Life for Lazy People – Defining the Vocabulary of Lazy Productivity


I'm always aiming for that hammock.

I want to achieve productivity, but I’m also always aiming for that hammock.

What Does It Mean? Lazy productivity means wanting to achieve excellence – because it is not in fact simply laziness, which would be very foolish – but wanting to get there as easily as possible. It means figuring out and doing what is vital for great results without adding in a lot of extra work that does little toward reaching the goal.

Why Should I Become Lazily Productive? If you are a lazy person at heart, you have no need to be told a reason. If you are a full-of-energy overachiever, don’t bother reading the rest of this – it isn’t for you.

What is the Most Important Skill for the Lazily Productive Person? In a word: circumspection. Circumspect is defined as “careful to consider all circumstances and possible consequences: prudent.” Literally, it means to “look around” a thing. The circumspect person uses her mind before her muscles – she thinks before she sweats. She looks at a present circumstance, then “looks around” it, and is able to see where her action or lack of action will lead.

Why Circumspection Matters to Lazily Productive People That’s easy. Effective circumspection means I don’t have to go back and re-do all the time. That understanding of where my action or lack of action will lead lets me figure out the wisest course ahead of time. By following it, I don’t make extra work for myself. Which brings us to…

How Can I Develop Circumspection? Mainly, I have to use all the wisdom I can muster. Need more wisdom? God says He will give it to the one who asks in faith, but understand what entering into a faithful relationship with God entails! Then, I need to embrace the truth that lazy productivity requires some energy, particularly up front. Lazy productivity involves discipline, the kind of discipline that is not always “pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it.” (Hebrews 12:10) Righteousness and peace. That means knowing I have been doing right and being able to be at peace about it, which is the metaphorical nap in the hammock for me – a real restful rest with no nagging conscience.

In What Ways Can I Apply Circumspection to Achieve Lazy Productivity? That is the fun part. Child-rearing. Laundry. Party-planning. Gardening. Travel. Housecleaning. Paid employment. Volunteerism. Even errand-running. In fact, I can’t think of any activity in which circumspection is not a good idea. The rest of this series will spotlight some areas of life – mostly “little” things – in which some circumspection can let the lazy person succeed in spite of her nature.

What do you think of this idea of circumspection? Or just got a good “word of the day” to share?

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Life for Lazy People: an Introduction

I’m always aiming to end up somewhere like this.

Confession: In my heart, I am a lazy woman. Many times people compliment my energy and productivity, but I realized the truth a long time ago – most of what I do I do because I am trying to get enough accomplished so I can goof off for awhile. I love nothing better than to find myself with a free afternoon, a comfortable spot to lounge, and an absorbing novel or a string of old British sit-coms.

Today here at In My Kitchen, In My Life, we are starting a periodic series called Life for Lazy People, about the things I have learned that make it easier for a lazy person like me to get things done well and still have time to visit with Dr. Lewis and Mrs. Lindbergh or, yes, even Dame Judi Dench and Mr. Geoffry Palmer. I say “get things done well” because, although I am shamelessly lazy, excellence matters to me. There are people who count on me to do a good job with my responsibilities, to be productive, to serve. They deserve my best efforts, but if I can figure out a way to give excellent service without too much strain, this lazy person is thrilled.

Here are a few principles Lazy People should absorb and follow:

Spend time to make time. (Origin lost in the mists of time) This one is obvious, but maybe we don’t think about how many areas of life to which it applies. Start with a clean workspace to make cooking, crafting, painting, or whatever easier, more efficient, and more pleasant. Train your children diligently, starting when they are young, to make the teenage years far easier and more fun and to ensure a lifetime of close relationship. Pull up the weeds while they are small and long before they even think of going to seed to set yourself up for years of easier gardening to come. Check supplies before you start the recipe to ensure no mid-prep runs to the store.

Develop a front-log mentality. (credit: Don Aslett) Work ahead on big projects so they can be done in bite-sized chunks. Pace yourself according to your stamina, time available, and the predictability of your life. Margin is essential!

