In 2002 my husband, daughter, and I lived in Oxford, England, where Kent was teaching for our university study abroad program, and he and I together provided some informal spiritual parenting and mentoring. Meanwhile, all the while, we constantly explored the old city with its layers and layers of history. It’s a walking society and we loved it. Coming from West Texas where everyone is closed up in air conditioned buildings and never is seen outdoors, it was a fascination to be outdoors under massive ancient cedars of Lebanon, among moss-covered grave stones, and sidewalks crowded with enchanting shops and people, people, people everywhere.
The uniqueness of the Oxford experience was enhanced by the fact that we were living very simply. We only brought one big suitcase of clothes and a smaller carry-on bag. We lived in a small apartment that I could clean in 15 minutes. We had a tiny kitchen, so easy clean up there. Mostly we ate out, visiting the pubs, tea and coffee shops, and all-time favorite, walking an hour to the Trout, a famous restaurant where Tolkien and Lewis often came with the Inklings, their writers’ group.
I loved being free to travel, write, pray, connect with people from many nations, and not have to go home to piles of dishes to wash and clutter to constantly fight and push back into the shadows, as was the case back home in my everyday existence. Small spaces to care for freed me/us up for more fun and important endeavors with people.
In 2013 up to the present, I’ve been learning how to take better care of my emotions and eating a healthy diet, walking, trying to revive my adrenals and thyroid toward more normal functioning, and it’s happening, slowly, I’m thankful to report. But it was frustrating and scary in the beginning with insomnia and anxiety so prevalent in daily life. I got to where I dreaded to enter the kitchen, feeling overwhelmed by messes to conquer before I could even cook. So common for all mothers I think. I remember those feelings while raising small children–the supper hour comes, tempers fly and children wail, hungry and tired. Mommies too.
Whether you live in big or small spaces, being organized, having plans for meals, having tools at your fingertips that you truly use a lot, cuts down on overwhelm. My next goal is to streamline the counter tops, drawers, and shelves for a new measure of serenity.
And the organization and arrangement of items in a way that delights me spills over into other areas. Joy and enthusiasm are as necessary to me now as my breath. I think that when I have that kind of zest about life and its simple details, it spills over and blesses others…beginning with those we live with.
Mother Teresa said, “What can you do to promote world peace? Go home and love your family.”
This so fits in with my heartfelt philosophy that all the details of our lives are holy and precious. Jesus said that if you give a cup of water to someone in His name, you’ve given it to Him!
So I’m tackling the un-peace in my kitchen this week, contributing my humble portion to world peace.