Knowing How to Stay Home

I have observed that we are now faced with a lesson our ancestors never even dreamed of having to learn–that is the lesson of knowing how to stay at home and enjoy the blessings of home culture. -1905

The writer goes on to mention the early 1900s trends of “rapid transit, cheap rates, and easy theatricals” that have made people “restless, nervous and incapable of self-amusement.”  (“Rapid” isn’t the first word that comes to mind when I think of 1905 transportation…)

Why should you stay home more?

It amazes me, but have you ever noticed your house is messiest on days when you’re not home? It doesn’t make any sense, but it’s true. I think it’s because you don’t have time to fully complete a task before you’re off to the next commitment. The dirty dishes pile up faster, the clothes don’t make it into the washer with the same regularity, and the mail doesn’t get sorted right away. When you’re at home, life follows a steadier rhythm. Mealtimes are consistent, laundry gets done, children settle into a familiar routine.

And let’s be honest, home is the comfiest place around. Where else can you drink a big mug of tea in your jammies snuggled with your favorite quilt? Even the local quirky coffee shop can’t replicate the feeling. (How awkward if you could cozy into a big recliner with your fuzzy slippers at a coffee shop…because across the room would be other customers in the same condition, and that’s a sight guaranteed not to bring out warm fuzzies.)

How could your life change if you stayed home more?

There’s the practical side of staying home more. When you’re at home, you’re spending less money. Yes, Amazon and other online shopping sites are still available for the clicking.  But at home, you aren’t relentlessly bombarded with stuff fighting for your attention in a million ways. You can turn the screens off, but when you’re out and about you can’t close your eyes at the signs and ads and you can’t turn off your nose when every single food smell is irresistible, even if you didn’t think you were hungry.

Besides spending less, staying home also allows you to save money. When you’re at home, you can cook your meals from scratch. You can do your own yard work and extend the life of your clothes by replacing buttons and fixing hems. On hot days, you’re able to open the windows in the morning and pull the shades in the afternoon to save air conditioning costs.

The greatest benefit to being at home is difficult to identify, but the settled, contented feeling it produces is unmistakable. “Home sweet home” takes on a new meaning. On the days you can stay home, you can block out much of the craziness of the outside world and live in your own world, with your own people and your own version of life.

The more you’re home, the more you appreciate it and the less you feel like roaming. But it’s definitely a learning curve. That “restless, nervous” feeling the author describes is real and common for the woman newly committed to being a keeper at home. I think we’ve all felt it. If you can stick it out, you’ll be rewarded with a sense of peace and contentment that can’t be found “out there.” We can’t live like hermits and never leave our homes, but developing a homeward mindset will go a long way toward enjoying “the blessings of home culture.”

(This post linked to the Wise Woman Linkup.)

Disappointed? Go Outside! 1925

Once upon a time, when I was a little child, there was to be held a splendid picnic on the last day of school.

The morning dawned bright and cloudless, a refreshing wind was blowing, but the outlook was not bright for me. Something had happened that prevented us from going. I shall never forget the feeling of disappointment that swept over me for that day was just made for picnics.

We children never gave up our hope of going until we saw the other children depart with pails and baskets. I don’t remember how we got through the day, except that we spent it almost entirely out of doors. There you have my secret for bearing disappointments, you grown-up folks as well as children! Get out of doors!

As farmer’s wives, something is always turning up in connection with weather or crops or livestock to interfere with our best-laid plans. It is well to have some alternative just to fill in with in case plans go awry. One day this summer I was all ready to go on a long anticipated excursion, when circumstances arose that prevented my going. The same old feeling of disappointment started to come over me but I put my second “preventive” into action: I tackled the hardest outside job I could find and worked off the unhappy mood. In addition, I read Nancy Byrd Turner’s cheery little verse:

“When things turn upside down
And inside out and look dark brown.
I rush outdoors and gaze into
The top-less sky’s eternal blue–
So calm and cool, so still and deep
With soft contented clouds like sheep.
I shade my eyes and stare and stare,
Then go back in the house and there
Begin to wonder and to doubt
What I was in that stew about!”

