Posts Tagged With: priorities

 
 

Going for the Juggler

No, you didn’t read that wrong and I didn’t write it wrong.

You thought I meant to say going for the JUGULAR. That idea: “to finish off your opponent quickly and decisively by cutting the jugular vein, a direct connection to the heart,” is a cruel and ruthless thought.

Going for the JUGGLER sounds similar but isn’t heartless. It’s an innocent thing others do to us, or we unwittingly do to ourselves

Let me explain.

Photo by  Baikonur Juggle these.

Photo by Baikonur
Juggle these.

I juggle. You juggle. We all juggle.

We try to keep lots of things midair in our lives. Work, family, spouses, finances, housework, yard work, gardening, errands, volunteer work, meals, recreation, sports, lessons, extended family, appointments, workouts, goals, car repairs, mental health, hobbies, dreams, friendships, hopes, sleep, relaxation.

The list of juggled items often fills a page or two in our heads, and in our hearts.

How do we decide which things get our time and attention? How do we keep each ball hovering? And are some of the balls actually swords, or flaming batons? Maybe we’ve taken on a running chainsaw and tossed it into the mix of juggling knives and bowling pins.

If we take our eyes off the stuff in the air in order to pick up or add in another item we risk dropping something, or hurting ourselves or someone else.

Then we go for the juggler, which means the busiest person seems to willingly take on the most. The one with dozens of things hovering midair says “yes” to more, thinking that one more small thing won’t create a problem. We think we can pick up a tiny hacky sack and add it to the fray. Admit it, you’ve done it.

I get tired just thinking about it, don’t you?

And then the rhythm gets out of whack and it all starts to come crashing down around me.

So then I drop it all and sit in front of the TV “eating bonbons” into the wee hours of the night. Or I take a guilt-riddled day off and sleep hoping to somehow fill an empty reservoir so I can pick it all up again and start juggling again the next day.

The Big Secret

Here’s a not so very secret detail that I’m still trying to deal with: There are only twenty-four hours in a day.

Don’t you just hate that?

And almost a third of those hours should involve sleeping. That leaves sixteen hours for every other thing I need to juggle.

No matter how organized or prioritized, somethings on my list will never, ever get done.

It’s true.

I try to accept it. Embrace it. Give up. Well, I don’t exactly give up. But I try to embrace reality.

Once in a while I add a number to each item on my to-do list. The number represents how much time this item will take up in my day. I add up the numbers and always realize it exceeds the number of hours I have available in the day.

I have two choices at that point. I can either eliminate some items so it all fits, or I can attempt to shorten the amount of time each item takes to complete. Or, in my alternate universe, I can conjure up a third option: magically make the day longer.

Unfortunately, I haven’t quite mastered the third option.

Jugglers Circus Amok photo by David Shankbone.jpg CC BY 2.5

Jugglers Circus Amok photo by David Shankbone.jpg CC BY 2.5

Honestly, I’m not as busy as I once was when my kids all lived at home. But somehow, my life has managed to fill up with more to do than three women with super powers could get done in a day, or a week, or a month. Makes me wonder how I ever managed when I had a house filled with little and medium and big people to take care of. I suppose I became a Master Juggler Extraordinaire! The word Circus best describes how it got to play out some days. In fact there were whole years that fit into a three-ring fully tented circus at our house.

Sometimes I just have to let it go, drop a few balls, bowling pins, chainsaws, flaming batons, and swords, and admit some of those things aren’t as important or vital as I once thought they were

Really.

Pass me some chocolate, then you have some, too.

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Categories: Priorities | Tags: , , , , , | 1 Comment

A Bit of Perspective on Kissing and Other Stuff

It’s that time of year where half the world seems to lose all perspective.

christmas 2007

A Disco Christmas? (Photo credit: paparutzi)

Chatting with my best friend the other day about Erma Bombeck’s list of things she would have done differently in life prompted her own short list of things she would have done if she had more time.

“These are not a list of regrets,” she was quick to assure me. “I have no regrets!” She gave me that look that said she was seriously completely honest about that statement. “No regrets!”

That’s true. She has used these past few nauseated chemofied pain-managed years making sure there would be no regrets that she had control over.

But there is this short list of ‘would have if she could have’ that I wrote down as we talked, with her permission of course.

  • Kiss her husband more often for at least six seconds each time
  • Pull her kids out of school for whatever, more often
  • Travel more
  • Jump on the trampoline when the kids asked instead of “later”
  • Ride bikes with the kids more
  • Teach more life skills that come in handy like “let the dryer do the ironing” and such.
  • Read bedtime stories more regularly
  • Be more gracious and nicer to her husband
  • Attend temple more often
  • Never ever start drinking soda
  • Adopt a Chinese baby since her husband speaks Chinese and could help keep their culture
  • Yell Less
  • Exercise more consistently
Gift!

