Earlier this year, I read a book by Shauna Niequist, titled Cold Tangerines. It’s the author’s memoir about finding reasons to celebrate in the midst of everyday life. Afterwards, I wanted to read another of her books, so I borrowed Bittersweet from my friend Lauren. A departure from the first book, Bittersweet revolves around the author’s attempts to seek out the good and the beautiful within tragedy and heartbreak.
In Bittersweet, Shauna includes a chapter on things she chooses not to do. A wife, mother, writer, speaker, she has limited time (as we all do) in her days and weeks, so she intentionally cuts some activities from her life. Not avoiding them for moral reasons, but because she aims to be selective about how she spends (and invests) her time.
I love, love, love to make lists. So much so, in fact, that while I spent a summer in New York City during college, I made a list of what I wanted to do when I returned to Mississippi. I don’t recall the entire contents of the list, but “eat pimiento and cheese” certainly ranked high. So, after reading Shauna’s list, I decided I’d write my own list of things I don’t do. After all, my time, too, is finite and must often be dedicated to non-negotiables (reading books to my children, planning a home school year, shopping for groceries). And last week, I read a blog post titled “I Am Not An Airplane.” The main idea? I’m a human with limitations on my time and energy and emotion, so–unlike for an airplane–the sky is not actually the limit for me.
So, here’s my list, one that is sure to look different from yours or most anybody’s. Things I (At Least For Now) Choose Not To Do…
1. Get manicures and pedicures. I wear toenail polish–I think it just makes my feet look a little more attractive–or perhaps, a little less unattractive. But I don’t wear fingernail polish on purpose. I know many ladies enjoy a mani-pedi, but I’d personally rather use my time and money elsewhere.
2. Run. At least not consistently and definitely not for training. I ran years ago, several races, and then a spate of races when I moved to Orlando. I don’t possess a “runner’s body,” and I feel a bit like been there, done that when it comes to running. I DO like to exercise, but I enjoy something that allows for more body movement–aerobics or pilates or the like. I also enjoy walking or biking with my family–because it means we get to exercise and enjoy the outdoors together, which is a high value of mine.
3. Wash my face before bed. No judging, please. I really just don’t feel this is worth the effort. I don’t wear make-up every day, and when I do, it’s usually some homemade or mineral based make-up–which just seems to wear off on its own. Plus I figure my face gets washed in the shower anyway.
4. Host frequent and/or big parties. I’m more of a one-on-one or small, intimate group kind of person. I enjoy big parties when I can find a few people with whom to have some good conversation during the night; otherwise, randomly wandering from guest to guest, making small talk as I go, saps my energy. I can do it–but it doesn’t refresh me.
5. Teach Sunday school. I help out on occasion in our church’s children’s ministry, but I am not committed to teach a children’s Sunday school class. As a home-school mama, teaching is a vast part of my life. And whereas I enjoy it with my own children, I don’t believe I have the “gift” of teaching. Again, I COULD do it, but it probably would sap my energy, so I prefer to serve in other ways.
That’s a good start–the beginning of a list of good things to do that I skip so I can pursue what’s better: better for me and for my family.