GET OUT OF MY MORNING!

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Elizabeth Willis Barrett………….January 13, 2015

I love mornings.  Not that I have gotten up early enough lately to claim their full benefits.  When I’ve had to catch a very early flight to Seattle or Salt Lake or take someone to a 5:00 am job appointment, I realize how much I am missing by not getting up at 5:00 every morning.  Getting to bed in a timely manner to allow a 5:00 am reveille hasn’t happened for a while.  But it really is a shame to miss those early hours when the sun is beginning to stretch and blaze its promise across the sky.  It is so beautiful and renewing.  To me, morning is when the vital doings of the day must be done. As the day moves along toward sunset, it seems to collapse and press down on all the remaining minutes leaving them rather unproductive.

If I had my way, I would wake up to an empty house with all other occupants hard at work somewhere else.  I wouldn’t need to help anyone find a missing phone or satchel or point out that the peanut butter is right where it has been for at least the last 10 years.  I wouldn’t hear the radio blaring out heart deflating accounts of kidnappings and murders and political sniveling.  My psyche is so fragile that an overheard bit of bad news acts like a stiff scrubbing brush to my good humor and sense of well being.  And although I really love to hear new insights on religion and the way of the country gained by deep spousal study, morning is not the time to pour any new found truths into my brain.  In the morning, the mixer of my cerebrum is whirring with other ingredients and extra bits and pieces are likely to get flung aside, my congeniality with them.

In the morning, I’m trying to concentrate on my weekly list.  It is a very long to-do list that I usually write out during Church on Sunday. I want to get on with the day and that list without any interruptions.  That is probably a very selfish desire.  But I’m just trying to put on my own breathing mask first so I can help others put on their breathing masks, so to speak.  And to me, that means getting certain things done in the morning.

For instance, if I don’t “stretch with Jane” before 8:00 am, the opportunity for that particular get-it-done item will be gone for the day. Without this stretching (which I have tried to do every morning for about 30 years since I discovered the wonderful DVD of Jane Fonda called “Start Up”) my aging body will just quit moving all together, and what help would I be to anyone then?

Next, I need to be totally ready for the day—showered, dressed, blown, curled, contacted, made up.  It is very deflating to look in the mirror at mid-day and realize that several of these points didn’t get addressed.  Of course, by then even the addressed items must be re-addressed.  If someone wants me to do something—after my morning, of course—I want to be ready.

There are about ten things I really want to get done each day and morning is the best time to do them.  Without distractions, I could easily get them all done by ten or eleven and then I would be eager to get on with the interaction and saving of others.  Not that anyone will need saving by then or want to interact either.

Again I find that I am not only thinking outside the box but outside the universe of my family and friends who are ready to engage way before I am.  Maybe they’ve already secured their own breathing masks and they are trying to help me with mine.  As usual, I could use some help. That universe has tried for years to teach me that warm, wonderful people are far more important than crossing items off my lists. So, come back into my mornings and my days and my nights and I will try to be more discreet as I’m making a list and checking it twice.

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FIDGETING MY WAY THROUGH LIFE

 

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Elizabeth Willis Barrett

I am a fidgeter.  Sitting still isn’t imbedded in my makeup.  When the family is gathered in the chaotic family room to visit after dinner, I have to hold on to myself to keep from jumping up and grabbing a broom or a dishcloth or the bin for the child-scattered blocks.  I breathe in deeply, hoping that the air will moor me to the recliner and keep me from my manic disorder of constant busyness.

I heard once that fidgeters aren’t overweight because they burn calories in unnecessary movements.  That’s a comfort.  But I don’t know if it quite makes up for the offenses I incur by organizing all the medicine cupboard’s contents while talking to a brother-in-law or scrubbing the couch while having a heart to heart conversation with a daughter.

Besides alienating people, fidgeting makes everything take longer.  Take eating for example. I put the food on my plate. Arrange it.  Get up to grab a napkin.  Get up to get some water.  By the time I actually put the first bite in my mouth, some of the family have finished eating and are out jumping on the trampoline.

I fidget before I write.  I take the computer from its long-standing spot on the kitchen table, situate it on my lap, check Facebook, look up tidbits about Julia Child, look around my room where I am sitting in the most comfortable chair ever and decide to put a few papers away that have held a spot on my Dad’s old trunk for three weeks too long.

Then I have to fidget around my subject for a while, fingering the words in an uneven typing until the piece takes shape and I can run with it.

I often find myself–or more accurately, lose myself–rifling through my purse.  It reminds me of my mom who used to do a lot of rifling in her dementia.  Sometimes I forget what I’m searching for and am afraid I’m just doing it for movement.  Scary!

