(Written in response to a few searching emails regarding the huge gaps of time here with my blogging. I’ve just taken a slower, quieter approach now. I couldn’t tell you my blog stats anymore- I convinced my husband to hide that button in my dashboard and not tell me how to ‘fix’ it. Best thing I’ve done all year!)
I spend a lot of time looking out these windows.
I’ve watched the sun in its orbit, the shafts of light slow-spin across honeyed wood, cut glass jewels across woven table cloth like a kaleidoscope of gold.
Sometimes the table is all piled over with mountainous collections of laundry, and I’m staring off into the intricacies of the green oak leaves across the way as I flip and fold and hang…Fernando Ortega singing in the background.
Other times the table cloth is hanging dangerously askew, fruit bowl teetering dangerously- slid aside to clear way for messy art projects by boys intent on their work, paint slap dashed, glue tipped sideways, markers splayed like so many colorful pick up sticks…
We don’t gather around the table to share a meal as often as we would like. Sometime it’s just the logistics of the thing: only two of our five children are old enough to serve themselves, so James and I spend what seems an inordinate amount of time shuttling back and forth between kitchen and table, mopping up spilled drinks, catching plate preparing to fly from an over-eager toddler’s hands who’d really rather play than eat. By the time we finally sit, our food is cold and the kids are done eating. It’s a balancing act. We’re getting better at it, and I’d say two or three nights out of the week it all comes together into an enjoyable time filled with laughter and good food.
I spend more time at this table than I do anywhere else. It wasn’t a conscious choice at first. It just happened to be the most convient place to accomplish things- the right height for folding laundry, the right space for schooling (at least for now). I gravitated to the view out the windows in the spring months- I needed the peaceful simplicity of the woods out back to call me back to center. The artist in me has wanted to figure out how to capture the changing moods of light- Kelly would catch it so quickly…but mostly, the parade of color is stored safely in my memory.
I make a very, conscious, sometimes uncomfortable choice to stay here at the table now. Sometimes I would much rather be anywhere but there, anywhere that meant I wasn’t in relationship, anywhere that meant I wasn’t being diligent in caring for my family- curled up with good book on the couch, clicking away at the computer, piddling and playing with my art supplies. This is not to say that any of these things were or are bad in of themselves. In fact, I think they’re all needed in their own measures.
It had become a destructive cycle for me, a wild pendulum swing from hyper-perfectionistic action till I was utterly undone, burnt out, empty. My house may have sparkled, but my heart was dull, my spirit deadened. I would then spin into a downward spiral of depression. It would start in an absorption of all things me– I would laze on the couch, reading book after book, laptop flipped open, surfing endlessly, mindlessly, mind-drunk, gluttonous on information. Oh to some this would sound odd, but this is my way of checking out. When I read, the world around me goes to a quiet buzz. Want to plan my birthday? Talk about it in front of me while I am reading a book, and I won’t even notice purple monkeys flying by. The cycle would circle round until I struggled to make the simplest of decisions, heart, mind, and body sick.
It’s hard to explain depression unless you’ve been there. It is very real, and it is very dangerous. I think I will struggle with it for the rest of my life.
One of the things I have learned to do is watch for the triggers that lead me down that awful path. There’s a lot of stuff going round the blogosphere about the good or bad in blogging, in blog-reading, Twitter, Facebook. Some tend to come off either direction with self-righteous indignation: “You’re not a ‘good’ [fill in the blank] if you do (or don’t do) these things.” I’ve been thinking about it for a while, and I’d like to enter a third opinion.
The blogosphere saved me from myself. Had it not been for honest, faith-filled writing like Ann or Elise, had it not been for the joyful nitty-gritty journal entries of Elizabeth, had it not been for Tonia…had it not been for the cheering and encouragement of Andrea and Aimee…I would have completely shut down, gone off the deep end. Elizabehth’s honest descriptions of post-partum depression helped me to understand what I was dealing with, and her encouragement helped me to reach out and get the help I needed. I am privileged to call of each of these precious ladies friends.
Even today, in a house of toddlers and very little adult conversation, these technologies help me keep my wits about me and communicate with others who understand the situations, who sharpen me ‘as iron sharpens iron’. They inspire me to be a better mama, a better wife, a better cook. (Good gracious, Aimee‘s recipes that she finds and links on Facebook. Yum.) Above all, they call me to Christ. I cannot tell you how many times a week one of them manages to make me cry, consider, confess my need for Him…
Because of who I am, because of the way I am wired. Because all these technologies have been part of my cycle of destructiveness, I have made a conscious choice for most of this year to be quiet. I don’t post very often anymore, I rarely Twitter save for a good ol’ fashioned tweet party now and then. Sometimes days go by before I post a status update on Facebook.
I needed to get quiet. I needed to listen. Others may not need the level of separation that I need. Some might need more and not realize it. I don’t know. But my take on the matter boils down to this- when someone asks me how I feel about the good or the bad in the internet, I think we should be, above all, mindful. Not mindless. We shouldn’t just enter into all of these things on whim, and not consider how they fit into our lives or how they affect our hearts and minds. And that goes for a lot of things and not just the internet, of course. But I also think that we should not throw the baby out with the bath water and say it is all bad. Neither is true. There is a middle ground, a thoughtful, mindful approach that means we get the best of both worlds- but we have to stop and consider and evaluate it- sometimes on a daily, hourly basis.
My question to myself is quite simple: Have I come to the table today? If I have, I feel released to enjoy my time online. If I can’t answer that in a positive way, my time online that day is curtailed. It has been a huge burden lifted…I feel I’ve finally found a balance for myself after four years of blogging.