Could we change our attitude, we should not only see life differently, but life itself would come to be different. ~ Katherine Mansfield

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Honoring the task at hand.

Multi-tasking is one of the biggest fallacies of the modern age, and I fall prey to it on a daily basis. If I am watching a movie, I am also picking up toys, paying bills or checking email. During dinner, I am up clearing plates and putting away condiments before my family has actually finished eating. Instead of enjoying a hot shower for what it is – a treasured moment of solitude – I spoil it by starting a list in my head of all of the things that need to be accomplished over the next hours, days, weeks. This minute, I am rocking the baby with my foot, writing this entry, and watching an episode of Chopped.


What is this compulsion to split focus and add an element of stress and mania to everything I do? Why can’t I enjoy a quiet moment of rest without inflicting a To Do list on it? I thought that leaving a full-time job would cure me, but I just find other ways to invite the albatross of “so much to do, so little time” into my home. I am addicted to this madness.

Stepping back and viewing myself objectively, I have come to the obvious conclusion that I am doing myself a disservice. Right now, it took me almost a full minute to come up with the word “objectively” because I am not giving this entry my full attention. I don’t know what the contestants on Chopped had in their mystery baskets this round of competition. Aidan is looking at me, and I am looking at a computer. Many things are being done simultaneously, but not one thing is being done well. I feel stressed and out of balance. And if you ask me in a few hours what I accomplished today, I won’t be able to remember. The details of my days are being sacrificed.

So here is the plan: I challenge myself to do one thing at a time, and to be mindful that activity. I challenge myself to honor the task at hand. Because what is the point of watching a movie if I am going to reduce it to background noise by making a grocery list at the same time? If I merely scan an email and send a half-baked reply, am I really doing my job? If I don’t immerse myself in playing pirates with Jude or take the time to memorize the earnest look on Aidan’s face while he nurses, will I one day forget that these things even happened? And if I don’t allow myself moments of peace, time in the day where I am not plagued by actual and imagined “things that need to get done,” am I going to end up in the nuthouse?

This is difficult for me but I need to remember that stress does not equal importance, and accomplishment cannot be gauged by a To Do list. I am going to kick things off by shutting down the computer. I am going to pick up Aidan, put down the mantle of multitasking, and watch my baby sleep.

Friday, June 10, 2011

You reap what you sow...or so I hear.

The garden went in last weekend and it is looking a little sadder than when I started, but I am chalking this up to the seedlings having an initial bout of homesickness for their former life at Lowe’s. That and a week of 90-degree days – who can compete with that?? And let’s be honest, I am not a natural. I like the idea of being one with the earth, I just don’t have much experience with it and find it kind of dirty and overwhelming. But I’m learning.

To my credit I did take good notes on last year’s inaugural garden and made some improvements. I didn’t plant 5 zucchinis. Turns out that is way too much zucchini to handle. And I abandoned the dismal failures (cantaloupe, strawberries), modified the planting style (much less crowded this year), and added marigolds because my grandma used to have them in her garden. I had to Google why she did that – turns out they keep aphids out naturally. My grandma was way ahead of her time…or she lived in a time when “organic” was the status quo and the thought of dousing plants in expensive chemicals for no reason was seen as weird. In any case, they look beautiful and give an instant feeling of gratification.

From a cost perspective, it’s cheaper this year. Last year we had to buy the pots for the tomatoes, and Gabe built the garden beds and prepped the soil with peat moss and compost. This year we tilled then jumped straight to planting, and I have a goal of conquering the magical world of mulch this season. Ah, the optimism of a novice.

The most immediate challenge is to find an organic fertilizer. I used a fish-based one last year, but it reeked. A day in the garden turned into an evening of Danielle and her fish gut fingers. Any suggestions here would be welcome. And if anyone has an idea on how to quell Jude’s natural “I picked a flower!” instinct that would come in handy as well…

Our final plant count: 2 zucchini, 1 Habanero pepper, 1 rosemary, 1 flat leaf parsley, 4 sweet basil, 1 pumpkin, 1 straight neck squash, 1 acorn squash, 1 Mexibell pepper, 1 Anaheim pepper, 1 hill of watermelon seeds, 2 rows of lettuce seed, and 5 potted tomatoes of different varieties. Total cost, $83.87.

Friday, June 3, 2011

Chapter One...

So it begins – big changes for the Bryan-Combs clan. We are about to embark on the grand adventure of going from a two-income family to a one-income family at the same time that we prepare to morph from a one-child family into a comfy clan of four.

“Twice the kids on half the income?” you’re saying to yourself. “Why, that’s simply brilliant!”

We think so.

And we’ll document the journey here – notes on everything from our gardening adventures (yeah, it’s June and we haven’t planted yet), to maintaining an organic food lifestyle on a limited budget, to my own adventures on mothering Jude in ways I never have…like taking him grocery shopping.

Honestly, I couldn’t be more excited. Gabe and I make enough money to support a comfortable lifestyle but we never seem to have enough time to really enjoy it. Leaving my job, opening myself up to the unsecured world of freelance, and knowing I will be able to spend the summer with Jude…well, like the title says, we may be paring down, but things are starting to look up.