Do not make more than you are willing to maintain. (credit: me) Children. Pets. Activities. Flowerbeds. Commitments. Square-footage.

Here is enough to be going on with for today. It is really about using and developing our wisdom and circumspection (one of my favorite words!) to learn ways to make it possible for ourselves to be productively lazy.

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Cerebral Homemaking, Part 10: Keeping the “Stand” in Standards without Losing the “Flex” in “Flexibility” – The No-Go-There Rules

This is the last Cerebral Homemaking article. Here are the others in the series:

Part 1: Wrapping My Mind Around My Work

Part 2: Please Lie Down on the Couch and We’ll Begin the Analysis

Part 3: Lofty Thinking — About Vision, Philosophy, and the G-Word

Part 4: Blast Physics! We Have to Aim Just a Little Higher

Part 5: Time Matters

Part 6: We Like What We’re Good At — Developing Competency

Part 7: Mundane or Maniacal?

Part 8: Not a Kid Anymore

Part 9: Homemaking is So Daily

The danger of writing about homemaking is that readers assume the writer is a super-duper homemaker. The more accurate assumption is that the writer writes about the things she has spent the most time working on and improving because she needed so much improvement. At least that is the case for me.

So, is my house perfectly clean? Nope. These days my house is generally tidy and reasonably clean. That was certainly not always true, so how did I get here? In addition to the other things we have discussed in this series, I developed flexible standards.

I am a firm believer that the people we become and the lives we end up having consist of an impossibly large series of rather small choices. Wait, you say, no one chooses to lose all of her possessions in a flood or to have a child with a life-threatening illness. True, there are circumstances we do not choose, and certainly they shape us in important ways. But within our un-chosen circumstances, who we are and what our lives turn out to be like is determined by lots and lots of little choices, and the choices are driven by the way we think. Cerebral, see?

We choose to put away items as soon as we finish with them and we become tidy, or we choose to let our belongings land “wherever,” “for now,” and we become messy. We choose to wash the dishes after every meal and we become a person with a clean, ready-for-use kitchen who doesn’t really “mind” doing the dishes, or we choose to do the dishes “later” and we become a person with a kitchen in which one can’t fit a glass under the faucet to get a drink of water without shifting around a bunch of smelly, crusty dishes. We choose to follow through on the laundry all the way to getting the clean, folded clothing into the dresser drawers and we become a person who never has to search for clean underwear and doesn’t really “mind” performing each of the steps of doing the laundry, or we choose to pay attention to the laundry only when nobody has any more clean socks for us to snitch for ourselves. Just little choices, day after day, adding up to what we become.

I picked these examples because I have been all six of these people. I did not start out as a tidy, dishwashing, laundry-folding person, but I have become one after years of making a series of little choices over and over again. I have accomplished this transformation with the help of all the things we have talked about already in this series – aiming higher, figuring out that I don’t have time not to do my work at home, developing competency, balancing the mundane and project-type aspects of homemaking, growing up in my thinking, and accepting that homemaking requires regular attention. These ways of thinking led to the standards that give our family a Living Space in which to be together, but when life gets difficult there is another thing that allows for the flexibility I need without letting us descend into living in a Dumping Ground. I call them the No-Go-There rules.

Approaching No-Go-There territory

While all the other practices are mostly positive, this one is negative, and it involves all the things we think we shouldn’t do or feel – comparing myself to others, fear, loathing, self-derision, embarrassment, and guilt. It is me saying to myself, “Thus far but no further, ya bum.” Negative, yes, but it works.

