Friday, April 24, 2009

Keeping Short Accounts

I recently read a book called Higher Hope by Robert Whitlow. He writes Christian fiction books about southern lawyers, sort of in the style of John Grisham, but usually with a bit of the supernatural involved. I'm not a fan of all Christian fiction because it is sometimes a little bit too shiny on the surface without enough real-life grit. This particular author seems to do a pretty good job most of the time.

Anyway, the main character's mother in this latest book tells her legal assistant daughter to "keep short accounts".

And it really got me thinking. I've been thinking about it since I finished the book on Sunday afternoon and it's just kind of been there, stewing. Most of the time, I've heard that phrase in the context of our Christian faith but as I've considered it, I think it's a pretty good practice in most other areas of my life. I even sat down today and did a google search that turned up mostly confession/repentance issues, but almost as many hits about marriage.

When my hubby and I first got married, he would always talk about the importance of not letting a "wedge" get in between us. By that he meant we should talk about things that get stuck in our craw in regard to the other, before they fester and become major issues for one, but are nonexistent to their partner. It seemed like a good idea at the time, and while I try really hard to communicate with Scott when I'm mad/frustrated/irritated/concerned it doesn't always happen due to busy schedules and demanding children. But when we make the effort to communicate about what's bothering us, we can always solve the conflict without a knock-down drag out. Keeping short accounts is also a good practice in relationships with children, friends, parents, siblings--all people as a matter of fact. It really minimizes the misunderstandings and the episodes of conflict (and when you hate conflict as much as I do....anything that lessens the risk, is a GOOD thing.)

The more I thought about it, the more I realized that this could spill over into other areas of my life that I allow to get out of control that then cause serious stress and effort getting them back under wraps.

Like my house. True confession: I would rather read a book, hang out with my kids, cruise the Internet, or watch FOX news than do housework (okay except cook). Almost always. And there's nothing innately bad with any of those things when the work is done. But lately, I've been making more of an effort to get the dishes all done and put away at the end of each day, pick-up the basement and living room before bed, and put all the laundry away when it's folded, not after it's been in the laundry basket for a week. I'm trying to make things work better too, like wiping down the sink, cleaning the toilet and sweeping the bathroom floor when the kids are in the tub, or folding laundry while I'm talking on the phone--speaker on, to diminish the crink in my neck. Another issue is always the fridge. I've been trying to do a better job of assessing whether or not we will actually eat what's left over, rather than just throwing it in the fridge to get pushed way into the back and become a fertile surface for green fuzz. I'm not a perfect house keeper, by any means, but by doing a little bit every day, it has made it a lot easier when it's time for friends to come over, and it's a lot less stressful to live in a place that's not just a mess everywhere I look.

My bookkeeping, both home and ranch, has also been the target of my "short accounting". I have been downloading and balancing statements monthly, rather than quarterly, and it has cut the process down to about a 10 minute job per account. I'm not a natural when it comes to bookwork, so less time tied to the Quickbooks software and checking account is a bonus!

Last fall, I made myself go out on a blustery day before a cold front hit in October to clean out my flour beds, till my garden and rake leaves. I wasn't thinking about it at the time, but it has made my spring work load considerably lighter! It's never fun to clip off the dead branches of once-beautiful flowers and throw the pricey petunias and other annual plants away. But now the beds are looking at me expectantly waiting for their new occupants, and I'm excited to get everything situated.

Now before you think I've just stated a lot of really obvious ideas, just keep in mind that I'm a 1st rate procrastinator, and I have been for 38 years, at least the ones I can remember. As I've grown up and now that I have kids of my own, I've decided that I want them to live in an organized world (at least an organized house) and that I want to be a good example of a doer, not a procrastinator.

I still have a long way to go. I don't get everything done as soon as it should be. I still have areas of my life that are seriously over-procrastinated and under-accomplished. I can think of 3 off the top of my head: the last 20-ish lbs I want to see disappear from my 5'11 frame, my daily time reading the Bible and journaling, and exercising. Those seem to be the 3 areas that I know are the most crucial for my spiritual and physical health, yet those are the areas that I always leave until last, or never. I'm hoping that the efforts in the other areas will spillover and that I'll become the organized, self-disciplined individual I have always aspired to be. Or maybe not.

But I'm working on it.


The Farmer said...

We had a conversation about divorce last night. Don't know what brought it on but we talked about it anyway. What came of it is, it never occurs to me that might be an option. Maiming each other yes, but divorce no. I couldn't think of any men on my side of the family that had divorced. maybe that is an influence but I don't know.
In tech diving they have a saying about emergencies. Set small achievable goals. Not I'm trapped I have to get out, but I'm trapped, which way is up, okay thats up, now what are my assests,air, direction, and so on.
I think it works for chores as well. Not i need to do the laundry but how about, I need to wash my husbands underware. makes sense right.

Marisa said...

Traci, thanks for the inspiration. I clearly need it, and have myself been trying to clean the kitchen each night before I walk away from it. Sometimes it's more of a struggle than others, but it is much more pleasant in the morning to wake up to!

TraciG said...

That's right Wayland. Small, measurable achievable goals. And who doesn't look forward to washing her husband's underwear? Marisa, I've really considered starting a group: Procrastinator's Anonymous. The first step: realize we are powerless. We'll get around to the other nine sometime.

The Farmer's Wife said...

First of all, no one would make it to P.A., because no one could commit to a time and place for the meeting...

I guess I usually think of short accounts in relation to forgiveness, rather than tasks. Women remember every wrong done to them or theirs, and every hurt feeling, every angry word, every sorting stick thrown...I can't help it. BUT, I can help burying it or bringing it up again. And I need to dump the trash, in my heart, more often. It starts to stink up the rest of the place, you know?

Good thoughts to bring to the blog table.

Kathy said...

Great post Traci. I'm still chuckling about the underwear trend in the replies. I'll move on from that though. : ) I love to teach through object lessons. I used to tell the kids that unforgiveness is like storing dirty diapers (a prequel to underwear, I guess!) in their treasure chest. Then, they get married, the dude or dudette opens the treasure chest (by way of an unforseen offense - the treasure chest being the heart), and wa-lah, they're knocked over by the stinch of years of dirty diapers. Since we are now out of the diaper stage, I need to come up with a new analogy. Anyway-you get the point. I'll join the PA club as long as you won't tell anyone. Try having the problem for 48 years. It is getting better, and God is using my children, marriage and other responsibilities to peel that tough old hide off of me. Blessings girl, and sorry for the lengthy reply.

scott said...

Good post. Very inspirational. We all need to remember that every day. Which way is up and what are my assets. It's all good to remember.