Sunday, June 26, 2011

The Rhythm of Life

I'm stealing this title from the book, "Plain  Wisdom", by Cindy Woodsmall and Miriam Flaud.  Miriam is an old order Amish woman, and Cindy is from the modern world, but they share a lot in common just by virtue of being women..It's a good book. You should all read it some time. I know I've been enjoying it the past few days.

Two rhythms strike me as important this morning...the rhythm of the seasons and the rhythm of the days.  It's a good time to be thinking of this, just as July shows up. July, by nature, is meant to be a slow time of year.  It's a time for lying around in a hammock, taking a nice siesta during the hot hours of the day, spending the 4th of July with family and friends, and maybe taking a trip to the beach, or just splashing around with the family in the back yard pool.

The problem is, so many people have allowed themselves to get out of rhythm with the natural world.  It is so easy to hide inside climate controlled houses and let July pass unnoticed.  When I was a kid, the neighborhoods would be filled with children playing outside all month long.  Think of Calvin and Hobbes and how much Calvin loved the summer, when "the days were just filled" with lots of nothing to do... In my job as an appraiser, I drive neighborhoods almost every day during the week.  The kids are usually nowhere to be seen.  A few might be found in the subdivision's pool, but rarely do you see children just fooling around out in their yards... I guess it is just too easy to sit inside in the airconditioning and play computer games, and I find that desperately sad.

It is also very important (at least for me) to move in the natural rhythm of the day...and that also changes for me from season to season.  In the summertime, down south, I get up early every morning and before the sun gets too high, I do a little praying/inspirational reading, do my flexibilty exercises, feed the animals, feed myself, go running at the state park,  water the outside plants and my gardens, and then water the inside plants and fill my bird feeders.  Only after those "morning things" are done do I turn on my computer.  I never allow appointments to infringe on these early morning hours...my work day starts at 10:00.  Period. 

Except yesterday.  Yesterday, my boss really needed to talk to me at 6:00 a.m.  That talk just kind of continued until about noon...and none of my "morning things" happened.  That threw me off for the entire rest of the day.  Of course, one of the important things to learn in life is you have to be flexible, and he really did need me yesterday morning. I understand that.  I also promise that if he started to "need" me very often at that hour, I would soon be looking for another job.  I've talked a lot about establishing boundaries lately.  This is one boundary I simply have to have in place!

When my kids were little, we had a lot of flexibility and freedom in our homeschooling and our household, but every morning we had a bit of a routine, what we used to call our "morning things". We always started out with a few chores, a little personal private time, and a sit down breakfast together at approximately the same time every day.  I've written many times that if we ever looked a little bit like a school when the kids were young, it was when we were at the breakfast table. I figured I had them all gathered together, so we might as well use the time together.  We always started with a little Bible study, mostly using Pearl Buck's "The Story Bible", and then did one other thing...often a unit study, sometimes some foreign language study.

The important thing, to me, was that we had a routine established...Again, we could sometimes alter it for a day or two if life got in the way,  but established routines and rhythms are very important to maintaining sanity, and the more they can mimic the natural rhythms of life,  the happier and calmer everybody is typically going to be.

For the record, it has been in the 90s for days down south, and right now, at just after noon, the air conditioner is still off.  I have a routine for that, too, (which, I'll admit,  is sometimes a bone of contention in the family)..First thing in the morning, windows open, attic fan on.....Later, attic fan off, windows closed....At some point in the later afternoon, if it gets just too bad, a couple of hours of AC...then it is off again and the windows are opened and the attic fan is on....Not only does it save gobs of money, it helps me to live my life like my cat...going in and out of the house all day long at will....not getting so used to a nice cool house that I don't want to go out and do things in the garden.

Of course, I know not everybody is the "nature girl" that I am....But whatever, you need to establish your routines and your rhythms...it is part of the entire process of learning how to be relaxed without having things deteriorate into chaos.  Then remember to set your own goals for your homeschooling and just stop obsessing over all the things that don't matter much in the long run.   Live an interesting life, read a lot together, and make sure to enjoy some of these long, hot, summer days with your kids out in God's beautiful world!

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