April 15, 2008
Has it been 6 weeks since I have posted?
Too long… my baby blog does not like to be left alone, so here I am mulling what has happened. Does anyone else out there ever find that sometimes backing away from life a bit helps them to prioritize a little better? That has been the case for me over the last few weeks. I have been teaching online courses and trying to create a standalone curriculum, all while homeschooling kids, keeping up with family and home, and trying to stay involved in our various communities. Just typing all of that makes me realize that I need to start taking my own advice.
I need to refocus.
I have realized that there are certain themes that pop up in my life… certain passions, if you will. I have spent the last 6 weeks doing some soul-searching. My journal is full, and I have moved on to scraps of paper lying around the house in order to capture the deluge of thoughts that have been trapped inside of my head. Do you want to know what I have discovered? Life is awesome! When I say that, I don’t mean the "like, totally, dude" variety. I mean, the meaningful and overwhelming kind of awesome that simultaneously incapacitates and inspires. My world has so many options, so many opportunities. I can log on to the computer and be anywhere in the world in about 3 seconds. I can write posts about world hunger, organizing a kitchen, or corralling a cat and there will be someone, somewhere reading them. I can order clothes from any store in the United States and most of Europe without leaving my living room. I walk into a grocery store that stocks foods I have never even heard of. News is available anytime, anywhere with a PDA. What wonderful developments, what incredible technology!
Believe me, I am grateful. But, I have been getting the feeling that there is just a little too much. Too much to think about… too much to care about… too many causes to get in, over, around and behind. Does it ever make your brain hurt?
That "brain pain" sparked my commitment to refocus. I took a break mentally and stepped back. We are all here for a purpose, and I have been reevaluating mine. I looked for patterns in my activities, my reading, my "electronic interests" (TV, internet, blogs, eZines), my conversations, etc. I found that most of what I value falls into primary categories – in no particular order: productivity, family life, and the importance of academic and character growth for today’s youth. Do I have more interests than these? Yes. However, at least 85% of what I feel called toward falls into one of these categories.
Productivity – I have said this before, and I will say it again. I love paper. I love calendars. I love notebooks and planners and office supply stores. I love making lists and lists of lists. Don’t ask me why, but it’s in my blood. (You can ask my mother, who provided me – at the ripe old age of 5 – with stacks of old office paper.) My bookshelves are stocked with books written by David Allen (Getting Things Done) and Julie Morgenstern. Steven Covey is an old standby, as is Jack Canfield (The Power of Focus). Organizing is therapuetic for me. The more I absorb effective productivity techniques into my own life, the more I want to share that peace of mind and home with others. Full disclosure: I am not perfectly organized, I simply strive for what I can and enjoy the process:-)
Family Life – If you had asked me 15 years ago if I would leave a successful career to stay home with my kids, I would have politely looked at you as if you were one stick short of a matchbook. Now, though, I am amazed that God has actually trusted me with these little people. My husband and I both have found that we have put up some cushioning between our nuclear family and the rest of the world. Our time together gets more precious each day, and we know that these times won’t last forever. When our nest is empty, we’ll probably be more accessible. For now, we have our hands full with the teaching and training and bike rides and boo-boos.
Education – Again, when I was in the corporate world, the value of education was not even on my radar. Between my time teaching at the university, researching academic options and teaching my own kids, I now find little else that weighs so heavily on my mind and heart. I feel as though I haven’t enough years left (and I am not exactly pushing up daisies yet) to make a positive impact on how we educate our children. I want every parent in this country to recognize that character and academics are the true goals of education. I want every adult to recognize that kids are capable of SO MUCH more than we expect of them in 2008. They have huge brains and huge hearts, and it is up to US to train them how to use them best.
Doing this exercise – this breaking down of my life into main categories – I found something incredibly valuable… my focus. When I looked at where my passions reside, I found my mission. I am aligning my efforts to focus in on 1) Guarding our values as a family to train our little boys to become strong, true men of integrity… just like their daddy, 2) Helping other moms create their own life of peace and value, and 3) Using my experience and energy to inspire passion for knowledge and wisdom in every young person I meet.
I feel recharged and reenergized. I know now how to guage what invitations to accept, which committees to serve on, and which commitments to add to my calendar. I now have a yardstick. By choosing activities that hone in on my mission, more of what I do will be effective. Even my writing. Although I missed you all while I was gone, I think you are going to find that this blog community will grow even tighter and more close-knit as we move forward. I encourage you to think over where your heart is and what it is pointing you toward. By using that as a starting point, you too can narrow your focus and widen your effectiveness.