Friday, August 15, 2014

3 Ways to Say Yes to Rest

I have written previously about our conscious decision, upon returning to the USA, to live the slow life. We spent four years overseas on two tiny military bases without much to do. There wasn't a commute. There weren't many things vying for our time. And so, our only real choice was to live slow.

Upon returning to America, we wanted too avoid slipping into the pace that it seems most people today are living. But how could we do that? The post I linked to above details the guidelines our family was going to try to adopt to keep that going.

A big way that we hope to avoid the normal hustle and bustle of life here is to move to the country! You can read about our dream to do that by clicking here.  I am so excited to announce that we are now basically, completely, ready to buy our land. We are headed to check out a few properties that really excite us next month as a family. The city we have chosen is about four hours from where we are now and our goal is to be there next summer!

I read a fantastic article online today entitled "3 Ways to Say Yes to Rest."  The author offered three broad tips for embracing the slower life. She writes that you should try to:

1. DIVERT DAILY: Spend at least 15 minutes each day to, as Sir John Lubbock wrote, "Rest is not idleness, and to lie sometimes on the grass on a summer day listening to the murmur of water or watching the clouds float across the sky is hardly a waste of time." It seems impossible, but truly is 15 minutes of nothing time a day not possible? If it is, that would be a major indicator of too fast in my opinion.

2. WITHDRAW WEEKLY: Take time each week to pull away from your busy life.

3. ABANDON ANNUALLY: Go on vacation once a year! And I want to add that I think this vacation should be RELAXING not a demanding check-things-off-your-list trip.

But I want to spend some time specifically talking about #2. One of the biggest things JB and I decided to do when we moved back to the States was to take an actual day of rest. It is actually a Commandment to honor the Sabbath day and keep it holy. When JB and I really sat down to think about it, the other nine Commandments were things we were always trying to do. But keep the Sabbath day holy? We'd never really tried to do that at all.

A big reason we chose to do this is because JB is working shift work. He doesn't have the same days off each week, and I was really starting to feel, during the first few weeks here, that each day was exactly the same for me. I didn't feel any different on a Saturday or a Sunday than I did on a Monday or Friday, and I don't think that is how we are designed as people.

We try to make Sunday our Sabbath each week. But if JB has to work that day, we will consider picking another day to unplug as a family. If he has to work, then we'll spend some time doing a family Bible study on the day we choose to replace the church service he missed. (We have actually chosen a church VERY close to our house that I feel like I can take the kids to by myself!)

So we decided to try to take one full day "off" as a family. For us, we decided this would mean no electronics or activities. We've done about a month worth of Sundays now, and I must tell you I LOVE IT! It feels so good to basically unplug from the world for 24 hours. We attempt to not drive anywhere or go anywhere or put anything on our calendar. We instead spend time reading and playing games as a family. Maybe we go to the pool or on a bike ride.

I got some weird comments and some funny looks from people (and I still do) when I tell them about our Sabbath day goal. They honestly think that we are (a) a little weird and overboard or (b) legalistic or (c) a combination of both.

The truth is, I hope you will see that we are not either. But I want to respond to each of those thoughts.

(a) I have decided that I really don't care if people think we are a little weird or overboard or fuddy duddies or whatever you want to call us. If I am not stressed and rested, then weird is worth it. I don't think we are weird, but if other people do, I'm okay with that.

(b) We are not creating rules that we have to follow. If someone invites us over to their house for a birthday party on a Sunday, and we think it will be a fun and relaxing family activity, we'll do it. If someone is coming to visit us and wants to spend Sunday at the zoo, we might do it. If JB needs to check his email and deal with something, then he will. None of our rules are actually rules -- they are simply guidelines that we hope we can implement to keep our pace slow.

(c) Read a and b above!

I keep reading Facebook posts and blog entries from people who are just so burned out. Heck, I wrote a post detailing how I feel there aren't enough hours in the day earlier this week. If I am feeling that way with NOTHING on our calendar, how are you other ladies doing it with a jam-packed calendar?

I really want to encourage all of you to try to at least do #1 on this list this week. And then, maybe work your way into #2 as well. Even if it is just a few hours a day once a week, try to unplug from the pace that we all cannot possibly keep.


Anonymous said...

Just remember country living is not synonymous with "quiet and relaxed." I grew up on a farm and still love the rural life. But.... it is a lot of work. And can be very stressful, especially if you rely on it for a livelihood. If you have livestock, they don't know what a "sabbath" is. Getting away from home becomes very difficult unless you have reliable help. You might achieve your goals of a relaxed lifestyle if you don't rely on the farm for a living, don't have livestock, and don't invest a lot of capital which you might lose.

Wendi Kitsteiner said...

Very good point anonymous although our farm will not be used for livelihood ... and I think activities done together are much better than ones running around like crazy people!

Anonymous said...

I was going to mention the same thing about farm life as anonymous did... even with something as simple and fun as a garden! When everything starts coming in, especially if you plan to preserve it in some way, it's a big job any day of the week! (And sometimes many days of the weeks during late July and August!) :)

Also, on the other side of things, we talk often in my home about how to balance what we want out of life (our principles and goals and things important to us) versus living in the world with everyone else. Some things are becoming more common now, like not having "tv" (read, cable, etc), but even still, much of the world sees those who make different choices as weird. In my opinion, there is nothing wrong with being weird, as long as you either don't mind potentially living on an "island", or if you can still easily integrate with the rest of the world. I think of kids... if the way you choose to parent your kids (not you specifically, but the general "you") is different enough that others don't want to take responsibility for that, then you have to be ok with rarely getting a babysitter. But if you don't want or need a babysitter, then it doesn't matter that much! Even for adults, it's been difficult for us to find that happy medium where we are satisfied with our own choices and desires, yet are still "normal" enough to live in the rest of the world with fewer negative consequences. For us, food is one of our weird things. We tried eating backwards - big meal first, smallest meal last. But it takes a lot of work and planning to do that and live in a world that eats the small meal first and big meal last - whether you go out to eat for some reason, or if you get together with friends or family. Having an atypical work schedule doesn't help that, either! It's a silly example, I guess, but a real one. And also a confirmation that yeah, you might appear weird to others, but it really is your life and as long as you can live with the "consequences" (both negative and positive!), live as weirdly as you wish! :)

I'll leave you with this... one of my favorite scenes from 12 Monkeys about being "normal" (I didn't catch any foul language, but there is some inappropriate hand-gesturing at the beginning... I wouldn't watch it around kids):

Hope you don't think I'm too weird now... :)


DT said...

Interesting timing for this post. The sermon at our church this past weekend was about just this topic. The message was pretty much exactly what you've written - we should be taking one day, if not Sunday then whatever day works for you, to spend at rest. Not only is it a commandment from God but is also super duper important for the health of your self, your family, and your spiritual wellbeing. I don't think you're weird at all, I think you're just doing (and being honest about doing it) what we all either want to do or know we should do but don't - take a break.