A Partial List of Lori’s No-Go-There Rules

  • The house has to be clean enough that it doesn’t smell bad.
  • You know that sort of grey dry, scummy film you sometimes see on the fixtures in a bathroom that hasn’t been cleaned for awhile? I no-go-there.
  • The kitchen can’t be worked in if the counters are crumby and sticky or if it smells bad from trash that needs to go out or dirty dishes. (Funny how many of my no-go’s involve odors.)
  • No garbage outside of the cans.
  • No laundry piles in bedrooms or elsewhere, souring un-dried laundry, or clean laundry left unfolded and undelivered to bedrooms for more than a day – if our two hampers are full, laundry must be done THAT DAY, ALL THE WAY
  • No drawers that are so full they are hard to open and close.
  • In the public rooms, no items left lying around for days on end (except for on our big desk, which is a law unto itself.) In the private rooms, tidying up times can stretch a bit further, but not much.

These are household lows to which I never want to descend. Have I ever? Of course – during times of new babies, sickness, took-on-too-much-ness, and a few times just plain old laziness. But I refuse to let that be our usual or even occasional way of life, because my everyday standards are higher than that. In rare times of stress, however, we can be flexible between our everyday standards and these No-Go-There rules. But that is as far as I can stand to go. It is a rarity, and if it happens, it is a big wake-up call, because if I don’t put on the brakes immediately we will continue in a direction that could end with us becoming the family who gets fined for not keeping their property maintained, the family who gets evicted because they trashed the house, the household where the health inspector has to step in. It doesn’t seem possible, but I know it is. I have to work with people in those situations sometimes in my mayor role, and every time it is clear those folks get where they are by the same series of little choices and decisions. They just allow themselves to choose and decide differently than most of us try to do.

Generally tidy and reasonably clean

My family put up with a lot of sour laundry and crusty dishes before I changed my thinking and decided to take my homemaking career seriously. Now, twenty-five-ish years later, most of the time it really does seem to come pretty “naturally.” I wrote these articles because I wanted to think through how I changed my thinking and because I hoped my thought process might be useful to someone else. I have enjoyed the writing and I do hope it has been a help in some way.

Do you have any No-Go-There rules for yourself?

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Book Report: Overdressed — the shockingly high cost of cheap fashion

Done any shopping for clothing lately? I bet you have. Satisfied with your purchase?

Have you noticed changes in the quality of your favorite brands?

I lost some weight and in my quest to find a pair of black slacks and a pair of jeans that fit me, I went shopping. I tried on slacks at the Van Heusen outlet, and it made me mad. Is it just me getting middle-aged and grumpy, or is the quality of much of the clothing available to us getting worse and worse? I mean to say! Loose threads everywhere, fabric you can just tell won’t hold up to many launderings, pucker-y, crooked seams. And, yes, the price is low, but I’ll have to do this whole process again in only a few weeks if I buy these.

I recently read a book called Overdressed: the shockingly high cost of cheap fashion. Katha Pollitt at The Nation said, “Overdressed does for T-shirts and leggings what Fast Food Nation did for burgers and fries.”  I read this in fits and starts and find I can’t stop thinking about it. The author, Elizabeth L. Cline, posits that we are trading quality garments for cut-rate overseas goods and labor. She says my guess that those Van Heusen slacks would need to be replaced after only several wearings is right on – where manufacturers and retailers used to entice consumers to buy new clothing annually or seasonally, now they produce and market their wares to encourage shopping every week or two!

Learning how to properly care for clothing extends its life. It is a domestic art worth resurrecting if we are to wean ourselves away from cheap fashion.

That’s just silly if you spend ten seconds thinking about it, but then ten more seconds’ thought makes me realize that is exactly what too many of us do and have done – shopping first became more hobby than thing we did to procure necessities and retailers quickly responded by giving quicker and quicker turnover of new things to browse. Quality plummeted, and now even those of us who want a life beyond shopping find ourselves having to hit the stores more often to keep ourselves supplied with decent looking and functioning clothing, home goods, and even what are un-amusingly still called “durable goods.”

When is the last time you saw matched plaids at the seams of a commercially-produced garment?

Also, according to Cline, this decades-long descent from quality clothing mostly made in America to disposable clothing mostly made first in China but now increasingly in very poor countries like Bangladesh and Vietnam is totally unsustainable. She points out that for the first time in a long while clothing prices in the US actually rose in 2011 because of higher costs for fibers and growing demand in developing countries. And yet the quality is still low and in many cases got even worse. She predicts that we may see a trend in the opposite direction, one in which consumers will have to re-learn the previously-assumed principles that clothing is valuable, must be saved for and invested in, and can and must be cared for to make it last.

