and this is life

The best time for planning a book is while you’re doing the dishes.
— agatha christie

This morning there are dirty dishes in the sink. Perfectly dirty dishes in the sink with a mostly empty dishwasher mere motions away. But there are dirty dishes in the sink. At least they made it to the sink, right? Some days this bothers me. Some days I don't mind. Some days this becomes the throbbing reminder that still all matters of feeding people and keeping a clean house fall to me. 

I've been pushing back against this notion for a long time. I feel the weight of not having a choice because there were assumptions made. If a couple does not intentionally have a conversation about roles and expectations then usually the woman, the mother, is the caretaker of the home. I live in a culture that reveres the role of a woman in the home. I am fortunate because my husband makes enough money that I have the freedom to do anything that I want but I never knew what I wanted or that I wanted something more. I slipped easily into the homemaker role and sometimes, I feel that it is my comfort zone. One that I default to while also seeing as an obstacle to what I want, to how I want to spend my time. 

Now I know what I want. Sort of. On some days. 

I know that I want to create things. I want to paint and be in my art journaling process daily. I want to make little journals for others and I want to paint huge paintings. I want to make more excavated poetry. I want to be immersed in the creative energy of others. I want to support other artists and initiatives that are important to me. 

Remember that post I wrote about being a sort of all or nothing person? It almost feels like it is more that I get myself stuck in limbo. Since life is rarely so well defined, I find that I am either waiting for my life to begin or I am completely sucked into giving all of myself away to a family that doesn't need me to do that anymore. So I am never really reaching for and pursuing the things that I say that I want. Then when I am doing the things that simply have to be done, I resent the intrusion. 

What if this IS life? 

What if there is no waiting? 

What if everything I do contributes to the life that I want to live? 

What if the acts of daily living inform all the things that I want to do? 

It came to me the other night while I was cooking dinner and my first thought was how frustrated I was that I was cooking dinner instead of working on whatever creative project was grabbing my attention. My second thought was to breathe and to shift my focus. I was treating this act of making food for myself and for my family as an intrusion instead of an act of living. 

I said to myself, "and this is life." 

Food has to be prepared. Dishes have to be washed. Laundry has to be done and folded and put away. Painting have to be painted. Words have to be written. Journals have to be made. Also, let me remind myself and others, sometimes naps have be taken, books have to be read, movies have to be watched. 

I hear a voice, I don't know whose voice, but I hear a voice in my head saying, "Life's not all fun and games." What if it is? What if we could make it that way? What if life is all sacred and creative because we can make it that way? 

It's a shift in attention and energy. I want to say, "Good grief, woman! You are fifty-one years old and you are still learning this lesson?!" I want to answer, "Yes. I am still learning this lesson but at least I am still learning."

Mindful living is an art. You do not have to be a monk or living in a monastery to practice mindfulness. You can practice it anytime, while driving your car or doing housework. Driving in mindfulness will make the time in your car joyful, and it will also help you avoid accidents. You can use the red traffic light as a signal of mindfulness, reminding you to stop and enjoy your breathing. Similarly, when you do the dishes after dinner you can practice mindful breathing, so the time dish washing is pleasant and meaningful. You do not feel you have to rush. If you hurry, you waste the time of dish washing. The time you spend washing dishes and doing all your other everyday tasks is precious. It is a time for being alive. When you practice mindful living, peace will bloom during your daily activities.
— ― Thích Nhất Hạnh


And because this is life, there are dishes waiting for me and journals on the table. 

Grace and Peace.