Friday, October 21, 2011

Domesticity and Spirituality.

"Country Morning"-(c) 2009 Jennifer L. Moore

While I don't intend to get into the nitty-gritty of my own religious beliefs here, I do like to discuss spirituality in general.  An online acquaintance of mine currently has a series going on bringing our spirituality and our mundane tasks into closer alignment--harmony, even.

I thought the below would be an interesting exercise. I hope that, in reading this post, you will agree.

1. What is happening in your family or home that is going well?

We have two incomes, so most of our basic needs are met.  The house is very tranquil and neat.  Our pets are happy, loved, and well cared for.  We have a pretty abundant garden, considering its small size.  My boyfriend and I communicate very well and are on the same page on most matters, yet we each still have a life of our own and don't inhibit one another in any way.  Our families are, for the most part, healthy, and we keep in close touch with them.  We have a small number of very close friends.  We eat good, nourishing food for most meals.  We are pretty happy, overall.  We are in good health.  We have health insurance, and I have dental insurance.  We have very little debt, and what we have is what I call carefully considered debt.  We both really like our house.

2. What is going on in your family or home that needs improvement?

There is always stress for one reason or another.  Though we do have enough money to meet our basic needs, there are things like clothing and home repair and household goods that we need, but can't quite afford to get.  (We make do.)  Our communication, while good, is not perfect.  We continue to have a couple of frustrating issues with communication.  Some of our cats have health and behavioral problems.  I don't take enough down time, so I am tired a lot.  My parents, being elderly, are having some issues, and I find I am unable to go and visit them as often as I would like.  I hate my job, but have had no luck in finding another one.  (I have been looking for a very long time.)  His family lives a lot farther away than we would both like.  We don't like living in a neighborhood with an HOA.  There are a number of physical issues with the house, which we can't afford to fix, and our housing authority (it's like we have a double HOA where we live) has a long, expensive, and onerous process for fixing certain issues, which keeps the repairs further out of our reach.

3. What is your ideal family and home situation?

Though we don't have any children and don't plan to, it would be nice to have two or three additional bedrooms, maybe even a basement.  It would sit on at least three acres, and our nearest neighbors would be about half a mile away--close enough that we can get to know them, but far enough that all parties have their desired level of privacy.  We would have a little more than "just enough" money.  We would have a burgeoning garden and a few additional animals (but not more than we could handle.)  I've always wanted a couple of goats as pets.  It would be off the grid.  It would have no carpeting, plenty of windows, and one or two fireplaces and a wood stove.  It would be near a natural body of water, so that we could haul water.  It would be on a well.  We would both be able to work out of our home. He would have a fully functioning music studio, and I'd have a full art studio, big enough to accommodate any medium in which I want to work. It would have an outdoor fireplace/fire pit in addition to the one(s) in the house.  It would have abundant wildlife and native plant species.  It would be within one hour of a small to major city.  It would be located in an area that fosters Progressive culture.  There would be a space for meditation, prayer, etc.  There would be enough space to accommodate groups of our friends and associates, maybe even for workshops and collaborative artistic sessions.

4. Take that ideal situation and break it down into goals.

-I will keep trying to put money into my savings, even if it's just a few dollars at a time.
-I will continue looking for a job that is a better fit for me.
-I will discuss our needed house repairs with my boyfriend, so that we can prioritize them and start to accomplish them.
-I/we will work to make our house as appealing as we can, so that when I decide to sell it, I might actually make money on it, rather than lose money.
-I/we will continue to learn about homesteading and start putting into practice those things we can where we live now.

Since this ideal home is a long-term goal, this is really all I can do now to make this happen. Right now, staying near my parents is my priority.  This type of place would be kind of out in the sticks. While I could work toward buying such a place nearer to where they live (they live in the country,) the culture there is not quite a fit for me.

5. What mundane efforts are you making or do you plan to make to achieve these goals?

I have been looking for a new job for several years now.  I have also been regularly putting money into my savings account, though from time to time, an emergency comes up, and the size of the account fluctuates.  I have contacted my housing authority about some of the needed repairs.  I have the paperwork I need for them. We just need to start shopping for the items we need.  My boyfriend has been doing some work on the house, but realistically, we are the type of people who are better off hiring people to do major remodeling, no matter how much we actually may want to do them ourselves.  We are also already keeping a veggie and herb garden.  It provides about one third of our needed food during the growing season, but I'm sure we could cover more of our needs if we really put our minds to it.  We both read a lot about homesteading, though, and we discuss the kinds of things we'd like to do when we have more land and less rules to have to follow.  I will not be ready to sell my house for at least five years, if not more, but we are doing things as and when we can, so that it will go more smoothly.  (And hopefully the market will be better!)

6. What do you believe makes domestic activity spiritual?

As a homeowner who does not see her house and property as an investment, I find that the homes in which I have lived have become living, breathing entities in their own right.  They very walls and floors absorb the energy brought in by the families who have lived there.  When I take care of my home, I feel like I am taking care of a family member.  My home is also a reflection of me, so it is taking self-care a step further, as well.  Our house is tranquil, because my boyfriend and I do all we can to make it so.

7. What are you doing that makes your everyday domestic activity spiritual?

When I work on different household chores, I remember how the outcomes affect me, my boyfriend, and our cats.  In getting rid of clutter and putting things away, I am giving us all room to breathe and live.  In cleaning our dishes well, I am taking care of our health. In keeping on top of cat box/laundry/toy care, I am letting the cats know that I care about them and feel they deserve to live as well as their humans do.  In paying the bills, I am turning the negative energy of a horrible day job into positive energy by keeping the electric on so we can be warm, keeping the house paid for so we have a safe place to live and so we can stay toghether, and by keeping the water and trash bill paid, I am ensuring our good health.

8. What could you be doing to make your everyday domestic activity more spiritual?

The number one thing I could do would be to make more time for housework. Right now, I'm at work all day, and my boyfriend is home all day, so he tends to do a lot. I don't have a lot of down time at home, so I do things when and as I can.  If I could set aside more time to do housework, I could lighten his burden, and I could start to reconnect with my home and to find my inner peace again.

9. Using the answers to the three previous questions about spirituality, make a list of your spiritual goals regarding your domestic activity.

-I will get my schedule better organized and prioritize better, so that I can spend more time on domestic activities.
-I will get a planner, so that I can write out routines and goals from week to week.
-I will look at my schedule and see if there are activities and committments of which I can let go.
-I will spend some time meditating each day.
-I will remember that the things I don't like about my life at this time are transient, and that things will get better.
-I will spend some time each day--aside from the meditation--connecting with the soul of my home and will listen to what it tells me.

Sources: Zen and the Art of Housekeeping by Lauren Cassel Brownell, The Emotional House by Dawn Ritchie and Kathryn L. Robyn

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