Time to resurrect the mending basket, too!

Whether society accomplishes that shift in mindset or not, it is one that I appreciate more and more in the last few years and am trying to adopt for myself. I am done with badly-constructed garments that fit poorly, are made with inferior fabrics and notions, and die too young. I am starting to demand better of myself and for myself. I have decided I will pay more for fewer pieces and appreciate what I do have more.

Some of these items are high quality and some are decidedly not. It is probably a fact of life in our time that not everything I wear will be truly well-made, but I am aiming to increase the percentage.

In the days since I started this essay, I dug out my old pair of black slacks that I loved (Talbots, lined, and with washable fabric that has held up well) but are now a size or more too large. I had reluctantly added them to the donate-to-charity bin, but I realized I can have them altered to fit my new frame and keep using a basic garment that brings me pleasure and has a lot of life left in it. I took them to a local seamstress yesterday and she pinned them up and will call me when they are done. Before my appointment with her I went to a Joanne’s fabric store to check out the fabrics and patterns. I was pleased to see they have wrinkle-resistant cotton “bottom weight” fabric for a fair price. I asked the seamstress if she makes clothing for people. Sadly, she said she only does alterations. I haven’t really enjoyed sewing in the past, but I just may take it up again.

Cline herself recommends sewing as a viable antidote for the sorry state of today’s garment industry and a skill that deserves resurrection. My mother made all of our clothes except jeans when we were children, all of her own clothes, and even some of my dad’s. She used her creativity, ability, and time to make beautiful, durable outfits for us. Many people today think sewing is too expensive when ready-made items are available for so little. I thought the same thing, but maybe the expense is justified by the quality end result.

What about right now, however? Mom and I are leaving in a little while to go to an outlet center. She has a Coldwater Creek gift card to use and I need some jeans that fit. I do not know if I will come home with a pair today, but I do know I will be scrutinizing seams and fabrics and labels much more carefully than I used to do.

Talk to me. What brands do you like? What do you think about this idea of demanding higher quality in our clothing, owning less, and loving what we do have more?

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Goals for the 2013 Hibernating Season

Winter is well and truly here, hibernating season for me. While I try not to think of any part of my life as a period when I have to “pass the time,” winter is the season when I am most likely to feel that way. I admit to waiting for daffodils, soft air, and no-need-for-gloves. In the meantime, the end of the holidays, the snow, and frigid temperatures stimulate a fresh look at what I can accomplish indoors. If we’ve got to pass the time, we may as well pass it productively and in pleasant surroundings!

Tidy shelves — a pleasure for the eyes

These are not lofty goals for spiritual growth or self-improvement, mind you. They are practical with a capital Ordinary:

1. Dejunk, re-organize, and generally refresh the office. Yes, I know I did this last January, but it needs work again. I find that’s the nature of multi-use rooms, don’t you?

This is a picture from last January just before I cleaned the desk. It’s been cleaned off three or four times since then, but it looks even worse right now.

2. Make curtains for our bedroom. We will continue to pretend it has new carpet for awhile, but the only thing standing between me and attractive panels of cloth at the windows is some labor, even if it does involve a sewing machine, a contraption that often fights with me when I approach it.

3. Finish the Youngest Adolescent Male’s first-year photo scrapbook. He’s seventeen. And-a-half. I know. But as long as it’s in his hands before he leaves for college, it’s not truly too late, surely. I think I’m up to when we brought him home from the hospital, so, really, nearly done. (Denial.)

That boy!

There is the plan, if the Lord wills. Modest goals, to be sure. Reachable, hopefully. Maybe some other things will get done, too, but I will consider the winter a success if these three things happen.

(Oh, and I dream of finding a pair of jeans and a pair of black slacks that fit. Lower-body-clothing situation is approaching Crisis Status.)

