manifest abundance

A shift: time clutter

This post is the fifth in a series of posts about my experience working through Charity Craig’s Manifest Abundance 60 Day Challenge. This particular post is about my reflections on how I want to spend my time vs. how I actually spend my time. Here are the posts in order: #1, #2, #3#4.

Once Charity guided us to focus our intentions on ourselves, and as the days of the challenge progressed and we got deeper into our reflections on our own lives, I found myself thinking a lot about how I spend my time. The pivot from setting goals that were others-focused to self-focused was huge for me and ended up acting as a guide for my time in ways I didn’t imagine. 

As I mentioned in this post, I think quite a bit about how I want our home lives to feel and memories I want my kids to have. Positive things, no doubt, but I’ve noticed that the way they end up manifesting in my actual life tends to be time-consuming, and I wonder if the payoff is worth the time.

There were hints in that direction, but the realization hit me one Saturday morning in the garden. See, back when we lived in our tiny condo, I would lovingly water my houseplants and dream of the days when my future kids and I would plant and harvest our own garden. Peas, beans, tomatoes, lots and lots of flowers, all things we planted and watered and enjoyed together in a big Montessori / Waldorf nirvana, right  in the middle of our city.

A lovely vision, and one that we really lived last spring, when my then two-year-old was up early in the morning and couldn’t wait to “go garden.” It was a big part of what we did that spring, and he loved every minute of it. I took tons of pictures. We didn’t really grow much, certainly not enough to take the place of actual groceries, but it was fun to do together and it was nice having fresh flowers in the house.

I spent a good chunk of time this winter reading about container and raised bed gardening in hopes of increasing our harvest this year.  I ordered seeds and sketched out plans. I took out our bin with mom- and kid-sized tools and gloves so we could get to work. For weeks, I even saved eggshells and cartons, carefully breaking each egg so that I could wash the shell and fill it with seed starting mix to get our garden started. I stared off into space, thinking about someday when he’s an adult, reminiscing about the time we spent together in the garden and how we grew and ate so many of our own fruits and vegetables.

And my kid was mildly interested, at best.

(This isn’t meant to sound like one of those complaining parent / my kid appreciates nothing posts. I only mean to make the point that kids change and their interests change, and we can guide those interests all we want but are probably best off letting them be themselves and taking an interest in what they like at the time.)

Anyway, we did the seeds and the planting and what have you, and I took care of the watering while he kicked a soccer ball around with Dad, and his mild interest in the resulting garden was fun, mild though it was. Weeds were beginning to take over one of the flower beds and two of the containers, and the heat had already set in here, so I set an alarm for 6:00 one Saturday and hauled my nauseated first trimester self outside to deal with the weeding while the rest of my family slept until 7 and enjoyed cinnamon rolls together. They stepped out on the porch to ask when I’d be done, trying to figure out if they should wait to start a board game with me or just start it themselves, and the thought suddenly shot across my brain, “Is this what I want to do with my one wild and precious life?”

The answer was a quick and clear no. 

I thought about what I actually love related to gardening. I love my easy to care for houseplants and the coziness they bring. I love the succulents my father-in-law propagates for me that grace my kitchen counter. I love having neat, easy to care for flowerbeds and lots and lots of fresh zinnias in the raised bed. And I do love when my child takes an interest in planting zinnia seeds and occasionally watering with me.

Beyond that? The whole urban farm ordeal? No, thank you. Not for me.
Not if the time it requires infringes on my family board game time.

Shaded by my 60 day intention, this kind of thinking carried over into everything I did that week and everything I do throughout the year.

I have visions of my family enjoying healthy, delicious meals together. I do not have visions of slaving over those meals every night.

I have visions of my family enjoying a nice, pretty house where they can play and have friends over without being embarrassed about the state of things. I do not have visions of spending hours a week dusting decorative items and tchotchkes on every surface of that house.

I have visions of my family enjoying putting out Christmas decorations and trimming the tree together. I do not have visions of myself hauling down 40 bins each Christmas and finishing the decorating myself when they lose interest after half an hour and snuggle up for hot chocolate and Muppets Christmas Carol while I exhaust myself.

And so on and so forth until there wasn’t an aspect of home life I didn’t reconsider. This tone I want to set in my home and these memories I want my kids to have–I am a part of those, and my part is not that of props mistress. I don’t want to be behind the scenes, wasting time on a bunch of stuff or tasks that don’t make a difference in the long run, handing off my kids to my husband so I can weed the garden or recreate the page out of the Pottery Barn catalog or cook the four course meal from scratch.

I want to do just enough behind the scenes work, and then I want to get to enjoy the main event.

If I’d never spent time setting my intention for my life, focusing it on myself, and reflecting on how to manifest it in my life, I may very well have spent the rest of my kids’ childhood wasting precious minutes and hours on menial tasks that I thought contributed to their memories but actually didn’t matter. If I’d never stopped to prioritize making myself happy, I would’ve lost the little time I have for doing the things that make me happy and wasted it on what essentially turns out to be time clutter.

Thanks to my intention and the idea of building my life as a cathedral, I have been able to take a better, more informed look at how I spend my time and have started to steward it differently, and for that I am thankful.

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