Domestic Goddess – Warrior Woman

I’ve passed Phase One of the Great Domestic Goddess Challenge: the house has undergone a MAJOR decluttering. It’s been five weeks, I’ve filled my big outdoor trash container to near-overflowing, have lost count how many bags of trash and broken-down boxes I’ve discarded.

Some of these things, some of the glass jars, for instance, I might have recycled; but after so many years of being in the mice’s traffic pattern, I don’t think I could ever have gotten them clean enough to be able to overlook that they’ve made up the monkey bars and obstacle courses for the winter invasion of mice. . . so to the trash they went. Plastic stuff, like coffee cans I was so sure would make wonderful canisters. Paper. Shredded old clothes. Badly outdated and rusty canned foods. Broken items that aren’t going to be repaired or recycled. Stuff I haven’t used. Stuff I don’t want to use. Stuff I don’t know how to use (mostly hardware stuff).

Feels absolutely wonderful! and this week I go to Phase TWO:  Recycling.  For all the stuff I have thrown away, I’ve set a lot of shelves and  a pair of bifold doors and a set of scales and pictures I don’t want and a mirror and a lot of salvageable stuff to be carried to charity thrift shop. Students here have a half-day later in the week, and a young friend has volunteered to come help me load up my car and haul it all there — God bless him!

Why does this matter? Not only for health’s sake — although it will be easier to fight the mice and the bugs that came in during the flood season last spring (and aren’t responding to ordinary bug sprays) with all the junk gone.  It’ll be a lot easier to keep the house clean – vacuumed, dusted, mopped — with all these things in the way.

No. Somehow I have the feeling that my part in the Great Battle — the battle between Good and Evil, the battle for souls — begins with my success, or at least my dedication to the domestic sphere.

I’m still sorting this out. Women must be engaged in this Great Battle just as men must  be, but I’m convinced our function is different. Men are the wielders of the swords, literally and figuratively; women most of the time have a supporting role — no less important, but different. Ask a military troop – active duty or veteran — if they could fight without support services, and see what they say. Their success on a mission depends on having food in their belly, needed supplies at hand, accurate record of their objective, etc.  That’s what we provide. In our homes, we provide the place where our sword-wielder, our men, can rest from the battle, prepare for the next, have his spirit refreshed and his strength restored.

Sure, in history there have been exceptions:  the prophetess Deborah and Joan of Arc, Katherine of Aragon (Henry VIII’s first wife).  And a few of us might be called to follow their example. But most of us are not. The Battles of Lepanto and Tours and Gates of Vienna were won by men whose women were backing them up — and joining them in prayer.

Now, I’m single and I don’t know yet how this is going to apply to me. But it does. Even if I discover, to my horror, that I’m called to be a sword-wielder, somehow, I still have primary responsibility for hearth and home.

Not a popular idea, any more, with Feminism and all. But I believe Feminism has gone too far:  from being valued for our personal skills and competencies, and being allowed to pursue our dreams, we are now competing against men. Competing against, and denigrating them. And violating our own sacred calling as nurturers and carers in the world. This is destructive, not desirable. We need to recover our balance in order to have safe and prosperous communities, and in order that Good might flourish.

Domesticity continues –

In my last episode, I was rhapsodizing over the joys of decluttering. This is continuing. I’m still on the junk room — a bunch of cardboard and four more bags of junk have made it out to the roadside pickup. But I’ve also been taking time to go through and be sure that the things I want to recycle, rather than dump in the trash, are out of the way, and that my newly-tidied areas are staying tidied.  And I can see the back wall of that room now, and I think this week (I have to stop when the trash can gets full) will see me DONE.

Oh — and I paused last week because summer gave one more great heave of force — high on Thursday broke records when we topped 100 degrees for the second time all summer — before fall weather arrived today.

