Thursday, June 3, 2010

Clockwatching 101

Dear Friends,

The battery ran out on my kitchen wall clock last week. I'm not going to replace it. It is now perennially 7:30 in my kitchen. Take your pick of a.m. or p.m. (It's analogue.)

Is anyone else sick of watching the clock during the day? And by sick, I mean exhausted, wrung-out, burned out, just plain kind of done?

I'm talking about those loooooooong hours between, say, 3 p.m. and 6 p.m. You know, those late afternoon hours that have you swearing (in more ways than one) that an extra day got slipped in there somehow? You started out just great, lots of energy (or coffee, for those who rely on caffeine to get through the sleepy times of the day), you hit your stride around 10 a.m., so far, so good; then it's lunch, hey, that's not so bad, halfway there, get your next energy boost (or cup of coffee) after digesting for a bit, return some calls, sink into the afternoon's tasks or activities, then BAM! You think for sure it's about quittin' time--or time for your honey to call and tell you he's on his way home--and GEEZ! It's only 3 p.m. DANG! Who jammed what feels like an entire extra day onto what should be the end of this one? Because it's going to require about 8 more hours worth of energy to get through the next three.

Are you as fed up as I am with those BAM! GEEZ! DANG! days?

"I'm mad as hell, and I'm not going to take it anymore!"

I do not want to live my life like that! I love my life! I love my kids! In theory, I want to be with them every second of every day, to soak up and share and discover and explore and just be together.

Well, that's all well and good, but I'll tell you what: I watch that clock from 3 p.m. on many days. When will Ben be home? When will I get a shower? When do I get a break? How am I going to prepare a (wholesome) meal, while monitoring two equally exhausted toddlers, who are also on the cranky downslide to 6 p.m., awaiting the rejuvenating air Ben's evening arrival inevitably brings to our home?

And, I know from personal experience as a former cubicle worker that many of you office-dwellers feel the same way. I've watched clocks on industrial walls just as studiously and--don't bother to forgive the pun--minutely as the clock on my kitchen wall now as a stay-at-home mom.

Today, I taped a little piece of paper over each remaining (working) clock on my microwave and oven displays. I now realize I should write a little reminder to myself on those slips, some affirmation or reassurance or Carpe Diem message. I know I'll see it, because I catch myself glancing there by habit regularly.

What should the message read? Hmmm....ideas....perhaps: Live in the Moment. Peace. Be Open to Divine Inspiration.

Time is merely an arbitrary device to help us track our time here on Earth anyway, isn't it? I get that it's useful if you want to meet friends at a certain time, or arrive at a play or movie before it starts, and such....but, sigh. I know I want to stay present as often as possible in the here and now. Time to break out my Zen books.

In the meantime, let me share some moments when I have experienced that complete presence of mind, body, soul:

labor and childbirth
one on one with Ben
play-doh with Logan and Paige
watching Glee
acting...especially those shows with a long run, you don't ever have to think
oh, but also an understudy gig I went onstage for one week...all senses were completely open and present
kissing my newborn babies
directing and vocal/acting it, love it, love it
tennis: keep your eye on the ball

What do these experiences have in common for me? Presence, energy, joy, peace, intrigue, faith, connection, alertness, immersion...

Now, to enter that land as often as possible...

Do what you love, the money will follow.

Ben, Logan, Paige and I are on a journey to live our lives fully present every day, together. We are exploring. We are rethinking everything. In fact, we are attending the 14th International Rethinking Everything Conference this September in Dallas/Ft.Worth, Texas! You know, come to think of it, the kids are already living this way. So, for Ben and me, it is more of a relearning process, or perhaps a process of unlearning social convention. It's time to think outside the box and put a life together for ourselves, with inspiration from others who have travelled a similar path. Ben is putting together his own list of experiences and passions that speak to his heart and fuel him and in which he finds himself wholly present. It's fun to discover and remember and tune in! Let's see where our lists coincide and then brainstorm together ways to create value for others, in order to earn our livelihood together, including Logan and Paige.

My vision is no more long days without Ben. Our family wants and needs to be together. Will there be opportunities for solo ventures, too? Absolutely. But those will be by choice, not dictated by wage-slavery. You see, we had a taste of freedom during those 11 weeks Ben was unemployed. Even though he was working feverishly to get his web-based genealogy application launched (in case that turned out to be our only immediate source of income) he was still at home. Logan and Paige became accustomed to a daily rhythm that included Daddy. And frankly, so did I. I got to swoop in with hugs and kisses whenever I wanted to. I was able to nap most days. I showered. I had time to prepare nice meals. However, we definitely needed to work more on playing.

I have faith that we can create income for our household by doing the things we love, and become self-actualized in the process, and grow even closer together as a family, while meeting everyone's needs. Theater, creativity, art, business, music, relationships, connections, unschooling, personal growth, fulfillment, passions, dreams, presence.

I have a lot more to say about this, but I'll admit I did just sneak one little peek at the clock on my laptop, and I need to go to sleep! Paige has been asleep for four hours, and I'd better follow my advice to all mommies: sleep when the baby (or toddler) does.

Stay tuned, my friends. We are on a really cool journey, and invite you to come along with us. For me, it all starts with becoming more deeply aware of my passions and dreams and how to live them out. How to construct a life that answers the call to LIVE life to its fullest. And, I'll tell you right now, clockwatching is not part of the new vision.

Let your clock batteries run out. Don't replace them. See what happens next.


  1. i went to RE alone in 2008 and it changed my life. Last year, I brought my whole family and we are like a totally different family now. We can't wait to go back this year :) See you there.

    We ONLY watch the clock from about 3-6 because I have older kids involved in activities that take place when public schools are out, like dance, singing and drama. I imagine one day you will long for lazy afternoons. <3

  2. This is awesome, Carrie!

    Yes, let's rethink everything! I don't know if I am going to cover my clocks, but I certainly will continue to find ways to enjoy each moment! :)

    I can't wait to hear about your experience at the conference. It makes me want to chat with Jim about it again and see if we could figure out a way to make it work. I wish flying wasn't so expensive for a family of 4.

  3. I hope you all are successful in finding out what your passions are and putting them to work for you. Good luck!!

  4. I've signed on to follow your journey...can't wait to see what happens next! Adventures await!!!

  5. LIsa, great! Thanks for reading my post! Looking forward to connecting at the RE Conference!

    Christina, We will certainly fill you in on our experience at the conference. Many inspirations to share, I'm sure!

    Viki, Thank you for your encouraging words!

    Mom, Thank you for introducing me to adventures from the very start!

  6. Thanks for sharing Carrie. It is a rainy morning and I was just up in the garden watching the rain fall and the plants bending over. Sometimes a rainy day is all I need to recenter and rejuvenate. I'm glad to be in touch with you and your family again.

  7. We went to the UWWG in Ohio in Feb. I wish we could go to this conference, but vacation time doesn't allow, and I think we have a wedding during the same time frame.

    My husband works from home and we're really spoiled. We have all the perks you mentioned having gotten a glimpse of while Ben was home for those 11 weeks, but the income is still there. We'll both be VERY sorry when his contract ends (in the next year or two), but very hopeful that he'll find another work-from-home job.

  8. Hi Carrie! I realize you wrote this some time ago but I came across it while I research our new decision to Unschool our 2 boys. It is so refreshing to hear someone else desire many of the same freedoms that we do. I cannot wait until my husband can stay home with us too! I recently wrote a blog post of my own about why I chose this route for my family. If you are interested, check it out! Thanks for your post!