Here’s a conversation my husband and I had while out to lunch last weekend.
It started off with us talking about the 90’s generation and how they seem to have a different take on the career world. Many of them aren’t quite as willing to deal with job stress or the daily pressure of a 9 to 5 as our generation. They are more focused on doing what makes them happy instead of conforming or caving into the career path pressure and doing what they feel society expects of them. They also seem to recognize stress a bit better than our generation and aren’t too shy or filled with pride to say “no, I don’t want to feel like that.”
Husband: “People don’t need as much money as they think they do. They can live on less.” (Discussing the choices of some who do not want to work toward a stressful yet lucrative career.)
Me: “Yeah, that’s true.”
Then we talked a bit more about the differences in generations…. and I added that it made me wonder if the 90’s male “kids” we know would choose to marry wives with careers and be stay at home dads. Something I’ve never really found appealing for myself. What can I say? I’m a traditionalist.
Husband: “I would stay at home, are you kidding me, that would be great.”
Me: “So you’re saying that if I had a career that would fund our life you would be happy staying at home?”
Husband: “Of course.” I can’t remember all the comments he made because the ground was beginning to shift beneath me as the world went wonky, but he also said a few more things pertaining to how awesome it would be and then something like, how he would love to… “do anything he wants every day”. That last part is a direct quote.
Me: “I don’t, by far, do ‘anything’ I want everyday.”
“So you would clean the house, do laundry, take care of the dogs, take care of all of our appointments, household issues, cooking, sit down and pay the bills, and anything else that came up and needed to be handled?”
Husband: “Well, I would do some of those things sometimes, sure. Of course.”
Me: “Some of those things. And who would do the rest?”
Husband: “I would hire a maid.”
Me: “Are you kidding me?”
Husband: “No. Can you imagine ME at home doing THOSE things?” (Laughs)
At this point I was wishing I had ordered that margarita the waitress offered after all.
Me: “There is no way that I would feel fine working day in and day out just so you could hire a maid to do all of the things that I do now and so you could hike with the dogs and mountain bike all day every day.”
Husband: “Really? Why not?”
Me: “What. Are you serious?”
Me: “So you’re telling me that you wouldn’t care if I hired a maid to do all of the things I do now… AND I didn’t work? If I took care of barely anything and spent my days gallivanting around doing whatever I felt like while you worked every day?”
Husband: “No, I wouldn’t care. Do what you want to do. Why wouldn’t you?”
Me: “What? Are you serious?”
Why didn’t I order that margarita?
Me: “I don’t believe that for a second.”
Thankfully, we were “saved by the bell” in the form of our waitress and a huge plate of fajitas.
Then I ran across this article yesterday on WordPress Freshly Pressed.
It’s a short read.
This article resonated with me.
Did you see this quote? – “But there is another aspect to it. Perfectionism – that shadow from our childhoods. We want to be excellent – because if we are, we will be worthy of love. So we take on anything and everything that is thrown us. Even when we are aware we are overwhelmed, we find it hard to say “NO”. Because we fear that if we do – people will think less of us.”
And this one? – “Idleness is not just a vacation, an indulgence or a vice; it is as indispensable to the brain as vitamin D is to the body, and deprived of it we suffer a mental affliction as disfiguring as rickets.”
It may seem strange or even unbelievable to some people that those of us who stay at home and don’t have a career could ever be so busy or have so much on our plate that we think we need to do, that we feel overwhelmed. But it’s true. I’m still busy even though there are only two of us left at home (well…5 counting the dogs and cat), and sometimes, often, it seems like most of my days are taken up by chores and to-do lists or other things that come up and need to be handled immediately, or things I think I absolutely must do to feel productive. And I try to hurry and get the chores done so I can squeeze in the the things I love to do but inevitably, a wrench gets thrown into the mix. There’s a hiccup and all of the sudden you’re left thinking, “Where did my day go?” You’ve experienced it. You know the old saying, ‘the best laid plans of mice and men often go awry’. Like the other day when I was in the middle of doing our household bookkeeping (my least favorite job) as fast as I could so I could spend some time in my craft room when I was done, and Abigail came running in with Porcupine quills stuck in her tongue.
After reading this article I thought about all of the things behind why some of us keep ourselves so busy all the time. I’m sure there are more reasons than I can count but I’d be willing to bet that many people equate busy with productive. And the problem with having the need to be productive is that when we’re not feeling productive then we feel guilty, anxious, and have a hard time focusing on the moment and taking time to do the things we really enjoy. Being busy is not the same thing as being productive. And being busy does not reverberate the same kind of happiness as being productive. A simple concept but clearly one that many people battle, including me. Maybe some of those non-conformist “kids” from the 90’s are onto something?
Regardless of what some people’s perceptions are when it comes to “stay at homers” (believe me, I’ve heard them all over the last 24 years), I of course do not sit around doing nothing, I don’t do “whatever I feel like doing every day”, and I actually do have a brain in my head, and it works quite well. Even though all these years I’ve prided myself with being a “productive” (too busy?) human being, I think I could benefit from a little more relaxation and fun. I started to think about that conversation with my husband and that article.
