Here’s a look at how our daily habits and mindsets have started to change as we’re navigating language study and lots of moving:
Transitions are by nature hard. You kind of have to go back into “survival mode” and do only the necessary things.…sickness, lack of sleep, and emergencies often force us to take care of the basics only. And it’s good to know what those basics are, otherwise you end up thinking that grating coconut is necessary for life, when really, you just needed to grab some to-go food for lunch and then implement mandatory naptime.
The chaos of the past 3 transitional months has really prompted us to address the way we approach life. We’re getting ready to move again. (We have yet to find a house, but we have a lead on one to check out this week). We have to start from scratch with possessions for the most part. We’ve had to ask ourselves what stuff is really necessary for functioning well in our context and what’s just gonna be another thing to add to the pile. So, naturally the topic of minimalism came up. Funny thing is, if you look into minimalism too much, it makes your brain chaotic, which would seem to be the opposite intended effect. In reality though it gave me a few things to think about. What do we really need? What do we just think we need to survive? What stuff just creates clutter? What tools reduce the time I spend doing chores without high maintenance?
We want to leverage what we have to work for us rather than feeling owned by our stuff. We want to find that balance where we have just enough to function well. Also, looking to the future we have to consider possibly transporting items via helicopter, which makes you consider the size and weight of what you own.
For example, when considering functionality, the last house we looked at didn’t have a kitchen sink–it had a wash area. Well, that’s doable, and we could adopt that system, but really we know that for me to function well and efficiently I’ll probably need a sink, even if it’s a rustic bucket one. Especially, if I want my back to last.
Another example: we slept on a foam mattress on he floor for the past few months while we were waiting on a part for our airbed. The experience confirmed that a good bed, plus giving ourselves a couple of inches away from the creepy crawlies really helps improve our sleep. Good sleep = better language study…better everything, actually.
Also, sometimes having certain stuff might require you to get other stuff. Like if you have a big yard, you might need to hire a gardener. If you have carpet, you might need a vacuum. Plus, the tropics constantly remind us that stuff doesn’t last. Bugs, sun, animals, rust, and mold can destroy everything you hold dear very quickly. Also, when everyone’s standard of living around you is a lot different, your standards often change as well. If my interior walls were chipping off paint back in the States, I’d be prioritizing getting it painted, but here, that’s just what cement walls do, so you stop noticing after a while.
So as we’re transitioning again, our prayers have been centered around asking God to help us reduce self-made chaos. Often enough the feeling of stress and chaos is actually in our hearts as we search for peace in circumstances rather than from God. Peace almost always starts internally with a correct heart posture before God. It’s impossible to reduce the external sources of pressure that are outside of our control, but what we’ve found is that it’s possible to adjust things to reduce self-made chaos. And yes, in reality, you really could get rid of all of your stuff and still not have any peace. But we’ve been discovering changing our perspective on wants and needs has really begun to create more space in our hearts and lives.
So what is that looking like for us right now: it’s messy. It’s a work in progress.
The first thing we’ve had to do is really hammer out a framework for our week, aka a schedule.
And this is a hard task because we currently live in a culture that doesn’t care about time the way we do. If I were just here to live life, it would be different, but we actually have a language to study, which at this stage, cannot just be learned by just chatting with someone on the porch. At this stage, in order to get better, you cannot escape the analyzing part…basically, you gotta get some office time. And for us right now, we’re doing that with a 1 year old who still has naps, needs to be held, entertained, and won’t let you get in quality transcription time while watching him! The hard part is, if I don’t hammer out some form of schedule, we will just keep floundering and getting stuff done, but not in a very productive fashion. Plus, life is chaotic enough here, we have to have some form of order in the home.
Here’s what we agreed on to restore some sanity:
Knowing exactly when and how we are going to get in language hours
Meal planning –the simple kind, mostly just what the main dish will be
Specific office hours for Payton so he gets in enough uninterrupted time
Scheduled times when Payton watches Finn so I can get lessons in
Scheduled time so I can nap and then use Finns nap hour for my language/office time.
Scheduled date night –so we don’t hate each other at the end of the week and get to laugh
Scheduled shopping times –the less you have to shop with a 1 year old, the better
Scheduled day of rest – resetting is totally important
Enough room for those chaotic unexpected things to come up – we didn’t plan everything down to the hour, just the really important things
Going to bed early since we are guaranteed to be woken up early
Central whiteboard with our top 3 goals for the day so that we’re both on the same page
Things that are not innately bad, but that we’ve found create chaos:
Media – news and political drama, social media
Too many possessions
A big house/yard –more to care for
Too many social activities – this needs a proper balance
Fun projects that kind of have a timeline/due date –no need for added pressure
No date night – our relationship suffers
No time to be still
Lack of sleep
Not accomplishing the needful things first – daily goals clearly defined
Boiling it down:
Defining wants vs needs
Both of us knowing what the other wants to accomplish in the day so we’re on the same page
Survival mode plan
Keeping spiritual things fresh in our minds: reading books and discussing what God is teaching us
Things you can pray for:
-Finding the right house before January
-Rhythm to our family dynamic-would you pray that we would be able to put some of these things into practice
-keeping momentum in our language study
-choosing carefully with our new purchases in the next few months
-would you pray that God would reveal specific areas of our current habits that are still bringing extra chaos into our lives?
-Once we move, we need to find someone to help watch Finn during my language sessions