Zooming in and zooming out

Life around home / Monday, September 10th, 2012

Confession: There are some household tasks I love…

(cooking, organizing, pinning clothes to a line)

There are many household tasks I find tedious, a mindless reworking of old ruts…

(washing dishes, folding laundry, vacuuming floors)

And there are a few household tasks I simply hate.

(among which ironing is chief)

For the latter two, the tedious and the hated, I’ve found it helpful to try what I call zooming in or zooming out.

(Sometimes I think I am really just an overgrown child.)

Zooming in means concentrating, turning the mindless into a work of art. I’m going to press these shirts fit for a king. Or I may pray for the person whose clothes I’m ironing—my son, my daughter, my husband. Sometimes as I press the sleeves of my husband’s shirts I pray Lord, make his arms strong for the work to which you’ve called him. This is zooming in, and it leaves me filled with satisfaction.

Zooming out means engaging my mind with something totally other. This means I may lay a hymnbook on the ironing board and sing aloud as I work.* Or I may make a phone call to my sis, pressing the phone against my shoulder. This is zooming out, and it leaves me filled with surprise, wondering Did I really iron all those shirts already? Yet there they hang, crisp and complete.

* Side note: The first time you do this you will feel ridiculous–over-pious and grandmotherly. It’s okay. If Satan can make you feel that praising Jesus is silly, he will. Keep singing, and next time it will be easier.

There are many other ways to zoom in and out.

Meal preparation for the week:

  • In—Planning details, adding the special touch, inserting a creative twist
  • Out—Cooking a big chicken on Monday and recycling it in all five weeknight suppers

Washing dishes:

  • In—Naming gratitude for the things you’re touching
  • Out—Listening to an audio book

What other ways can you think of? You probably do this already, though you may call it by another name.

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10 years ago

This is great advice that I needed today. Zooming in OR out is a lot better than hating the task at hand and making everyone else in the near vicinity miserable as well which is what I usually end up doing. Thanks for the perspective!

Virgil Nisly
10 years ago

I appreciate this way of thinking about chores. I do the same things, but this gives me a better picture of why I do what I do.


10 years ago

I’m catching up on a few posts tonight. 🙂 I love your term for this! I do the same thing, but never really categorized it. Hmm, what are some of mine? I do the same ones you mentioned and…teach my children while I’m working–counting, colors, shapes, patterns, measurements, methods, why/how things work, etc; plan menus, schedules or compose blog posts. Zooming in: maybe notice details like texture and pattern–the way light falls on something and changes the mood, photograph details of something I’m working on which helps me to see it in a new way.