Peace made practical

Last year I was diagnosed with adrenal fatigue and fibromyalgia, as I’ve explained ad nauseam (sorry for that). I won’t go into the boring details, except to say that the diagnosis launched a journey of self-discovery. I should actually say it deepened the existing journey of self-discovery I was already on. And then we moved. Into a bigger house. (Can I just say: moving sucks! But more space is very nice).

It’s been a very good thing.

For one thing, it’s forced me to respect how I’m wired in a way that I never have before. I’ve been trying to fight it all this time, as if certain basic aspects of myself are somehow less desirable than those of another person. Academically, I’ve always known this is a dangerous route, as it is hard to sustain under pressure, and a terrible example to set for impressionable young daughters.

So now we begin to make the academic understanding apply in practical ways to my situation. While this may sound unreasonably petty and very OCD, a significant contributing factor to my body’s failure to thrive is mess. I like order – rhythms and structure and logic and peace. I do not like mess. And in chaos, I wither. Unfortunately, my family does not share these compunctions. Not even a little bit. Not even at all. Things are not put away, cleaned up, turned off, tidied, washed or straightened. Things are not done.  Ever. Honestly, I’m not exaggerating when I say we’d disappear under mountains of our own rubbish in less than a year if I didn’t move heaven and earth to stop that happening.

Until last September, I truly believed that I was the flawed one; that I ought to be more accepting of the otherness of others, and not inflict my own obsessive-compulsive tendencies on such free spirits. Pah! I’m over that. Now we have order. Thanks to the genius that is Alisa Vitti, the wisdom of Dr James Wilson, and some plain old common sense (not to mention Pinterest), I am building the tools I need to have a home that is a source of peace and joy for us all.

First of all, I have defined three very simple, very clear focus areas for this year, with measurable goals for each. I’ll share these later in the week. I’ve put them up in key areas so that they are always easily visible to me.

Next, I’ve broken each month down into a schedule of deliverables for each of these three areas of my life. My guiding philosophy here is “less is more”. Whereas, in the past, I would try to cram as much as I could into every day, scheduling my life down to the last five minutes, now I am trying to see how little I can get away with in each day without chaos ensuing. It sounds lazy, but it’s actually sanity saving if you’re an over-scheduler like me. I’ve also taken things like our business, family and social commitments, and my cyclical changes, into account with these schedules, since they have a very real effect on all that I do (and how effectively it gets done).

Finally, I’ve made some rules. In our house we all have chores. Doing chores earns rewards, not doing chores earns punishment. I’d like to instil a sense of teamwork and the necessity of pulling together into all of this somewhere, but waiting for my brood to do their bit because it’s the right thing to do will require a degree of patience I cannot lay claim to. We have chores lists that get checked off every day. Completing your chores gets you your agreed reward. Not doing so gets you grounded, and may cost you something, too. And we have a chore bin: if you leave it out, it goes in the bin. You have one week to earn it back by doing a chore, otherwise it goes to charity. No matter what it is. (The bin is new and not popular. I am intrigued to see how it will play out).

I am feeling much more content and at peace, and I missing far fewer deadlines than ever before. The school bases are covered, and my clients’ expectations are managed. All while the house keeps ticking over and very few balls are being dropped there, either. Over the next few weeks I’ll share the ways in which we’re taking charge of our chaos, and how making it practical is helping us establish and maintain peace.

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