The story of where I was, how I realized that my prioritized life was missing the mark, and when I began clearing my queue is a long one. Over 30 years long, in fact. Reading it shouldn’t be quite as time-consuming as living it.
The story of my recovery all begins with a Netflix subscription.
Long ago we bid a cheerful farewell to our television service and enrolled in Netflix. It is the homeschooler’s documentary heaven, without the questionable commercials. With Netflix, we could select programs from an online catalogue and add them to our queue, where they are available to watch instantly. When the children were asleep, I would sit down to preview a program for class or to enjoy an old classic. But I never watched one–not one! Instead, I would find just one more, just one more, just one more great program that I had to add to the queue. In no time at all I had over 400 shows in my queue. There was so much great stuff, so much clutter in our queue, that we could never find the jewel we were looking for. I never watched anything.
Just like my Netflix queue, my life had become overwhelmed by various forms of clutter–mental, physical, spiritual, emotional–all clutter.
I had carefully organized files, piles, cupboards and drawers full of wonderful activities and ideas for quality experiences with my six children. I had tips on marriage, homeschooling, crafting, homesteading, cooking, you name it. I had magazines, catalogs, cookbooks, articles, print-outs, curricula, and unidentifiable boxes of stuff. They were all wonderful things that I did not want my family to miss. I was so busy organizing, collecting and constantly tidying that I never actually got around to doing any of it.
I was trying so hard not to miss out on all the wonderful experiences of life, that I was missing out on life itself.
My computer was cluttered with a backlog of inspired writing projects, each preventing the others from reaching completion. My desk was cluttered with piles of important to-dos, each paper burying something more urgent. My mind was cluttered with the latest health news to the point that I became a hypochondriac; I worried so much about not being around for my children, that I was mentally not around for my children. My sewing cupboard was filled with projects I had started with my children, only to drop them for the next great idea. My heart was cluttered with unrealistic expectations for life and relationships, resulting only in self-justified resentment every time life and people did not measure up.
And this is only the tip of a very dangerous, very ugly iceberg.
One day, my Handsome Prince kissed his Sleeping Tolerable-To-Look-At and woke me up. He wisely informed me that I had been missing life in my attempt to make it as fulfilling and well-rounded as possible. I was trying to give my family good health, great education, strong faith, positive character, fun evenings, peaceful mornings, an unlimited array of skills, a great mama, a fit wife, a super cook, a successful writer, and just about every positive educational character-building experience available. What did I give them? A frumpy, stressed, anxiety-riddled, joyless, bitter, UNfun shell of a woman with flabby thighs. I woke up and wondered where the last 10 years of my life had gone.
I cleared my queue mentally, physically, emotionally, and spiritually.
I stopped looking for the next best thing for my family and homeschool and business. I stopped second-guessing my well-thought-out-and prayed-about decisions. I forgave people and stopped wasting my time with bitterness and discontent. I gave away masses of items to people who would actually use them, not just store…no, hoard them, as I was doing. I threw away files and files of activities and recipes that we would never get around to using because we were too busy filing activities and recipes. I gave things over to God and left them there. And I stopped letting the negatives, the fears, and the clutter back in.
The burden tumbling off my shoulders has been remarkable.
It is a long process still in the making, but it is a daily release, a daily renewal, a daily joy to return to simplicity and provide my family with an even more well-rounded, fulfilling life.
If you long to find extra time in your life, extra room in your home, extra space in your heart, then join me as I continue to clear my queue.
My hope for you and me both is a simple home, simple faith, simple life.