Some weeks life can run smoothly, without any expectations other than to do 'the next thing'. A good week. A week to refill the soul.
Other weeks require extra energy, momentum and grace - and that doesn't mean it's a bad week, simply that there's more emptying of self and not much, if anything, left in reserve afterwards.
This week is of the latter for me. It's been a lovely past few days having Blossom and Cully May come stay with us while Ross is away, creating memories and moments that will stand the passing of time and be talked about with love and laughter in years to come.
Our hearts were filled to overflowing, we ate well and talked about all things under the sun, entertained constantly by an almost 18-month old munchkin who was full of questions which demanded sensible answers...but now my energy is all gone so some quiet days to rest whilst I catch up with designing and stitching alongside one-on-one time with my beloved are needed.
Life is a constant turn of seasons, both in the natural environment and in the rhythms of our day to day living. I have come to realise lately just how important it is to plan for seasonal and un-seasonal changes in life, the same way we plan for and welcome the natural progression of autumn to winter, and spring to summer.
Even though I live in the tropics where it is never really cold, after summer I still change table runners, cushion covers, quilts and some ornaments as autumn arrives because it reminds me to slow down, to prepare for rest, and to contemplate the offerings a change of season brings.
Changes in life circumstance (illness, retirement, loss of income etc) can also be prepared for, as well as the unexpected days or weeks when your routine must be put aside to care for others or attend to needful issues.
Cooking double quantities of your family's main meals, breakfasts and sweets for a week, then freezing the extra, will ensure you can feed visitors in your home at a moment's notice, or have something to take to a sick or weary family member, all without anxiety or rushing around.
I don't have a large freezer for bulk storage, just the small freezer in our fridge, but I can still keep 3 mains, a loaf of bread, a dozen muffins and a cake on hand for such occasions when I need to serve something with short notice.
I also freeze small portions of leftovers like shepherd's pie or pasta sauce for the days when my migraines have taken a toll but there's still a need for a nutritious meal for Mr E and myself.
"The wise store up choice food and olive oil,
but fools gulp theirs down."
My freezer is empty of those things right now, but over the weekend I shall plan to cook double batches of everything and restock. In the meantime whilst regaining some energy I can make a green smoothie every day and keep meals very simple.
IDEA: One of the things Blossom does to plan ahead is pay a few dollars each week into her dentist's account. When she was staying with us this week she needed emergency dental treatment and it was almost $400, but even after that payment was taken out she still had credit with the dentist. This was a huge relief to her as they are a growing family on one income and that bill would have been a burden had it not already been paid for.
Around the house I'm stocking up on non-perishables for the pantry, bathroom and laundry, plus sheets and towels (we were minimalist in this until guests came to stay and I realised we should have extra for just that purpose) and am slowly putting together a box of gifts for all occasions.
This desire to plan, store and provide for in lean or unexpected seasons (with consistency) is the next needful step in my decision to live a gentle domestic life.
"The ants are a people not strong,
yet they provide their food in the summer."
Consistently working to create a storehouse of useful resources in our home has taken on a lovely significance this year, and some habits which were once begun but not fully embraced are revived again in my plans.
You see, I've dabbled in this area of building a storehouse for many years, but tend to drift away and follow other trails as the year progresses, until now. When I am really committed to change there's a deep sense of steadiness in my spirit, as though I've only one path to follow and want to see it through to the end. It goes beyond initial enthusiasm or excitement...the plan becomes a part of all I do and who I am and how we live.
Truly, choosing to live the gentle domestic life does not happen overnight, nor in a week or a month...it takes years of small changes, tweaks and alterations.
You'll have seasons of frustration because you don't know where to begin, life takes over, your family are not on board and thwart you at every change, it feels like there's too much to tackle...but stop for a minute and consider one thing that really matters to you within your heart and home.
Choose that one thing and embrace it.
Choose that one thing and explore just how far you want to pursue it.
Small steps, small consistent changes. They add up.
No big pressure points, just small changes that make your heart sing.
...perhaps you want a linen cupboard that is ordered, which looks neat and clean and welcoming each time you open it.
Start there. Each day do a little bit.
Do you have more linen than could ever be used in one lifetime? Is it so full you can't put another thing inside?
Grab a plastic bag or a box and gradually remove everything you can donate before replacing the items you want to keep and use.
Is there no order to your linen cupboard? Are sheets and pillowcases scattered everywhere between the doona covers, towels, face washers, tea towels, aprons, cushion covers and tablecloths?
Remove everything one at a time and place each piece of linen in a pile of like items - sheets with sheets, towels with towels, tablecloths with tablecloths...and so on. Choose where in the cupboard you want to replace them and do so - some favourite music in the background can make this a fun task.
Whatever your need in this week, next month, all year, plan for ease in living your gentle domestic life by simplifying your home, chores and meals. Not all at once, as you don't want to create a burden on yourself, just small changes made consistently that become good habits over time.
But like I'm learning now, do take a little time to plan for the seasons you don't expect.
I made this apron over the weekend because it's a very useful slip-over style and one I used to wear the most.
I made my first one here about thee years ago but gave it to Blossom when she was pregnant with Cully. Ever since then it's been on my mind to make another and after asking the ladies in our Gentle Domesticity group if they'd like to join me in an apron sew-along this week I had all the inspiration needed to follow through.
The pattern is not the easiest one to work out as there are no pattern sheets or simple measurements, but if you go slowly through it and choose whether you need the 32" or 36" square first, it's quite a satisfying project. It wasn't until after it was finished that someone asked if I'd traced a paper pattern before sewing the hems and I thought "what a clever idea!" but I'd most certainly not considered it at the time.
So I shall make another and trace a paper pattern which 'might' become a PDF for you if it works out.
When Blossom and Cully returned home yesterday they left someone behind with us...
Dear Bob-the-dog is getting on in years and is becoming quite weary and a little stressed being loved on and chased hither and thither by darling Cully May all day long, so now with another baby almost ready to arrive we thought it a good idea that he come stay with us.
We gave him to Blossom as a wee pup when she was 13 and she's about to turn 24, so he's been part of the family a long time and holds a place in everyone's heart. It's lovely having him as my little companion while Mr E is at work, and he's also an excellent guard dog with a loud bark and growl should there be 'stranger danger'. Of course, the postie wasn't impressed but they'll both adjust in time.
I 'think' life will return to normal once February arrives and I look forward to it, but this season of busyness has also brought joy and built memories that no amount of quiet time would have provided.
Being prepared is also about preparing my heart to welcome the unexpected seasons, that I may not grow weary of being available, but be filled with grace and thanks for being needed at all.
God bless you precious one,