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Time on my Hands

Thinking through my life--I seem to spend a lot of time doing that lately. It's a luxury that comes with age.

There were times in my life when all I could do was put my head down and keep running. I had children to clothe; laundry to do; meals to cook; floors to scrub and a million other things that had to be done. Now there is more discretion. There is choice!

Daughter-in-law Sue came back tonight to do more painting. Tall, and string bean skinny, she walked in wearing her painting gear, still managing to look beautiful with her dark hair and striking eyes that are blue, gray or green, depending on the light.

She quickly trod on thin ice though, when she said, "Now I know for sure that you guys are old. This is the second night I've found you eating dinner on TV trays in front of the TV."

We felt compelled to point out that tonight the TV wasn't on and that the reason we were eating on TV trays was because we liked it and we can! I said, "Just wait until your kids are grown up and you don't have to make dinner and eat at the table--I bet you'll eat off TV trays too."

"Yes," she said (always one to have the last word,) "And then I'll know I'm old!"

But to get back to my original point: the thinking through of my life. I started as usual just before January 1st, taking stock. There is so much I would love to accomplish, but I know that left to chance, the urgent; the pleasant; and the delightfully distracting, will overtake the important every time. This why I began thinking it all through again.

Friends will remember that I had a colour coded Excel schedule a couple of years ago. I managed to fit every single thing into a slot on that page: writing; devotions; exercise; work; housework; sleeping; studying; volunteer work. It was with a great sense of triumph that I saw that it Could All Be Done. A short time later I wrote a blog post entitled, The Colours Bled, in which I bemoaned the fact that real life didn't unfold according to the template. My chart was far too rigid and strict and of course it was doomed to failure. It did look lovely and afforded me excitement for a while, though.

Maybe it's because I didn't just leap into it this year, but took time to think and experiment with my current template, but my days upon it look quite minimalistic. I have realized that I cannot do half the things that I thought I could in a given day or week. All along I have been setting myself up for failure and dashed hopes.

I still wonder why I can't be like some other people who seem to know without any sort of guide, how to live their lives effectively and get the essentials done. I'm not like that though. Without instructions and prompts and left to my own devices, I will wander all over the place like a fly waking up from winter hibernation.

So my life on paper has been simplified. I am harbouring a (probably vain) hope that by doing so I will suddenly out do myself and find I have time left over.

Time on my hands! Now that would be a new experience.

What about you? Is your life simplifying these days or as rushed as ever?


Brave Raven said…
"I still wonder why I can't be like some other people who seem to know without any sort of guide, how to live their lives effectively and get the essentials done." - These are simply people who fake it to make us "real" people feel inferior. There is usually at least one area of their lives that is in hopeless disarray. (Check basement, or closet).

There's a certain grace in underachieving. It's acceptance that you can't do it all. If only there was a support group for people like me. Underachievers Anonymous. I'm sure it's been tried - but nobody bothers to show up!!
Joanna Mallory said…
I agree with Brave Raven that there's grace in accepting you can't do it all. I've seen the flip-side of that, though, when my expectations were unreachable and I lived with a perpetual sense of defeat. I think the grace comes in realizing what's realistic to achieve, and then still giving oneself permission to under- or over-achieve on a specific day depending on what else happens.

Often the Lord has something else on the day's agenda than what we wrote there. I'm learning not to force my own way, and not to feel guilty about what I'd originally planned if He diverts me.

Belinda, I love that image of the fly wandering around after waking from winter hibernation. Wish that wasn't me every morning!
Belinda said…
Ha ha Joanna and Brave Raven. Fellow T.O.S.F. members: The Order of the Sleepy Fly! :):)
Belinda said…
Ha ha Joanna and Brave Raven. Fellow T.O.S.F. members: The Order of the Sleepy Fly! :):)
Julie said…
As I was waiting for my computer to boot up I was busy multi-tasking for the day. Getting stuff together making mental lists. I must admit once the computer was up and running and I began to read your blog I was still in this mode. You finally got my attention at the colour coded excel sheet, then you were speaking to me. Very good point made in this posting Belinda very good point taken. ( I also want to see this excel sheet someday)

Marilyn Yocum said…
I've had a forced simplication and it's been one of the best things that has happened to me.

I may be the only person showing up in Heaven, having never seen an episode of "LOST," gone on a missions trip, seen the church plant I've been laboring in for over a decade actually get a building of its own or built the much-heralded platform.....but God has gotten me around to a place where I can live with those truths. :-) There is peace there.

You speak to the issue of our day!
Patricia said…
Belinda - you made me smile at the thought of that colour coded Excel sheet - and also, truth be told - you made me think, ever so fleetingly, 'why didn't I think of that?!'
I too find my life just seems to work better when I schedule certain things into it - but one of the things I've been realizing I need to allow for is "free space" on my calendar. Space to make that casserole for a friend, to have that phone conversation with someone who needs to talk, or just to sit with God for a while. So while life tends to feel just as rushed as ever in one regard, at least I'm open to opportunities to fill the free space as God brings them along - because the free space exists...
Susan said…
If my life were any simpler today I'd be pushing up daisies at Shady Rest. I think there's a balance somewhere... Buzzing around in circles and bumping into walls. Hmmm. Sounds familiar...

I must learn to master that Excel program. One of these days. But not today. :)

AWESOME discussion this morning!
Susan said…
P.S. There's a certain irony in that "underacheiver" comment by one of the greatest over-acheivers of our time. Did you catch the photos of her newly re-upholstered couch on Facebook? Haha. No buzzing fly are you, Paivi. You either, Belinda. You get more done than any three or four other people I know! :) (God bless those Excel sheets and keep those pies and letters coming in!)

Now back to buzzing... bzzzzz bzzzzz bump bzzzzzz bzzzzzz bump zzzzZZZZZZZZ
Dawn said…
One of my greatest issues is I underestimate just how long something will take so I am frustrated when I don't accomplish more even though I never stopped working.

I too am guilty of excel type worksheets (I use them for Thanksgiving and Christmas to make sure everything gets done and we don't take the butter from the freezer two minutes before eating!).

A friend bought my husband the "Procrastinator's Calendar" for Christmas - I finally opened it on January 4th! It has a thought of the day as well as places for "To avoid", "To pawn off", "To sabotage", and "To delay" - these are all listed under "To Don't". There is another heading "I will do this tomorrow" under which for today, it says "On January 22" or "Metaphorical Tomorrow".

I am home sick this week so I am not looking forward to going back to work next week and trying to catch up. I guess I need to remember that God does have a hand in this and maybe I needed this week as time for me to sit and chill (bad pun considering I might have pneumonia -I will find out after my chest x-ray).

Thanks for the food for thought.
Belinda said…
Oh friends, I read these comments when I got home from work and felt like we all sat down with a cup of tea and laughed together. Didn't that feel good? Well, it did to me! :)

Julie, I'm glad God slowed you down a little on your way into the day.

Patricia--yes! It's so important to have that space. That's one of the lessons I've been learning. Space for God's agenda.

Susan, really? You really want to learn Excel? Nah! :) I love you just the way you are and I can't imagine you and Excel.

And Dawn, you made me laugh out loud with your description of the Procrastinator's Calendar. And not opening it until January 4th? What a hoot! I so hope you feel better soon--and don't worry about next week's work--enjoy being home and soak it up while you can.

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