Four years ago, we were busy. Really busy people. My husband and I were boarding school teachers and chaplains. We had a beautiful 4-bedroom house on campus that overlooked the Blue Ridge mountains. Three dogs, a cat, a bird, my teenage sister and our beautiful daughter filled our home with all kinds of joy and trouble. Three cars occupied our driveway. Our large thick grassy green yard dressed in rose bushes, flowers, and my willow tree was often filled with neighbors and students. Inside our house we had everything we needed and wanted. So much so that every room was perfectly filled to capacity. Life was good. Life was full. Life was also too busy.
While hours of work seemed to grow and our calendars filled uncontrollably like a bad plumbing problem our home life took the brunt. The laundry piled up, the floors went from dusty to dirty, the dishes waited, the lawn grew up on its own, and everything the we needed and wanted started creeping out of its place and instead of bringing us pleasure it brought a painful reminder of how out of control life was getting.
To fight back, we employed a nanny to keep daughter happy and healthy and on schedule and a merry housekeeping crew to restore order to our home filled with stuff. But, our calendars were only continuing to fill to overflowing and it was time for a change. Life was good, but we were getting crowded right out of our own life. My husband decided to make a change. A big one. After 12 years of teaching he was going to medical school. But we wanted big change if we were going to make change. We wanted to walk out of the crowd and find a quiet place to start from again. So we sold all the "everything we needed and ever wanted," left behind the house with a priceless view, said goodbye to our community of friends and students, tore up our calendars, packed our suitcases with shorts, sunblock and sunglasses and headed to the Caribbean with our dogs, cat, and our daughter. And quiet we found. Life wasn't busy at all. It was slow and it took some adjusting, but it happened. We found out that we didn't need to be busy and we didn't need full calendars and a house full of everything we needed and wanted. Life was good. Life was more than good.
For three years we lived that quiet, simple uncrowded and uncluttered life in the islands and in England. Then, we moved to the city. It was surreal to see people moving and hurrying like life had to stay busy to survive. It had become so foreign to us....to me. But a year of living here in this incredible city has found my calendar filling up, the noise of busyness returning and the stuff, responsibilities and mess crowding in.
I don't want to return to that life and my home is feeling like a traffic stop. I need to guard the sanctuary we have created for our family and let the busy, stress-filled and crowded life pass by outside my window while inside we live in a place of simplicity, order, and peace.
That's why I am doing this commitment - this challenge - with my dear friend, Melanie. We have experienced the good life and we don't want to lose that. I want to get back to being organized. And that is more than a color coordinated file cabinet (although, I am quite fond of that), it is being intentional about what enters our lives and homes and how we choose to live from the inside out. It is prioritizing, organizing, saying yes when we mean it and no when we need to. It means eliminating the ugly crowd of unhealthy relationships, unnecessary stuff, messes, stressful situations, too much mindless entertainment (aka, channel surfing) and filling the good life with small moments like walks in the park, conversations with good friends, phone calls with parents, reading good books, and quiet cuddles with little daughters. It means finding balance and living there, contented.
So, like Mel said, "here we go!"