Thursday, August 24, 2006

Happy Holidays

Lately, I've been wondering if I even know what it means to be joyful. The past two weeks I've been off from work, and the kids and I have been supposedly doing holiday things. What I'd envisioned as a lark -- merrily off to enjoy the sights, smells, food, and events of summer -- has turned into hours upon hours of them watching TV or playing video games, while I've tried to corral the mess in the house. Them going to bed later and later every day, while DH and I struggle with lack of sleep. And the endless bickering! Arguing over who has a millimeter more of cream cheese on their bagel.

Mark Gaskill author of Systemic Parenting says that problems with kids indicates a larger problem with the family as a unit. So what does that say about our family? Probably that we're stressed, and trying to do too much.

As the summer winds down and school is about to start -- and we haven't even gone on our away vacation yet -- I find myself writing more and more to-do lists. All those things that were on the summer to-do list have been pushed on to fall.

And what a list it is!

What kind of drug was I on that deluded me into thinking I could paint the living room, hallway, all the wood trim up and down, replan the garden, add a bit onto the deck, take the kids to myriad fun summer activities, write model suite stories for the paper, AND finish the book manuscript????

I think a big part of it is we are living way too much in our heads -- that everlasting to-do list and the miscalculation of how much time it takes to complete.

The pope just came out with a declaration against too much busyness and his conclusions are spot on -- too much activity, leads to distraction and hardness of heart. Barbara Killinger says much the same in her book on workaholics -- that the drug of work can render you numb to feelings.

What's the alternative? Drop everything? Do nothing? Go fishing?

Paring back is important -- in fact, today we are not heading out to Ontario Place, but instead staying home, getting ready for our trip and walking down to the lake and dipping in our toes.

Paring back though has to be accompanied by a new perception of all that we do. Yesterday's Christian quote of the day had this pithy quotation which applies:

There is no one in the world who cannot arrive without
difficulty at the most eminent perfection by fulfilling with
love the obscure and common duties.
... J. P. de Caussade (1675-1751)