Sunday, January 16, 2011


Cape Cod Cottage, by Paul Landry, buy at

When our lives are centered around our homes and families, we can be as busy as bees on a June morning if we so desire.  Or we can pace ourselves, or just have a quiet, restful day.  We work this out for ourselves, in the general absence of deadlines.  For those who haven't tried making home life their full time "job", I can quite imagine that they would wonder what on earth we do all day.  Don't we run out of things to do?  Isn't it boring? 

I hardly know where to start to try to convey the difference between just doing enough at home to sustain life so that you can spend your time at work, and actually "making" home your vocation.  The difference between the two ways of life is like imagining what strawberries and cream taste like as you chew sawdust all day, and well, feasting on strawberries and cream.

When I work full-time (which usually includes overtime), I will plainly say that most all of my domestic feelings fly out the window and I do not feel like doing anything at home but flopping on the couch, eating supper and falling into bed. The weekends are consumed with fighting the crowds at the supermarket and on the roads, then doing laundry, yardwork and just trying to catch up enough to be able to slide out the door again early Monday morning for work. Naturally, but it came as quite a revelation to me, I find myself uncharacteristically annoyed if unexpected company shows up during this time, or I get a phone call from an out-of-town relative who wants to catch up. I find any interruption of my time on the weekend extremely painful, since I know I only have these few hours to do the maintenance work of life.

On my breaks and at lunch, I literally run to my car for refuge. It becomes my pseudo-home where I can relax and think a thought or two that has nothing to do with my work. This is important because the nature of my work is all-consuming, non-stop and exacting. I no more want to sit around the break room and engage in office gossip than I'd want to hang from a telephone pole on a rainy Autumn night, trying to fix a power line while the wet wind blows in my face.

Since I only do this job about five months out of the year, I make myself do it and keep in mind that soon I'll be back home, and things will get back to normal. Because when I am home, I become a human being again and stop being a specialist robot on auto-pilot.

When I am home, I have time to contemplate, to feel the warm earth beneath bare feet as I saunter out back to pick a few herbs for a meal I am preparing. I can sit here at my computer researching whatever I have a current interest in, looking up recipes or writing on my blog. If my daughter or older sons stop by, I can make them a bite to eat or some coffee and we can sit and chat. My husband, who is disabled with back problems, is retired and home now, so we often will go food shopping or to Walmart or the local hardware store together. The roads are quiet, the stores sparsely populated and my heart is not racing.

I can do the many aspects of housekeeping that often get ignored when working full-time.  I can dust, and wipe baseboards, hang clothes outside to dry, wipe the smudges off windows and woodwork, clean out a drawer or closet, wash out all the little trash cans in the rooms and set them in the sun to dry, iron clothes, try new recipes, de-clutter, and find countless other tasks that will call to me for attention.

Being home gives you time to think and to see the big picture.  You have the leisure to figure out better ways of doing things.  You can sit down and spend some time looking over papers and finances, and finding  where waste can be cut, and income preserved or stretched.  Even taking the time to look at the weekly grocery specials, lining up any coupons that can be used on top of that, and then planning meals accordingly saves a lot of money, and gives you the satisfaction of taking control of the family's health and finances in this area for the week.  Congratulations, you just "earned" some money with the added benefit of being the boss of the operation!

Perhaps it might be good to just mention a few of the things I was able to do in the last week because I was home.

Because I was home, I was able to get some extra sleep because I wasn't feeling well. 

I had time to talk to my daughter about some things that were bothering her, and some decisions she needed to make.

When my foster daughter got sick, I was able to drop everything and bring her to the doctor.  I had put a roast beef in the oven, and when it was apparent that we were going to be delayed at the busy doctor's office, I called my dear husband and asked him to heat up some vegetables that I had on hand in my well-stocked pantry.  We came home to a beautiful dinner.  Though I was cleaning up the kitchen much later than usual, it was OK because I did not have to get myself ready for work the next morning, nor get into bed by a certain time.

I also accompanied my husband to his doctor's appointment.  When we got home, our oldest son soon stopped by for a visit.

My husband and I were able to leisurely visit a couple of stores one day last week and I found Christmas gift tags on sale for 74 cents, a damask cloth tablecloth for the dining room table for $3.24, sets of Christmas ornaments for  $1.49, as well as various other items for 75% off.  That completes everything I need to be able to wrap next year's presents whenever I start shopping for them, plus snag a couple of good bargains on other useful items. I did some comparison shopping for a set of Correlle dishes I want but am not buying at present, until they go on sale somewhere.  We did the same thing today at Home Depot, looking at storm doors.  When we found out that they will probably go on sale towards summer, we decided to wait until then.

I went to an overnight retreat with some ladies from one of our church's ministries.

I have been going through receipts, utility bills, and all kinds of paperwork from 2010.  I am lining up all my rebate offers with the receipts, and plan to send them off this week.

I am catching up on phone calls that need to be made in order to get information or straighten out orders or doctor's appointments, etc.