 

Summer in the Soul

It is common things that quench thirst, not rare things; ordinaries, not luxuries; not palatial houses, but a home; not royal wine, but cold water; good health, kind friends, encouraging words, loving deeds, duty done, heartaches healed, a grasp, a clasp, a kiss, a smile, a song, a welcome–these are the beams that bring summer into the soul, and make us light-hearted, free and glad.  –1933

 

So there you have it, ladies.  This is our grand opportunity to be secret agents.  By all appearances, we’re mild-mannered housewives working in ordinary middle class homes, fighting a never-ending battle for clean dishes, laundry, and the Organized Way. But underneath our aprons, we hide nearly magical powers to bring a bit of summer to a dreary March day.  

We have the opportunity to set the tone in the household and give our families the kindness and encouragement that makes them feel “light-hearted, free, and glad.” Your family and friends may not even be aware of the summery little beams you scatter all over your haven like a little fairy, but they’ll appreciate the atmosphere those beams create.

What’s a common denominator necessary in all these beams the writer talks about?  Time. In spite of our efforts to be productive and make every minute count, we can’t maintain an awareness when we’re moving at a frantic pace.  A slower pace of life gives us time to notice the needs around us. These beams are not things we can hire someone else to do but at the same time, they don’t cost us anything, either. Someone has to be present to notice and provide the encouraging words, healed heartaches, smiles, and songs whenever the opportunity arises.  

Our subtle ability to create an atmosphere will leave a longer lasting memory than a dusted bookshelf or clean bathroom towels.  Of course, household chores are important to making the home a peaceful, orderly haven, but there has to be a balance. You don’t want to be like a lady I knew from church.  She was the picture of hospitality and graciousness, but you had to clear the clutter off the couch if you should happen to want to sit down during your visit. You also don’t want to be the woman who is so organized and scheduled that all the bins and baskets in her home have cute little chalkboard labels and a detailed planner marking every hour of the day but she’s too productive for just “livin’ life.” 

It’s an inspiring realization, isn’t it?  The quiet impact we can have when we deliberately schedule our days loosely enough to fit in the unexpected–a spontaneous coffee date with a friend or an afternoon in a makeshift living room tent with your children.  Maybe it will mean that you can send extra cookies to an elderly neighbor or welcome unexpected company instead of hiding in the closet hoping they don’t notice your car in the driveway.

It’s the intangibles that make our profession such an irreplaceable one.

 

Sail On!

Mistakes? I make ‘em every day, don’t you?

But no one said “Sailing On” was always easy!

It helps a bit to realize that mistake-making is universal. Only those who profit by the mistakes they make get to the point where they make few–a goal we all long for. And it helps a lot to know, not that all things are good, but that “all things work together for good–to them that love the Lord.”

We may have a hand in turning our mistakes to good. We may do as a great artist did who noticed after he had painted a picture that he had left some smudges in his beautiful clouds. They couldn’t be erased, so he made birds of the smudges.

If we are unduly cross to the children or to our John, we make birds of those ugly smudges by “fessing up” our wrong-doing and proving our repentance by sweet smiles and loving words. If we wrong a neighbor in word or deed we can find some lovely way to atone. All of which will “work together” for our soul’s good.

As housewives we all tire of the daily grind which sometimes seems so irksome, so futile. I have often been strengthened for a hard task by recalling Columbus’ motto, “Sail on!” You remember the story as told in Joaquin Miller’s poem, “Columbus.” On his first voyage of discovery his crew grew discouraged and mutinous and the mate would come to Columbus with such questions as this:

What shall I say, brave Admiral, say,
If we sight naught but seas at dawn!

Columbus’ invariable brave answer was:

Why, you shall say at break of day,
Sail on! Sail on! Sail on! And on!

From Lillian in Kansas, 1929