One of my cousins mentioned that he was concerned about another cousin.  She fidgets so much, he said, that sometimes she misses airline flights and important meetings.  Really? He almost made fidgeting sound like a precursor to Alzheimer’s and I definitely don’t need any more precursors to that disease.

A friend of mine can get right down to things without the incessant fidget.  She prides herself on her three-minute showers, for instance.  My showers take an un-record-breaking twenty minutes.  My mind has lots of fidgeting to do and the shower is a great place to think things over.  I would feel very cheated if I only had three minutes for a shower.

Many years ago, this same friend’s daughter was invited to my daughter’s swimming party.  On the morning of the party my friend made her daughter a new swimsuit–from scratch!  It took her a mere two hours.

If the thought of making my daughter a swimsuit ever got past the filters in my brain, it would have taken me a month to make most likely.  I would have had to check out all the fabric stores, making sure I chose the best fabric and pattern.  It wouldn’t have ended up actually being the best fabric and pattern, but I would have tried my hardest. Then I would have had to drag out the sewing machine and find a place to set it up.  I would have anguished over the layout of the fabric and read the instructions over and over. I’d have had to look for scissors sharp enough to cut the fabric and gather enough pins to attach the pattern.  Then I would have tried to figure out the right pieces to sew together.  Eventually, I could have sewn the swimsuit perfectly according to instructions only to have my daughter refuse to wear it.  What a waste of wasted actions!

I wish I could do some things faster.  There are many waiting projects that could use a few minutes of salvaged time.   I think my fidgeting comes from having so many plans, for wanting to do so many things in this short life.  While I’m watering the plants outside, I think of something I want to write about.  I have to drop the hose, run in the house, grab some paper, find a pen and write down the thought that is sure to escape if I don’t anchor it down with ink. I can be doing my daily stretches with Jane Fonda from an ancient VHS tape and pause it several times to text a friend or find a photo or refill the hummingbird feeder so the little birds won’t get discouraged and go elsewhere.

Some might say I have ADHD or something like it but I don’t think so.  I just have a myriad of things I want to do and fidgeting is my way of coping.  To each her own!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Waste Not Want Not

Waste not Want Not

Elizabeth Willis Barrett

I don’t know if my title’s adage has been proven to be true, but I know that I hate to waste anything.  I got this trait from very conservative parents.  My Dad took some Boy Scouts on a campout and one of the boys swore that my dad would have had him save his spit.  I’m sure Dad didn’t go that far, but he did not like people to be wasteful, especially little annoying Boy Scouts.  When my parents would go out to eat with that boy’s parents, Dad would comment on how wasteful the boy’s mother was because she would leave so much food on her plate.  He wondered why she would order so much in the first place only to let it go to waste.  Waste rankled him.

It rankles me, too.  No matter how much I ever have, and I am lucky enough at the moment to have enough, I never want to be wasteful.  I think all our resources should be governed well and used conservatively.

Unfortunately, in an effort to not be wasteful, I save.  And I save things much too long.

Sometimes I save them for some perfect future event which, of course, never comes.  When I was in grade school, someone gave me a jar full of fancy soaps. I kept them in the bathroom and no one ever used them.  I was saving them for just the right use.  Guests maybe?  Anyway, that pretty jar of pink oval soap sat on the back of the toilet in the upstairs bathroom for years.  If the house hadn’t been sold and literally moved away, they’d be there still.

I hang on to toothpaste tubes until I have squeezed the very last fraction of toothpaste out–probably a penny’s worth which could hardly pay for the Herculean effort to extract it.  I rest near empty shampoo bottles upside down to gather what’s left and then add a little water to get the last dredges.  You can get at least two more uses out of the bottle that way.  I wrap up leftover tidbits from Sunday dinner and cram them in the freezer to spend time with last month’s bounty and once day-old bread.  Someday we’ll be glad to have chicken cacciatore again.  I hope.

There are many things in my closet that I should let pass on to more accommodating owners.  But it seems quite wasteful to get rid of things that still have price tags even though it has been two years since I gleaned them at some fantastic Macy’s sale.  I just might find something to go with that unattractive top if I hang on to it a little longer.

I don’t like to throw puzzles away if there is a slight chance that the missing piece will be found or discard the five single socks that must have mates somewhere around the house.  I hang on to music that I’ve never sung or played because someone gave it to me and I don’t want to waste their thoughtfulness.

I file away articles I will probably never read and recipes that haven’t made it to a dinner plate because I don’t want to waste the time some teacher took to run them off for me or the paper on which they were run.  Silly, I know.  But I feel I owe it to a hard working instructor to hold on to her handouts for a while anyway.