I can tell you in all honesty and I’m pretty sure my husband would agree with me, that he would NEVER. EVER. EVER… choose laundry, cleaning, bookkeeping, yard work, etc. if he had the opportunity to go for a mountain bike ride, run, hang gliding, hiking, or a motorcycle ride if he was able to stay home every day and not work a job outside of this house. In fact, in most things, I’m pretty sure he’s immune to guilt and that niggling I feel to be “productive” and the choice to have fun would be clear to him. It’s a man thing, I guess. He would think that daily chores could be saved for another time. (Or his maid would do it for him I suppose.)
And if he feels fine thinking that way, in fact, guilt free…why don’t I?
Why don’t I set aside one or two hours a day when possible to do something that I absolutely love? You may be thinking, “But April, aren’t you doing that right now? You’re sitting down and creating a blog post.” Food blogging is part of that attitude of setting aside time to do the things I enjoy, of course, but I don’t do it nearly as much as I would love to. And many times I’m in a rush because there are other things that I feel are more important that need to be done and I don’t think I’m reaping the full enjoyment of the moment.
Although I’m not into all of the adventure sports my husband likes, there is a long list of things I love to do that I haven’t been doing. Maybe there’s something to that article? Why do I allow my day to be caught in a swirl of “busy”? Guilt because I don’t feel productive if it’s not? Worry that I may appear as if I’m not doing my part? Lack of time organization? And yes, there are definitely important things that need to be accomplished every day, but maybe that list of “important things I need to do” needs to be reorganized and tweaked, just a bit?
So a few days ago, I made a pact with myself to be a bit more organized when it comes to doing the things I really enjoy. And to feel less of whatever it is that’s making me feel the need to be busy with tasks all the time and feel guilty if I’m not. Beat it down with a proverbial stick if need be. Of course, I won’t be hiring a maid. (I mean seriously….really?) But slowly, I’ve been sneaking into my craft room and starting a few things, reading those few extra pages in the bathtub, lingering over my morning bible study. Trying not to fret if I haven’t made it into the shower before 9:00, there are dishes all over the counter from my morning blog post, and my husband can’t find his brown socks.
It’s baby steps, sure. But it’s progress.
Here’s a little proof of my progress. I left a mess on the counter for an entire hour and a half while I typed up this blog post…
Just because I felt like it. Uh huh, that’s right.
And I made these a couple of days ago for our bathroom. Floral pictures cut out of an art book I bought at the local bookstore and placed in shadowbox frames that I found for $3 each and antiqued.
And…I’m ever so slowly but surely getting back into jewelry making and am dabbling in making my own clay beads and such. Did you know I used to make jewelry? Yep. Even sold quite a few pieces.
Now though, it’s going to be just for fun and relaxation.
I also made a wreath for the guest bathroom window.
So there ya go. If I can do it, you can certainly do it.
We’ll do it together.
An old dog can be taught new tricks, it just involves patience. Double chocolate doughnuts help too.
We’ll beat down the “glorification of busy” and take the time to live in the moment and enjoy the things we love to do, one. day. at. a. time.
Double Chocolate Baked Doughnuts
Makes 16 doughnuts
*This recipe is adapted from Silvana Nardone’s Chocolate-Dipped Chocolate Doughnuts. Do you have her cook book? If not, you should! It’s filled with fantastic gluten-free recipes.
1 1/2 Tablespoons Instant Coffee Granules
3/4 Cup Boiling Water
2 Large Eggs, room temperature
6 Tablespoons Vegetable Oil
1 Tablespoon Pure Vanilla Extract
1 1/2 Cups Silvana’s All Purpose Flour (I used Bob’s Red Mill products and Kosher salt)
1/2 Cup Unsweetened Cocoa Powder
1 1/2 teaspoons Baking Powder
3/4 teaspoon Baking Soda
3/4 teaspoon Kosher Salt
3/4 Cup Packed Dark Brown Sugar
3/4 Cup Granulated Sugar
1/4 Cup Boiling Water
6 ounces Dairy Free Semi Sweet Chocolate, chopped or shaved
2 1/4 Cups Powdered Sugar
1 1/2 Tablespoons Dark Brown Sugar
1 teaspoon Pure Vanilla Extract
1 Tablespoon Hot Water
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray two non-stick doughnut pans (I used non-stick mini bundt cake pans) well with non-stick cooking spray. Whisk the coffee and boiling water; let cool completely. Whisk in the eggs, oil, and vanilla.
In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda, salt, brown sugar, and granulated sugar. Whisk the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients until just combined. Fill each doughnut or bundt cake cup 3/4 full and bake for about 13-15 minutes. Should be springy to the touch. Don’t over bake.
Remove from oven and allow to cool in pans for 10 minutes. Carefully loosen the sided with a fork and using the fork to help lightly remove them from the pans, transfer to a cooling rack.
For the glaze, in a medium bowl stir together the boiling water and chocolate until melted. If it doesn’t melt all the way, microwave at 20 second intervals until smooth. Stir in the powdered sugar, corn syrup, and vanilla until thoroughly combined. Add the 1 Tablespoon of hot water and whisk until smooth and of dipping consistency.
Carefully dip each doughnut in the glaze, return to the cooling racks and top with sprinkles