After I made this jar, it occurred to me that these were the things that were most important to me, and yet they were receiving the least amount of my attention and energy. I had become so incredibly busy building and running a school, obtaining degrees, and serving on boards that I had lost myself along the way. That disconnect led to utter depletion of all of my mental, physical, and emotional reserves. Something had to give.
When I look at this jar, it reminds me of a couple of things. First, I remember that Mason was 43 years old (about my own age) when she moved to Ambleside. I know that she, too, had become depleted, because her doctor advised her to take six months of undisturbed rest in 1871, and in 1872 she resigned from her post at Davison school (The Story of Charlotte Mason, Cholmondley, 1960, p. 9). Then, by 1885, she was ready to start her life's work in Ambleside. During those years between 1872 and 1885, Mason must have spent a great deal of time reading and thinking, working out her philosophy and learning to live intentionally. There is an entire chapter devoted to how Mason scheduled her days. If you do not have access to this book, you can read a synopsis along with a lovely commentary by Laurie Bestvater here. And then, of course, there is the familiar story, found on page 69 of this book, of the young, newly arrived teaching student:
On my arrival at Ambleside I was interviewed by Miss Mason who asked me for what purpose I had come. I replied: 'I have come to learn to teach.' Then Miss Mason said: 'My dear, you have come here to learn to live.'
Having this jar in a prominent place over the last year or so has helped me have the courage to rearrange things so that my actual life is more in line with my beliefs, gifting, and values. This, in turn, has made me feel as though I have slipped back into my own skin. Of course, this has greatly helped with the anxiety and depression, which I believe were my body's glaring red flags that things were out of alignment.
I apologize if this post was a bit self-indulgent. I'm not sure why I felt prompted to write it today. Hopefully, someone out there will benefit. And I am curious: what would your jar look like, and does your actual life look like that?
Blessings on your day, dear reader. It may be a very good thing to make time for a quiet cuppa to think about this topic.