Clarice James

Smart, Fun, Relatable Fiction


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Time Management, It’s Time to Break Up

KBailey-2015 - SmallMy friend and fellow writer, Kathy Bailey, offered to be my guest blogger this week so I could spend time on what’s important to me right now: Visiting my husband in the hospital. Thank you, Kathy.

Readers, even as you chuckle and enjoy Kathy’s post, you may recognize yourself.  

Time Management, I loved you. I loved being efficient, making more than one thing happen at once, and the elusive “being productive.” I LOVED balancing my checkbook in the doctor’s waiting room and folding laundry during a phone call. I relished using every bit of time, like my ancestors used every bit of scrap fabric in a quilt. Well, actually, my people knitted afghans, but I feel a kinship with quilters anyway. Nothing went to waste.

And that’s how it was with you, Time Management. We were a good fit. But now it’s time to break up.

The most I ever remember doing was four things at once: nursing my baby, supervising my toddler in the tub, drying laundry (the dryer was located in the bathroom) and reading my Bible for devotions. I prided myself on being able to do, well, a lot of things. I had two children under three, no money, and my husband was a full-time church pastor. If I didn’t “do,” it resulted in disaster.

Juglging

Multitasking

I carried this into the rest of my adult life. Why not sew on Girl Scout badges during the district convention, or read a magazine during the movie previews? Didn’t everybody?

Hey, why NOT do paperwork while my mother lay dying in a hospital room? I was there if she needed me.

I was brought up short–but only barely–when a friend from my old neighborhood came to visit me in my new house. I welcomed her, we made tea in the teapot she brought me for a housewarming gift, and then we settled down for a talk. But I couldn’t just “talk.” I brought out some mending, and stitched merrily away until she asked, “Am I keeping you from something?”

That one changed me, at least as far as multitasking with other people went. I realized how rude that must have seemed, and now, when I have company, I have company. But I continued to juggle projects in private, and to justify it.

I wish my wake-up call had been something less mundane and more spiritual. But I didn’t come to my time-management senses until I hung a purple Nine West bag too near the stove and then proceeded to turn on the WRONG burner, thus scorching a pan beyond use and setting fire to the purse. I don’t remember how many things I was doing that day or what they were. I just knew I had to change.

I’m well out of the active-parenting stage, and I don’t have the time demands pulling on me that I had as a young mother. I do a lot, I have a lot done to me, but it can all be done in sequence. I have no little ones or medium-ones tugging on me, nobody’s bleeding, nobody needs me to feed them or wash their faces or hold them till they sleep.

But I’m thinking even young mothers, or dads, don’t need to time-manage as aggressively as I once did. Children need our attention, and I’m prouder now of the time I did spend with my children than the time I spent “accomplishing” things. Especially since I can’t remember what those “important” things were.

Will I still fold laundry while on a long phone call, or address Christmas cards in front of the television? Most likely. And I’ll probably still haul around a “project bag” for waiting rooms. It is as heavy as the weights at the gym, and I don’t have to pay for it.

time-management-tips

Time Management

But more and more, it’s impressed on me that some things are too precious, or fragile, for double-duty. They deserve my full attention. Friends, my five-year-old great-niece, my husband, church. (I once made out a Christmas list during a sermon.) And for safety’s sake, anything with an open flame.

And if I had my parents back, I would just sit and look at them for one last time.  Without “managing” my own time, because there will never be enough of it.

Time management, we had a good run, but it’s over. I don’t, well, have time for you any more.

  • What’s YOUR worst multitasking blunder, and when did you realize you were doing too much?
  • And what’s your best time management tip?

Teach us to number our days, that we may gain a heart of wisdom. ~ Psalm 90:12 (NIV)

Be very careful, then, how you live—not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil. Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the Lord’s will is. ~ Ephesians 5:15-17 (NIV)

MORE ABOUT KATHY: Kathy was a reporter/editor with 35 years, primarily in the nonfiction genre. She’s worked for Seacoast Media Group, the New Hampshire Union Leader, and the former New Hampshire ToDo magazine. She’s interested in everything from food to education to business. During her Seacoast Media Group years, she wrote a weekly personal experience column. She recently covered Londonderry for Nutfield Publishing before moving to their Derry paper, the Nutfield News.

Read more of Kathy’s posts on LinkedIn.

 


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Sorry, the New Year You Ordered Is Out of Stock

113265_maxWe’ve had a shock of sorts over the past few days concerning my husband David’s health. Last Friday we saw an oncologist at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute in Boston.

