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[The Creation of the Chicken]

An unworthy Deacon, named for the brother of God: James, striving to "work out his salvation with fear and trembling" within the Tradition (paradosis) of the Eastern Orthodox Faith. It is a strange and marvelous journey, and I am accompanied by the fourfold fruit of my fecundity. My wife, the Matushka or Diaconissa Sophia, is my beloved partner in the pursuit of Theosis, and she ranks me in every way.
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Monday, May 03, 2010

Cutting Back and Turning Off

I realize I'm probably the only person in the world to have this issue, but I have to admit that I have self-control problems. Pretty much in every area of my life and I count it a pretty fair indicator of my spiritual progress. In some areas the issue may be trivial, but in others this is not the case at all.

Money is one of the more important areas. I have a tendency to spend money without thinking...often on frivolous and unnecessary things - it leads to my inability to stick to a budget. It's not like I run out and buy big screen TV's, but it's numerous little and daily things that pile up over time. What should have been $25 spent at the grocery store ends up being $75...this is quite a common occurrence for me.

I should add that we are also staring down the barrel of a VERY serious budget shortfall come July when the UW forcefully withholds 7.5% of my income to put into a retirement account. Great for me if I ever make it to retirement age - my guess is that will be about 115 at the rate things are going - but NOT so great for us now...downright BAD actually! Retirement is important, but so is eating right now.)

Another area is regarding my time spent online. Susan and I have both come to the conclusion that something needed to be done about the time we were both wasting. We have a million things that need to be done around the farm and far too often we find ourselves wasting tons of time on Facebook or whatever. And so we began to consider what we ought to do about what we both perceived to be a problem.

As a partial solution to both of the aforementioned "issues" (wasting time online and the coming budget shortfall) we decided to turn off our internet at home. This now leaves us without any TV or Internet (except for our phone plan which allows us to clumsily check our emails, but its so burdensome we know we won't spend too much time with it.) Who knows, after July we may have to dump the phones too!

And so we spent this last weekend without Internet. We survived. And I think we got a lot done...on Saturday I hauled in 2 yards of Emu poo (when you don't get enough from chickens, go with bigger birds), made a massive foraging run to Silverdale, while Susan got busy in the garden getting the poo unloaded and things planted. That afternoon I cooked dinner, then we went to Vespers and afterwards while I was brewing my beer I also got my Church school lesson done (this normally takes a LONG time because I get so distracted by...well...by Facebook). Sunday afternoon I fixed the lawnmower, cleaned up the brewery, grilled up a real nice dinner and Susan continued her work in the garden. Then we made our own homemade laundry detergent - Susan really did that, I just offered encouragement. Hopefully it works well...it is certainly a money saver. In all honesty, I hardly missed the internet.

In our lives, time is the only commodity of which we really have plenty. And we know that there is MUCH we can do to not only live more simply, but to provide for ourselves - thus helping us to save money. And the wonderful thing about this is that I FEEL better after having such a productive weekend. Far better than when I waste my time in leisure. Yeah, my body might hurt, but it's a good hurt.

As you can clearly see I am still maintaining the blog and I will still be on Facebook, I just won't be there as often. (Actually blogging may increase since that can easily be done during my commute and then just posting quickly at work). Now, I know, how these sorts of things can come across: as a blanket condemnation of Facebook or the Internet or whatever and it will make those who are actually able to discipline themselves think we may be judging their online activities. That is certainly NOT the case.

Cutting back and turning off is our decision because for US (and I mean us alone) it had become a problem - an impediment to our plans and goals and needs. Like alcohol, for many people the Internet and Facebook is NO problem at all, but for us...well we simply don't trust our ability to discipline ourselves. That's OUR issue. Wish we didn't have it...but there it is for all the world to see...well 50 or so of you anyway.

I am hoping that a request to my higher-ups for a salary increase will help to buffer the coming fiscal storm in July. But being an employee of the state makes such requests a bureaucratic nightmare. If only I could be like the state itself, which when it has a budget shortfall they just do away with laws standing in their way and vote themselves a raise (more taxes). We shall see what happens.

I have more thoughts on this matter and how it all connects with something I've been reading about the disconnect between the mind and the heart (heart being defined NOT as the seat of emotions.) This, I think, is the core problem with self-control. But I'm FAR more a patient rather than a doctor.

More to come...

...offered by Dn. fdj, a sinner at 3:12 PM [+]


so, it's Wednesday...how's it going?


By Anonymous MikeW, at 3:35 PM  


God bless you in all of this. There's a lot of us in the same boat.

By Blogger Moo!, at 5:42 PM  


Mike...so far so good :)
I have access at work, which I also need to limit more...

Susan makes 2 trips a week to the library as part of homeschooling where they have free wi-fi.

Last night instead of surfing or watching online videos we read as a family the GA Henty book on William Wallace. Henty, BTW, was a man with a very proper beard :)

By Blogger fdj, at 7:23 AM  


Thanks Moo

By Blogger fdj, at 7:24 AM  


Proper beards are good! When mine gets longish, it itches, so I keep it short -- shows less gray, too.

I've been thinking about your dilemma -- and mine, too -- and wondered where in our lives it is proper to have a little less discipline. Between home, work, family and friend responsibilities, chores and so on, there's not a whole lot of time to just smell the roses. I've spent the last few weekends working on my pasture irrigation, and cutting and sanding trim for the house. Before that we had concerts, so I was facilitating those. I hate to feel like I have to schedule any down time, but that's how it has been the past -- oh, gosh -- since forever, it seems, and that kinda defeats the point, if you know what I mean. Some time I would just like to sit on my porch, quiet my mind, and not think about all the stuff I'm avoiding doing, but just enjoy the moment, look at the clouds, listen to the birds, smell the lilacs. If you're like my wife and I, we're really way too busy...and it is our own fault. We're trying to slow down and simplify, but even that is taking time and energy. I know it sounds like I'm whining, but I guess it feels more like a lament about how much I've allowed my own life to be filled with activities and stuff that in the grand scheme of things is really not all that important.


By Anonymous Anonymous, at 2:33 PM  


Hey Mike!

I totally understand what you mean...but not from experience. LOL! I find my lack of free time is an illusion because I actually have quite a bit of it, I've just wasted it doing things...like Internet surfing...facebooking etc.

I'd say that you should absolutely schedule your downtime...AND FULLY ENJOY IT!

I find on those days when I've worked hard and not wasted time, that sitting back on the porch at the end of the day with a fine ale...well...it's the BEST. But only because I KNOW I've been productive.

So...come have a beer with me Mike! (Or whatever your beverage of choice may be) I'll force you to take a break, you hold me accountable to deserving mine!

By Blogger fdj, at 2:47 PM  


you gotta deal...we're planning an extended visit to Hansville this summer and I'd love to come by, meet you in person, see your neat farm and share a glass of beer, you won't need to twist my arm!

Take care...

By Anonymous Mike, at 4:36 PM  


I hear you. My modem conked out and although they've sent me another one I don't want to hook it up. I get so much done and I feel brighter - I think there's something dismal about spending so much of one's time in front of a screen.

By Blogger margaret, at 5:23 AM  


I agree with you completely, Margaret.

By Blogger Susan Sophia, at 12:13 PM  


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