I’m thinking I may have to venture beyond Sam’s Club to reach this goal.

What about you? Goals? Dreams? Hopes?


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Past Blast: Mayor, Schmayor

Doing the “mayor thing,” 2012; photo credit: Gettysburg Times

From 2009: The first thing you need to know is that all of the following is The Husband’s fault. A little over eight years ago he coerced me into running for mayor of our Tiny Town. I served one four-year term, and then I ran for another and spent the last year debating with myself about whether to run for a third term. In the end I decided I just didn’t want to commit to another four years. It isn’t that it takes that much time, but it is just another thing to think about, and one I never seem to want to think about when it is my responsibility to think about it.

So, I chose not to run. I did not file as a candidate to be placed on the primary ballot last winter. I did not run a write-in campaign. I encouraged others to run for mayor. On election day, there were no names listed on the ballot for mayor. I felt a bit sorry about that, but I blackened ovals thoughtfully for the other positions and felt secure that I had promised not to leave the council in the lurch — I would continue to serve as mayor awhile longer if they wanted to appoint me until they could find somebody else to take the position and appoint them.

The trouble is, after all my deliberation and deciding not to run and encouraging others and trying to work out a way I could gracefully exit, I got elected anyway. And remember, it is The Husband’s fault.

It turns out several of the Tiny Town’s citizens got a write-in vote from somebody. Three people got two write-in votes apiece. Guess who was one of them? Uh-huh. Guess the identity of one of my voters? You’re pretty smart. His fault. All the way. So, the three people who tied by getting two write-in votes apiece had to be placed in a drawing. Guess who won the drawing? Got it again. (Not that it would have mattered if I had lost the drawing — the other two people are already borough council members and would have declined the mayorship and it would have ended up coming down to me anyway. But still.)

So, in a drawn-out process of fair and free elections, I have actually been elected to a third term as mayor. Even though I didn’t run, and even though only two people voted for me, and even though one of them was my husband. There are lessons for me here on so many levels. Here is a sample:

–If I ever start to get the big head over holding political office, I need only remember that I have attained my lofty station on the strength of two votes, and, as we have already noted, one of them was from my husband.

–You may have the impression that our Tiny Town is not exactly a hotbed of political striving to get into office. You would be right. Give us a warm body to sign the ordinances and checks, please, and you can have the job.

–Funny that the three citizens who got the write-in votes are already serving the community politically in some way. I imagine the thought process of the voter. “Hmm, it looks like nobody is running for mayor. Well, we’ve got to have a mayor, don’t we? Whose name could I put down? Who helps out in town? I know! ________ does stuff like that. He/she’d be ok, I guess…”

Another four years. I know I could decline to take office, or I can resign whenever I decide I want to, but somehow just choosing not to run for a third term seemed less like abandoning my responsibilities than either of those two options. I have this sinking feeling that I will end up doing all this stuff for the whole four years, if God chooses to keep me alive and living here. Sigh. I have been sighing every time I think of this whole affair. And if The Husband is within range, I have been hitting him whenever I think of it, too. He protests, but I tell him I have the right. After all, it’s all his fault.

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Gifts We Already Have

I saw the idea for “Gifts We Already Have” somewhere in Internetland, and I took to it immediately. Made this in about fifteen minutes and stuck it on the wall. I neglected to erase my penciled lettering after I went over it with marker, but sometimes that’s the way life happens around here:

Gifts We Already Have

“Give us a thankful sense of the blessings in which we live, of the many comforts of our lot; that we may not deserve to lose them by discontent or indifference.” – Jane Austen

What gifts do you already have?


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Mr. and Mrs. Lanza and the Rest of Us: Parenting in the Trenches

I know every person who reads this is wondering, just like I am, how to make sense of a twenty year-old boy-man who, in his anger or contempt of his mother, did not speak disrespectfully to her but shot her in the face, and in his anger or contempt of society, did not write a diatribe letter to the editor but massacred its young, and in his despair of the state of his own life did not choose to repent but made it permanent in suicide. While we rightly focus on supporting the victims and their families, the refrain pounding away in our brains is why, why, why?

