Mystery of time

Gretchen Rubin

“The days are long, but the years are short.”
― Gretchen RubinThe Happiness Project
I love this quote. It expresses my feelings exactly! My days, though not often stressful, still seem long. I’m tired at the end of them, and I frequently feel that I didn’t accomplish all I’d hoped. In particular, my personal projects lag behind my expectations.
And yet! The weeks, months, and years fly by. Everyone notices. “I can’t believe it’s already May,” I hear, as I walk about the hospital. The year is already scheduled out. I’m working on September’s call calendar for the primary care clinic. We already know dates for vacation through December. Soon Rob and I will be discussing our work availability for fall months. Where does it go? And how does it go so quickly?
I remember my dad saying to me that time seems to speed up as we get older. Well, he was right, and I suppose most people recognize that reality. There’s some magical element to time. For little ones, it does move slowly. Excruciatingly slowly. I’m long past that stage. The years are short.
Well, there’s no changing it. I suppose the only thing to do is accept, and be ever-more thoughtful about how I spend my long days, and my short years. This is one of those realities that everyone knows, even acknowledges, yet few address. I think most of us just move through life. I have moments of great clarity. And then I get lost again, caught up in the day-to-day.
Here’s to the long days. May they be productive for us all! And here’s to the short years, which we cannot lengthen. May they be memorable! And thank you, Gretchen, for stating so succinctly, so profoundly, what we all know at heart:
“The days are long, but the years are short.”

Things I’ve learned

In the past few months, I’ve learned (or re-learned):

~ I’m not too old to be a risk-taker!

~ I have no interest in creating cake pops.

~ I’m a writer!

~ I like chalk board paint on lots of surfaces.

~ I am not into re-purposing T shirts for other garments or crafts.

~ I have a limited tolerance for drama.

~ I’m really good at recognizing a great idea and copying it.

~ I don’t have a big ego, I like to share credit.

~ I’m a mentor in the right settings.

~ Green onions really do grow when you put them root down in a glass of water. Who knew?!

~ I’m always on the hunt for the perfect brownie and the perfect bread recipe.

~ Never write the end of the story in your head before the real story ends…you never know how things will turn out, and frequently the real story will be very different from the version you thought was unfolding.

~ True grace is unfailing and doesn’t ask to be repaid.

~ You can’t have too much shrimp in your freezer!

~ Books that spoke to you once will speak to you again. Reread and see what new things you learn.

~ When you know you have freely chosen, you don’t resent or regret the work it takes to make your choice work out.

~ Doing the right thing reinforces every other right choice you make.

~ Love means saying you’re sorry whenever you need to say the words.

~ I am stronger than I see myself.

~ Winston said it best: Never give up!

A normal day

Today was typical. Weather for SE Alaska in November: rain, rain, more rain. Work: standard day. With all the changes on my horizon, still, my days are fairly predictable. (Update on this in January when I’ve turned things upside down by transitioning to a project-based work life and stream of income.) Family is well, relatively speaking; friends are well, as far as I know. Although some things in my life are ever-evolving, a never-ending work in progress, I’m able to recognize a measure of stability. And I’ve experienced enough roller coaster moments in life to appreciate the periods of relative calm.

Thank God for normal days. Not boring, not stressful, just normal.

This quote was in my email this morning:

Normal day, let me be aware of the treasure you are… Let me not
pass you by in quest of some rare and perfect tomorrow. One day I
shall dig my nails into the earth, or bury my face in my pillow, or
stretch myself taut, or raise my hands to the sky and want, more than
all the world, your return.

~ Mary Jean Iron

One of those days

I was on a roll this morning. Got up at my usual time, had my coffee, made cream biscuits to take into work. All was well until I got to my desk and was settling myself for the morning with my full second cup of coffee in hand. Somehow I managed to tip it over and the cup fell to the floor with precision splash factor. My light pink pants were the main recipient of the coffee, and you can imagine how I felt, going through an entire day of training wearing my morning coffee so prominently displayed. Most days I could run home and make a quick change, but not today. We’ve had someone from another PeaceHealth region here to help launch our new imaging process. So not a day to duck out and miss anything.

