Friday, November 29, 2013

Gift from the Sea by Anne Morrow Lindbergh - Selected Quotes

Dear friends,

It's the day after Thanksgiving, and maybe, like me, you're feeling tired and scattered and a wee bit overwhelmed.  Or maybe not.

It's been that year of loss and transition for me and sometimes that all scrunches up in one spot.  I've been trying to clean house, get out my warmer clothes, run my errands (yes, a teeny bit of Black Friday shopping at the craft store with my younger kids), do paperwork, take a long nap, ride my hormone swings, and still process my emotions about a bazillion different things while surrounded by the daily chaos of lots of kids who do not value solitude as much as I do.  So honestly, I am no where near being "in the holiday spirit" at the moment. I was thinking today that I needed to sit quietly and ponder about what I want out of life for myself and my family, especially in this next month of what could become Christmas Craziness.  When I pulled in to the driveway after a last minute trip to the post office, I decided to sit for a few moments in the solitude of my van.  I found one of my journals wedged down between the seat and my supply box.  It's usually one I use just for sermon notes, but at a doctor's appointment last year I jotted down some quotes from a classic book.  It's a bit of a scrawl, but I'm amazed I was able to write as legibly as I did, because I had a broken hand at the time.

The book is Gift from the Sea, written in 1955 by Anne Morrow Lindbergh. The gifted author of over 10 books, she had gone through so much transition and loss herself.  She was the wife of famed aviator Charles Lindbergh, and the mother of five who had suffered the tragic kidnapping and death of her toddler son.  In this book, probably her most well-known, she draws lessons from different kinds of sea shells she finds on the beach.

From her chapter on the channeled whelk, she writes of living "in grace" with an inner harmony... "For to be a woman is to have interests and duties, raying out in all directions from the central mother-core, like spokes from the hub of a wheel.  The pattern of our lives is essentially circular.  We must be open to all points of the compass; husband, children, friends, home, community; stretched out, exposed, sensitive like a spider's web to each breeze that blows, to each call that comes.  How difficult for us, then, to achieve a balance in the midst of these contradictory tensions, and yet how necessary for the proper functioning of our lives.  How much we need, and how arduous of attainment is that steadiness preached in all rules for holy living.  How desirable and how distant is the ideal of the contemplative, artist, or saint - the inner inviolable core, the single eye."

In her chapter on the moon shell, she writes of the need for regular solitude: "The artist knows he must be alone to create; the writer to work out his thoughts; the musician, to compose; the saint, to pray.  But women need solitude in order to find again the true essence of themselves: that firm strand which will be the indispensable center of the whole web of human relationships... And woman today is still searching. We are aware of our hunger and needs, but still ignorant of what will satisfy them.  With our garnered free time, we  are more apt to drain our creative springs than to refill them.  With our pitchers, we attempt sometimes to water a field, not a garden.  We throw ourselves indiscriminately into committees and causes.  Not knowing how to feed the spirit, we try to muffle its demands in distractions... Arranging a bowl of flowers in the morning can give a sense of quiet in a crowded day -like writing a poem, or saying a prayer.  What matters is that one be for a time inwardly attentive."

722440: A Million Little Ways: Uncover the Art You Were Made to LiveAnd so I am in my bedroom, behind a locked and re-locked door, trying to find a small wedge of solitude and refill my soul with peace and inspired creative focus. Before I emerge again, I'm going to sit in my soft chair, eat a protein bar, read a chapter of A Million Little Ways: Uncover the Art You Were Meant to Live by Emily Freeman (which I saw mentioned on so many blogs that I like that I finally drove to the nearest bookstore to get my hands on my own copy), and putter around artfully arranging something or other in a continuation of what I shared last week in One Day: A Little Beauty and Order in My Home.  I am feeling a little better now, but I think I'll go to bed early tonight.

There is much more in the book, but that is enough for now.  You will find another quote from Gift from the Sea here: On Clouds, Hands, Oysters and Messy Humanity.

If the idea of solitude and quietness and focus intrigues you, you may also like these posts:

Grace and peace,
Virginia Knowles

This post may be linked at these blogs:

  • Still Saturday
  • The Sunday Community


    Tuesday, November 19, 2013

    One Day: A Little Beauty and Order in My Home

    Dear friends,

    It's been over a month since I posted on either this Come, Weary Moms blog or Virginia's Life, Such As It Is.  The only blog I've kept up with at all is Watch the Shepherd because of my weekly hymn series and an unexpected post on troubling issues in the home schooling movement, which has had nearly 3,800 pages visits in the last 16 days. Yikes!

    Frankly, I'm sometimes a very Weary Mom and there's not as much time to write. It's a busy life raising several kids, homemaking, and teaching three days a week in a private Christian school...  Well, enough said there.  All in all, I think I'm doing pretty well. For the most part, I love what I do, and I do what I love.  So it's a good kind of tired.