What happened in that young man’s life to make a path with such an unthinkable destination? What could have stopped it? Was it beyond his parents’ ability to effect?

These questions matter so much to me, because I, too, am the mother of a twenty year-old son.

Twenty is when a person’s parents are pretty well done with hands-on parenting. Twenty is when a person is responsible for his own actions and direction. Twenty is accountable.

But twenty is near enough to the unaccountable childhood time of Mom and Dad teaching, training, directing, and instilling to make every parent tremble at the possibility that their offspring could become that terror. Of course, we would not dream of it. And yet.

And yet, because every diligent parent knows in his or her heart that the differences between the exemplary person and the criminal are not, in the end, so very great.

Usually, it is just a bunch of little things that matter. Little choices about what will be allowed and what will not, little moments of catching a bad attitude before it gets ugly, nuances half-noticed in the bustle of everyday that give us pause and make us look at our child with fresh eyes and renewed determination to address negative tendencies and raise the trajectory of his life’s purpose.

Sometimes it feels like we are figuring it out moment by moment in this hardest of jobs. With certain kids, the challenges come thick and fast, leaving us breathless and worn out and wondering how much more we can take, how much more we can give, how many more times we can talk them back into heart-softness. Some of us, because we believe God is the ultimate Parent, the one who knows us better than we know ourselves and gave us a Guide to help us figure ourselves out, some of us who believe in that God keep at it because we believe we have brought into the world a soul whose choices in this life have eternal consequences. Some who do not believe in God still work very hard. I think they believe in working for the good of mankind and feel the weight of responsibility to bring their offspring to an adulthood that will do good instead of harm to others. Others give up. They do.

Am I saying Adam Lanza’s evil heart is the sole fault of his mom and dad? No. He was twenty. Accountable. Responsible. And, of course, I have no idea what sort of parents they were. They may have done all they knew to do.

But, I do know this: as a parent, a lot matters. Staying married matters. Being present – physically, emotionally, spiritually – matters. Saying sorry matters. Extending forgiveness matters. Addressing character faults matters – over and over, again and again. Wisdom matters. Being tough matters. Being tender matters. Humility matters. Vision matters.

And the parents who have successfully raised a child into responsible, admirable adulthood are the first to say it was hard, and scary, and sobering, and that they can see how easily things could have gone awry in spite of their best efforts. And then in the next breath they’ll tell you they know they didn’t actually always give their best effort – sometimes they were lazy, or selfish, or hypocritical, or blind.

If you came here looking for reassurance that half-hearted effort yields excellent results anyway, I can’t help you. I know the reality – that sometimes even very hard work doesn’t, well, work. And that mediocre parenting rarely produces anything greater than mediocre offspring.

I certainly cannot yet speak as one who has succeeded. It is far too soon to tell. In many ways, my parents cannot speak from that position, either. After all, their daughter is only forty-five, probably with many opportunities ahead of her to go off the deep end if she chooses. Please God, she will not, and please God, their grandchildren will not, either.

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To Love, Cherish, and Paint: the Unspoken Vows

Before we marry, if we are wise, we spend some time thinking about the vows we will make before the Creator of all. It’s serious business – in sickness and in health, for richer or poorer, until death do us part. We look at the one we have agreed to marry – what if she is in a terrible accident and needs care for the rest of her life? Could I do that? What if his great job goes away and we are poor from that point on? Could I do that? Do I have enough love, do I have enough commitment, to stay with this person even if things don’t go easily? During the engagement period these questions keep us awake at night, and rightly so, because we are about to make a big, big promise and embark on a life-changing journey.

