Summer Time

With the school year over, my To-Do List looks a little different:

1. Wake up to daylight.

2. Have a second cup of coffee.  Finish the coffee while it is still hot.  

3. Pee whenever I want to.

4. Hydrate.

5. Repeat item 3.

6. Be outside.

7. Eat when I am actually hungry.

8. Think about things.

9.Drink more coffee later with ice cubes because it is a choice, not because it is what sits before me from morning.

I am pleased to report that on Day 3, I am wildly successful in completing this To-Do List.  Not that it has been easy. Take item 4, for example.  Whoever decided that everyone should drink 64 ounces of water a day must also have invented water-boarding as a form of torture.  I do love my chilled water (infused with natural flavors), but by ounce 48 I’m drowning.  However, I have flushed 2 lbs out of my body, so I will Keep Hydrating and Carry On.

The real struggle is with my addiction to To-Do Lists. I have other Lists for this summer.

  • All the things I need to do to be better prepared for the next school year. (As though,after 33 years in the classroom,I am unprepared.  Still…)
  • All the things I need to do around the house because it fell into near total chaos during the school year.  Only the bi-weekly sprint to tidy before the cleaning ladies arrived saved us from total disaster.
  • All the things I need to do to be the perfectly healthy individual that everyone else I know is.  Or at least so I can visit the doctor for a checkup and not cringe.
  • All the people I am going to invite over because I don’t have the overstimulation of the work week as an excuse and because introverts love to spend their vacation hosting events.  (FYI, for an introvert, hosting more than 2 people is an event.  So if I invite just two of you over,  consider than an act of love.  More than two, I am sacrificing myself on your behalf.)
  • All the summery fun things I need to do to feel like I had a vacation.

So, yeah, the list of Lists is fraught with opportunities for failure.  There is no way to do this.  And each of these Lists comes with Sub-Lists.  And yet I need the Lists or I will do nothing.  It’s like my WeekSheet of lesson plans.  I may not get everything done by Friday,  but I come a whole lot closer if I work to the plan.

A missionary to Cameroon shared at church last Sunday his struggle with being back in the States for a year.  The Africans have a saying, “Westerners have clocks; Africans have time.” It is hard to shift from one timeframe to another.  That really resonated with my launch into summer.  I have a “need” To Do while simultaneously desiring a break from the tyranny of doing.  I long to discern the difference between maximizing my minutes and fully living in time. I long for a compromise between the list the top of this page and the List of Lists lurking beneath it.

For the moment, my compromise is looking like this:

  • Look at each day as a day of possibilities. What can I do as opposed to what ought I to do? (Being the first-born that I inescapably am, my “can-I’s” will surely contain enought “oughts” to keep me from sliding into total slothful irresponsibility.)
  • Follow the nudges of the Holy Spirit and be open to divine appointments.

And for the immediate moment, I am behind on my water intake and I have to go to the bathroom.


Countdown to Thanksgiving

For some people the upcoming days count down to serious Christmas shopping.  Others are counting the days to shotgun season.  For me, multiple checklists focus me toward the annual Thanksgiving crowd at my house.  With about forty guests expected, the checklists–my marching orders–keep me from total panic.  I used to spend a whole weekend making lists, but one year I used half a brain cell and decided to save the lists on the computer.  Now I whip out those files, do a little tweaking, and get marching.

Ok, marching is an optimistic way to phrase that.  Marching implies order and calmness.  Every year my Thanksgiving prep  begins with total shock. What? Thanksgiving is in ten days???  How  did that happen?  It’s not like I don’t know it’s coming.  Every week since September I’ve been telling myself to clean the cobwebs off the front door.  Halloween has come and gone, along with the excuse for having cobwebs on the front door.  I know it’s November.   Thanksgiving is at the end of November.  What?  It’s the middle of November already?  Ack!!!

Inevitably a family member will email me and ask if I’m sending the annual Thanksgiving Family-gram.  They don’t want to presume that I’m hosting, but…am I?  Of course.  Where better to spend T-day than over the river and through the woods to a cozy log home where there is shooting down on the field and big-screen football inside followed by cigars under the stars?  Plus, over the years, I’ve collected dishes, card tables and chairs, coffee urns, table linens, even a chocolate fountain.  Someone else would have to borrow all that stuff.

So, I have to send the Family-gram.  This is the “tell me who is coming and what you are bringing” communication.  We have finally almost mastered the skill of building the menu online by clicking “Reply All” to the last email and adding meal contributions directly onto the menu.   I say “almost” because one sister, who shall be unnamed but it’s the one who is so high up in corporate management that her territory consists of our entire galaxy, well, she must need a secretary to do it for her.  She can’t seem to get her items into the menu itself.  Every year we try again and inch toward getting it right.

A burst of adrenalin has launched me to the computer. I open all my to-do lists, tweak last year’s family-gram and send it, and order the turkeys.  Now a second wave of denial hits me.  I have almost two weeks to do all the things on the list.  So I write a blog post about it.  I grab a snack and note the despicable condition of the fridge.  I stare at the silver that wants polishing.   I ponder setting the auto-clean on the oven.  (Really, how hard is it to set the auto-clean?  Why do I not have a sparkling oven?)

I may have marching orders, but I don’t march.  It’s more like running hurdles.  With rest-stops between the hurdles.  (No one has ever accused me of being an athlete.)  Ok, I’m going to get up now.  What’s that proverb?  A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.

Really, I am.  I’m getting up now.  Promise.