Kitchen Corners and Unlabeled Spices
“Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God.” Philippians 4:6
I have a secret that I am going to share. Until my kitchen flooring was recently replaced, once a week, I would get down on my hands and knees with a bucket of hot, soapy water and scrub my dingy, twenty-year-old linoleum. Three buckets later, my floor would be clean, except one corner. Out of steam, I would grab my mop and quickly finish that corner, recognizing the job was not perfect. The following week, I would start cleaning my floor in that corner, alternating the unfinished corner on a regular basis. Some would say this was lazy, while others might just laugh at my honesty. I share this story to make a point: my corner is a reminder that it’s okay to be imperfect!
To be fair, I am not a perfectionist by nature. It doesn’t bother me if my lines are crooked, my stamp is off center, or my pillows are not fluffed. Still, I have struggled with wanting to have a spotless house, a comprehensive home education schedule, and well-balanced meal plans! In essence, I have struggled with trying to be super at everything I do. This need to feel accomplished has put undue pressure on me, my family, and those I lead!
I understand we should always do our best. I am not advocating letting your house go completely to the dark side, or to eat Chick-Fil-A at every meal! I think we can find a balance between being a super woman and just letting it all go. I have found balance in my life by three simple principles: recognize your season of life, prioritize what is important, and let go of unrealistic expectations. Kendra Adachi, author of The Lazy Genius Way, says it best, “Be a genius about the things that matter, and lazy about the things that don’t.”
God gave us the seasons to help illustrate some principles in our lives. Birds don’t build nests at the end of fall, and squirrels don’t gather nuts in the middle of summer. In the natural world, each season has its blessings and disappointments. I love summer, but with warm evening walks also come the not-so-occasional mosquito. We need to apply these seasonal principles to our lives as well. When I was in the season of raising toddlers, I cooked simple dishes with ample leftovers. This way, during their nap time, I was not spending all my “free” time prepping for dinner. Instead, I used that time to read an occasional book or close my eyes for a much-needed nap.
In some seasons, you need to show yourself grace. I loved planning theme-based birthday parties for my children from “Knights of the Round Table” to “Candy Land”. One year, I was struggling with a major RA flare with no energy to put together my son’s 8th birthday party. This was a season where grace was needed to accept that it was necessary to simplify his birthday plans. We opted for a roller-skating rink party with a store brought cake. My son had a great time celebrating with his friends, not missing the elaborate themed party.
Even within seasons, you need to learn to prioritize what is important. Right now, God is leading me to finish my book. Therefore, my husband has taken over some of the household responsibilities, including making some meals. I have also decided that having elaborate meals on a regular basis is not going to happen. Instead, I plan easier menus because I care more about finishing my book than about making Harissa Chicken!
I think it is important to regularly examine my priorities because they can change, over time. Last summer, we knew that we wanted to do more hiking and traveling. As much as we loved the fresh tomatoes from our small garden, it was no longer a priority in our life. Instead, we purchased our tomatoes from local farmers, giving us the freedom to hike more often while still being able to enjoy farm-gown tomatoes!
Finally, I have learned to let go of unrealistic expectations, instead choosing to invest in what is important to me. Both my daughter and daughter-in-law love organizing and finding clever storage solutions. They even have their own label makers! On the other hand, I love the “illusion” of organization, but find myself always skipping those aisles at TJ MAXX. I put things in particular spots but making everything look like Martha Stewart’s pantry is not important to me. Instead, my spice baskets have different size bottles spilling out the top, sometimes labeled and sometimes not. If my Pinterest boards are an indication of what I care about, it has never occurred to me to create a board on home organization! What follows next is that I should not spend lots of time and energy trying to create systems of organization for me. It is just not that important, so I will continue to play the game of guessing my herbs by their smell, unless I can induce my family to make labels for me!
I know I am not alone in the pressure of being a super-accomplished woman. In the past few weeks, I have had three different conversations with women expressing angst by saying, “I should be doing ______” but finding it difficult to fit that desire into their already busy lives. Instead of trying to squeeze more into our lives, we would be better served by asking ourselves, what season am I in, what are my priorities right now, and what do I really need to let go? Answering these questions will give us more clarity in what we should be doing, and what we should not be doing! Maybe that means tonight is Chick-Fil-A night, or maybe it means you perfect your lasagna-making skills. And maybe you just get off your hands and knees and simply mop your kitchen floor!