One of my 2018 goals, actually the very first and most important one of them all, is to be The Joyful Conductor of Our Unique Lifegiving Home. That’s a mouthful isn’t it? I read Sally and Sarah Clarkson’s The Lifegiving Home last year and it radically changed the way I viewed my home, my role within it and our family, and the way we celebrate, learn, eat, and basically do life. While it’s not a Rhi Reads 2018 selection, I highly recommend it. It inspired my most important work I’m setting out to continue over the next twelve months and beyond.
I want to share some more of my goals for 2018 now that we’re so close to February but I want to do so in a different way than a bullet list of what I’m tending to each month. Instead I’d love to devote specific goals to their own posts and do a recap of how I am doing tending to select goals at the end of each month. My hope is that this approach will help me be accountable but also inspire and give insight to others in pursuit of similar goals.
So back to my overarching 2018 goal!
In The Lifegiving Home, there’s a part (and I’m sharing this based on my personal interpretation) about the conductor’s role in an orchestra. To some, the conductor’s role seems pointless and even silly; are the musicians in the orchestra, who are focused on their unique contributions to the whole group, really paying attention to the person at the head of the group waving their arms around, skinny long stick in hand? To anyone not musically inclined or for those who have never played an instrument the answer would probably be a hard and fast, ‘no’. But to those who understand the complexities of music let alone the type of skill it takes to play an instrument and perform in something as high calibre as an orchestra, the answer is a resounding, ‘yes!’
Much like we are quick to judge (often in a negative way) the role of the conductor, we are quick to judge the role of a woman in the home. Whether the woman plays the role of homemaker, chef, grocery shopper, mother, laundry expert, wife, foster parent, organizer, tidier, homeschooler, or whatever else her responsibilities are within the walls of the home, often we’re quick to dismiss her responsibility as being pointless, or worse, because some institutions believe that this SHOULD be a woman’s job, we downplay the value and importance of her work.
On the contrary, as Clarkson points out, the women’s role in the home (if we are talking in a traditional sense; it may very well be that a man has the above mentioned responsibilities in his home which is also awesome and probably true in many homes!) is incredibly important, and without her, many things would fall through the cracks. Much like the musicians in the orchestra would be lost without their conductor, a home without a leader would most likely fail to be filled with purpose and best of all, joy. It would cease to be lifegiving.
Reading this particular part of The Lifegiving Home was one of the top ten moments of my life when something radically changed my thought process and heart in a very profound way.
Some of the things I deeply cherish in my life, some of the things I say YES to on the daily, are direct opposites to some of the hard NO’s on other’s lists (like my dear friend Emily who spends her time differently than I do but cherishes many of the same things as me like joy, family, and pursuing purpose). I share this because there’s not right or wrong things to value in your life but instead the BEST things and those are unique to you.
The things I cherish include (and this is just a sampling from a longer list):
• Keeping first, a tidy, and second, a clean home (because clutter can translate to dirty but a tidied home doesn’t always come across as needing a good cleaning; #lifehack I guess?). This means there’s a spot for everything here in the Bosse home, I’m ruthless with getting rid of or selling things when needed, and I am very orderly with making sure everything is in its place. I’m far from perfect and our garage is currently the exception to this rule but I am very particular with the level of tidiness in our home because this translates to how our space feels at any given time. And a mostly tidy and mostly clean home is part of how I love my family well because as a result my husband and toddler (and myself of course) can better rest, play, work, eat, cook, sleep, and live together.
• Filling our day to day with small traditions and little habits that make our days more fun and enjoyable. This means an Alexa on Andrew’s bedside table so we can ask her to turn our bedroom lamps off before we go to sleep, ‘play 15 minutes of ocean sounds’ to fall asleep to, and ‘play 1930’s music’ when we wake so our days start on a happy uplifting note versus a stressed one from having our brightly lit phones in our hands (we have a basket on the kitchen counter for electronics to go in before bed). This also means honoring the ritual of lighting candles at the dinner table even when it’s a simple meal, having spontaneous dance parties in the kitchen thanks to a second Alexa on our main living level (which sometimes involves climbing on furniture; #oops), and always doing at least one load of laundry each day, making sure to use washing and folding time as an opportunity to teach Lachlan new things (e.g. ‘what color are these pants Mama is folding, Lachlan?’) In doing the mundane things from a place of JOY (e.g. waking up, making dinner, doing laundry), they in turn become rituals to treasure and cherish.
