The Joy Of Ordinary

mandie

“And while it takes courage to achieve greatness, it takes more courage to find fulfillment in being ordinary. For the joys that last have little relationship to achievement, to standing one step higher on the victory platform. What is the adventure in being ordinary? It is daring to love just for the pleasure of giving it away. It is venturing to give new life and to nurture it to maturity. It is working hard for the pure joy of being tired at the end of the day. It is caring and sharing and giving and loving…”
~ Marilyn Thomsen

 

As a long-time Lyme sufferer (all my adult life and then some), until recently even an ordinary life has frequently been too much effort for me. I’ve had no energy, or no balance, or no mental cognition. Or I’ve needed to hoard my energy for more important things.

When you’re unwell and exhausted all the time, it becomes hard to be anything but resentful of things like housework. So it has been a joyful experience for me this weekend to potter around the house.

To cook. To do laundry. To tidy my linen cupboard and my kitchen drawers when soft rain fell and being indoors by the fire was cosy and happy-making.

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I’ve hiked up into the orchard to pick fruit, and made myself freshly squeezed juice with my gains. I’ve wandered through the paddocks to check on the cows and calves. Two are almost ready to give birth – one of them her first. It’s good to be close to them, and to watch over them.

mooI’ve had an outing to a local cafe where I sat under a bright cold sky and ate delicious breakfast and then held Ben’s hand, Harry Dog at our feet, as we sipped our hot drinks and huddled together against the wind.

I’ve planted out some seedlings and checked the progress of my winter vegetables.

zukes

And I’ve spent time on my bed, cup of tea beside me and book in hand. Because I’m still tired. I still need easy days and early nights. My new treatment regime of detoxing and rehabilitation isn’t brutal like my drug regime was, but it is still taxing and taking me time to get used to.

It might not sound very exciting – this weekend of household chores and little outings. But it’s thrilling to me. After so many years of struggling, to have a weekend of ‘almost normal’ speaks more loudly than any blood test or brain scan.

I came across this poem recently, which seems to capture exactly that space I’m in. I hope you may find a little of that space for yourself and your loved ones too, this week.

Make the Ordinary Come Alive

Do not ask your children
to strive for extraordinary lives.
Such striving may seem admirable,
but it is a way of foolishness.
Help them instead to find the wonder
and the marvel of an ordinary life.
Show them the joy of tasting
tomatoes, apples, and pears.
Show them how to cry
when pets and people die.
Show them the infinite pleasure
in the touch of a hand.
And make the ordinary come alive for them.
The extraordinary will take care of itself.

~ William Martin

leaf

 

Thoughts on Housekeeping

housewife

If your house is really a mess and a stranger comes to the door, greet him with, “Who could have done this? We have no enemies.” ~ Phyllis Diller

I’m finally home at my beautiful farm. We arrived early yesterday  morning, and I enjoyed a whole sunshiny day at home, doing homey kinds of things.

I’d kept my diary clear – no work, no outings, no visits from friends, no schedule of any kind. Why? I’ve just started Week Three of the week on, week off meds regime that just about floored me a fortnight ago. I was truly expecting that yesterday would be a total horror.

And then it wasn’t.

It’s an interesting thing, housework. Most of us hate it, resent it, and would rather be doing anything else. And yes, at times I can put my hand up and say ‘me too!’ to that school of thought.

But yesterday it was a pleasure to put a load of washing on and hang it out in the sunshine, to tidy up here and there, cut fresh flowers for the house, burn a little incense, play my favourite music, bake fruit cakes and cook up a big pot of soup.

Mine was a leisurely, moodle-y kind of day, and I thoroughly enjoyed playing house.

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It was prescient too, because by nightfall the drugs had kicked in and I was feeling less than flash. And it’s been all downhill from there. But at least my home is tidy, the washing’s done, I have clean sheets on the bed that smell of sunshine and fresh air, there’s cake in the tin, soup in the pot, and I have fragrant blooms by my bedside.

From a Feng Shui point of view, it’s energetically a good thing to clear your clutter and let your home or office space be clean, orderly and aesthetically pleasing.

Creatively, emotionally and psychically sensitive people are all deeply affected by their environments too.

But even more interestingly, there are neurological studies that show people with depression and anxiety respond well to task completion where there is satisfaction or pleasure from having got the job done. It’s therapeutic for us to see an end result and to have been a major factor in that result – especially tasks that require physical involvement and that we enjoy.  Pleasant tasks or tasks that result in a feeling of accomplishment bring us emotional comfort and the increased activity level helps ward off or decrease depressive episodes. Creativity and positive new thought patterns are stimulated.

Housekeeping is also an act of self care, self love and self nurture.

Think about it. Haven’t there been times when performing routine or maintenance tasks such as cleaning the house, cooking, gardening, putting a set of bookshelves together, painting a piece of furniture or finishing some bookwork has put you into a better emotional space? Or given rise to a fresh idea or a solution to a problem?

Image from www.devivohomes.com

Image from www.devivohomes.com

If the thought of housework right now leaves you cold then take a look at your life:

  1. Are you getting enough rest? Exhaustion and housework don’t mix. Everything is an uphill battle when you’re exhausted or unwell. And what takes you six hours when you’re tired or unwell will usually only take one (or even less) when you’re firing on all cylinders again. Rest and recovery need to always be your first priority.
  2. Do you have any time for yourself and for your own interests? If there are other interests and activities that call you, find someone else to do that housework. A clean house feels good no matter who cleaned it!
  3. Do you actually schedule ‘down time’ and ‘maintenance time’, or are you just playing wishful thinking, expecting that somewhere in your crazy schedule, after all the other work is done, the housework will just miraculously happen?
  4. Can you get help with the tasks that are too hard or that you don’t enjoy or have time for? That way you’ll have more time for the tasks you DO enjoy.
  5. Can you get someone in to get it sorted for you, so that you can more easily keep it that way?
  6. Is there someone sharing your space who needs to pull their own weight here? We end up resentful, angry and exhausted when we’re always doing for others with no help, thanks or time left for ourselves.

Housework doesn’t have to be all misery and agony. But if it is, find ways to make it easier or get some help. A clean, comfortable home is an important refuge in this crazy world!