Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Maniac Mindy

Several weeks ago during Sunday services, my youngest son Thatcher nestled onto my lap.  He snuggled me, brushing my cheeks with his hands, laying his head on my shoulder; the sort of affection from a little boy that softens each and every last cold prickly left in your body.  As he smoothed my hair into a pony tail with his grubby little hands he brought his chewy lips up to my ear and whispered intensely, "You're a MANIAC."  What?  I'm sitting in what's supposed to be the most peaceful hour of my week and my son is somehow inclined to tell me I'm a maniac?  

During the weeks that followed, his words did not leave me alone.  Then it began to occur to me that few whisperings during worship services have rang more true.  I am a maniac - always running from this place to that, never organized, rarely settled.  

Today, I felt sick.  Not sick with any kind of illness, more just the "unhealthy" kind of sick.  When I get this way, I lock myself in the bathroom and draw a hot bath.  I consume a bottle of spring water as I soak and contemplate what I am doing with my life.  Priorities are pondered as I scoop up handfuls of soapy water, letting it trickle through my fingers.  Do I go back to school and study sound recording?  Do I commit to those guitar lessons that keep pressing in the back of my mind?  Do I have another baby?  Do I train for the marathon?  Do I paint the house this summer and landscape the back yard?  People, it just doesn't end with me.  There are SO many things I want to accomplish, oodles of things I want to excel at.  Where do I draw the line?  How can I choose?  Do I have an over-achievement issue?  Do other people feel this way?  

Later in the day I stare at the petrified chicken nuggets in the back seat of the family car.  They lay stale and stiff next to the kid meal bag, next to the forgotten paper work which is crumpled under the pair of dirty socks.  Mindy, you have GOT to simplify your life.  First of all, how can you let your children eat those things?  Secondly, stale chicken nuggets seem like permanent fixtures in the back seat.  This has got to stop.  

"We're going on a Ghandi Diet,"  I announce to the Glediator.  "We're not buying anything for a month except the essential foods and we're getting rid of all the junk in our closets."  

"That's fine with me!" Gleddy replies with hands in the air.

Maniac Mindy is on a "simplifying" rampage.  If you have any realistic advice or proven tactics that have streamlined your life temporally or spiritually, I would eat up every word.


  1. Hey Mindy - I know I've never commented here before but I enjoy reading what you're up to and you always have great things to say. This post rings particularly true to me as I've felt the same way -- it's not that I was necessarily always trying to do too much, but I wasn't doing the important things well enough.

    This year I've tried to focus on dinner time. For me this has always been hard since Scott is often not home and my kids don't like to eat anything so I'd justify that chicken nuggets or mac 'n cheese just fine. But I was unsatisfied with that for myself or for the kids so I've been trying hard to put on a regular dinner every night and we have the goal to only eat out once a week. It's been hard but the key that I've found is this simple schedule: be home by 5pm from whatever activities or errands are being run; that usually give me enough time to pull together a simple dinner to eat by 6pm; that gives us enough time to eat and clean up and do some homework so by 7pm we can be getting jammies on -- maybe some dessert; and 8pm the kids can go to bed. We don't always do it perfectly, and some nights there are activities which preclude it, but it was a real revelation to me when I realized I could pull it off if I would just be home by 5 (and that means not working at home -- actually home doing housewife stuff).

    Good luck. Let us know how it goes.

  2. I found your blog through Stephanie. I'm so glad I did. It's funny how your post is about simplifying...I'm doing that for LENT.
    I highly recommend SIMPLE ABUNDANCE by Sarah Ban Breathnach, and I also like Moving On..
    It's like reading a journal, and inspires you to simplify your life. Her example of decluttering is to take everything out of your kitchen ( or whatever space ) and ONLY PUT BACK what you LOVE.
    For me less is more, and I really like my space.
    I'm getting to work today....looking forward to less chaos also. I have 3 little boys and a PRINCESS....so i NEED TO SIMPLIFY all the time.
    These books keep me inspired. Now I have GORGEOUS music to accompany me ( Yours ).
    Thank you for bringing Peace to Stephanie as she heals through your beautiful music. God surley smiled down upon you when he blessed you with your voice.

