In The Life (Part 3: Anchors & Exceptions)

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Welcome to Part 3 of a 4-part series called “In The Life.” I’d like to share a bit about priorities, balancing, and what life looks like for me right now. We’re chatting about putting first things first and some simple principles to live by. If you missed Part 1 or Part 2, go check those out! Feel free to jump in the conversation and share what your days look like. Thanks for joining me here!

 

In every schedule, there are anchors and there are exceptions. Anchors keep us stable and grounded when everything else seems to shift. Exceptions are just the reality of life. Stuff happens. Being prepared for stuff to happen, rather than being totally shocked when it does, helps immensely!

Over time, I’ve set up anchors in my days and weeks. They are the inevitable events that I write in my schedule first, and are rarely ever cancelled.

When our foster daughter left us over 2 years ago, I realized how much I missed writing. So, I told my hubby one Friday night, “Hon, I think I might wake up early and head to Starbucks in the morning at 5am so I can write.” He nodded and said, “Okay” in way that sounded to me more like, “I’ll believe it when I see it.” But that decision established a habit I maintain to this day.

So, my writing anchor means that on Wednesdays and Saturdays I’m awake at 4:40am. (Yes, you read that correctly.) I toss on clothes (whatever I can find, really) and head to my local coffee shop to write. Wednesdays are for blogging. Saturdays are for book writing or preparing for teaching, usually on the topic of identity.

I also need to have a resting anchor. So, on Sundays, I sleep in as much as my kids will allow. And since they’re 7 and 8 now, they’ve learned (thank You, Lord!) to just leave me be those mornings…well…for the most part.

And, for the past few months, I’ve traded childcare with a friend so that one day every week or two I get a full 8 hours to myself, which I devote to my most pressing work at that time: editing a book, preparing for my class, tweaking our websites, and promoting Now Found Ministries / Now Found Publishing. This is a work anchor for me, still fairly new to the schedule, but wonderful nonetheless. My kids get to have a new perspective from a friend I trust, who is also willing to do all those gross science experiments I’m happy to pass on.

These days and the habits I’ve found help me anchor my weeks and fit in those things that feed my soul, which can easily get lost in the day-to-day.

The older I get the more quickly I see a year pass by. The eternity which was the time between Christmases each year as a child now flies by with greater speed. And particular seasons mean changes in our daily routines. Here are a few exceptions throughout our year:

Pear Harvesting – We have a wonderful pear tree in our front yard that easily produces over 500 pears each year. But, the harvest time is only 1-2 months long. So, during those months (which I find myself in right now!), I have to carve out time every couple of days to peel, chop, and cook these pears. For most of the past 7 harvest seasons we’ve lived in this house, I’ve made pear sauce and frozen it in gallon bags to use throughout the year.

Advent and Holidays – Let’s be realistic… “school” in any formal sense just doesn’t happen for us in December. Family is in from out of town. There’s decorating and shopping to be done and parties to plan and attend. And, among my favorite things, we have a little advent tree to go along with our devotional by Ann Voskamp, The Greatest Gift. It’s a special season and I try to enjoy it with my family rather than feel guilty that we’re setting schoolwork aside.

Vacations – We usually take one long vacation each year and, in recent years, have added some long weekends here and there. We almost always road-trip and we don’t have DVD players in our car (on purpose!). It’s good family time, but our schedule goes out the window the second we pull away from our house.

Concentrated classes/lessons – These are those times when something seems to take over for a few days or even weeks. Like swimming camp that meets every day for two weeks…or when I teach a 3-week class and need to spend extra time running through my notes to prepare. Housework and homeschooling may move to the back burner or be pulled to the bare minimum. Such is life. And it works for us.

Semesters with my group – I am blessed to co-lead a weekly women’s group that meets about 30 weeks per year. My kids go to their classes at church while I have some grown-up time. This time feeds me and allows me to invest in others. And the kids have one more opportunity to see friends and learn from a fresh perspective from people I trust. It’s definitely worth scooting things around in our schedule.

Play-dates – We homeschool. That doesn’t mean we’re hermits. Easily half of my friends home educate, so there are plenty of people we see on a regular basis. Developing and deepening relationships with friends matters!

Illness or “I just have to have a day off” days – Then there are just “those” days. Maybe one of the kids is sick. Maybe it’s me. Maybe I’ve just reached mental or emotional burnout and we need to take a break. Since we homeschool year-round, I don’t sweat taking a day off here or there. We may just need to relocate our school time to a new location for the day. Or we may need to do something totally different. Or snuggle and watch a movie. I’ve realized it’s okay for a day or so. Then when the illness has passed or we’ve had a chance to rest, we can jump back in with greater enthusiasm.

Exceptions will always come into play. That is simply part of living. But having some anchors that bring you back after an “exceptional” circumstance will help keep priorities in their rightful place.

What are the exceptions you face in life? Do they tend to derail you or add flavor to your life?

What helps anchor your schedule and protect your priorities?