Besides two plasma TV’s, we have a desktop computer, two printers, three laptops, a portable DVD player, a video camera, two digital cameras, a flip, two ipads and two iphones. Ughh, is all this really necessary? How do I simplify in the age of technology? What do I do with old equipment? How much is too much? I have so many cords and cables I can’t sort them all. How do I control and simplify this? It is not a pressing need, but every time I open the desk drawer containing all this equipment, I feel overwhelmed. I close the drawer and think something needs to be done but I’ll deal with it later. In my quest to simplify, I know I can not ignore this area, but the solutions are not simple, especially because I keep on buying.
I find it is easy to race through my days with out much thought or planning for the big picture. I’m opportunistic. I will sign up for activities, outings and vacations without considering the big picture. I am a fire-chaser; crisis motivated. I fill my days with urgent activities; replacing light bulbs, taking a trip to the store buying batteries for a toy and washing a small load of clothes to get a stain of juice out from my son’s shirt. All these are merely bad habits that keep me filling my days with activity but not leaving me time to be intentional in the pursuits of what I really want. I find it is easy to nickel and dime away my time on the small things and not have enough left over to buy what I really want.
Being intentional begins with examining my daily activities and asking “What is important to me and my family?” In order to live intentional lives, we need to slow down, step back and evaluate what is really important. Where are we headed? Do my daily choices align with my long-term desires and goals? We can live intentional lives and parent with purpose when we do the upfront work of creating goals and core values to live by.
Two miles down Horse Creek Road, turn left on a dirt road. It curves and you will see a blue-grey house on your left. Go down the long gravel drive and pull up before a large front porch with a white painted rail. In the corner, is a swing, and I am sitting on it. It is summer and I am looking out across the prairie grass. It is green turning tan and wispy like the thinning hairs atop an aging man’s head. The soil is poor and the grass never grows thick or high here, but it is tenacious and runs free over the rolling landscape. I am watching my one year old son climb up and down the one-step porch. Up is easy but turning around to go down backward has him occupied. A clump of yellow snapdragons grows by the step and we pause to listen to the bumblebees. He holds still, and we watch and listen. We spend a peaceful morning just listening to the wind through the grass, bees and my son’s delighted explorations.
That was one year and a vacation ago and I will confess that daily life does not unfold like that beautiful summer day. I recently took a pause in my schedule and realized it is time for me to change. I want to embrace a porch swing mentality. The porch swing way of beginning my days, of drinking in the pleasure of my children and the beauty all around me. The porch swing way of allowing peace to fill my heart and set my pace for the day. The porch swing way of being purposeful, which includes intentionally resting and enjoying what is around me. I am choosing a new way of living and I am inviting other moms and parents to join me. A life of parenting and living with intentional simplicity. In a driven, fast-paced society where it is commonplace and even applauded to be busy, involved and over-committed, I am stepping back. I am going backward, away from busyness, away from commitments, away from fear that we will miss out if we dare slow down. I am going to breath deeply and from here, proceed with calculated steps. I am going to build a life of peace and purpose one step at a time. It’s porch-swing parenting, a new way to live in a modern society.