Rule #7: Restore (or Rule #1, again)


We all need ample time to rest and to restore ourselves. As I write this, we are driving home from a trip to the mountains for a cousin’s wedding. We had a wonderful week with my brother and his family and my mother. We took notice of different activities that we did that were all restful, even if they were rather active.

We played board games and read stories together. We watched a few cartoons and read a few comic books. We cooked tasty treats and easy meals; we walked by the lake; we fished; we just sat on the porch and visited. We toasted marshmallows and smashed them with chocolate and graham crackers, and the boys had too much sugar. We tucked all the boys into their beds and sat around the fire pit with adult beverages or soda and told stories and laughed. We sang. We slept earlier than usual (though we rose with the sun every day.) We rented a pontoon and spent an afternoon on the lake. My mom enjoyed having all her chicks under the same roof, and we marveled at her joy knowing that we will understand it some day.

It was a brilliant week in which we soaked up each other and the beauty of the San Juan Range and the Vallecito Reservoir. We celebrated the wedding, and we celebrated each other. My brother and his family live in on the front range in Colorado, and we are in the green of northeastern Oklahoma, so we see each other every few months, but not as often as we’d like. It was wonderful.

Now, we are an hour from home, and my brother’s family has arrived at theirs. Tonight, we tidy up from the trip, and tomorrow we all return to our normal jobs (park ranger, art therapist, programmer, tutor/maybe-writer/mom, and volunteer/grandmother) and our kids return to their regular school routines. We’ll remember the fun we had, and we’ll loosely plan the next time we will meet. Another moment of respite will be required if we are all going to continue offering our best to our occupations and to each other.

This was a big (and rather tiring) rest. But we each build into our days the moments we need to not feel overwhelmed by the world.  I drink my coffee in quiet and read and write. My husband practices tae kwon do and puts his headphones in and pretends the rest of the world doesn’t exists while he writes and researches and programs. Our kids rest outside or in books or games. My brother hikes or fishes (often with his son in tow), and my sister-in-love runs or does yoga or creates.  My mom reads and creates. We all enjoy seeing new places, especially when we can do that together.

All rests, big and small, need to be measured and consistent if we are going to benefit from them. Sometimes rest is reduced to making good choices: good food, some exercise, some inspiring words read or heard, and a good night’s sleep. Other times, we take a chunk of time off and just do something out of the ordinary. We have to make sure we take time to rest if we are going to continue pouring ourselves out at the foot of the cross for other people. If we don’t take the time to soak in Truth, Beauty, and Goodness, we will find ourselves empty and have nothing to give.


Rule #6: Record



We record what we are studying. We keep it very simple; only a pen and a composition notebook or timeline is required. Every day, we each want to make sure that we write something down. That’s because we are more likely to remember the things that we write down… from poetry or scripture copied to the grocery list.

It’s just the way the brain works. If I just hear something, I’ll likely forget. If I read it, I may remember it, though I might shift it around. But if I write it down, it’s there in my head for a good long time.  My husband remembers everything that he tells back, and when he takes time to write down his thoughts on a topic, those ideas are in his head forever.

My kids’ minds work similarly. I have one kid who remembers everything he hears (unless it is an instruction from me… those he forgets), and two more who remember everything they read. We’ve worked to develop the opposite abilities in each of them. We’ve also worked are to conquer what seems to be a hereditary pencil allergy, one short line of handwriting at a time. (We’re still working on it, as most males in our house seem to be allergic to pencils.)

For instance, Micah, who is nearly fourteen, copied down Robert Louis Stevenson’s poem “My Shadow” when he was six. He can still recite most of it now. It took him weeks of one-line-a-day work to accomplish the copying, but those lines are stuck in his memory. He gained a few new vocabulary works, and some knowledge of rhyme as well as the idea of a shadow and some observations of how shadows work. It wasn’t a unit study. It was just copywork spread out over time. Copying down someone else’s beautiful words counts when the goal is to record something every day.

Also, composing an essay, typing a story, or creating a poem or writing a letter all count towards our household goal of recording our thoughts or experiences every day. Journaling, blogging, and planner-keeping all record what we have done in a season of family life.

A habit that we are beginning this summer is that of timeline-keeping. I have kept a timeline of my own for a couple of years, and now that the discipline of starting it is over, I really enjoy seeing where in time people existed and events happened. Timeline-keeping is a personal bird’s eye view of history. A timeline brings order to the stories that we read and the people that we meet in books.

Occasionally, recording comes in the form of snapping photos or creating art, but usually, we just write something down as neatly as we can.