Gift! (Photo credit: allie™)

I noticed the “more” she wished for wasn’t something that could be put in a package, wrapped up and tied with a bow then slid under a Christmas Tree. The “more” wasn’t something she could send someone on an errand last-minute to take care of.

I sure hope I’m making the big things the big things and not getting it backward.

It’s so easy to let the minor things take over and get major league treatment. Meanwhile The Really Important People and events end up forgotten, rolling and banging around in the cargo area.

I’m pretty sure my list would be full of BIG regrets. Not something like this “woulda been nice if” list.

Lipstick Kiss

Maybe I ought to start doing something about my regret list now, while I have time. At least, I think I have time.

We never know, do we?

Pucker up MSH, I’m headed your way.

Categories: Cancer, Death, Family | Tags: , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Six to Eight, Give or Take a Little

Blink

Blink (Photo credit: ballookey)

What would you do with six to eight weeks to live?

Six weeks equal forty-two days.

Forty-two days!

That’s 1008 hours. That’s all!

Eight weeks equal fifty-six days. Which amounts to 1344 hours. Sounds like a lot put that way, sort of.

Blink.

Blink again and it’s gone.

What did you just do in the past six weeks? In the past two months? Did you do anything noteworthy? Impact someone’s life for the better? Make a change in your life that felt good? Spend time with family? Apologize? Make amends? Let go of a grudge? Let go of the past?

What plans for your future are you going to miss if you’re gone in two months? Who will you miss? Who will miss you?

Have you laughed much in the past six weeks? How about tears, how much have you cried in the past eight weeks? Did you read anything life-changing, interesting or worthwhile? Did you learn something new in the past eight weeks?

Has anything caught your breath in the past one thousand hours? Been surprised by something? Have you just sat quietly with someone and felt comfortable in the silence?

Have you thanked someone in the past two months? Have you taken some time to think about all the hard things you’ve overcome to get you to where you are now? How about thinking through the good, glorious, hilarious, fun, astounding and amazing things you’ve had in your life so far?

Could you let go of it all?

Who would you say goodbye to? How would you say goodbye?

Is there someone who’d need to hear that you love them before you left, or are you sure they know? Are you really sure?

I can hardly breathe for thinking about such things.

Maybe the six to eight weeks will really turn into twelve weeks or more. That’d be good, that’d be great!  But still, it wouldn’t be enough. Not nearly. What I want is six to eight more years, twelve more years, a thousand years.

I don’t want to have to say goodbye. I don’t want to let go of a friendship. I don’t know how to permanently let go of a best friend.

I’ve never had to do that. I don’t ever want to do it.

And yet.

Blink.

Categories: Death | Tags: , , , , , , | 2 Comments

On Attempts at Keeping the Unwieldy Tamed

Sunday Quotes

I’ve found I don’t always make clear transitions of logic that others can follow. That’s particularly true if I’m not well, or slightly medicated, which is the case today. So please bear with my leaps of sensibility and know that it made sense in my mind at least for a time.

I’d never read this poem by Robert Frost until this week. Not sure where it’s been hiding. Thought I’d share it with you today.

                  God’s Garden

photo-19 copy 10“God made a beauteous garden

With lovely flowers strown,

But one straight, narrow pathway

That was not overgrown.

And to this beauteous garden

He brought mankind to live,

And said “To you, my children,

These lovely flowers I give.

Prune ye my vines and fig trees,

With care my flowers tend,

But keep the pathway open

Your home is at the end.”

~ Robert Frost

Isn’t that a lovely picture as we wander and wonder through life, pruning and pinching back the wildness around and in us?

photo-18 copy 16Then I found this thought, which seemed to fit with my week of pain and impatience.

“We tend to use prayer as a last resort, but God wants it to be our first line of defense. We pray when there’s nothing else we can do, but God wants us to pray before we do anything at all.  Most of us would prefer, however, to spend our time doing something that will get immediate results. We don’t want to wait for God to resolve matters in His good time because His idea of ‘good time’ is seldom in sync with ours.” ~ Oswald Chambers

Never been much of a fan of God’s timetable. But then, sometimes, usually I’ll admit, God’s timing is perfect. What else would it be. It’d just me thinks the timing is off. Patience is not one of my strong points. Especially if pain is involved.

Also, never been a fan of Stephen Covey, but this rang true to me. Not sure if this idea fits with the previous two, but I like it anyway and so it gets inserted here:

photo-23 copy“You have to decide what your highest priorities are and have the courage—pleasantly, smilingly, nonapologetically, to say “no” to other things. And the way you do that is by having a bigger “yes” burning inside. The enemy of the “best” is often the “good.” ~ Stephan R. Covey

I think what I like about this is the “pleasantly, smilingly, nonapologetically” approach to saying “no.”

