Thursday, November 26, 2015

Travel Day

It is just a few hour drive. It does not involve catching a train or checking in for a plane. There's no snow gear or sun gear. Just some small bags of clean clothes, our Thanksgiving feast contribution, and electronic devices at a rate of almost two per person. Simple. And, to my amazement, executed fairly simply.

Yet, for something so simple, it accomplishes a few things that are not so simple on a day to day basis--

1. We work together. We may each be packing a separate bag, but we have to coordinate, at least a little, to make sure all the bases are covered. We carry together, we load the car together, and once in a while, we even remember forgotten things for each other.

2. We plan ahead. Okay, it's really just a few days ahead, and we're not going to Mars, but traveling does require a little more planning than the flying by the seats of our pants that we do on a daily basis.

3. (And perhaps this is most important) We escape. While our bags may be full of schoolwork and work work, and while our devices connect us with pretty much everything we are leaving, as we drive away, we leave the every day of our every day. For a few days, we will be in a different place, and at least a little, in a different frame of mind. And sometimes that is exactly what a travel day is all about...

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Thanks-giving Feast

Earlier today, a friend posted a link to an article about gratitude. As I read it, I thought both about this blog, which quite often comes around to gratitude, and about my day to day life, which comes around to gratitude not nearly as often. It is, perhaps, easy to be grateful that we are not facing the dire medical issues or personal losses that we see friends go through. It is, perhaps, easy to be grateful for a regular paycheck or healthy children. But what of the things and people all day who turn what could be the rough patches of our days into the smallest of bumps in the road--

The tech help desk associate, who doesn't charge for advice and doesn't judge people based on their degree of knowledge or possession of technology.

The co-worker who talks you over the wall of fatigue on the overnight shift.

The friend who, happening to be up late, remembers that you too will be up, and will be happy to read her email.

The computer program that reaches one hundred percent just as you think you will never make it past eighty.

The neighbor, randomly encountered, who unwittingly provides much-needed perspective.

The long-forgotten skill that suddenly comes in handy.

The long-hidden kitchen ingredient that suddenly helps make a great meal.

The scrubby side of the sponge, which makes washing pots and pans a blip rather than a task.

The fuzzy socks that are in the wrong enough place to be found just when your icy feet need them.

Sometimes, it's the little things that make up our thanks-giving feast...

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

No Catching Up

Some days, no amount of sleep makes up for the sleep lost.

Some days, no number of hours doing homework gets the homework done.

Some days, no matter how quickly you walk forward, you still find yourself moving back.

Some days, for every "to do list" item that is crossed off, there are two more added.

Some days, success lasts seconds and failure seems to hang on for hours.

Some days, neat is fleeting, but messy grabs hold and won't let go.

Some days, you wish you could just skip to tomorrow, but you know you're not ready.

Some days, no matter how much you try, there's just no catching up...

Monday, November 23, 2015

I Understand Because

I understand getting caught up in your work, because I've been there.

I understand trying to please everyone (and sometimes pleasing no one), because I've been there.

I understand giving your all and it not being enough, because I've been there.

I understand not knowing quite what they want, because I've been there.

I understand wondering if things will ever turn around, because I've been there.

I understand hanging on tight in the hope that it will make a difference, because I've been there.

I understand guessing right and guessing wrong, because I've been there.

It's not that I've been everywhere. It's just that I have been enough places, and have remained close enough to where I've been to understand. Because...

Sunday, November 22, 2015

Getting In, Part Five: Glad To Be On The Bus

The bus bumps up and down. It is fairly comfortable, quiet, easy. But truthfully, I think it wouldn't much matter what it was. I'm just glad to be on it.

It is a long-ish trip for this college visit/audition. It is a journey without a definitive result. It is just part of a process. But now, after days and months and overnights full of research and practical and emotional preparation and agonizing anticipation, we are on the bus.

I suppose it's not all that surprising that I'm glad to be on the bus--I have always enjoyed the being "in the trench" far more than the planning "for the trench." I am almost always happier doing than anticipating, happier moving forward than moving in circles. The assignment of a school project may rattle me, but the process of doing the project excites me. The months of limbo before One Life finished were wearying, but at least the end let us move forward. The anticipation of new work dizzies me, but the actual doing of new work exhilarates me.

So, just like anything new, anything with stakes, the process of applying to college is a little daunting, a little overwhelming, a little scary. But for the moment, at least for me, it is a little better. Because I am really glad to be on the bus.

Saturday, November 21, 2015

Getting In, Part Four: Introductions

As I listen to my daughter's introduction of herself in her college audition videos, I can't help but be reminded of the introduction she so effectively learned when taking karate. I don't imagine that either her love of performing or her confidence in presenting herself began there, but it probably didn't hurt to voice that introduction over and over before presenting in a karate class or at a large tournament.

As I continue to watch, I see how much of life in general goes into her performance. It's hard not to see signs of the triumphs of her young life and of the difficulties she has faced along the way. It's hard not to see hope--hope for a positive outcome, hope for success, hope for the future.

When I applied to college, the life and the confidence (was I confident?) and the hope were all poured into pieces of paper--typed essays and filled out forms and lists of school activities and accomplishments. While I may have had some interviews, I largely relied on what the papers and the numbers and the teachers said about me, and I largely hoped that was enough.

I listen to my daughter's introduction of herself in her college videos, and I am glad that in so many ways, she is way more confident than I was. Because these days, in college admissions and in life, the pieces of paper and the hope aren't always enough. So, if you can start with a strong introduction of yourself (in karate, in person, or on tape), perhaps you're already a few steps ahead of the game.

Friday, November 20, 2015

25 Hours

After years of wishing there were more than 24 hours in a day, so that I might have a fighting chance of doing everything that needs doing, I am convinced that today actually had at least 25 hours. By the evening, it felt as though the foot exercises I'd done in the morning had been yesterday, so that I needed to do more. By the afternoon, I couldn't quite believe that all the receipts had the same date on them. Somehow, I had been uptown and downtown and partly across town all in the same day, and had transported a kid to and from school to boot. And in the midst of it all, I had written a proposal and cooked a lasagna.

I am not writing this litany to pat myself on the back for how much I accomplished (though it is good sometimes to remind ourselves how productive we really are). Rather, I am writing it because today I had the realization that, while there can't really be extra hours in a day, there can be enough hours to do an awful lot--and be a lot of different versions of ourselves--if we keep our eyes, and ears, and minds open. We can go through each day with a goal, or two, and be happy when we accomplish those one or two things. Or we can start each day open to all the things we might do, and then just try to keep at it as we make our way through them all. It's not that we won't run out of time in a day. It's just that we might see the day as a lot longer if we are open to using it in creative ways.

It is quite possible that many days will feel far more like 12 hours than like 25. It is likely that the challenge of stretching time will be an unending one. But if one day out of many can feel as though it has 25 hours, just think about all the extra time we have...