I am where I should be. I am doing what I am supposed to do.
I claim these declarations with an authenticity that has taken up residence in my psyche. Before my decision to quit working, there was a disquieting restlessness within me that permeated my life. It was a scattered, anxious feeling that lay beneath the surface of my days and nights.
I dreaded the question, “So, what do you do?” My answer usually included the organization I worked for, but not what I did. Had I been an athlete, say a football or basketball player, I could have responded, “I play for X (insert team name) as a Y (insert position), but the other players and I spend most of our time on the bench. I am looking to be traded.” For someone who is a “knower and a doer” being “benched” made me feel, well, worthless or (to use a slightly toned down word) useless. This is not to say that I derived my worth from “the game” and that the important people and other endeavors didn’t provide meaning and value. It is true though, that jobs occupy a great deal of mindspace especially when we are called to give our most alert hours of the day in service to them. What a great potential for any discontent there to infiltrate home and hearth. The designation of “knower and doer” was given to me by my Aunt Selena when I was a child. For any accomplishment I achieved, she wouldn’t get excited for me like others. She would just say, “I’m not surprised. She’s a knower and a doer.”
Those days on the proverbial bench are over for me. I’ve been traded. (Okay, I will desist with the sports analogies here.) I have coined a term for what I am. As someone who stays at home and devotes a big portion of the day to writing and reading, I don’t identify myself as principally a writer. There are tasks I complete that can be found on any homemaker’s list, but I am not a homemaker. I am what I call a lifemaker. Quiet as it is kept, lifemaking is bliss! If it sounds corny or like a concept plucked from the pages of a self-help book, so be it. Lifemaking is neither. It is a line of work that is the result of complete integration, where life is not separated into spheres like “work” and “home.” The full of life is a series of intentions that are integrated into a coherent whole.
Most days, I work 18 hours. I am up at 5:00 am for devotion, scripture reading, journaling, and prayer. The morning is my favorite time of the day because it is clothed in dewy newness. I usually lay down to sleep at 11:00 p.m. My husband is a night person. Nights are okay, but I am a little anxious about them as they signal the end of the day. Sometimes I am too ambitious about what I can get done and want to keep going. The night says, “No! “Stop!” In between there is breakfast, dogs, school bus stop, walking dogs, writing, reading, blogging, miscellaneous, school bus stop, homework, dinner, family time, home movie (maybe), and finally sleep.
Yesterday, I experienced bliss when helping my daughter study for her social studies test. We were reviewing America during the 1860s when the difficulty of travel and communication between the east and west coasts gave birth to the Pony Express, the telegraph system using Morse Code, and the transcontinental railroad’s construction. The California goldrush, cattle drives and how Native Americans were forced onto reservations when they attempted to resist expansion were all a part of the review session.There were also lessons on the settling of the Great Plains region by immigrants who worked the land. They were called “sodbusters” because of their use of the sod there that proved very fertile for farming. I marvelled at the comprehensiveness of her text book that included facts like the founding of Nicodemus, Kansas by southern blacks who came looking for a better life. They named themselves “exodusters” in solidarity with the Israelites story of bondage and freedom in the biblical book of Exodus . There was also the story of George Shima, an immigrant from Japan who perfected a method of growing potatoes in the San Joaquin Valley. Our review became so spirited that Vashti decided to “preach” the facts back to me using the preaching method of the black tradition. She surprised, tickled, and delighted me with this. I didn’t know she had it in her! I wish I could have videotaped that “sermon” of historical facts with me as the congregation, “Amen-ing and My Lord-ing!” her every word.
These types of sessions were rare before I was a lifemaker. Then she went to an afterschool program and we picked her up by 6pm. Once home there was dinner for me to prepare while she did her homework. There was the scramble for me to look it over between trying to make dinner, watch a news show or two, while hoping to get on the computer for a little time or read a chapter or two of some book. Squeezing in time to talk to Larry and Vashti about their day at school and work was done at dinner. Weekday mornings and evenings were rushed through at a frenetic pace.
Now there is more focus and measure as the work of lifemaking includes all that I do, from writing a chapter of my book to scooping Rock and Candi’s poop! The great thing about lifemaking is that everyone can be one whether leaving to work outside the home or staying in. It requires an examination of all your tasks, practices, and endeavors. You must seek the intention that lies behind each of them, making sure they are true to who you are and what you are trying to do. Then you must integrate them all into that one sphere of the life you are seeking to make for yourself. Everyday is an adventure.
Lifemaking is bliss!