Where the heck am I?


I am really struggling with finding my place back here in the real world.

On the road, things were simpler. We ate, slept, explored the world, and hung out with each other. We did schoolwork and paperwork and trip-planning work, but we did it on our own schedule and at our own pace. We had little space, few belongings, and no commitments. We kept ourselves pretty isolated: we didn’t watch the news or read the paper, and we rarely Skyped or emailed anyone at home.

Life here at home is different. We still eat and sleep and do schoolwork and paperwork, but now we have much space, many belongings, and tons of commitments. We are no longer isolated, either; we are, happily, in touch again with our friends and family.

The toughest part is that we are no longer on our own schedule or at our own pace. Everything here is scheduled, everyone has an agenda, and everything goes a million miles per hour compared to life on the road. Once again, I am running: running from place to place, running late, running on empty. It is hard. I spent six months calming down, relaxing, simplifying my life, and in one month it has been ratcheted up again.

I’m trying to breathe deeply. I’m telling myself that going away may have changed me, but it did not cause anything here to change. Life is still as hectic as it was when I left. I need to figure out how to get back into balance. Yoga would help, but I haven’t been to yoga since Quinland broke her leg. Routines would help, but I haven’t got them figured out yet in this new-again life. Cutting back on stuff and on space and on commitments would help, but each of those requires a life change that I have yet to adopt.

I need to accept that the transition is going to be gradual. I will figure out what I can and can’t add back into my life, and do it gradually… on my own schedule and at my own pace.

xo – Lori

Daily Check-In:

I’m grateful for the support of my family and friends today when life ganged up on me and made me cry. I’m still teary, but I’m feeling better.

I’m also grateful, of course, for the photo by Andrea_44.

Doing the right thing at the right time

Chaos is losing sight of that one thing

Tonight at 7 pm, I decided to go out and weed my yard.

Why in the world would I do that? Well, tomorrow is trash day, and I can’t stand to miss a chance to have yard debris picked up. So I wandered out to the front yard to see if there was possibly any part of the yard that could be weeded quickly. I don’t know who I was kidding; the whole yard is in need of some serious attention, and I filled the huge yard debris can in a little less than an hour.

As I was pulling all the weird primeval-looking weeds that grow in my yard, I was thinking about what brought me out there. I had come home from yoga, made something for dinner, and was curled up on the sofa reading Darcy stories. Suddenly, I found myself jumping up, rushing outside, and doing an hour of yardwork.

Why? Because time was of the essence. I couldn’t put it off, because I had to put the yard debris can out for 6 am pickup, and I had to jump to it, or I would run out of daylight completely. (As it was, it was so dark that I kept reaching for weeds and getting pricked by thorny rosebushes. Ouch!)

I tend to do better with tasks that have a deadline than those that do not. I do not always make deadlines – not by a long shot, historically – but they give me focus and something to aim for. Often, that’s all I need to kick myself into gear.

What about you? Do deadlines help, by giving you focus, or hurt, by raising expectations? Is there a specific task that would cause you to drop everything to go and take care of it? (Even if you have to give up a bit of “Darcy time”?)

Daily Check-In:

I’m grateful for the people at church who welcomed us back this morning at the parish picnic. We felt a bit like we were being shunned, at first, because I think people had kind of forgotten what it was like to have us there… but slowly people drifted over. I was glad.

I’m also grateful, of course, for the photo by aloshbennett.

The myth of “productivity” while traveling

Thick encyclopedias with colorful hardcovers

When we left for Europe, I had a long list of things I planned to do in my free time: reading, writing, scrapbooking. I had a vision of productivity, as if Europe was going to be my own little workshop. But it didn’t work out that way. The “productive free time” I had envisioned never really came to be.

“What!?” some of you may be asking. “You weren’t working! You had nothing but free time!”

True… but between sightseeing, travel planning, and homeschooling Quinland, it felt like I was working the entire trip. That’s not a complaint – I loved almost every minute of it – but each of those “jobs” had tasks that had to be accomplished, deadlines that had to be met, and consumed hours and hours of time. We also had to cook, and sort through photos… and sleep. We were often exhausted at the end of the day.

So, what were the productive things I thought I was going to do on the trip? Did I do any of them? Let’s see:

  • Read a stack of books I’d brought from home. (Partially done; I read parts of all the books I brought with me, but didn’t finish any.)
  • Write the first of my series of Newbery Award-winning young adult novels. (Not even started.)
  • Make a digital scrapbook our trip as we went. (Does buying and downloading all kinds of cool pages for Storybook Creator count? No? Drat.)
  • Blog the trip, as well. (I did 58 blog posts for the trip… but I am only on Day 37 out of 168. Luckily, I kept notes for each day so I can finish it now that I am home.)
  • Blog here at Lighten Up! everyday. (I had averaged a post a day before the trip, but I only posted 60 times from March through August.)
  • Send postcards to all my friends and family. (I think I sent five total pieces of mail the entire trip.)
  • Skype people regularly. (This was hit and miss… I talked to my sister a lot, and Q talked to Hannah a lot, but otherwise we never seemed to be on Skype at the same time that other people were on.)

Oh, well. Perhaps my free time, such as it was, was not productive. I still got to hang out with David and Quinland, play a few games of Agricola (and many games of Dominion), watch a whole bunch of the Olympics, read a bunch of books I downloaded onto the Kindle, and try to catch up with my favorite blogs on my Google Reader. Not productive time, but very enjoyable time, and that is what matters.

Daily Check-In:

I’m grateful that everyone was so gracious when we were late – horribly, unforgivably late – for a family birthday party today. We’d swung by the house to pick up the gifts and cards, only to discover that I could not find half the gifts and had to tear the house apart. I was having a serious panic attack, but everyone was very kind to me.

I am also grateful, of course, for the photo by Horia Varlan.