Saturday, June 9, 2012

Maintaining the pace – or not, by Penny Reeve

Penny Reeve

It’s been over two months since I last contributed to Asta’s blog and since then I must admit I’ve felt predominantly like a failure.  L  I’ve groaned at the dishes. Moaned at the washing and sighed at the ever thickening dust under the coffee table. I’ve felt as if all the love and gifting I wrote about last time has fizzled up, wafted away on the breeze of inspiration and I’m left with plain old me and a house full of work.
I’m tempted to shut up (who am I to write about living simply when we had take away twice last week?!), give-up (why bother pretending to make things from scratch when in reality I keep forgetting to put the bread on!) and slip back into my old habits. But something stops me.  It’s a flickering memory that I didn’t enter this simple living journey to prove a point. I began simplifying because I had some basic goals in mind. And these goals haven’t shifted – no matter the mood or surrounding family circumstances.
One of my main goals of living simply is to take back time. I don’t mean turn back time (I know I am a little odd but I’m not that far gone – yet!), I mean reclaim it.  A while back I decided that ‘busy’ was a dirty word.  Busy-ness had no right to rule my life. “Busy-ness doesn’t rule lives” I can hear you mutter. Well, doesn’t it?
Listen to the conversations around you and you’ll hear the word dropped frequently, as if it’s an expected, anticipated and even normal part of life. I’m not so sure it should be. I’m not convinced we were designed with busy-ness in mind. Fruitfulness – yes. Productivity – yes. Creativity – yes. But busy-ness?
One of my favourite Bible verses is “Be still and know that I am God” (Psalm 46:10). Being still does not sit kindly with being busy. In fact, being busy negates even the possibility of being still. So my striving for simplicity is a deliberate attempt to slow my life. If I can’t completely eradicate the busy, I aim to squeeze it into seasons, or sessions, rather than allowing it to be the norm.
But how do I do this when I have an active family (including one amazing husband, and three adorable children - one of whom is a toddler)? I find busy-ness creeps up on me when I’m not looking and the symptoms pervade my life. I feel tired, harried, worried, stretched, exhausted, frantic – anything but still. I focus on the symptoms rather than the cause. And if I am honest enough to look at the cause (‘You’ve booked too much in your week again, PJ!’) I stall in that place of ‘failure’.
But remembering my goal to take back time isn’t about beating myself up. It’s about this little pocket of time that I have now. It’s more a mindset than a punishment. It’s deciding to plan the coming weeks aware of my own limitations. It’s choosing small and beautiful things to do with my spare time rather than filling it with nothingness. It’s being honest with my body: am I healthy? Am I eating right? Am I getting enough rest (busy-ness tends to sap strength even if what we’re involved in is positive)? I need to be careful about my motives, not begrudging time spent playing puzzles with my toddler but choosing to enjoy his growth and development. It’s about living out Micah 6:8 (“And what does the Lord require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.”) instead of judging myself on other people’s expectations.
Every little decision I make in my attempt to avoid the ‘b’ word and live with more time impacts my family. Sometimes it’s a hard call: “No, you cannot do Tap as well as Ballet”. Sometimes it’s an easier one: “Lets wander up to the park now and we’ll just eat scraps for tea”. I haven’t reached my goal yet. I think we are still living in a time deficit, but we’re making tracks in the right direction.
So I’ll lift my chin up, dust the word ‘failure’ from my shoulders (the coffee table can wait till Monday) and keep going on my journey towards simplicity. The goals haven’t changed even if the month has. Plain old me is still in love with her family and eager to celebrate the beautiful with them. In fact, I think I might go and make some banana bread – the kind that takes about an hour to bake. And then we’ll eat it warm, outside, and watch the sun go down. 
What about you? Once you’ve finished reading this blog? What will you do today to take back some time into your family’s life? I’d like to hear about it. J

Penny Reeve is the author of 11 children’s books. She is passionate about children, faith and social justice. She can be contacted via her or via her Facebook page:

Thank you Penny. Oh my goodness I was nodding in agreement all the way through. I used to buy into the busyness is next to Godliness stuff, but I am no longer impressed by busyness. 

Asta x

Asta's fashion fast update

(365 days of not shopping for clothes, accessories, shoes and even socks)

This is my fourth day. I am wearing one of the outfits I bought on my last shopping spree at the Salvos. I haven't written an inventory of my clothes yet - but I will, when I feel brave. I worry I don't have enough for 365 days, but I know deep down that I have an obscene amount of clothes, even after my big clean out recently. I also know that  there is much in there that I never wear. I think I will learn that it is true that we wear 20% of our clothes 80% of the time. What a waste - and we are targeting waste this month on The Simply Living Challenge. 

A x


  1. Penny, I like that you term "busy" as a dirty word. Often times I feel so overwhelmed at work, school, the house, errands, etc. that I forget to just stop and be still - even if for a few minutes. We definitely have adopted it into our culture as a close family member instead of what should be considered a distant relative. Thanks for the reminder of what's important and that we need to reclaim our time.

  2. Something I am consciously doing is making little appointments with myself to pause during the day. It works for me. - Asta

  3. I liked Georgina's comment about busy being more a distant relative than a close family member.
    And, yes, Asta, the appointments is a good idea.

    BTW Asta - so impressed you're doing the fashion fast. Keep us updated!

  4. I had a little peak at how many items of underwear I have and I have to say that I was more than a little embarrassed Penny. Do I really need 41 pairs of knickers for instance? Mind you they are all in various condition and some are probably not wearable, so I will do a recount. A x

  5. :)
    You make me smile, Asta.