I’ve decided to shake things up a bit by starting a new feature: the Jeneric Rambling. These will be short posts – rambling thoughts on random things. This first is about laundry day, the laundromat, and finding balance in your life. Until we went to Morocco, I really hated having to go to the laundromat. Morocco taught me gratitude for the laundromat but I still didn’t like having to go. For one thing, it meant that my washer or dryer at home was broken and that would mean two things: paying to fix it would suck and, most likely, I would end up having to work from home for a day while waiting for the repairman to show up. But worse than that, a trip to the laundromat meant lost time – time I could be doing something else around the house. You see, laundry was a task to be sandwiched in between all the other tasks that I had to do on the weekends. I would put a load in the washer and head off to work on something else – yardwork, house cleaning, etc. Later I would come back & move that load to the dryer, filling the washer up again. Repeat and repeat as many times as necessary to get it all done. Because in our traditional lives there was always something that needed to be done. Most people know exactly what I’m talking about because traditional life is a constant struggle to fit everything in. We work all day, shop after work, go home to make dinner, and then plop down for a few hours of exhausted R&R with our families or in front of the TV, only to drag ourselves out of bed the next day to start it all over again. Weekends should theoretically have been our time to relax, but we all know that’s not going to happen! The house needs to be cleaned, grass needs to be cut, trees trimmed, gutters cleaned out, oil changed in cars – the list is endless if you own your own home. So it was almost a “blessing” that laundry could be squeezed in between all those other things we were exhausting ourselves over so that we could “relax” by having friends over or maybe taking the boat out for the afternoon. So if a machine broke and I had to make a trip to the laundromat, it really was an imposition. It meant that I’d have to work that much harder or longer to make up for that lost time. I often started my work-week in an exhausted Monday fog.
What a difference 18 months can make! When we decided to become nomadic, I wasn’t looking forward to spending lots of time in laundromats. I love it now, but not for any reason you’d expect. You see, my life is in balance now like it’s never been before. Our nomadic lifestyle is cheaper to maintain, meaning we don’t have to work as many hours. We have time every day for relaxation. We stop and smell the roses. My house is smaller and I have a lot less stuff, so I can “deep clean” my entire house now in less time than I used to spend doing a “spit & polish” on my old house. With no yard work either, laundry is no longer something I have to sandwich between all the other tasks I’m juggling. I now love the fact that in an hour and a half, all of my laundry is clean & folded. I’m done for another 2 weeks.
That balance is such a precious gift! I feel “present” in my life now, something I’d been missing for years. Back in our traditional house I sometimes I’d wonder if I was just bad at organization, or lazy, or maybe I was exhausted all the time because I was sick with some terrible disease, because there had to be something wrong with me since I couldn’t get it all done. But everyone I knew felt much the same way so the problem was bigger than all of us. We buy into the “American dream” lifestyle, but it can become a trap if we’re not careful. Most people can’t chuck the whole lifestyle as we’ve done, but I urge you to do what you can to carve out some balance in your own life. Hire the kid down the block to cut your grass. Hire someone to clean your house if you can. See if you can work from home a few days a week and you’ll be amazed at what you can get done in the time you used to spend commuting. If you can carve out some truly relaxing time for yourself your attitude will improve and you’ll feel rejuvenated. I know it’s not easy or we wouldn’t have so many self-help books on the shelves telling us how to do it! But don’t you owe it to yourself? To your family? Your health? When our lives are in balance, we gain the perspective to realize that going to the laundromat is just another chore – it’s not an imposition, a disaster, or the universe conspiring to ruin our weekend. It’s just a clean, fluffy spoke in a balanced wheel.
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