in bed if there are things to be done. If I'm sitting on the couch at night, I need to be knitting, crocheting, somethinging! The very worst jobs I've had in my life were the ones where I finished my tasks and was left with nothing to do.

I've known this about myself. I've realized that as I go into my mid-50s, it's wearing me out. It prevents me from enjoying much of life. My mother had a cross-stitch piece on the wall for years that encouraged us to "Take Time to Smell the Flowers." And I try! I really do! I smell the flowers and then think about what I could make with them. Or I smell the flowers as I hurry past them. That doesn't count, does it?

The benefits of being a maximizer are tempting. Employers think you are a hard worker and earning your keep. Church ladies think you are an excellent pastor's wife because you do so much for the church. People trust you because they never think you're lazy. Maximizing is a liability in family life, however. Maximizers tend to require other people to work. If a maximizer marries a ponderer -- a sit-and-think-about-it person -- conflict can result. A maximizer tends to instill serious work ethic into her kids.
Image result for laundry on the clothesline
(This is not my laundry. This is Google laundry.)
As I hung laundry on the line the other day I realized I was doing it again. Trying to be efficient. Rushing -- always rushing. Trying to find the optimum speed at which to do the task so as not to make mistakes (dropping clothespins or clean laundry) but finish it in the least time possible. Let me tell you, keeping that kind of thinking in one's head All Day Long for Every Task is so exhausting! I'm sick of it. So as I stood there holding a wet shirt, I thought, "What if I did each task as slowly as I could, making it last as long as I could?"

It helped. It made hanging the laundry leisurely. I wondered how different my life would be, my mind would be, if I rid myself of this annoying, exhausting habit. Because ... it makes life feel quite rushed, as if I'm hurrying through each moment to get somewhere else. As if each event, each task, each conversation -- each moment and each day -- is designed to be hustled through. Do I want my life to feel like that?

I know that being a "doer" keeps me from deep interaction with lots of people. I'm always the person pulling away from the conversation, eager to get on to the next thing. Part of of that is simply being an introvert; I'm more comfortable engaging with tasks and objects than I am with people (especially strangers or groups). That's probably not something I can change about myself at my age. But I'd like to change the constant hurry even when I'm alone. I protest here (on my blog) and in person that I'm just too busy to get some things done, particularly writing. But the truth is -- I get lots of stuff done. I'm quite productive.  Some activities are "busy" ones (gardening, soap-making, house-cleaning, crafting, practicing music for church), and other activities are leisurely ones (writing, playing music for pleasure, strolling through the garden, talking with family members). There is such a fine line between the two types that they can be hard to distinguish.

And as I give my attention to this inner change, I must prevent it from being the next "task" that I efficiently work my way through. I'd love to make an inward transformation for peace, for calm, for leisure. I'd like to change my life. I'd like to waste a little time and find it was not wasting at all. I'd like to rest.

Do any of you have similar problems with yourselves? Have you succeeded in changing your habits? Your inner restlessness?

4 comments:

  1. I don't think we change much. I am NOT a doer that way. When I was teaching, I felt responsible so I would NEVER slack off it it affected others, but my basic groove is NOT to go, go, go. Now that I am 58 (such a nice age) I have a hard time with any kind of a crazy-busy life style. I didn't like it that my parents were so busy with politics, church, community doings. I've definitely responded against that and I didn't even run "errands" when the kids were growing up because to me errands meant crazy-busy shuffling about. It sounds like you and Adam are a perfect match and you are a very devoted mother, so whatever you did, it worked! When you were sadder before the NC move, you were not as
    "do-y" so I say that you are HAPPY and when you are happy, you are free to do. YOU are a treasure and God uses us according to His plan.

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  2. I am a doer, but also am a procrastinator, which has gotten worse since losing my dear husband. Life isn't the same 'doing' by yourself. But, I have accomplished quite a bit and that feels good.

    Enjoy your wonderful little farm and I hope Adam will heal up nicely and soon be out working on your land and projects.

    Happy Spring ~ FlowerLady

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  3. Hi MK! Your post rings very familiar to me. I am a doer too. I don't feel I've earned my supper if I haven't put in some good, hard work. I like work and I like to accomplish projects, but like you, I tend to hurry through them to get to the next thing. Sometimes it is necessary, but other times, it is not. Like you, I intend to challenge myself to take more time to enjoy and appreciate what I do including the process as well as the results. And I sure do want to stop and smell the roses. Taking those deep breaths and resting is good for the body and soul, I think.

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  4. I recognize a lot of that in myself. Always doing things quickly to get on to the next thing. I would love to be more comfortable with just slowing down and enjoying what's around me. I'm also one who loves to sit and contemplate. Then I feel guilty that I'm not doing something! Being by myself, like FlowerLady, I'm not sure who I think is watching me and thinking that I should be doing something, lol. I could slough off all day and nobody would be the wiser. But it's something inside that makes me feel guilty. I'd love to spend more time just in the Lord's presence. Maybe some of that busyness is "someone's" way of keeping me from that goal? (Just speaking of myself!) Yes, it's hard to change at our age. We might have to pick a couple of things to work on and call it good. ;)

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