Sunday, March 21, 2010

A Fifth Pause in Lent – the One with the Dashwood Sisters

As Lent moves on into its final weeks, I can see an interesting, and very unexpected, synchronicity between the things God has been teaching me, and the ways He’s done it!I have been very influenced by the following things:

  • Beginning to recover from a thyroid virus

  • Being on steroids throughout Lent for that virus

  • Reading your Pause in Lent posts

  • Reading Simple Abundance, A Daybook of Comfort and Joy

  • Writing a Gratitude Journal

  • Writing Morning Pages

  • Studing the Bible using my New Daylight Bible notes

  • Reading Jane Austen’s Sense and Sensibility, for what shockingly turns out to be the first time (yes, of course I’d seen the film, and I did THINK I’d read the book too!)

  • A little blogging conversation between myself and the charming Finnish blogger of Temps Perdu (who currently has a giveaway - do pop over)

  • Speaking to the MOPS group at Toulouse International Church on Going Green in a Godly Way

  • A blogging link to The Happiness Project, given to me by Maisey of Masiey’s Attic

  • Continuing on the Challenge of the Utmost Kind
The synchronicity is in the message that I’ve got from these diverse things.
It is that simplicity of life, lived honestly with God, is, amongst other things, dependent on understanding myself.
Here we go to the Dashwood sisters. Marianne responded to her emotions by firstly indulging in every one of them, and afterwards by deciding that they were to be rejected or repressed because they’d failed her and her family. Glad things turned out OK in the end, although in very 19th century style…
Elinor (with maturity that Jane Austen was surely very generous to give her at the age of only 19) understood, recognised and valued her emotions, and then decided which ones would most helpfully be nurtured, and which ones should be recognised but not allowed to negatively affect her family and life.
Unfortunately, my little bloggy conversation made me reflect that, whilst I may quite look like a Jane Austen character with my curly fringe, I can’t claim either the sense of Elinor or the sensibility of Marianne. Instead, I feel I’m most like Emma, who, if I remember rightly from my A-level studies, was clever and decisive and thought that she knew best for everyone, whilst hardly knowing her own emotions, let alone recognising what was truly good for other people. In case you think I’m being unfair on myself, remember that Emma is a very likeable character, and ended up being played by Gwyneth Paltrow, so let’s not think I’m knocking myself too much!
But your Pauses in Lent, my personal reflections through various media, and the way that all of the influences I listed above seemed to draw me back to authenticity, simplicity, reflection, self-discipline and gratitude before my loving Father God. I didn’t plan the Pause in Lent thinking that things would come together like this, and I’m grateful that God has used it that way in my life.

My thoughts so far, which I can easily make in non-religious language, are:

  • Writing down what I’m feeling shows me why I allowed certain things to build up and cause problems – when I wasn’t writing them down, I wasn’t recognising either what bothered me or what was important to me.
  • I want to keep my house tidy because I want to live in a tidy house, not because Ben or the boys need it or because other people will judge me for having a messy home. That isn’t motivation enough for me (perhaps sadly). But I just want to live an orderly life for ME.
  • Multi-tasking is over-rated and tends to lead to everything (children, blogging, housework, phonecalls etc) being done badly. Do one thing at a time and enjoy each one.
  • With that in mind, I’ve learnt where the computer off-switch is, both on the machine and in my head! I’ve noticed a LOT of bloggers doing that recently, some specifically for Lent, and others just because it feels like time to focus on something or someone else. This is not to say that blogging isn’t great – in fact it’s your authenticity that’s got me to this stage, bloggers! But it’s just that I’m learning that a specific time for blogging, and proper time devoted to the rest of life, is better than trying to run several things alongside each other.

Do they seem like strangely diverse thoughts? I think they unite in the authentic, reflective simplicity area, don’t you? It has been a very powerful Lent for me. Thanks.


Jen Walshaw said...

I love this post, it clarrifies a lot of what is good for me at the moment. I too have found the off button on the PC and life is better for it.

It means less comments and this orries me, as I hope that people understand that it is all about balance, but ultimatly it is me and mine that matter on that front.

Betty said...

Ah yes Floss, quite right too - the 'off switch' is there to be used... and we don't answer the phone if we don't want to either. We have what we call Family Night when we switch things off, eat food and talk together and spend time as a family - it is so important to have time together to do nothing! Everything like housework, blogging, work, friends blend into perspective and does us all good.

Nina said...

Thank you so much dear dear Floss for the honour of beeing mentioned in this post.
I love this post. It also makes me think back and reflect on my own life.
I am truly happy to be part of the blogging community, but at the same time, I have a life to lead here, right now. It is very important to know how to switch off the computer, telephones...
I was out for a run and during this short run (5 km) I saw a skiier talking on the phone and on my way back she was still on the phone! I also saw a rider, talking on the phone whilst riding. Made me slightly sad to think that the time they should have set aside for themselves, was now given to someone else. It is a difficult task to learn, to balance between taking time for yourself and time out of always beeing reachable. To be here and now and finish the tasks we are doing. That is something I tried to teach the young employees at the café I was running, first finish what you are doing right now, then start another task. Otherwise you´ll end up feeling inadequate.
I assume the same goes in every day life too. I started a private project some years ago, I wanted to finish off projects that I had left uncompleted for different reasons. I made a list - then decided to complete the ones I felt I wanted to complete. There was for ex. a wollen sweater I had started to knit for my husband, I completed it! And then I continued with the rest, I decided not to start with any new projects until I had completed the whole list. I wasn´t beeing hard on myself, quite the contrary, I wanted to give myself the best award there is; the feeling when you have completed a task, how proud you can be of yourself. I used to be known for always completing whatever I started, but stress and a very hectic pace in life made me loose ground. I acted like a headless chicken (awful metaphor!).
I´ve lerned to keep my bounderies.
I´m so happy to have "met" you, dear dear Floss.