There are lesser considerations, though, ones we don’t even know to imagine, and, assuming one has really thought through the big issues appropriately, those turn out to be the day-in-and-day-out stuff that shape our lives. Those turn out to be the things we must accommodate, compromise on, love-each-other-anyway over, and, yes, negotiate if we are going to continue to live together like we promised. I’m talking about snoring and having a terrible sense of direction and night owls vs. larks and preferring a hotel near the airport vs. one downtown (although probably no other couple disagrees about that but The Husband and me) and whether the TP should unwind from the top or the bottom of the roll. I’m talking about paint, people.

The walls “before.” Photography can be so forgiving — in real life, they were scuffed and faded and dingy and sad.

The Husband and I were married about five years before painting ever came up. We were renting a house and made a deal with the owners that we would paint the interior if they bought the supplies. About an hour into the first session, The Husband looked over at me, with my smudges on the woodwork and drips running down the wall and paint in my hair, and said, “Hmm. Maybe you should do something else and I’ll do the painting.”

And that’s how it has been in this marriage ever since. The man is a pro – he could paint in a tuxedo. And he doesn’t mess around with any of that taping-off-of-edges business. He does it all free-hand and the results are beautiful.

Trouble is, he is a busy guy. Our bedroom was last painted twenty years ago when we moved to this house. All of the other rooms have been painted at least a time or two since then, but the master bedroom kept getting pushed down the list, which it shouldn’t have been, but there you have it.

Then the unexpected happened – The Husband got deployed to help with Hurricane Sandy recovery. It occurred to me toward the end of that month that it was a perfect time for me to paint our bedroom – I could sleep in our college son’s bed while he is gone and The Husband wouldn’t have to be inconvenienced either. Only problem: I’m a terrible painter. Still, I thought given enough patience and painter’s tape I could probably do a decent-enough job and at least it would be DONE, right?

My mother made this for The Husband and me when we were married. This is the sixth house it has lived in with us. I think the master bedroom is the most appropriate place to be reminded of our vows, don’t you?

So, on a Thursday morning I started hauling stuff out of our bedroom. The phone rang.

The Husband: “Guess what? It turns out I’m getting a few days off. I can come home tomorrow afternoon and stay until Sunday evening!”

Me: Silence except for slightly anxious breathing.

The Husband, amused: “What’s wrong? You don’t have to get your boyfriend to leave or anything, do you?”

Me, vaguely: “No. It’s just…”

The Husband, worried: “What? Is something really wrong?”

Me, vaguely: “No.”


Me, brightly: “Um, do you feel like painting this weekend?”

See, he didn’t know when he said, “I do,” that he was saying, “I’ll paint. I’ll clean out that thing that always clogs up in the dishwasher. I’ll put up with how you categorically refuse to handle firearms or ride bumper cars.”

How could he know that twenty-seven years after promising to love and to cherish it would mean using practically his first time off in a month to drive 400 miles round trip so he could spend most of it painting our bedroom?

He couldn’t, but he’d promised, so he did. It’s in the vows, unspoken, but it’s in there.

The result of about twelve hours’ work. We are pretending that the floor has new, brown-ish carpet.

Did you and your mate make any unspoken vows? When did you discover them?

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Past Blast: Reality Check

From 2006:

Discipline is remembering what you want.
–David Campbell

A big part of the discipline thing

That line has been rolling around in my head since I read it in my daily essay a couple of days ago. I think this is the ultimate challenge of discipline for adults. (Most children don’t yet know what they want, so discipline must be imposed on them.) So perhaps a better statement would be, “Self-discipline is remembering what you want.”

The first step is to identify: What do I want? Salvation. A good marriage. Well-adjusted, educated children set firmly on the godly path. To use my gifts fully. To be loved and to love. To know God as much as I am able.

What do I need in order to have what I want? Knowledge. Character. A tender heart. Energy. A meditative spirit. Wisdom. Time.

How do I get what I need in order to have what I want? Self-discipline.

Thought: Am I disciplining myself to act and think in ways that will get me what I want?

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  • In My Kitchen, In My Life is a place where women (and the odd male) can be encouraged, nudged, and occasionally kicked in the pants toward living their lives on a higher plane. Oh, and readers get plenty of chances to laugh at the author's foibles, which is always worth a click.

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