Dear Lois, How do you keep up with daily priorities and expectations?


Portrait by James Boyle.

When I trained in martial arts, my instructor taught me that “good form will carry me through.” There were times when I felt so tired that I became sloppy and let my guard down, which would get me punched in the face. I learned that when I became more technical and understood the movement, I was aware of the need to keep my hands up and have good form. Poor form wastes energy and leads to unfavorable results. To have good form you must engage all of your senses. For instance, when you are washing the dishes you can be aware of:

➤ The products you are using and their impact on the environment

➤ Your posture—how your body feels and how you feel about your body

➤ The mechanics and techniques of how to do a good job

➤ The noises around you

➤ Your breathing

➤ The heart behind it all

Illustration by Lois Volta.

I’ve noticed that there are priority tiers when it comes to matters that are addressed at home. As a single mom there is a lens through which I look at life to maximize my efficiency. The tiers look like a towering mountain when I can’t seem to stay on top of things. We all know that our value does not lie in how productive we are, but many don’t realize that not being productive can be a privilege.

As a single parent who can’t afford a nanny, chauffeur or personal assistant, there are an exorbitant amount of things that need to be balanced, especially with multiple children. Time for leisure, restoration and fun costs something to those whose time is limited and days are full. Finding domestic support and balance where you can is invaluable.

“…there will always be something that has to get done so keeping on top of things is important.”

When my home becomes a place of “the things I have to do,” I feel overwhelmed. There is always something that needs to be done. How could I possibly add x, y and z if my life doesn’t allow me a clean tub to take a bath in? How is it that I can’t keep my bathroom clean? This causes me to feel trapped in my own prison of responsibilities, and that feeling sucks the pleasure out of life. There are always areas in our lives where we have to pare down what we do or the things we indulge in. There are many times that I have justified binge-watching TV or wasting hours on meaningless drivel. However, that’s when I seem to feel more anxious—I know that a big to-do list is haunting me and I never truly find the escape that I was looking for.

I think about good form carrying me through when I am feeling overwhelmed at home with all of the pots on the stove, work deadlines and family responsibilities. When I clean as I go, tidy as I walk through a room and never go up or down the stairs empty-handed, I become a well-oiled machine. From there, I can add fun stuff like having friends over or canning vegetables from my garden. I can enjoy my take on the art form of domesticity without feeling like I’m drowning in chores. When I find my own personal groove I become stronger, more alert, have fewer setbacks and can have more fun enjoying life.

The home is a dynamic, living space and within its walls it carries so many functions. The truth is, there will always be something that has to get done so keeping on top of things is important. We work so hard—for what? To come home to a house that is a mess, out of control and gives us anxiety? Home and what happens in it should be a top priority for our well-being.

Living in grace gives us flexibility, ease and helps us to cultivate good form. Learning an art takes patience. Take the time to become a student of your own behaviors to bring awareness, meaning and balance to your rituals and responsibilities.

Lois Volta is a home life consultant, artist and founder of The Volta Way. Send questions to info@thevoltaway.com.

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Latest from #151 December 2021