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Saturday, January 23, 2010

keeping up...


"...Nobody cries at the end of a movie about a guy who wants a Volvo.

But we spend years actually living those stories, and expect our lives to feel meaningful. The truth is, if what we choose to do with our lives won't make a story meaningful, it won't make a life meaningful either." Donald Miller. A million miles in 1000 years.



What am I choosing to do with my life? Am I living a meaningful life? or am I just caught up in getting by? because, really, isn't that what it is?
we choose a place to live where the schools are good...this, in turn, means the housing prices are a little more expensive...but, really, the whole cost of living goes up in general and thus, begins the cycle of keeping up w/the Joneses.

It's a lot easier for me, personally, to not care about keeping up with the Joneses just by taste alone...
I prefer tiny cottages that end up making me nearly insane b/c of the clutter that spills out of it (toys toys toys!!)...
I would absolutely die for a 1972 VW van (SO not kidding!), I'd trade my cheap SUV for it in a heartbeat...
I prefer $10 garage sale chairs- I see the bones of such a piece and think of all the fabulous ways I could change it: robin's egg blue, bright floral, a soft velvety fabric...oh the possibilities...then I fall in love with it just the way it is and I can't bring myself to change it b/c, as it turns out, it's absolutely perfect and it's grown on me...
My favorite and best clothing finds are those ninety-seven cent shirts that I find on clearance at J. crew and buy just b/c the price is amazing. Now, if this shirt were full price I would never choose it...but @ 97 cents, it could grow on me...then I get it home and it becomes that shirt that gets worn so much it's the one that I end up ruining in the wash b/c I forgot to check Tate's pants pockets for the black crayon that stained my (now) favorite 97 cent shirt in the dryer (among other things)...

you see, it's quite easy for me not to care about keeping up with the Joneses...but, then...I have kids...and I put them in a secure place with a good school b/c I've moved these poor babies around way too much (Claire is on house #12) and I have to somehow give them something stable...but, as I mentioned before, b/c we live in this area of exemplary schools and b/c life is so much more expensive for a couple of 29 year old kids with 2 kids of their own, activities on the exemplary side of the city are so expensive.

We don't even want to keep up w/the those Joneses who have their kids double-booked every night of the week...all we want to do is give our kids the chance to explore who they are- to take their gifts and grow! Claire, she loves music and acting, and she's a ferocious little tennis player. Tate is a little fish, he's active, and just wants to play soccer and swim...

I'm not hoping for sports scholarships or big auditions, all I want is for my kids to love life, to have the opportunity to pursue what they love...to figure out what makes them come alive and run with it.

I feel like just by living the rushed way we do, we might be missing the point :
ALARM! jump out of bed, rush through the shower, rush to make breakfast, rush through breakfast, rush out the door to school, rush to get into the classroom, rush into traffic to sit, rush to work, rush home from school to start homework, rush through homework so there's time for showers, make dinner, wait for Matt to get home from work, eat late b/c of traffic, rush through dinner so that there's enough time to read and cuddle w/the kids, hurry to turn out lights so that the kids will get enough sleep for school...

when does it stop?

will I wake up tomorrow and will a decade have passed? will my kids be repeating these same habits, these habits of letting life pass us by? will we all wake up 80 years old w/nothing to show for it but having paid our bills? or maybe not-maybe we all wake up w/huge debt from all of the years of trying to keep up and we go to our graves worn out, having missed life altogether.

I mean, I think about this all the time, Claire and Tate are 8 & 6...
they go to this school system that teaches them to never be late, to stand quietly in line, to hurry hurry hurry....when, really, are they learning to love learning? or are they learning to become good employees?
I hear things like "you'd better get used to this, just wait until you're in high school...just wait until you're in college," or "Don't you want to go on to next year's grade? you're not acting like a _____ grader," and I am guilty of saying these same things, myself.

Can't we just enjoy now? can't we be excited about the grade or place we are in now without constantly looking forward?
are we just products of our American society? slightly discontent w/what we have in the here and now, always working for something bigger and better only to find that it really doesn't satisfy us in the end? are we looking for something outside of ourselves to satisfy us? Don't we all long for that farmhouse/beach house/cabin/fill in the blank where we can wake when our eyes are rested, we can sit and sip our coffee, and enjoy one another's company? where we can forget about the bills, or keeping up, or the image we are portraying to the rest of the world around us and just enjoy life?
Do we have to be 80 or dying to do that?
BUT, how can we NOT? I mean, really- we use power, we buy food, we drive places, we eat out, etc. etc. all of these things cost money...and that doesn't even include the unexpecteds like paying for an extra week for the moving truck and trailer when I got sick, and then the ER bills, and the lab bills, and the three extra nights of hotels b/c I couldn't drive for very long, and then the $3300 we lost when we broke our lease in Denver a month before it had even started b/c we felt that Savannah was the better choice over Denver for our life story (the one we are trying to live by rather than rushing by in a blur as we have in the past)...
then there's the unexpecteds of having to leave Savannah b/c of illness, and losing the deposit + 1st month's rent there...of having movers that overcharged us and stole some of our needed household items....So, how do we NOT live in this rat race?

How do we enjoy this one life we've been given, how does it NOT pass us by?

Just this morning Claire said, "Mom, in 10 years I'll be going to college! I can't wait!" wow...in ten years I will be nearly 40, my oldest will be a senior in high school, and my youngest will be driving. JUST ten years ago Matt and I had just met...ten years ago my kids weren't even born...ten years ago I was in college and living alone...ten years went by in a blur, I want to hold onto the next and cherish them-each moment-to enjoy it, to not flip out b/c we are late to kindergarten and second grade b/c big deal, in the game of life, my children AND their teachers are not actually going to remember those things.

I want to live more simply. Maybe I'll cancel cable TV again. Maybe we'll spend more time reading and playing games and talking to each other.

I think I want to move somewhere simple, somewhere that doesn't cost my left arm and right leg to live, somewhere that has schools that teach my kids the joy of learning and nurtures their curiosities...maybe a smaller community that doesn't have to be as concerned w/so many of the sad issues that take place w/children in metro areas...a place where we can have a farmhouse and we can wake up and eat breakfast at a more leisurely pace, and Matt and I can create and make enough to live off of the income that that creates....

...I know, I know, that type of living takes hard work...but, 80 years worth of it?

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