This is going better than expected. I don’t know what’s happened. Indecision has evaporated. Indecision, which has plagued me my entire life (fear of “doing it wrong,” which in this case is nearly impossible — if I throw out something and something bizarre happens that I need it, I’ll replace it. Although the weird collections of plastic and screws and nails . . . I can’t imagine needing again.) — poof!

And motivation remains with me. I don’t wake up the day after a big push, exhausted and confused what I ought to do next.

Whatever is going on, THANK YOU, LORD!

What is going well:
1. I’m not afraid of making a mistake. That in itself seems nothing short of miraculous.
2. As I declutter, I’m not asking “can I use this for some project?” Honey, after this many years, I think it’s pretty obvious that I’m not a crafter and projects aren’t going to be finished even if they get started.
3. As I declutter a room, I’m resolved to take care of that room, even if it means more decluttering is put on hold for a couple of days while I deal with the box of “Stuff to be put somewhere else,” dust and vacuum, tidy the dresser top, etc.
4. Daily routines take priority — making my bed, swishing out the toilet, washing the dishes. Eating properly.  This is super important because I live with low energy and with pain issues. It’s no good to clean out the junk room if the dishes pile up in the kitchen.
5. When I find a task that needs to be re-prioritized, I go with the flow.  I thought last night I’d be working on the junk room today, but when I woke up I realized that my back hall, where the washer/dryer sit, and where the cleaning supplies are stored, really needed attention first. So that’s what I’ve been doing. The junk room will still be there when this is done.
6. I’m recording in my bullet journal the accomplishments and the decisions:  4 bags to trash; metal file drawer to charity shop. etc.

Enormously satisfying.

I remember in Coming Home, by Rosamunde Pilcher, Aunt Biddy is watching Uncle Bob clean out the garage, and she recognizes that he is “clearing the decks” in preparation for going to battle. I think that’s what I’m doing, too, although I’m not quite certain just what my battle is going to be. I have a feeling, but I try always to test those, and there’s not been a chance, yet.

Back to it — a young friend is coming, later, to help me shift things that are too heavy or of awkward size for me to deal with.

Domesticated . . . Me???

I’ve never been a domestic goddess.  For years I just felt overwhelmed, not knowing what to do when, or how (my mother was the antithesis of an organized homemaker) — then I was sick with depression, recovering from trauma .  . . fighting to stay afloat . .  .

But I’ve got to get the house under control.  The clutter is a distraction and an energy suck. I have other projects to work on that keep being postponed because all that junk has been getting in my (mental) way.

Thank God for YouTube!  I found a delightful Australian woman who posts as The Sunday Stylist, and finally, it’s clicking.  That, and I really want to move.  So here I go.

It began two weeks ago. Dorian was coming through and I knew that big a storm in proximity to where I live would leave me feeling pretty achy and even somewhat crippled for a day or two. I chose a starting project that would allow me to spend a day in a chair:  Decluttering my file drawers.

I have two file drawers.  One is a 2-drawer KMart special, nearly 20 years old. The other is a lovely 4-drawer proper office file cabinet. I had all six drawers filled:  the small KMart cabinet held all my printer paper,  file folders, notebook paper, plastic sheet protectors, etc., etc.  The bottom drawer of the office cabinet holds my journals, going back more than 30 years (!), and the other three were just full of files and music and stuff.

The journals aren’t going anywhere. Part of me would like to burn them, but I’m writing my story, and I need them for reference.  So they have to stay. But nothing else had to.  So  – – –

I don’t need to hang on to so many of my printouts. They will remain available online forever and ever, world without end, amen.  So into the trash they went. So did a lot of the music I’d been holding on to from my days in various church choirs. Several reams of colored paper and card stock went to a teacher friend. The sheet protectors, which I can’t use because they throw glare into my eyes, are going to a local organist/music director.  At the end of the afternoon, drawer 2  had become the storage place for the printer paper and notebook paper (I write a lot, longhand, in draft).  Drawer 3 is where the necessary files for home and life-in-general have been stashed.  I have one empty drawer in the office cabinet, and the KMart drawers can be donated to Goodwill or somewhere — completely empty!