Little by little, small traditions and little habits make my family feel loved, excited, and stressfree.
• Feeling proud of the way our home looks because beneath the beautiful things (beautiful to me at least) is intentionality and purpose. This means the things hanging on our walls have a story to tell and those stories matter to us. It means the pillows on the couch entice a guest to come sit down, while the throw blanket begs to be draped over the guest’s lap. It means the way we store toys is both functional for Lachlan but pleasant for us adults because we all live and use this space together. It also means that our beautiful space can translate into a welcoming abode for others whether they be friends, family, new guests, clients, or neighbors. It means something can be beautiful and that beauty can be inherently valuable. So I embrace my role as conductor and place value on the tangible things in our home because that matters to me and usually what matters to me also matters to the people who live with me. We’re all in this together.
And you get the idea!
It is NOT about perfection. Even if it comes across that way to outsiders. It’s about joy within the four walls of your home and living in a way that’s sustainable for a lifetime. One of the pillars of a lifegiving home is being able to support your lifestyle, decisions, desires, likes, and habits in a way that will feel full, rewarding, and worth it at the end of your time here earth-side.
The thing I love about The Lifegiving Home is that you have the permission to define what lifegiving means to you. For example, Sally talks a lot about the importance of music in their home. Her children were taught about musical composers and classical artists like Mozart and Beethoven throughout their lives, many of her kids growing up learning how to sing, play instruments, and write their own music. For us however, I fear classical music would bore the size 6 diapers off my toddler, so instead we listen the The Greatest Showman soundtrack as many times as Alexa will let us (how many times is TOO many?) and we create lifegiving experiences personal to us. It’s not about taking someone else’s lifegiving home and trying to ‘live’ it but rather making your own space just a little more sweet than it probably already is.
So to summarize my already very long post, I plan to follow up in February with the ways I’m working hard to serve as the joyful conductor of my home. I’m thinking I’ll share examples every now and then of habits I’m trying to form or things I have done but if there’s an approach you’d be most interested I’d love to hear about it below!
P.S. As a fun little aside, in an effort to ‘walk the walk’ before ‘talking the talk’ I asked Andrew if he noticed any of my efforts in January to be the Joyful Conductor of Our Unique Lifegiving Home. And to my surprise he sure did! Here are the three main things he recognized me working towards and says have helped make our home more joyful as a result of my efforts (this is the best part because my efforts are truly only for Andy, Lachlan, Zoe (!) and myself):
1. Doing a load of laundry each day, folding everything nicely, but then here’s the kicker (because I’ve always been the one to handle laundry) instead of placing clothes in a nice basket which would get ignored for days and drive me batty and sometimes prompt nagging Rhi to make an appearance, I now put Andy’s piles of clothes on his nightstand where he’s almost forced to put things away (or at least the clean clothes’ destination is closer than it was from the laundry room). I did this one day just to switch it up and keep the laundry room tidier, and miraculously it’s made things easier for HIM which in turn allows me to be more lifegiving.
2. Having a meal plan in place and having the cooking process started when Andrew gets home from work. If you read this post or this one you’ll know food and meal time in the Bosse home is a process. Albeit an important one. So instead of looking at meal prep as a tedious chore, I look at cooking as a blessing (because food saved my life last year) and an opportunity to nourish my family. I also not so secretly love the nostalgic feeling of cooking a nice dinner when my husband waltzes through the door after a long day, apron on, music playing on the radio much like my Nan used to do. . . I was born in the wrong era.
3. Late last year I invested in a cheap Target dry erase board which I attached to the entryway wall off the garage using command strips. I would take time each Sunday to fill out commitments for the week and this really helped us stay in the know on what was happening when (especially when we had commitments together or separately that required the other to step up in some way). This system worked SO wonderfully that I upgraded our weekly calendar to a monthly one and added a blank erase board where I could further add important notes, reminders, things to be grateful for, etc. Andy said he loves how this simple system and the dedication to keeping it updated allows us to value our time differently now and have a better overall snapshot of what’s happening in our lives.
Thanks for sticking with me through this long post, friends! Photo by Kelly Sweet. Xo
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