Have you ever read a book or a blog and become convinced that whoever wrote it must be living inside your head? Like they are stealing your thoughts and writing your words (although usually much better, more concise and with less spelling and grammatical errors)? Last year, I heard Shauna Niequist speak for the first time and she read excerpts from her book Cold Tangerines . I became immediately convinced that we should become best friends. I mean, she wrote the things I thought. Even the things I didn’t know I was thinking.
So I began stalking her. Well not in a restraining order kind of way. But she lived in my town and went to my church…..wait that sounds restraining order-esque. What I mean is because of her close proximity, she spoke often at events in my area. It wasn’t like I sat outside her house and watched her while she ate dinner with her family. But I did end up seeing her like 4 times in 6 months. And tried, in a super cool way, to strike up conversations with her, thereby proving we should be best friends.
Alas, it didn’t work. And then she off and moved to Chicago so my stalking chances dwindled. So when I discovered she had a new book and she was speaking again in the area I was so excited. I had actually heard her read a few essays from Bittersweet before the book was published and one definitely stood out to me. It was called, “Things I Don’t Do.” I was so excited when I heard her speak last week and this was one of the essays she chose to read. Not only that, but she had us write are very own, “Things I Don’t Do” lists.
I should back up. The premise here is that she had a wise friend tell her this, “It’s not hard to decide what you want your life to be about. What’s hard is figuring out the things you are willing to give up in order to do the things you really care about. “ The whole essay is awesome. You should buy the book. This isn’t a book review, no one is paying me to talk about the book. I get like pennies if you click on the link and buy it, but frankly, go to a local, tiny bookstore and try and buy it there. Support local businesses AND read a great book. The reason I am telling you this is that we all need the message of this essay.
We can’t be it all, do it all, perfect it all. And even if we know that, that doesn’t stop us from trying to appear to those around us like we can. The “Things I Don’t Do” list is a line in the sand. It is my way of saying, hey, it is great that you construct elaborate crafts that illustrate the message of salvation using only pipe cleaners and paper clips, but I don’t “do” crafts. But you know what, I bake a mean loaf of bread. And you don’t have to. You can buy your bread at the store and you are not less of a mom than I am. Doesn’t that feel good to say? Doesn’t it feel good to hear?
So here are my Top Ten Things I Don’t Do:
- Garden: Yes, I am stealing her first thing she doesn’t do. But it would not take you too long to walk around the perimeter of my house to see that I don’t do this. I inherited a house where clearly someone used to do this, but that poor woman’s efforts were in vain. I don’t know what I am doing, I don’t have time or the inclination to learn. Hostas are my friend.
- Shop Thrift Stores: I am always amazed when I hear from people that they get great clothes at Goodwill. I can shop a garage sale like nobody’s business. I can score a bargain at 75% off with a 20% coupon at a department store. I can even get drug stores to pay me to shop there. But I can’t find a single thing that is worth buying at Goodwill and don’t really want to spend my time looking through piles of nasty crap to find a treasure.
- Scrapbook: My oldest has a baby book. But for the record it has about 3 pages filled out and not a single picture. The second to have nothing. I rarely even take pictures. Will I regret this someday? Possibly. But if I can’t be bothered to take a picture do you really think I am going to be bothered to lay them out in a book with cute little cut out sayings and a coordinating background?
- Dust: I try and keep a tidy house. But once you have picked up the same room 637 times in a three hour time span only to have the room next to it destroyed while you are cleaning, dusting somehow falls to the bottom of the priority list. I try and make sure you can’t write your name in the dust layers, but it definitely is not happening on any sort of regular basis.
- Decorate: I think if you came to my house you would find it all matches and looks pretty decent, but beyond the large pieces of furniture, I can’t seem to figure out what else to do. Artwork, knickknacks, curtains and such are not my forte. So those things are a bit sparse and haphazard and random. I love a good decorating magazine or blog, but I can’t seem to translate that into my house. Someday I hope to have gobs of money so I can hire someone to do that stuff for me.
- Anything before the hour of 7 am: I really, really, really would like to be an early morning person. Someone that gets up before everyone else and has her exercise and morning devotional done by 6:30. Then spends the next hour baking breakfast and packing lunches. The truth is I roll out of bed at 7, throw on an old sweatshirt, stick some toast in the toaster, slap together a sandwich and a few side dishes and rush out the door at 7:30 to get Lily to school. It ain’t pretty, but it is how we roll.
- Crafts: I have a sewing machine that has sat in its box for 3 years. I have pages I have torn from magazines about quick, easy things you can make for your home. I have an inner Martha that is dying to come out, I just know it. But for right now, she is stuffed inside because I just don’t have the energy. And crafting with my children makes me want to gouge my eyes out. Although I do enjoy a good, hardcore coloring session. With a coloring book though, actually creating a picture takes too much mental energy.
- Shaving in the winter: I’m not saying it doesn’t happen, but I’m not saying it happens near enough. My apologies to my hubby, but uninterrupted shower time is a rare commodity and I am lucky if I remember to wash the conditioner out of my hair, let alone do any sort of personal grooming.
- Baking with my kids: I actually really enjoy baking. But I don’t like having the food around cause I just eat it (which is really bad, see #10). And I have no patience to deal with the spilling and the inaccurate measuring and the fingers in the batter thing. Occasionally “fun mom” will come out and we will bake something together, but really I get so agitated during the whole process I end up yelling and how is that quality time. So baking is mostly left to Grandma.
- Exercise with any sort of regularity: Ok so this isn’t so much a declaration of “Things I Don’t Do” as just a sad state of affairs. With Silas taking 2 naps combined with the whole non-functioning before 7 am thing, I just haven’t found a good spot to work this in. I also detest exercise of any form so that is working against me. I used to semi-enjoy classes at the gym, but then we dropped our membership and I just can’t find anything I enjoy doing. So this one really needs to not be on my list, I know, I know, I know……
So what would be on your list of “Things You Don’t Do?” Write one. It is quite liberating. Of course then you also fill in what is on your “must do” list. Nurturing my marriage. Dancing, singing and reading with my children. Cooking really good and healthy food for my family. Connecting with friends who build me up and make me laugh. Attending and investing in my church community. And, although I never would have guessed it 10 years ago, writing. It feeds my soul and allows me to express myself and even provides a tiny bit of income to waste on visits to Target. For now, that is where I am focusing my time and my energy and I am not feeling the least bit bad or guilty about it.