    Monday is my "breathing easier day" since my grading and lesson planning are done over the weekend, and I'm off school for the day.  Not that I'm sitting around twiddling my thumbs!  Usually, Monday is a mix of housework, errands, appointments, and a bit of writing if I'm lucky.  This particular Monday was one for pursuing "a little beauty and order."  I'm trying to make my home a haven and keep it that way.  I do a little here and a lot there, and sometimes a major breakthrough push, but never quite catch up. Yes, my kids do help out with the housework, but does it really have to be this difficult to enforce little things like not eating in the living room or computer room?  And will I ever get the laundry and paperwork and books completely under control?  Yeah, I've been purging, purging, purging the clutter.  I took out a huge pile of books yesterday to donate to the library book store.   However, even with all of the puttering around, I think I've decided that with six of my kids still living here, I'll just have to hold my breath and wait a decade until they're all grown and gone before I can keep my house consistently clean. :-)  

    Anyway, Monday....

    After I drove my youngest two to school, I transplanted about two dozen golden poppy seedlings into a patch next to our front walkway.  (This is Florida, folks!)  When I was a little girl in northern California, I grew poppies and pansies and all manner of other floral lovelies with my sweet mother.  One of my ways of honoring and remembering her is gardening.  I hope they thrive and that the kids don't step on them.  They're so small, they are hard to see! I'll be writing a post on gardening soon, too.

    This past weekend, I found two very attractive books on homemaking in the discount bin at the grocery store.  I know I could probably have found the same information on-line, and I actually do most of my reading on the web, but sometimes it's nice to have a real book in my hands, all there in one spot.  Can I get an amen?  I am also inspired by visiting my daughter's apartment and seeing how simple and attractive she's keeping it.  (It helps that she just moved in and doesn't have much stuff yet, but she's been shopping IKEA and it all looks lovely so far!  She said it seems like she's buying kitchen stuff as if she had 10 kids.)

    I also found another favorite volume, Mary Engelbreit's Home Companion, that I bought at my fav used bookstore a while back.  I didn't get too far into any of them before I had to get up and try out few of the ideas.  You know, put it into practice!

    I read about foyers.  Fascinating, right?  Two of the books had wonderful pictures of entry ways, and some featured wooden benches.  I've been wanting to switch things up in my front hallway lately, and I happened to have a beautiful bench buried in the storage room under laundry baskets.  Here we go!  Socks and shoes underneath, and backpacks off to the side.  Sure, I wish I could convince my kids to take them all the way to their bedrooms, but hey, I'm willing to compromise a little if the backpacks actually make it into their designated corner by the door.

    In order to put the bench there, I had to move a tall narrow table from that spot.  I knew what I'd do with it, though.  I'm always running out of flat space when I'm writing lesson plans and doing my grading.  I like to lay out my books and papers, and not perch them on my lap or squeeze them onto my desk with my computer.  So, as you can see in the photo below, I placed it perpendicular to my desk as an extra wing. (It's a bit longer than what shows in the photo.)  I like!  While I was at it, I took the time to reorganize my desk, get rid of a lot of extraneous papers, put my medicines back in the cabinet, and pin up a few new fancies on my bulletin board.

    I also took the time to read through a basket of sympathy and birthday cards that thoughtful family and friends sent in the past few months.  So sweet!  I came across a few that my mother had sent to me before she passed away.  Sigh.  I'll treasure them all.  I mounted two of the Mary Engelbreit cards on the front of my supply cabinet.

    This is the little raised shelf area in the right hand corner of my desk, with containers for hair brushes, pens, pencils and scissors.  The little butterfly dish holds sugar-free hard candies.  The doily hangs down and camouflages all of the electrical cords (for charging my computer, iPod, and phone) tucked under the shelf.

    I left the house after lunch to go visit my counselor, who is helping me sort through my life, including strategizing how to more effectively thrive in my duties in and out of the home. (For the record, she says, "Don't ever stop writing!  Make time for it!")  On the way home, before I picked up kids from school, I stopped into an interior design store, Kim Coe Designs.  I didn't buy anything, just enjoyed the beauty as an inspiration to my homemaking efforts.  They're all decked out for Christmas, of course!  These light-up snowmen in a basket were tempting, but I'll just wait until I get all of my holiday decorations out in two weeks to see what I already have.  I do like a little something new each year, but it's not like I need anything right now.  Anyway, I'm trying to simplify! (I did buy a pair of Christmas salt and pepper shakers on clearance at Walgreens later!)

    For dinner, I had a big package of boneless skinless chicken breasts in the fridge.  I cut them into smaller pieces, and baked half of them with barbecue sauce and the other half with rotisserie seasoning and red potatoes, adding some crunchy onion topping near the end.  Yummy scrumptious!  My family appreciates the two flavor options.  

    The rest of the evening?  Shopping, putting away laundry, cleaning up some more, and chatting with my very lively and affectionate kids.  

    I didn't get everything on my list done yesterday, but as I often say, "Well enough!" Today's another day!  (And it was!  Today I did a lot of paperwork after I got up, then drove kids to school / bus stop, made lunches for one son and me, taught three classes at school, took two kids to appointments and then went to the science night at their school.  The three of us ate fast food (gasp!) and the rest had leftover chicken for dinner.  Now I have some grading to do for tomorrow.  Another full day, different than yesterday, but just as good!)

    Other related organizing and decorating posts you might enjoy...

    What does your daily or weekly life rhythm look like?  Leave a comment for me!

    Virginia Knowles