The Tension Between Crossing-Off Tasks and Achieving Ambitions

In case you’ve noticed, I’m taken a small break from my “Summer of 7” project. Actually, if I’m being honest, I’m reevaluating its value. One week is not long enough to change habits, neither is it long enough to impress enough discomfort on me that I’ll really learn anything. Not trying to be a negative-Nancy here, but I’ve been thinking a lot about how much I can actually do, and what’s worth doing, and what’s better left undone, and that’s all to say that I’m not sure I see the heart-changing value in altering my habits for a week, and then devoting time to writing about it.


You can tell that I’m writing more because there’s laundry, unfolded, from a week ago, just sitting on the back of our couch. And basically none of our possessions are where they should be. Our home isn’t “dirty” in an unsanitary way, but it is disorganized, and that makes me feel a little wife/mom-guilty. At the same time, I’m grateful to be married to an English teacher who happens to love that I’m writing more, thinks that I’m really excellent at it, and isn’t bothered at all that my craft supplies (the ones I used to make the Instagram Magnets about a week ago) are still on our dining room table. He’s a saint. The guilt is all mine.

I want our home to be in a state that, if someone were to randomly drop by, I wouldn’t have to apologize for any messes. I could breezily offer our surprise-guest a cool drink (cucumber-mint water!), and we’d sit and chat on my front lawn, admiring my tiny garden. But to do that, I’d have to be tidying the house right now, and fixing cucumber-mint water, not writing. I’d have to be weeding right now, or vacuuming, or dusting, all of which are things I want to be done, but I don’t want to sacrifice my time in doing them. Not when I could be writing. I’ll try and jam it all in, once I post this, but you and I both know that they’re not all going to happen. And what about my other commitments?

Choosing what I will and will not devote my time to is harder than I expected it would be. Nothing is easy to cut back on; everything I want to be doing is good stuff. It’s not as if I’m watching television, or playing video games or something.

So I guess what I’m saying is that if you come over to my house, and all I have to drink is regular old water, and there’s laundry still sitting on the back of the couch, it’s because I’m doing something that I think is more valuable. I’m spending time with Elle, swimming, or playing at the park, or drawing on the sidewalk with chalk. I’m writing (sometimes) pretty words about beautiful things, or ugly words about tragic things, or regular old words about regular old things. I’m spending time talking with my husband, and learning more and more about what makes him tick. I’m serving my church, building blogs and maintaining social media presences. I’m pushing for greater cultural awareness regarding unsustainable design in technology, and its effects on people and the environment. Bigger things than laundry. Bigger things than dusting. And, finally, I’m not afraid to say it.

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  1. Brandon Barkley

     /  June 13, 2012

    I smiled because I remembered your post the other week “I’ve considered going whole-hog on this thing, but I have a tendency to jump into things with two feet, only to realize that I’m in way over my head, and then I somehow have to weasel my way out.”

    I’m not suggesting anything negative by quoting that. I just found it humorous. In a truthful tone, maybe what God intended for you to get out of this was a re-evaluation of what is important in your family and spiritual life. If so, you seem to definitely be winning with the depth of your posts lately.

    Life is not about laundry, it’s about being there for Ellie. The laundry will still be there to fold after she’s gone to college. 🙂

    • This is too funny– I was thinking the exact same thing! “Here I am, weaseling my way out again.” I’m looking at tweaking my Summer of 7 guidelines so it will be more effective. I’m not sure I need to do all 7, and some of the 7 I’ll need to do for much longer than a week to make any sort of progress. I might cut-out “food week” entirely, but spend 3-4 weeks on “clothes.” Something a little more personal, you know?

      And you’re exactly right about the laundry still being there. It’s still sitting there, as I type this (though I did get half of it folded and put away). But instead of taking care of all of my housework, Ellie and I met my husband after work, and hung out with some of our friends at a winery for our wine club’s pick-up party. Ellie was the life of the party and just dazzled everyone. Totally worth ditching the laundry, if you ask me. 🙂

  2. I struggle with this same tension of wanting to get things organized, clean, etc. but wanting to spend my time doing valuable things. I have nothing to add, just to say, I totally understand.

    • Do you ever think of hiring a housekeeper? Not regularly necessarily, but once in a while? Or a laundry service? I keep thinking that if I devoted the time I spend cleaning my house to actual work, that it would more than make up the difference in cost. Or if I spent all of the time I spend cleaning, or doing laundry, on more valuable things, who knows what would happen? The very THOUGHT of hiring anyone, even once in a great while, makes me feel wife/mom-guilty. I can’t be alone though, right?

      • Jessica @ Faith Permeating Life

         /  June 14, 2012

        It took me a year to convince Mike we needed to hire someone to clean our apartment. He wanted to do it himself, except he didn’t. Once he was working 50-60 hour weeks though, he finally agreed that it would be worthwhile to get outside help. My mom has had a crew of Polish women clean her house once a month for years now, and the woman in charge had an aunt with a crew near us, so we started having them come once a month, and it’s been great.

        So that takes care of the heavy-duty cleaning, but that doesn’t mean I’m not still pulled toward spending time picking up the apartment, running errands, taking care of this and that at home. I’ve had to find a balance where I can get enough done that I’m not going to be totally stressed out and unable to enjoy whatever more meaningful activity I’m doing.

  3. Thanks for these post they have been very uplifting and insightful. Gods pursuit after all of us is a very humbling truth which He will show us in everyway possible. We so often look to ourselves for joy or satisfaction but come up so empty and burnt out. God is our only true source of life. Thanks for reminding me of that truth. Love your vlogs and this blog!


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