Maisey's Attic said...

Thankyou for this post - I am struggling with a lot of the same things, and I love to read your thoughts - I have left the house tidying this week for a whole week! - there has been some satisfaction in not being responsible for everything my sons lose, and reminding both myself and my family how much I do - but in carrying on, am I really helping my teenage sons?
or just reinforcing the 'womens work' outlook. whatever the answer I will be tidying up today - anything else is just too uncomfortable!!

I would love to know what parameters you have put on your hours spent on computer - blogging is great, but any thoughts on striking the right balance would be much

Olga said...

Dear Floss, I hope you are feeling better and will soon completely recover. I am very curious about "Sense and Sensibility' after reading your post - both the book and the movie - need to read it/watch it some time soon.

Forthvalley scribe said...

Me too, Floss, me too!

Unknown said...

Hi Floss, Thanks for sharing some very interesting insights. You make some excellent points. As a busy Sandwich Generation grandmother (granny nanny to some of my grandkids, long distance grandparenting to others) who also cares for elderly parents near and far, I stay very busy and do a lot of juggling. But I don't have the same non-stop busy-ness that I once did as a mom. I am amazed at how much all the mom bloggers accomplish, and wonder how they do it (definitely more organized than I am :) ).

I am with you. God and family always have to come first and setting limits is vital. Even at my season of life, there are constantly choices that have to be made and I have to daily surrender MY schedule to Him. Thanks for some excellent reminders! :)

Sherri B. said...

Where do I begin about this great post?!! Beautiful and thoughtful come to mind right off. Setting limits? Oh dear, being 'blessed' with ADHD, it is my challenge to strive for balance and it is helpful to see that 'normal' people sometimes need to work on this also...There might be hope for me after all. My new computer came with some kind of feature that turns the monitor and the computer off after only a few minutes, I don't have to reboot it but it does take a moment to get things back. Maybe Mr. B. put that feature on without me knowing?
It is true that I spend way too much time with the keybord so thank you for sharing these truths. Have a blessed Sunday.

Elizabethd said...

So interesting, Floss, and so true. I've spwent less time on the computer, more time reading and pondering recently.
I havent yet written my 5th Lent reflection but will try to do it soon.

Admin said...

oh me too. I've hardly blogged but I have been Spring cleaning and reading.

I put my pause up earlier but it was depressing so I took it down. I'll try again tomorrow.

God Bless x

A Bun Can Dance said...

Yes, funnily enough I've not blogged anywhere near as much, during this Lent period. When I reflect on why, I realise that I needed an outlet for my feelings regards Milly cat, and blogging provided that. But since she's been home, I seem to have been focused much more on our home and Springtime than on blogland. I know the circle will turn again and I'll be back to blogging frequently, but for now this feels right.

Keeping life simple - yes again! When there is much to occupy our thoughts it seems the best way to move forward is to focus on only one activity at a time, mindfully and meditatively. This seems to be the way for me to keep sane nowadays.

Once again Floss, you've got me thinking and though I could carry on writing here, I think I shall pop over to my own 'blogspot' and write a Lent post there!

Happy days to you, as always,
Denise x

Twiggy said...

Great post Floss. I'm beginning to feel like doing rather than computing suddenly and I'm sure it's the change in the seasons. It's good to slow down and appreciate simple pleasures.
twiggy x

Angela said...

Oh I do so love it when someone else posts a thought which chimes with my own reflections. My PC has been switched off a lot more lately too [more to do, initially, with saving electricity- but then cos it is better that way]
And I have decided to cut down on multi-tasking and concentrate more on one-thing-at-a-time.
Must read S&S again[unless daughter has taken my copy off to London with her]
Great post Floss, thanks

Autumn Mist said...

This is a lovely post, Floss and very thought provoking. I think the change in the season has a lot to do with it, I am outdoors much more now, and although I love blogging I am sometimes too busy living life than writing about it. I have spent time this week tying up loose ends and taking stock, before moving on. Life is good, though, and I am able to count my blessings, intensely aware that I am living the life that so many people crave.

Sarah - Red Gingham said...

Oh Floss I'm so there with you! I'm doing loads of reflecting at the moment and am enjoying getting everything into perspective. One needs to stop and think occasionally. Thank you for a beautiful post once again.

Karen said...

Floss, this was a very timely and refreshing post for me! With all that is taking place in my country, it is especially encouraging to keep looking up. I've been a little absent lately, finding I need that simplicity, too, but I'm glad that I caught this post! Your friend from the USA, Karen

Unknown said...

I loved reading this floss! You have said what I feel too! I spend my time worrying about missing peoples posts, and not having time to comment as much as I think I should. Right now I should be getting on with so may other things. I too am trying to remember that my computer has an on/off switch! And though I love all of my fellow bloggers, and enjoy keeping up with everybody, I sometimes feel a bit overwhelmed by the amount of time it all takes. But if I stay away, I feel guilty for neglecting everyone! WHen I am on a lot, I feel bad that I have so many other things I should be doing. Like the 150ft garden! Oh dear, sometimes I actually hanker for the days before FB, mobile phones and even blogging! Ouch I said it! Thanks for a thought provoking and lovely post Floss! suzie xxx

The Curious Cat said...

I really enjoyed reading this does sound like you've got a lot out of this Lent... xxx