simplicity

A Story of Setting Boundaries

If you are a writer, you probably work from home. Maybe you’re lucky enough to have an office, or maybe, like me, you spread out over the dining room table and pack up (or not) when you’re done for the day.

Regardless of where you work in your home, it’s going to be easier to get sidetracked by your house than if you worked in an office. For example, when your daughter walks up to you, her eyes filled with distress because the raisin she has pushed into her left nostril is proving to be stubbornly unretrievable. Or, if that has never happened to you, maybe loading the dishwasher seems just a little more exciting than pushing through a particularly difficult scene.

Conversely, when you work at home, work can distract you from being present at home when you’re not supposed to be working. E-mail is a powerful lure when your husband’s idea of quality time is watching that episode of Family Guy for the fourteenth time. (Of course, I’m not denigrating Seth MacFarlane and is team of talented writers, but it was never my life’s ambition to know the entire seventh season of American Dad by heart.)

Setting boundaries at home has been one of the biggest challenges of stepping out into this life that I’ve chosen, and I’ll admit that I am not always successful. Instead of existing separately, my work and my family life often bleed together into some strange amorphous fog that isn’t particularly productive or in anywhere near intentional. So I don’t actually have any tips about how to do that better, at least not now, when I’m still figuring it out myself.

Notes from a Blue Bike

When I read Notes from a Blue Bike, I eagerly anticipated the section on work, because I knew that Tsh would have something valuable to share about creating an atmosphere of simplicity and intentionality around working from home – it’s what she does after all – and I wasn’t disappointed. Tsh tells a story about a visit she made to Susan Wise Bauer, a historian and professor at William & Mary who has written a boatload of well-respected curricula – from home. When she visited her home office, she saw that she had set up a physical boundary stone between her work and her office:

Here stood a tangible symbol of the very meaning of working with intention—knowing both my gifts and my limits, my callings and my opportunities that need a “no,” and being at peace with understanding the difference. To give myself the time and freedom to create my best art, and to confidently turn down those roles and opportunities that aren’t the best fit.

Later, Tsh added her own small boundary stone to her home office as a reminder of what stayed in and what went out.

Notes from a Blue Bike is full of stories about setting boundaries, making decisions about when to say no and choosing to do what is most valuable to you when you need to do it in all areas of your life. It’s the perfect book for the season that I am in: trying to sort out what is important to my family and what isn’t, what is improving our quality of life and what is taking away from it, how to manage my own work without making it the work of everyone around me.

If the desire simplicity and intentionality is floating around in your life right now, or simply if, like me, you’re trying to figure out where to lay down the boundaries, this is a book where you’ll find encouragement for your journey.

This post is part of the Blue Bike Blog Tour, which I’m thrilled to be part of. To learn more and join us, head here.

Notes From a Blue Bike is written by Tsh Oxenreider, founder and main voice of The Art of Simple. It doesn’t always feel like it, but we DO have the freedom to creatively change the everyday little things in our lives so that our path better aligns with our values and passions. Grab your copy here.

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