Well, I can tell you, those three bags of paper trash going into my dumpster felt mighty good! So I decided to keep on going.  I considered my options, and I decided to use my motivation, usually short-lived, to tackle some things that have been nagging at my mind for a while.  I moved on to the kitchen, where  I emptied the kitchen cabinets and discarded “recycled” plastic containers and stuck in some flexible shelving that has allowed me to nearly double parts of the cabinet.  Two more bags of trash.

One of the other things I’ve needed to do in the kitchen for . . . never you mind how long!  More than long enough, I can tell you! is to clean out under my kitchen sink.

Ordinarily this is not a big deal. But out here in the country, I’ve had mice, and more recently, after the hurricane, last year, a big roach invasion.  And their favorite place was . . . yep! under the kitchen sink.  Ooh, gross.

Well, if that stuff has been sitting under there THAT LONG, and I have neither needed nor wanted any of it, it can all go.  So three more bags of trash (because of weight, more than volume) went into the dumpster.  Even a couple of glass jars that could have been washed . . . because I felt as if I’d never get them clean enough to overcome the YUCK factor of knowing they’d been crawled all over by vermin.

The rules are simple.  Do I need this? Is this making  my life easier or better? Can I access it — like printouts — somewhere else, instead? Am I using it? Obviously the things under my kitchen sink, I was NOT using.  And had no intention of using. Most of it was more plastic storage containers, which had become brittle with age, and a couple of glass jars I just didn’t want to have to clean (with the mice crawling over them I don’t think I would ever have felt they’d gotten clean enough).

Next up: the junk room. Okay, I’ve actually begun that room already. Six bags (again, weight is a bigger factor than volume) out, and I’ve barely started.  Why did I hang on to that coffee can of misc. screws and nails and junk?  Why did I think mice wouldn’t get into that sugar bag? YUCK YUCK YUCK

When I can bear to, some time after the junk room is done, I’ll turn to my bookshelves. I’ll ask myself, Does this book have real value to me? Am I likely to actually read it again, or even at all?  I have an idea of how many linear feet of books I will be able to take with me if I go to a “tiny house,” and so that is my target.

I’m not having a yard sale — I just don’t have the energy for that right now, and I’m out of town so far I never get good turnouts for them, anyway. I’ll donate what I can to charity shops. A couple of things I will try to sell. But mostly the trash going to go in the garbage.  No, I don’t feel guilty for this; for many years I’ve avoided throwing things away in order to be gentle to our landfills.  I burn what trash I can, I recycle  what I can .  . . and now I’m going to be gentle with myself and dispose of what I must.

NO I am NOT going to post Before photos!  I MIGHT post afters.  Don’t hold your breath.  I know, we’re supposed to, more interesting, etc. etc. . . .   but I have some remnants of dignity and self-respect, here.

 

 

 

 

 

Battle fatigue

I’m tired. That chronic, pervasive sort of tired that just saps everything I try to do.

It might be age-related insomnia, with night-time overactive bladder depriving me of sleep. It might be that summer heat just drags on and on and hardly any respite in sight.

But I have come to believe, since a verbal spar with a member of a well-known Catholic agency, yesterday, that I’m mostly just plain tired of control freaks.

I’d pointed out that an item said agency had published was rather florid for a news item, and that this was a distraction, and I got hammered.  Actually, I was understating when I called it “florid.”  It was a matter of purple prose, which ought never to be permitted in what is supposed to be journalism.  And the team member — two team members, actually — criticized me for not recognizing that the piece was an “opinion” piece.  Well, no, you have it posted as a World News Item; you are promoting it as news. . .

Then I saw another piece, a YouTube video in which another well-known Catholic celebrity was — boasting? — that Personality X had treated their invitation for a conversation with less than the respect and consideration Catholic Celebrity seemed to think is his due.

