Thursday, January 31, 2013

Pop Pop Swiffer Americano

I've done housework to music for years now. And when I'm alone or with my sisters, sometimes it goes down something like this:

But there is a cautionary tale here as well. Don't do an enthusiastic choreographed swiffer routine while wearing slippery socks. You might just sweep yourself right off your feet. Or swiffer yourself off your feet as it were....

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Of Relaxation, Regrets, and Dinosaurs

Back. Like a dinosaur ripped into the modern age by time travel.

Did anyone else watch this growing up? I've seen it too many times. Maybe.

I'm back in school so I might as well get back to this. I haven't done a very good job chronicling my life lately, so hopefully this will help.  Over the next few posts I'll try and catch this narrative up to where I am now so everything moving forward will make sense.

Reading through the last few posts I wrote in 2011, I realize that I am now less idealistic and yet more sane than I once was. That last semester at BYU was weird - full of crazy late hours, intense school requirements, confusion about boys I liked and didn't like, stress from knowing that I didn't have a plan in place post-graduation, etc. I think I was saved by living with some great people, having good friends around me, family just a phone call away, and the gospel. Though maybe I didn't pay as much attention to that as I should have. More on that later.

Graduation brought release, freedom, and an identity crisis that I should have seen coming. I had grown up with so much of my sense of self tied to doing well at school, to achieving my goals, having reliable people around me, knowing what the next year would bring, etc. Much of that left right when I was confused and at a spiritually low(er) point.

I think my saving grace was moving in with my sister, Aislin, and her family. At the time I (and probably they) thought it was just going to be a short-term deal before I found a job and got on my feet. The funny thing with plans, though, is that you have to have a plan in place in order for them to, well, work. I knew I was going to spend that summer as an EFY coordinator, but that left a gap of some months for me to fill. And I did not fill them well.

Some people have suggested that I am a workaholic. I contest that notion because I know full well that minus outside constraints and demands, I have a very strong tendency to fall back to nothing. I think it is because I have never really practiced giving myself a schedule. My school requirements, the jobs I have had, the activities I have involved myself in have all handed me more or less a schedule to keep. Not much of it had to do with my own ability to govern myself.

I like to think I was not just a burden to my sister and her family. I looked after my neeps* when my sister was busy or not feeling well, I did the dishes occasionally, I helped paint, I helped plan and prepare for birthday parties and bridal showers. I took my nieces to see the play Peter Pan at BYU, and I taught them about Steve Erwin, couriers-de-bois, paleontologists, and Scheherazade.  But it was the other unscheduled time I now cringe about. I spent way too much time on my computer way too late at night doing unproductive things. I didn't work to stay in shape. I didn't use the time to dive into the scriptures to prepare for being a coordinator. I played with my neeps, I slept, I shopped online, I watched a bunch of shows and movies on Netflix, I read books, and I slumped.

Making petite fours for Cecily's tea party-themed birthday party.

Now some of this was nice and maybe even necessary after the hours I had kept for years at school. But it was not overall very healthy. I was not progressing. I think my sister could see the pattern, but she wisely did not try and council me too much. I probably wouldn't have been super receptive. Ah, pride. But whether she meant to or not, she did teach me wonderful things and make my time there ultimately a blessing:

1. She showed me how a healthy, busy, happy young family functions and the effect a smart, passionate woman and mother has on such a family. Her family is not perfect and not always happy, but it is one that is focused on the gospel and focused on family unity and interdependence.

2. She showed me her own strength and her reliance on the Lord and her husband when her strength wasn't enough. There is power and blessings from enduring trials well. There is wisdom in recognizing when you can't do everything you want to do. Humility and asking for helping is not weakness.

3. Sisters are important. Aislin and I have not always had a functional relationship, but my time there allowed us to reboot and rediscover our value to each other. It is like any human relationship - it will need continual work in order to succeed - but we each recognized strengths in the other and had some great laughs and deep conversations.

Such lessons deepened my testimony on the importance of families and role of motherhood in the eternities. This also gave me time to win the love and affection of my neeps - all part of the plan to ultimately be the Favorite Aunt. (I've got nine competitors for the position, so it's been some work. They didn't know it was a competition, so I already had an advantage.)

I still have the tendency to drop to the lowest possible productivity level as soon as I'm given the chance, but I am much more aware of it now then before. I also know where that road lies. Not all of my time needs to be spent being productiveproductiveproductive, but I know clearly now that where a life of productivity lies, so does my happiness. I'm still working on balance (and discovering what balance even means), but I have motivation to pursue it now more than ever.

*My own term for nieces and nephews. There is no gender-neutral plural pronoun for that relationship at the ready.