Time Out 2

Elizabeth Willis Barrett

The other day our namesake grandson pushed his sister making her cry.  I’m afraid Bapa’s and my voices were a little harsh because Barrett ran off and we couldn’t find him for a while.  After a bit of searching in back bedrooms and closets, we found him sitting dejectedly on the stair.  He had put himself in “Time Out.”

A few days later, Barrett threw a football in the family room which his Bapa didn’t catch.  He’d been told not to throw the ball in the house (it definitely wasn’t Bapa who gave the command since, as always, Bapa was very much in the game) but Barrett threw it anyway, knocking down a lamp with the in-completed pass.  “I’m going to Time Out,” he said and promptly put himself back on the stairs.  This action sounded very much like, “You can’t fire me, I quit!”

We all sometimes need a Time Out and it’s better if we recognize and acknowledge it ourselves rather than waiting for someone else to suggest it.   Time Out allows us time to think things over, reevaluate what it is we want to do, make plans for a new direction, breathe.

One of our daughters puts herself in Time Out often.  Her kids think she’s punishing herself but Jana is delighted to go to her room, shut the door and be alone for a while.

When all my kids were little, I used to dream of a long Time Out, preferably at my Aunt Blanche’s in Rexburg, Idaho.  I could’t think of a better place to catch my breath and be well cared for at the same time.  It never happened, of course.  Getting to Rexburg from Gilbert, Arizona, isn’t a very convenient trip.  But I thought about it and what it might feel like to get away from constant requests and unlimited deadlines.

Some of my best Time Outs were Time Ins.  I’d stay home and catch up while Brad took the kids away.  When they returned, I was ready to resume our game plan.

Now that the kids are grown, I still have to put myself in Time Out.  Getting on my bike and driving around the canal while I listen to a good book, working through a Cryptogram puzzle, going to lunch with friends, singing with my daughters–those work.  A favorite Time Out is to get in the car with Brad and drive to the cabin. That makes a good get-away from decision making and demands since there isn’t a whole lot you can do while riding in a car except sip on a 44 ouncer, eat pepper chips and keep the driver awake.

And if family meets us at the cabin, it is the best Time Out of all!





Falling for Fall


It is here–the time of year that I don’t want to miss and if I’m not observant I will do just that–miss it.  It is fall in Gilbert, Arizona.  Not a blinding, energetic burst of color fall, but a subtle, rather drab, extremely un-showy fall.  And I love it.  I remind myself every time I go down Lindsay Road between Baseline and Guadalupe to pay attention and soak it in because this is the only fall I’m going to get this close to home.

I know what real autumn looks like.  I just returned from Ohio where the whole state was putting on a fall extravaganza in burning reds and simmering oranges.  It was the kind of fall that says, “Look at me!  Aren’t you in awe of my beauty?  Let the ‘wows’ begin!”  And I did.  I “wowed” at every turn in the road.  Over and over I cried, “This is so beautiful.  This feeds my soul.  Don’t you just love it?” to which my companions shrugged and continued talking about the NFL Hall of Fame.

When aspiring young people tell Barbara Walters that they want a career like hers, she answers, “Then you have to take the whole package.”  For me, glorious autumns come with undesirable whole packages which include harsh winters and difficult weather.  A dramatic fall didn’t keep Hurricane Sandy from recently wreaking devastation.

So the lure of seasonal brilliance isn’t enough for me to take the whole package and Ohio’s lovely fall doesn’t take away from my own reserved and undemonstrative Gilbert fall.  I find joy in the greens turning slowly into russets and tans and browns and bronzes.  My fall does its best to please me and I don’t feel neglected by God’s paintbrush.

My unobtrusive autumn is a reminder that something doesn’t have to be the very best to be enjoyed and appreciated.  I don’t have to be as popular as Wayne Dyer to be a speaker of philosophy.  I won’t reach millions, but I will reach some.  I don’t have to sing, “In My Daughter’s Eyes” as well as Martina McBride before I can learn all the words and sing to my grandchildren.  I don’t have to be the head of a great organization to serve and give and help in my own narrowed circle.  There is room for the “kind ofs”, the “sort ofs”,the “almosts”, the “somewhats”.  There is room for me and there is room for you, doing the best we can with what we’ve been given.  And we can find joy in the doing.

When discouragement sometimes wraps itself around me like a shroud, when I feel dispirited that I’m not the showy, performing one, I think of my Gilbert fall and I am content–sort of.

Falling for Fall: Audio: Read by the Author