Add to that the heartbreaking release of news of a bishop embroiled in the midst of the sex abuse scandal ordering his seminarians not to associate with a group formed for the support of victims of that abuse — or, if they disobey, they will face absolute consequences.

I think the bishop is acting ill-advisedly. But the other two, who have no real authority, are just being petulant. Getting too big for their britches.  The one hosting purple prose in the name of journalism boasts of being journalistic. I expect more authentic journalism in that setting. The other party is just another layman opining (however well or soundly) on matters of Church and Culture.  Personality X owes him nothing.

I have felt for some time, since resigning from a couple of activities and organizations that I found were not living up to expectations, that I probably work better as a lone wolf. It’s hard. God knows, it’s lonely. But I don’t have the energy to deal with egos, incompetence, and nonsense any more. It’s just less stressful to go it alone.

That actually puts a lot more pressure on me to live up to the standards I expect of other people. I’m probably the world’s worst for making excuses for my own failings; that won’t fly in this arena.  But I’m also not presenting myself as an authoritative voice in any subject, or as THE representative of faithful Catholicism.  I’m just one woman struggling to make some sort of difference in the world — while fighting with myself about what I have to give and whether it even matters.

 

Blessed Paradox

I received a telephone call this morning. I was not quite awake, and distracted on top of that, and I didn’t catch the caller’s name right away. Okay, I didn’t really catch his name until he was giving me his website and email, and the conclusion of our conversation. It was that of a fairly well-known priest.  The idea that a “celebrity priest” would be calling me for any reason still has me greatly amused, several hours later.

In the course of the conversation, he told me about his writing, and explained a bit of the theology behind it. It made sense, and I’m going to go looking for one or two of his books. There’s always that effort to find a balance —

Like, the amazing paradox that Jesus is our friend. . . even as He is also the Creator of the cosmos.  Not a buddy who’ll hold your beer and laugh while you attempt something amazing stupid-risky and possibly sinful, but the friend who’ll set your beer on the ground, grab you by both shoulders so you have to look him in the face, and tell you, “Don’t be an ass!”

Aslan is not a tame lion, after all.

We need to remember both — especially when we go to Mass/church. Dress appropriately, behave like we’ve got some sense, teach our children to be quiet and to be reverent, too.  It’s a good thing to view Jesus as our friend, with all the intimacy and warmth that conveys — but we err if we forget just Who it is Who has deigned to call us “friends.”

 

 

Reading St. Paul

A lot of people don’t like Paul. I love him. I find him not a bigot or a sexist, but a great loving teddybear of a man who is devoted to helping the Gentile converts live fully as Christians.

Remember: the Gentiles weren’t “protestant Jews” but pagans — a polytheistic, brutal and depraved people. When they accepted Christ, they embraced a paradigm shift of a magnitude I don’t think we in the Christian/postChristian era can fathom.  Paul is devoted to teaching and encouraging and perfecting those people in that conversion.

When you find yourself bristling at something Paul says, like women keeping silence, or about subjecting herself to her husband, think back and say to yourself, “Okay — these people were former pagans.  How had they lived? And what is Paul telling them to do differently? How is his counsel making them nobler, more Christlike people?”

Sometimes the answer might pop into your mind right away, sometimes you have to resolve to just wait and let the connection come later.

On Recovering the Culture

Last night, in my blog post, I said I think our culture is past the point of no return, and that we are presently on a Search and Rescue mission. I then woke up, in the middle of the night, and I think it’s the Holy Spirit reminding me that He transformed civilization under more daunting conditions, 2,000 years ago, and will do it again —

BUT BUT BUT BUT BUT
1) We must recover our zeal for Christ, a zeal to match that of the early Christians, who carried the Gospel through the entire world, even when doing so meant their physical death.

2) And men must step up and lead the way. We women have a role to play, but we cannot do a man’s job with a man’s strength and skill. Men *must* exert their physical and moral strength and courage, and make a public stand for Christ. Without masculine leadership, Christians cannot recover our influence in the world.