And clearly, this brief paragraph by Beryl Markham (aka Karen Blixen from Out of Africa fame) doesn’t fit with any of the three thought preceding it. But, I feel I’ve reached past the fourth day of unkempt and wild and thought I’d share the sentiment in her poetic words, with which I’ll close today’s post.

“I had never realized before how quickly men deteriorate without razors and clean shirts. They are like potted plants that go to weed unless they are pruned and tended daily. A single day’s growth beard makes a man look careless; two days’, derelict; and four days’, polluted.” ~ Beryl Markham

photo-20 copy 4

Categories: Wondering | Tags: , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Overgrown

My front yard boasts an impressive acacia tree. It’s a good thirty feet tall with branches arching out over half of the yard and shading most of the driveway. With the tiniest of leaf petioles, I find it impressive that so much shade can exist under its twisting branches.

Acacia koa with phyllode between the branch an...

When the winds kick up around here the upper and outer branches, which are fairly thin and flexible, wave about like animated ghosts in a Disney cartoon. Some of the outer branches nearly touch the ground when the wind howls. It’s quite a show.

I worry that one of these mornings after one of our storms, I’ll peak out the front door to find the tree completed blown over or a significant branch or two lying on the ground. You see, the tree has a dire need of pruning.

Looking at it from a few houses away it looks okay. It’s green and fluffy and has a nice shape. But step underneath the tree and look up into the canopy and you’ll see the problem. Half of the branches are dead or dying, or at least look that way. I think maybe the tree can’t support that much growth, so the inside lower branches, which don’t get much sunlight kind of give up.

There’s one really large branch that’s broken but hanging on by the bark. We’re talking a branch eight inches across. All the branches on that limb have died and browned over and dropped most of their tiny leaves.

I’ve done the best I can with my pruning stick thingy, but it only cuts half-inch branches or smaller. What it really needs is a knowledgeable tree person to thin out the overgrown and unnecessary larger branches. This will, in turn, allow the rest of the tree to grow, flex, stretch and thrive.

Procrastination being my middle name, I’ve put off doing anything about it. Sure, I’ve asked a few friends for phone numbers of their tree people. But I haven’t followed through on getting estimates or scheduling the deed.

20131019-141119.jpg

I think I’m like that tree. I’m a tangled mess of a little of this and a bunch of that and some over here and there. Tough winds blow through my life and I get all tied up in knots and swoosh around wondering if I’m going to blow over or fall down.

It’s not that I’m wimpy or weak or wishy-washy. It’s more that I’m unfocused and spread over too wide of an area. So many things call to me for my time, money and attention.

I can’t do it all. My trunk and roots can’t support every leaf and branch my life wants to send out. Regardless of how worthwhile, fun, or interesting, sometimes I have to say “no.” Sometimes I have to let go of what looks good from a distance, but might, with closer inspection, really just take a toll on me.

Might be time for some personal pruning. Hmmm.

So, it’s five days since I wrote about the acacia tree. I finally had the tree pruned. It took a guy with power tools and ladders almost five hours to prune, trim, shape and bring that tree under control. Then he had to load the mountain of branches into his oversized trailer and strap it down snug.

20131019-141132.jpg

One of my fears was that it would look naked and overpruned. Luckily the tree guy really had a good handle on how to shape that mass of overgrown tangled branches. The tree still looks full and round. It still casts a broad shadow over my driveway and provides plenty of places for birds to hang out. But now, sunshine can get through the top canopy to the lower branches. Bits of blue sky show through when I look up from underneath this natural sculpture.

I think the tree will be happier and healthier without so much extra weight hanging on it. When the winds blow, the branches and tiny leaves will be less like sails on a ship and more like a musical instrument for the wind to make music with.

I think I’d be happier and healthier with some mental pruning. I’d rather be a musical instrument than a sail.

Categories: Gardening, Nature, Outdoors | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

I Would Have

I’m using the Sandwich theory today. When you have to tell someone bad news slip it in between two good things. Not that the middle thing is bad news. Really it’s just something we hear in various forms but we don’t really listen.

Or is that we listen to but don’t really hear?

Whatever. Pay attention to the middle today, okay?

This sandwich is kind of like a good and healthy middle filling that we should choose to eat, enclosed by homemade bread.

Here’s one slice of bread:

20131013-171146.jpg

I didn’t promise the bread would be delicious, did I? Oh well, it’s a classic anyway.

Here’s the flavor packed protein filled goodness of today’s sandwich:

Erma Bombeck wrote this back in 1979 at the same age I am now, and many, many years before she passed away..

“Someone asked me the other day if I had my life to live over would I change anything. My answer was no, but then I thought about it and changed my mind.

If I had my life to live over again I would have waxed less and listened more.