  3. mindy, you are so cute and funny! your husband is awesome for saying, "fine with me."=) my husband is a "traditional" eater from texas. he has gotten more flexible, but we are on different ends of the eating spectrum, for sure! i look forward to reading how the year goes on your end...

  4. Mindy,
    I forgot...this has AWESOME tips to get you started...

  5. Hi Mindy,
    Are you sure you want advice from strangers? Just kidding. Simplifying... the one thing that I have learned about it is that you have to stop and cut back your life at least once or twice a year. The more babies that came to my house, the more I had to be able to say no. I had to stay home more too (but I homeschool, so that is a whole other thing). Like sarah said above, make sure you do those important things first... you know what they are.
    One of the best things I have ever had to grasp (and regrasp) in my life is that there are seasons in our lives. I too am a high achiever, and get so bogged down by all that I am not doing (or not doing well). I realized that I cannot do it all at once, and that is okay. If I want to be the best mom I can and homeschool my kids, there is not a whole lot of room for other things. I am not going to be able to do a lot of other stuff right now. Once I was able to accept that, and realize that I have a long full life ahead of me with lots of room to do all the amazing things I want to do, a huge amount of joy opened up for me.
    It is not that I don't desire to be doing other things at times, because I do. And I most definitely have not given up on dreams and hobbies just for me, but all the "I must to all of these things perfectly, right now" feelings have gone. Remember, we must not run faster than we can go, but we must always be anxiously engaged in a good cause. As long as we are moving forward, even if it is at a snail's pace, we are moving forward.

  6. Thanks for all of the swell advice everyone!

    Sarah: I think you're right about implementing a structured routine. That has worked well for me in the past and I have grown a bit relaxed with it. You work so hard with your job and kids and always seem to maintain a such beautiful home.

    Queen B: I do love "Simple Abundance." Thanks for your sweet words.

    Birth at home mom: Loved all of your feedback.

  7. I have a hard time with simplifying, too. I am a "stuff" person (What if I need it later?), so every once in a while (usually after I go to my sister-in-law, Becca's, house and see everything in it's place and labeled)I go on a rampage to throw stuff away that I should not have kept in the first place. It's a vicious cycle. So, I just make it a point to go visit Becca more often, and keep that motivation in my heart. That may not be real practical advice, but I can assure you if you showed up at Becca's house, she would be delighted.

    I often find that I go on cycles of making dinner vs. eating out. The best way I've found is to make a plan for the week, or whatever works for you, and stick to it. We have dinner between 6 and 6:30 pm., "family time" (scriptures, reading stories from family history-grandparents life stories, prayer) from 6:30 to 7, and then bath and "cuddle time" (usually tv), and bed for kids at 7:30pm. That leaves me with a little time in the evening to work on computer stuff, switch a load of laundry, or even just veg on the couch. Having a routine in the evening has really been great, and I think it has even improved my 7 year old's reading skillz.

    I really like what birthathomemom above me said about seasons. I try to tell myself that, but sometimes it's just hard. (Hey, don't you have a song about that?)

    On a funny note, I was listening to "Hard" a while ago cranked up (can you be "cranked up"? YOU BETTCHA!!). I didn't realize that Austin was listening (he was 5 at the time), but he came in, very serious, and said, "Mom, you can't give away your heart. But you can give away the love in your heart". He was referring to the lyrics, "It's not that I don't want to give you my heart, it's just hard" Hope you have a good laugh about that one...I sure have.

  8. Mindy,

    This reminds me of the speech I had to give at work today (ya know, the one where even though everyone knows me, my knees are still shaking, my face is turning ten shades of red and my heart is about to pound right out of my chest).

    It was tying in to a quote from Natalie Goldberg that in order to accomplish things, you simply need to “Keep your hands moving.” So here is my two cents.

    "When I think of keeping my hands moving, it reminds me of my ceramics class I took. Now, in order to make a vase or a pot, you have to have the basics: clay, a wheel, the right tools, water and a sponge.

