16 January 2013

Practicing My Vocation

Sometimes my life feels so incredibly eventful that I am overwhelmed. As proof, I'd like to enter into evidence that I've lived in three different states in the last nine months and I'm moving out-of-state again in six more. Other times, my life feels so incredibly mundane that I don't know what to do with myself. As 2012 wound down, the craziness of being a law school wife ended and Matt secured a long-term job, and I found myself with time (and the money our tight-budget-but-real-income affords) on my hands to pursue hobbies. At the turn of the new year, I got serious about writing and opening an Etsy shoppe. After reading a few religious books and spending a few days with my sister-in-law, having long-lost heart-to-hearts, I started understanding the gravity of my vocation as a housewife. I often described those first few years of my marriage as the Law School Wife chapter. When Matt took the bar exam, I said that we were entering a new chapter. It is these three new aspects of my life that are the beginnings of my second chapter. I think this chapter is the Practicing My Vocation chapter.


Being a housewife is a 24/7 job, certainly, so it is a bit impossible to delve in to every aspect. I've talked many times about playing good defense with my family's finances and about the household management (ie, chores) aspect. I personally struggle with finding a good balance. I like to go all-in on a project and don't stop til I finish. It makes for some really screwed up priorities sometimes. The first few days of last week are a prime example. Some days I got so much work done around the house that I didn't make dinner or do therapy with Abigail, other days I was so lazy and slothful that I didn't get anything done around the house, make dinner, or do therapy with Abigail. Throw in a near-migrane last week and you have epic failure. The feeling that I was dropping all the balls on everything had me sure I was the world's worst housewife.

I started to get things back in order toward the end of the week and over the weekend, at which point I also started reading a new book. It came recommended to me by a very holy friend: A Mother's Rule of Life. It draws on the Rule of Life used in convents and monasteries, and adapts it to fit the life of a mother. I didn't know what it was before I started the book, so for all of you on the same page as me, it's a master schedule that everyone follows. "It deals with the essential responsibilities of your state of life, organized to ensure their fulfillment" (pg 14 in my Sophia Press copy). My mornings are naturally pretty well scheduled out, but after Abigail's nap (she now takes one two-hour-long nap in the middle of the day), things fall apart. Sometimes they'd stay so much apart that I wouldn't even get dinner made and we'd end up having pancakes or getting take-out. I also have a hard time getting back on track if I'm up all night with Abigail or I get a headache or something comes up unexpectedly. Lastly, I'd never really feel like I had time to pray, so the closest we got to praying as a family was saying grace before dinner.

It was ugly and embarrassing, my friends.

But anyway, so I'm reading the book and shocked at how much more productive I am in such a short time. The first day I started it, I found time to clean the bathroom, scrub the microwave (I think the last time I did that, I wasn't even pregnant yet), make dinner, spend time in wholesome, one-on-one play with Abigail, work on my Etsy shop, exercise, do everything I normally do, spend about 3 times longer in prayer than I normally do, AND have personal time after Abigail went to bed at 7:15pm. (Note: about half of my Etsy work happened after she went down). Having master routine makes it really easy to snap back if something throws me off and keeps me focused when it's 3:00 and I just want to veg. I'm still in the "honeymoon phase" with my new plan of attack, but I have high hopes. I particularly hope that Abigail will learn that I have dedicated play times with her and will be more inclined to let me  make bread and stuff while she is still awake.

When I was putting our schedule down in writing, it was easy to see how little time I was dedicating to God and I found plenty of places to "squeeze" in more. It is also helping me to create routines where I always pray at certain times of the day so I'm less likely to forget. As a result, I've been memorizing more scripted prayers, geting more confident praying "impromptu" in front of others, and just thinking about God more often throughout the day. My patience is much longer, I'm enjoying my free time more, and I'm wwwaaayyy nicer to Matt when he gets home after I've spent the day with a fussy baby. So far, so good.

Saying things like, "I'm called to be a writer!" in a blog is incredibly hard. Because it means being vulnerable. I'm practically begging you to judge me. To find every typo, error, ended-a-sentence-in-a-preposition in this and every post in recent memory. I'm not the type of person who takes criticism very well.

But if I'm gonna be a writer, I better get used to it.

I've been working for a few months now on my memoirs of the pregnancy and first year with Abigail. I draw from my blog and journal entries to be sure I get the facts straight and make visible the raw emotion, but I also mix in insights I have now about why I felt some of the at-the-time inexplicable emotions. Reflecting on things has helped me heal from some of the pain I still hadn't gotten over. I'm 70 double-spaced pages in and I have about 3 pages of single-spaced ideas, sentences, and paragraphs that need to be fleshed out. Ideas pop into my head all the time and I jot them down to be added later.

I still have a way to go and would be surprised if it is a completed, edited manuscript by the end of this year. My work on it goes in spurts, but now that I have my new Rule of Life, I am going to schedule in some time on a regular basis.

The Etsy Shop
I don't know if it is accurate to say "I'm called" to have an Etsy shop, but I don't think it is out of keeping with God's Will either. It is something that has been on my bucket list for a very long time now (we're talking years). I had lots of ideas and made things for family and friends that received a "you should sell this on Etsy!" compliment, but when the rubber met the road, I always backed down.

It is scary, staring your own business. Even an online business. Many, many times during these last two weeks I have stopped, sometime literally pausing with (knitting) needles in my hand and said, "Why would anyone buy my stuff? Who am I to think I can compete on Etsy?" The idea of staying just a meek, little housewife who swept floors and baked bread seemed much safer. As Doubt would rear its ugly head, I'd jump back and forth between, "I'll be a writer! I'll run an Etsy shop!" I was sure that I would succeed at whatever I wasn't doing at the time.

But I know two people who have Etsy shops. And they talk about their Etsy shops and it fans my flaming desire to have one myself. And people kept saying, "you should sell this on Etsy!" and I kept replying, "I would love to!" And each time I had to acknowledge the fact that I was too scared to put myself out there, it got harder and harder. I honestly think that the pain of feeling like a failure beat the pain of being vulnerable, so I took the plunge. Maybe I'll paint the picture prettily when I tell others about it, "Oh you know, it was just time!" But you and I will always know: I was just sick and tired of being a chicken shit.

It isn't open yet, but will be in early February. So what is my shop?

It's Sheep & Co, a company name and logo I devised years ago when I was messing around with some design software. Sometimes I play around with a fantasy where I run a sheep farm and make and dye yarn. But what will Sheep & Co sell? Well, lots of things eventually, but here is what I plan to open with:

Hats. Winter hats for babies, toddlers, kids, teens, and adults. I'm also shooting to add a spring collection in a few months. I'm a hat person and I really enjoy making them. Plus hats are something that can be handmade and still be sold for a reasonable price. The advent of kitting machines makes it significantly financially dis-advantageous to buy a lot of hand crocheted and knitted items, even some hats. But not all hats. And I'm going to be selling some kick-ass hats. Hats made to enjoy fun adventures. Adventures in Etsy shoppes, adventures in writing, adventures in housewifery. Adventures that end in places you never expected.

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