Instead of wishing away nine months of pregnancy and complaining about the shadow over my feet, I’d have cherished every minute of it and realized that the wonderment growing inside me was to be my only chance in life to assist God in a miracle.

I would never have insisted the car windows be rolled up on a summer day because my hair had just been teased and sprayed.

I would have invited friends over to dinner even if the carpet was stained and the sofa faded.

I would have eaten popcorn in the “good” living room and worried less about the dirt when you lit the fireplace.

I would have taken the time to listen to my grandfather ramble about his youth.

I would have burnt the pink candle that was sculptured like a rose before it melted while being stored.

I would have sat cross-legged on the lawn with my children and never worried about grass stains.

I would have cried and laughed less while watching television … and more while watching real life.

I would have shared more of the responsibility carried by my husband which I took for granted.

I would have eaten less cottage cheese and more ice cream.

I would have gone to bed when I was sick, instead of pretending the Earth would go into a holding pattern if I weren’t there for a day.

I would never have bought ANYTHING just because it was practical/wouldn’t show soil/ guaranteed to last a lifetime.

When my child kissed me impetuously, I would never have said, “Later. Now, go get washed up for dinner.”

There would have been more I love yous … more I’m sorrys … more I’m listenings … but mostly, given another shot at life, I would seize every minute of it … look at it and really see it … try it on … live it … exhaust it … and never give that minute back until there was nothing left of it.”

Here’s the other slice of bread:

20131013-171451.jpg

Insert your own rimshot at this point.

Hey, you can’t always take life too seriously. Nobody gets out alive anyway.

Just three little somethings to let your brain chew on for a while.

Happy Sunday!

Categories: Humor, People, Relationships | Tags: , , , , , | 3 Comments

Before I Kick the Bucket

Bucket List, Schmucket List.

I’m probably one of three people on the planet who doesn’t have a bucket list.

So shoot me.

I’ve tried to make a list. I’ve started one. There’s one thing on it. I look at it and smirk. The smirk morphs into a self-deprecating laugh, which then mutates into a sinister shoulder devil.

The shoulder devil proceeds to tell me what a loser I am. The little dude whispers that I am what my life hands me. He murmurs things about obligations, commitments, real life and being self-less. I know, not your usual shoulder devil by any stretch. This one comes from the ranks of the Discouragement Platoon. He uses whatever he can get his hot little hands on.

He’s been quite effective so far in keeping me from even considering possibilities. Everything I can think of sounds unrealistic, undoable, pie-in-the-sky silly to me.

I don’t even start the list, I think of it in terms of questions and this shoulder devil smacks them down.

  • Write a novel? Right…that’s funny. When would you have time for that and who would read it anyway?
  • Hike the Grand Canyon? Are you kidding me? You’re seriously considering hauling this body down and back out of the biggest hole on the planet? Don’t you get out of breath going up a couple of flights of stairs?
  • Explore Alaska? Sure, right after you scrape together the rent money and sweep up what’s left over.
  • Build a cabin in the mountains? Silly girl, perks like that are for the beautiful, smart, adventurous people.
  • Eat at a five-star restaurant? Um, aren’t you the meatloaf and pot roast queen?
  • See the Statue of Liberty in person? Remember you don’t like crowds, big cities, the east coast?
  • Go on a week-long mountain bike trip? That’s really funny, have you seen what you look like on a bike? 

Sand bucket on the beach of Punta del Este, Ur...

Okay. So maybe I shouldn’t aim so high. Maybe my bucket list could take on a more realistic, more achievable, more down-to-earth feel.

For instance?

Like, oh, I don’t know.

A bucket list by definition is usually big important stuff, right?

So I’m stumped.

I could try looking at it a different way. What if I had less than a year to live? Then what would be on my list. My shoulder devil growls a low deep gurgle of aggravation and simmers himself into a poof of steam, disappearing for a while.

Phew.

  • See my other two daughters get married. Enjoy that look of bliss on their faces. Throw a big party for each of them.
  • See my granddaughter whose arrival is due in 3 months.
  • Tell my kids that I love them more than life itself.
  • Spend time with the other two Grands. Lights in my life!
  • Make sure MSH knows I cherish him. Thank him for the wild ride we’ve been on together. It would have been horrific without him.
  • Hug my Mom and Dad and try to infuse eternal gratitude into the hug.
  • Hang out with my siblings, chatting, laughing, reliving the good old days.
  • Apologize. Mend fences.
  • Write down everything I can get out of my head and on to paper about who I was, who I am, what I learned.
  • Laugh a bunch.

That would do it. It’s what’s really the big stuff. The big stuff that matters in the long run, in the short run, and while running out of breath.

Maybe I should get started.

That other stuff, may or may not happen. Whatever.

But the big, important stuff, I need to get ‘er done.

Categories: Death, Family, Humor, Relationships, Wondering | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

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