For the first time in the history of the world, women have more rights today than ever. We can be educated. We can work outside the home, run businesses, be the boss. Women can vote. Women have a voice. Women are more respected as equals to man and some women wish to be shown superiors, although that is another topic for another time. With all this freedom are we happy? Are we using this freedom to the best of our abilities or are we wasting our time in meaningless activities?
It is true that some women are more concerned with fashion, gossip, celebrities, and other minutiae of today’s pop culture. Is it because it’s something to keep their minds busy while tending the home? I believe it is because they don’t realize there is something more to life than cleaning toilets and wiping baby butts. The hours that are easily wasted on attractive websites like Pinterest or social media such as Twitter or Facebook really aren’t getting us any closer to solving the problem.
What is the problem? The problem is with all of this freedom many of us are not using it to become great or to improve ourselves. There is a contagious apathy towards learning and a draw to other tangible things in its place. Just because we choose to care for our homes and family does not mean that we should neglect or waste one of the most precious gifts given to us—our minds.
Being aware of the time we spend and how it is spent is essential. Downtime is just as important as productive time. However, the culture in the United States has evolved into a culture of self-pleasing activities that wile away our precious minutes. Ask any parent of teens or adult children where the time has gone in raising them. They most likely agree that it was gone in a blink of an eye.
Taking back our time from wasteful activities brings with it the gift of self-mastery. One of the ways I’ve worked on doing this over the years is to time many things. I’d set limits for myself for the time on the computer or any other activity that I knew I could lose track of time easily with.
I also set alarms. When my little ones were transitioning from the nap stage and I still needed them to take that daily rest, I bought each one an alarm clock. I would pre-set it for an hour or an hour and a half. I told them when the alarm clock went off they could come out. The fights with them over nap time ended there. They read, played quickly, sometimes slept, and waited for that alarm. Teaching my family awareness of the passing of time is very important to me. We set timers for chores or have chore races. We set timers for how long one has to read, study, or wait for the desired result. We race against time in many ways, but even in reading with the Victory Drill Book.
Because we live in a small community in Germany, we are acutely aware of time for specific places that are important to us. The post office is only open from 11:30 am- 1 pm and then opens again at 3:30 pm to 6 pm. Most of our shopping is online and getting our packages is like Christmas so we are always looking out for the time to get to the post office. Likewise, our grocery store (the Commissary) is open until 6 pm. By 4:30 pm all of the family is discussing dinner so we can make sure we get any last minute supplies. The bus and train schedules are memorized by our youth and each of them has a general feel for the time of day by rhythm and clock for what should be happening at any given time. It gives one a sense of security to have a grasp of the time and how ten minutes feels when it has passed, or how an hour feels as it passes. It gives one a sense of purpose to master the clock and to have an acute awareness of how you spend your daily life.
Another way I master time is to have timers set on my phone for reminders of various things. Some of the timers I’ve had set over the years have been labeled: scripture time, pick up kids from school or swimming or ballet, etc., Drop Everything and Read, start dinner, and appointments and usually with enough time to get ready right then and drive to the destination. My family has picked up on some of these alarms. An alarm will go off and they’ll say, “I didn’t realize it was 3 o’clock!”
What can be done with all this time awareness?
Small goals: folding laundry, 30 minutes at the gym, reading a chapter with your child, thirty minutes of weeding in the garden, calling a girlfriend, a quick trip to the store, spending time reading your book…the sky is the limit. Mastery over one’s life and time is wisdom. In this ritual of time mastery, one can find myriads of extra hours to study something you love, read an extra book, take a class online, join a book group, or teach a class. In teaching others, I’ve found I learn more about a particular subject during those hours of preparation than I thought I knew to begin with.
I’ve really struggled with the idea that one has a “bad memory”. To me, memory is a choice, not including special circumstances of exhaustion, a health issue, etc. But mostly, I still believe it is a choice. This choice requires us to cultivate our own memory. Cultivating memory can also use tools such a commonplace book, journal, or notebook. I agree with Sterling W. Sill who says, “It is a very interesting fact that everyone complains of a poor memory. We can’t remember names, we can’t remember faces, we can’t remember ideas, and therefore many people feel that success is out of their hands because they were short-changed when the mental equipment was handed out. However, in almost every case the only thing that is wrong with our mental machinery is that we don’t use it properly.” (1)
Often the memory is muddled because one has not learned to bridle one’s thoughts. “Unbridled thoughts are like the molecular action in nature, going in all directions. When we fail to hold a tight rein on our thoughts, they may easily jump the track or go in circles or go down a dead-end street. Sometimes one impulse tries to follow the scent of a half-dozen ideas at once.” (1) What happens when we let the mind wander where it will is that we remember little of what is important, have fog and confusion in the mind, forget details we “wanted to remember”, and often get caught up in our feelings being dictated by where our mind goes whether the past, worry, or fear. We can recover control of our minds by being aware of our thoughts. Reading classic books has brought my mind into acute focus and understanding. When we work the memory in memorizing and utilizing tools such as writing things down and setting reminders (even alarms) it frees up some of that memory space. We don’t have to keep every trivial matter in our heads. Women do have mind power. Sometimes we forget and let the chaos reign. Be empowered. Your mind is strong and capable.
More than Just Looks
At some point, many of us develop the cultural programming that one’s worth is all about looks, body shape, and appearance. “We pass on our body obsessions to each other like a nasty strain of influenza.” (2) Sometimes this then spills over into other aspects of appearance such as the car we drive, the house we live in, how our kids look, the pictures we share, etc. The truth of the matter is, you are wonderful because you are YOU. All the fussing, money spent and debt piled up, worry, an acute fear of being not liked, and anything else that is a distraction from being you is wasted energy, time, and happiness.
Have you noticed how mankind throughout history has often felt threatened by a woman who uses her mind, or by extension a woman who thinks? What others think of us has nothing to do with us. At some point in life looks fade, age sets in, your health may suffer…in short, you go through trials. But, your mind, your brain, is yours to feed, to cultivate, to tend to. Your knowledge is your power. Your experience and wisdom is your power. Your ability to utilize your mind and continue to grow, teach, set examples for others…are all part of the package. You are more than what is on the outside. Yes, my friend, women DO have brains and I hope you feel more empowered to continue to cultivate yours and recognize your strengths in this gift.
(Originally written in 2015-2016 timeframe for The Homemaking Cottage)