Saturday, December 11, 2010


"I'm alone, but I'm not lonely . . . " Bonus points if you know what movie that is from. Sometimes I love to be alone. It's nice to have peace and quiet, which, my kids will tell you from many of my lectures, are not the same thing. It is in fact very common to have one without the other. I just read my husband's most recent blog posting here. Some of the best truths are learned in solitude. We can learn a lot from each other, but when it comes down to it, our best learning comes when it is just you and the Holy Spirit. Besides it's probably easier to hear when no one else is talking:)

God is alone, -- but the devil, he is far from alone; he sees a great deal of company; he is legion.

Clearly, time spent with only ourselves for earthly comfort is time well spent. Being physically alone is not the only factor here. To truly be alone we need to turn off all of our wonderful devices that talk to us in place of other humans. Sometimes I purposely leave my cell phone at home when I go somewhere, just so I can feel the disconnection. And I secretly love it when the power goes out, because of the way it cuts us off from our electronic world and gives us a little time to just breath in the solitude of it. Plus it makes me even more grateful for electricity and all my wonderful toys when the power comes back on. This is one reason we take our kids camping every year. There is nothing that can compare with sitting around a campfire in the fading light with nothing but nature all around you. Being outside, alone, is one of the most wonderful things in this world. Sometimes when I was a kid and I got stressed out I would go out to the backyard and climb a tree and just sit. Try it sometime, it's a singular experience.

Solitude is not about being completely alone. Just as the reverse is true, being in a large group of people does not mean that you are well-companioned. It is all complexly intertwined. I have felt utterly alone in a room full of people who I am familiar with. On the reverse I have been physically alone and felt more loved and accepted than at any other time.

Solitude is not measured by the miles of space that intervene between a man and his fellows.

I often find my solitude simply by following my heart and just being who I am. That of course, has taken years of figuring out exactly who I am, but I have a fair idea by this point. When my children are playing quietly and I have a great book to read, I find solitude. When I get the chance to work out in the yard raking leaves, or spreading wood chips, I relish in the solitude of physical labor out in the beauty of nature. I'm really not too much of an outdoorsy girl, but I want to be. I decided that the only reason I am not out there more is that for ten years I have had one or more little people who I cannot and should not leave unattended for long periods of time. I am greatly looking forward to the time that is fast approaching when all my children will be able to accompany me on long hikes. (oh, and I need to get into shape for those long hikes too:)) In the meantime I grab little moments of solitude.

We can't all go live by the side of a pond for two years, but I am quite sure that with a little effort each of us can find moments of solitude wherever we are.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

My Favorite Dead Guy

Seriously I really think Henry David Thoreau is my new favorite dead guy. He had more common sense than the majority of the world's population.

Simplicity, simplicity, simplicity! I say, let your affairs be as two or three, and not a hundred or a thousand.

I strive to keep my life simple. My kids are not involved in tons of things. I am not involved in tons of things. Elder Oaks' "Good, Better, Best" talk has become my mantra of life. I admit I am also judgmental of those who complain about how crazy their lives are and yet do nothing to simplify. If you know something is wrong at least try to fix it, you know? I do still have days and even weeks when my life is much busier than I would like, but that is the exception and not the rule. This means even more to me on the eve of one of my crazy busy days. I am curious to know if anyone else thinks that this would constitute a busy day: Kids up and family scripture study at 7:30, strip beds, wash sheets, devotional with kids, visiting teaching at 930 and 1030, home for lunch, visiting teacher arriving at 1, take care of friends dog about 230, piano lesson at 330, house cleanup at 5, dinner at 6 and kids bedtime at 8. I fear that what I consider an insane day will be nothing to others, but for me tomorrow will be crazy. I much prefer my two or three kind of days.

One of the biggest reasons for keeping things simple is so I don't miss anything. I want to live and enjoy what is really important, like a three year old who loves everything, and a one year old who is growing up way to fast. To quote Thoreau:

I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life, and see if I could not learn what it had to teach, and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived.

I want to live. I want to rake the biggest pile of leaves, or spend a whole day just reading books outloud, or watch a baby learn to walk. There is just so much in this world. So many options. Too many in my opinion. I know I have to make hard choices about what I will or will not do and what I let my kids do. I want to be sure that I spend my most valuable time becoming better than I am, and being as goofed up as I am I have lot of improving to do . . .

When we are unhurried and wise, we perceive that only great and worthy things have any permanent and absolute existence

Slow it down people. Sometimes (like tomorrow for me) we run so fast trying to do everything we miss what really matters. After all is it more important for your child to play three sports and two instruments, or for that child to spend time with you one on one just taking a walk and talking? To me the answer is obvious. Time. For anyone who disagrees, perhaps you should take a moment and ponder on why you do not feel a desire to be with your child. I know that's a little or a lot judgmental, but honestly, why do parents schedule their children? I am not talking about situations where a child who is old enough to understand commitment and responsibility asks, begs, or pleads for lessons or a certain activity. If the child has a passion, feed it. My problem is when the parents sign up their children so everyone is running around every available opportunity instead of having any down time at home. They push their children out of a misguided attempt to better them without understanding what the child really needs to become better. They want the best for them, but they miss the point that what is best for them is being with them. I understand that it is easier emotionally to drive and drop, than walk and talk. Establishing an emotional connection with a child or any other person requires a certain level of maturity and selflessness, not to mention charity and love. It's hard, I know. I have been there. I have had and still do have times when I would really not rather have to deal with kids. It is easy to dismiss and ignore them. It's hard to care for another, but the more you do it, the easier it gets. Just like with everything worth having or doing in this world, it takes work and it's going to be hard, but the end result will be well worth it. Things that are permanent and absolute are few and far between in this temporal world of ours. Find out what those things are and you will have a clear picture of what you should be spending your time and energy on. I think that was one point of Life in the Woods. Take time away from civilization and assess your priorities. When we have our priorities in order we are more than capable of taking of our own and then extending out to help and serve others. Gotta say, loving this my new favorite dead guy.