    You also have to have two other things: Motivation – because that vase/pot is never going to get done if you say things like, “I can’t do it, it’s too hard”
    And you have to have organization, because once you pull that clay out of the bag, your hands have to be in constant motion and keep that clay moving or it will dry up. You won’t have time to keep running back and forth to grab things.

    I try to apply these lessons to my everyday life. For example, things like cleaning out and organizing my inbox and bookmarks, to where I only have what I need in there and I know exactly where to find it. I’ve motivated myself to reply to one email at a time, until I have all that I need to reply to done. Keeping my important papers together, so I wasn’t scrambling for different forms last week when I did my taxes. I think it even applies to every day, mundane things like house chores, laundry, dishes. Take the few extra seconds to put something back in its place. Think less is more – the less time you have to spend cleaning something up, the more time you can spend using that item for what it’s there for. Help yourself make it as easy as possible to keep your hands busy."

    Anyway, I think you just have to find something that works for *you*. Change one thing at a time. Don't beat yourself up for things that you have done (like feeding your kids happy meals. Can you blame yourself for them being cheap and fast?). Just set one goal - like a planned meal every week, or a certain time to clean up one room of the house. Try and make a game with your boys to see who can clean their toys up faster, there are so many different ways to feel accomplished with little tasks. Just one step at a time Mindy. The only "right" way to do it is the way that works for you.

    I apologize in retrospect for seeing how long this comment is. Good luck to you with everything! We're all rooting for you.

  9. I am so with you on this, my feelings exactly about my life right now. What I always go back to is needing to:

    better my spirituality and being a better/less grouchy impatient mom and wife. All else is bonus.

    Oh, and i am training for a marathon.

    Thanks for giving us a peek in your life!

  10. Mindy,
    I love your posts! The other night my neice called and was asking advice about life. She is trying to figure out how to do everything perfectly just like you.
    I gave it my best shot and told her try not to let the little things that don't matter get in the way of the big things that do.
    When I hung up Bob said "Who were you talking to?" I told him about the call and he said "I hope you remembered to tell her about all the years it has taken YOU to figure that out." You a beautiful,talented righteous young women seeking to do what the Lord would have you do. Enjoy! These are the good times!
    Love you,Di

  11. From one maniac to another... Here's how I survive: once a week (ideally) I go through one room in my house with this thought: If I was moving next week, what would I want to take with me? Everything else goes in a bag for D.I. And for eating better: I plan a 2 week menu then shop for the items needed to create those foods. When I have all the ingredients I need in the house it's not so hard to cook from scratch. If you want some great, easy recipes - I have those, too.

  12. m, oh my goodness, you make me smile! You should know that you have supersonic powers* i mean: wow. Your writing is shimmery and gorgeous and beautiful. Truly. The answer to your questions... "Do other people feel this way?" is....ahhh: YES!!
    Here is a poem that always makes me smile, full of grace -- just like you! "yes!" xxxomuch love to you super goddess maniac of love! :) ((((thank you)))))
    God Says Yes To Me
    Kaylin Haught

    I asked God if it was okay to be melodramatic
    and she said yes
    I asked her if it was okay to be short
    and she said it sure is
    I asked her if I could wear nail polish
    or not wear nail polish
    and she said honey
    she calls me that sometimes
    she said you can do just exactly
    what you want to
    Thanks God I said
    And is it even okay if I don't paragraph
    my letters
    Sweetcakes God said
    who knows where she picked that up
    what I'm telling you is
    Yes Yes Yes

    from The Palm of your Hand, 1995
    Tilbury House Publishers

  13. Not much advice... just that I believe we are to simplify and take time to be STILL. Being too involved and crazy can weaken the family unit in many ways (nothing you'd see right away but deep down). I'm that same and would LOVE to accomplish SO much too, and often think through it but realize my situation just doesn't allow me to right now. It's frustrating (I have two young kids with a husband in grad school). So we'll see what the future brings but for now, I try to stay content just giving my all the my young family.