I have written four articles, including this one, for my blog, as well as having the time to read other blogs and articles of interest online.

I have cleaned and organized several drawers, and compiled a couple of boxes of items to donate to the thrift store nearby.

I planned my meals and thawed out meat ahead of time so I would be good to go.

Of course on top of these things, I kept up with the housework, cooked from scratch every day, and took some time to talk to the Lord and to think about some decisions that I need to make.  As a result, I have dropped out of one of the ministries I was involved in, and have decided to end another activity I was involved in.  Both of these things had served their purpose and my time with them has run it's course, I am led to believe.

I believe I am happier living this way, and therefore, my family is happier.  I am not barking, snapping or simply tuning them out. Doing things for others brings me joy, and being home gives me the chance to make my own schedule and do things at my own pace.  I do not have to worry about pleasing my boss, and answer only to my husband.  If I displease him, at least I know he loves me and is not going to fire me!  And he is secure in knowing my love for him and my commitment to him.

Women have a need to share and to nurture, without deadlines and pressure says John Gray, PhD., and author of the book Venus on Fire Mars on Ice. According to what he's gleaned from studying indigenous cultures, he found that women routinely work alongside other women, doing the necessities of life, which for them center around hearth and home.  The manner in which they work, steady, unhurried, and communally, helps build their levels of the hormone oxytocin, which fills the female body with a sense of peace and well-being.  He contends that this is central to a woman's physical and mental health throughout life and certainly provides protection as she ages. 

On the other hand, women in our modern, push-push, deadline driven culture begin to experience a stress-related breakdown of health because they are operating in a way that is foreign to their needs.  In fact, they are forced to behave and react in ways suited to the male of the species - something he thrives on, but something we do not.

So you see, we can best "contribute to society" by building up our homes and loved ones.  We can be rich beyond measure, by owning our time, making our own choices, and even adding material wealth to our family by focusing in on how we can most efficiently acquire things we need and even some things that are luxuries.
We have the time to prepare our carefully chosen or home-grown food, and serve it to the delight and health of our families.  We can be rich in social interaction by showing hospitality to others, or making visits, phone calls or writing letters. 

These are the things which make life rewarding and worth living in my estimation. If anything I feel a little guilty to have such an abundant life on a fraction of what other folks are bringing in.  But I am always thankful.


  1. Anonymous1:20 AM

    Yes, Emmarinda, you are able to "contribute to society" with every single task you shared here.

    Sometimes, it becomes very tiring to have to defend the importance of the seemingly smaller about prepping your meals, tidying the drawers, or spending a block of time taking care of phone calls? Any one of them, just by itself, may not affect the fate of the nation, it's true. But it's the continual neglect that leads to a feeling that nobody cares. Then, as a result, (to use the frozen meat you mentioned as my example) supper becomes whatever can be thrown together hastily, & because it didn't kill anyone to do it that way last Thursday, well maybe two days this week won't seem so bad, & "Hey, you know you're not the only one working...I'm tired too...maybe YOU should have gotten the meat out of the freezer!...." Before we know it, fast food reigns because everyone's too tired even to think about a homecooked meal! :o/

    I know that I am happier, generally speaking, when I am free to be home. Like you, I have part time work, during the warmer months. But all throughout the Christmas season I started to think that maybe I wouldn't go back to it this year. There are parts of it that are kind of fun, to be sure, the pay is decent for the kind of work it is (gardening), & I work with some very nice people. Still, I AM very tired when I get home, & find it more difficult to keep up with my own yard & garden. I can't complain of an oppresseive boss...she's a very good woman...but it is production gardening, & so there's a rushed nature to the work, as we're always "on the clock". I haven't made up my mind, but I'm sure you can see which direction I'm leaning, & why.

    It's good to read about how you spend your time. I hope you'll share more with us in the future!


  2. Anonymous11:18 AM

    Hi - I just found your blog and I'm enjoying your posts. I am curious to what type of work that you do (for five months out of the year)? I'm thinking maybe taxes/accounting? Do you have to continue your education to keep a certification for your line of employment? I am seeking something part-time (currently I'm working full-time - Systems Application Engineer w/ my MBA)

  3. Anonymous11:27 AM

    Hello Emmarinda, I found your blog by way of Homeliving, Lydia's blog. I am also Catholic. I was reading this blog post of yours and noticed you used the word, leisure, and it made me think of a book called, Leisure, the Basis of Culture. I have not read it, but it was recommended to me by a good fellow Catholic. Amazon has it. I will try to stop by more often! L. in WA

  4. Anon 11:18 - I score essays that are part of standardized reading and writing assessments that are given to students by their own states, or by the federal government. You can look online (look for industry leader in assessment scoring), as I don't want to mention them by name here. Thank you for stopping by! L, thanks also, and I think I have read something from that book, which gives the subject serious treatment. I will look into it further, as I believe in the concept totally, ha ha! Brenda, as always, it is so nice to get your thoughtful comments. It was a blessing to hear from all of you, today.


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