As far as purchases go, I have made a great attempt to be more discerning before I pull out my credit card to be swiped.  It’s obviously much wiser and less wasteful to not bring things home at all if they’re just going to be thrown out within a month.

The wasting of time is another squandering that puts me into a frantic internal realm of rebellion, but I’ve already written much on that and will continue to do so.

For now, all this talk of saving is getting to me.  Excuse me while I go clean out the files and make a pile of clothes to go to Goodwill!

 

 

 

 

 

Ready for Christmas? Humph!

Grinch

Elizabeth Willis Barrett

Christmas has been looming over the horizon for some time now striking a bit of fear in my pusillanimous (just thought I’d try that word since this computer’s thesaurus gave it as an option) heart.   I am trying to be prepared but it is doubtful that I can be totally ready although I’ve had a year to do so. Christmas and I have had a rather tenuous relationship through the years.  It always comes interrupting my attempts at just getting on with regular life.  I feel that in the midst of complete chaos and striving, the Christmas celebrating world expects us to now cram even more into already full lives as though we have just been sitting around all year waiting for something to do.

Although I am way behind on birthday wishes and thank you notes, I now need to write out and mail at least fifty Christmas cards.  Although I have scores of things waiting to be written up for my blog, I need to take precious time to write a family Christmas letter to go inside those Christmas cards along with a family picture which takes some doing since it now involves 28 individuals.  I seldom take the time to make dinner, much to Brad’s vexation, but in this Season of Insanity, I feel a great need to stay in the kitchen long enough to stir up some treats for neighbors and friends.  I have some picture-hanging hang-ups since we painted some of the rooms and few pictures have made it back to the walls. But instead of spending time on that project, I need to find a place to hang the stockings which is a real puzzler since in a remodeling frenzy we deleted our fireplace.

I have bulging drawers, cupboards and closets that are begging to be dug out, but instead I am digging out Christmas decorations and instead of decorating the house for year round service, I am decorating the tree and the railing in green and red.  Exercise and sensible eating have been replaced by errand running and constant snacking since sweets are in abundance and at hand.  And instead of planting flowers outside, I am helping Brad put up the Christmas lights, never getting them quite right.

All the parties that might have been scheduled throughout the year are, of course, packed into December.  The budget I almost had under control is totally blown. I am constantly stacking and re-stacking papers and miscellaneous items to get them out of the way.  The plan is to go through the stashed stacks when Christmas is over but then a new bombardment of paper work and stuff enters the house and the stacks stick around for weeks and weeks—ok, months and months. Then I hear songs about how this is the happiest time of the year.  I say again, “Humph!”

I know–I do it to myself.  None of the above is required.  I ought to love Christmas. I want to love Christmas.  I do love what it stands for.  Who doesn’t need to be reminded about the Savior’s birth and His infinite love for us?  We should be thinking of His Atonement every day.  I love the Christmas music, especially if I get to do some of the singing.   I love the programs and the talks in Church and the idea of peace on earth.  I especially love being with my family.  If it takes Christmas to get us all together, then it’s worth the fanfare but I would much rather enjoy my family without all the afore mentioned extras.

Perhaps I could get a petition going around to have Christmas every other year.  Years go by so fast now.  It seems we just make the Valentine cookies when it’s time for Easter eggs.  In a flash the Fireworks pop and then Halloween whips around like Casper and Thanksgiving gobbles up the time until it is Christmas again and I am outside hanging lights with Brad as he mutters, “These are so cheesy.”  Time warps from one Christmas to the next so quickly that it makes me feel like I am on the end of a very long human Crack the Whip.

I am trying to change my attitude.  At the first sign of a Christmas tree in Sam’s Club one day after Halloween, I attempt to calm my mind and bring the sweet remembrances of Christmas into it.  I do quite well for a while until it is suddenly two weeks before Christmas and I am not ready.

The question, “Ready for Christmas?” is not my favorite.  It implies that you have a given number of things to check off your list and then you can just sit drumming your fingers until Christmas morning comes tap tapping at your door.  Well, that list is so long that it is never completed, for me anyway.  So I’ve had to make some adjustments in my thinking.

I am trying to remember that the list is Christmas.  The doing and preparing and anticipating is all part of it and if the process can’t be enjoyed, then the road to Christmas morning will be paved with frustration.  Therefore, I am making an effort to enjoy the things I do and delete the things I don’t enjoy.  It is still a struggle.

If there really is magic in Christmas, then I think it is time to take advantage of it.  I want that magic to come on in and make itself at home because it must have the ability to lengthen time, increase capacity, stretch finances and buoy up spirits.

That is my wish for Christmas this year: that the magic of Christmas will fill my soul and allow me to triumph in this season and make it a happy one for all.

May it also fill yours!

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