I went out with several friends from the office for lunch, pink and brown pants not withstanding, and I offered to drive. Of course the parking options were parallel. Now, I never choose parallel spaces unless there is NOTHING in front or in back of the space I’m targeting. But that wasn’t possible today. Cruise ships are in, town was hopping at lunch…lucky to find a space at all, parallel or not. So I had the pleasure of parking with great difficulty with a car full of co-workers. Do you know how long it takes to park when you have an audience and the parking is tight? Let’s just say we had a late lunch. And everyone was really very kind about it. The snickering was muffled. And I know they were laughing with me.

So in the big picture, that hardly counts as a bad day, right? I didn’t really think I was having a bad day. But I was reminded again that no matter how competent I may be, or how well I may do at a job or other area of my life, throw a little insecurity my way, a little embarrassment, and my high school self rears its head, sending me (secretly, and briefly) back to the shy and insecure girl that wanted to fit in, to be cool, to be “right,” whatever that meant at the moment.

Well that girl – woman, thank you – has been grown up for a while now, and I learned long ago that few people are concerned with what I’m doing…they’re thinking about the spot they acquired at breakfast, or their own bad parking job. It helped a lot when I realized, somewhere along the way, that pretty much everyone lives with insecurity, with mistakes made prominently in front of co-workers or friends and family. Everyone has that little voice inside that second-guesses and is self-critical. I learned the best tactics to overcome those feelings are acknowledgement and laughter. I admit it…some days, I collect spots. Not every day, but often enough that I’m a good customer for spot removers and laundry stain fighters. And I would like to deny it, but there are too many witnesses to get away with denial…I’m a bad parker. There, admitted. So I laugh it off, remember that what’s important is not the parking, but the experience. And lunch was great. AND we all made it back to the office safely.

Tomorrow I’m wearing something brown, just to be on the safe side. Just in case these things run in threes.

What would you do in six months?

My husband was reading a book recently that referenced a woman who routinely considers what she would do if she only had six months left to live. Of course, if you absolutely knew you only had six months, there would be some things that would be doable that you would never actually do, outside of a mental exercise. Unless I knew, I wouldn’t quit work. I wouldn’t use all my savings, either on travel or kids or good causes. I wouldn’t drop my health insurance, or skip making my next dental cleaning appointment.

But what would I do if I knew? I’m not sure I can define a timeline…how do you determine how much time out of a six month window is enough? Enough time with your spouse, your children, your grandchild, your family? How much time would I want for myself? I think there are a few places in the world I would want to see with Rob at my side. There are some friends I would want to connect with, in person. I would want to be deliberate and intentional in my choices, in how I spent my time.

Would it be possible to use each moment wisely? And what would I want to leave as a legacy? I want my children to know I am a woman of faith: faith in God, faith in them, faith in life. Life isn’t always fair, pretty, or happy. But it is wonderful, full of surprises. I’ve learned not to write the end of the story before its time, because the ending I think I see is probably not the end that will ultimately be. And so I’ve learned that it is worthwhile to watch and to wait.

There’s a quote I like from Divine Secrets of the YaYa Sisterhood, a movie about a dysfunctional family and a daughter coming to terms with the impact of the dysfunction in her life. In one scene she is with her dad, and she asks him, “Daddy, did you get loved enough?” And I think that’s the question I would ask the people I love. I know how I feel about each one. But I would want to be sure that each one knew, from me, in my words, how I love them.

This isn’t really a morbid thing to do. I actually found it enjoyable to think about what is most important to me; about who is most important.

I’m not experiencing end-of-life premonitions, nor do I expect to lose my house to a fire, if you read my previous post. I’m really in a good place. But I am 50, and several people have mentioned to me that this was a year in their lives of introspection, contemplation, and re-discovery. I don’t think I’m naval-gazing…I like to think I’m cleaning out and re-setting myself. It’s good to evaluate and get re-acquainted after years of “keeping milk in the house.”

So, if you’re up for some introspection, right after you finish contemplating what you would save if your house was on fire (see yesterday’s post), give some thought to what you would do in your last six months. Or play with the formula…give yourself a year, shorten the time frame…it can be your exercise to design as you choose. I think it’s worthwhile to consider. Just don’t get carried away and turn in your resignation. Chances are you’ll be around far beyond the time you allot yourself!

A position of strength

There are some people in my life who are struggling, who are hurting. This song is about someone who has survived loss and found a position of strength. This isn’t my usual style, although it is beautiful. But sometimes life makes us face gritty reality. Blessings to those who need it; may you find your way, your own position of strength.