DOCTOR, looking at David: “You’re in good health other than the Acute Myeloid Leukemia.”
ME and denial trying to ignore his diagnosis: “It’s January. Why is he talking about a cute Hawaiian Christmas song?”

The doctor followed his pronouncement with a long and detailed explanation of this type of cancer and the treatment to follow, which would require a six-week stay at Brigham and Women’s (Dana-Farber’s in-patient hospital) in Boston.

I tried to listen carefully, but I kept getting hung up on the last thing he said, thereby missing the next. He had questions for my husband too.

DOCTOR: “Do you take any medications?”
DAVID named a single medication then seemed to hesitate.
ME, thinking it was a good time to step in to help. “You take Percocet in the morning too.”
DOCTOR, brow furrowed: “Percocet?”
DAVID, smiling and shaking his head: “No, my wife means Prilosec, but I switched to . . .”
ME, jumping in to correct my faux pas: “Oh, that’s right, it’s Xanax.”
DOCTOR, now eyes wide open: “You’re on Xanax?”
DAVID, patting my hand. “Please ignore my bride. It’s Zantac for heartburn.”

I decided my helping might not help that much.

DOCTOR: “I’m not going to admit you today. I’ll give you five days to prepare things at home. Here’s an order for more blood work for Monday.” Then leading us over to the lab, he said, “Before you leave, I’d like a bone marrow sample.”
DAVID, quivering: “That’s the one thing I’ve been dreading.”
DOCTOR: “Ask the nurse for some Ativan to relax you. But if you take it, you can’t drive home.”
ME, thinking, but not saying: “That means I will have to drive home. How on earth will I find my way OUT of the city when I can’t find my way IN?”

The bad news was he took the Ativan. The good news was he was on Ativan when I drove home.

The next day . . .

01990ME to DAVID, after posting a professorial-looking photo of David on our family Facebook page to let them all know: “What do you think?”zztop
DAVID, after seeing it: “I think it makes me look venerable. Now everyone’s going to feel they have to say nice things about me.”

He countered my picture choice by posting this much less reputable-looking one with the help of Photoshop.

Getting ready . . .

My 5-day preparedness list looked something like this:

  • Contact everyone and ask them to pray.
  • Make sure David gets the seafood and Chinese food he’s been craving.
  • Buy him snacks.
  • Buy him new underwear and PJ bottoms—and make sure his tee shirts and fleece tops match.
  • Buy size 15 slippers–once I figure out where to find them.

When I found the flannel PJ bottoms, David thought he would need x-large instead of large. I bought one large and two x-large. I washed the large and they shrank sink inches, making them look like plaid capri pants. When he tried on the x-large, it looked like he could synchronize swim in them with two of his friends.

ME, looking at him in the x-large pants: “You can’t wear those to the hospital. You’ll look like a . . . “

DAVID, pulling the elastic waistline out a good foot: “Like a what? A cancer patient?”

I returned the PJs and we found some that were NOT 100% cotton to avoid shrinkage. We tried four stores before we found slippers big enough.

David’s 5-day preparedness list looked something like this:

  • Show Clarice how to access online bank account to pay bills.
  • Show Clarice where the water shut-off and water heater controls are.
  • Show Clarice how to contact Tech Support and Comcast.
  • Show Clarice how to get to Netflix. Cancel Netflix DVDs because she doesn’t know how to open the envelope right or even use the DVD player.
  • Show Clarice where the generator is case of a power failure. Then make her promise not to touch it, but go directly to a hotel.
  • Show Clarice how to drive the Venza we’ve owned for three years.
  • Show Clarice how to use the smart phone we just bought her.
Thinking things through . . .

When discussing how he’d feel once the chemotherapy started, I told David not to hesitate to tell people if he was too tired and needed rest. [During her time as a cancer patient, our friend Kellie used to say, “That Cancer Card can come in pretty handy when I don’t feel like doing something.”]

cancercardME, when I learned David had a long call to make that night: “This might be a good time to play that Cancer Card.”

DAVID, shaking his head: “You never want to open with trump.”

ME, later while thinking about the doctor’s order for more blood work: “They took seven vials of blood from you on Friday. Why do you think the doctor wants you to have more blood work done on Monday?”

DAVID, looking at me over the top of his eyeglasses: “Could it be ’cause you told him I was on Percocet and Xanax?”

See why I want this guy to get well? He not only makes my life better, he makes me laugh while doing it.

The doctor is optimistic David will achieve remission because they caught it early. When the six weeks are over, further treatment will be determined.

Here’s the tee shirt he plans to wear when it gets to that point.

i_came_i_saw_i_want_to_go_home_tshirt-rd73d97489d6840a5b83d8e7674dc5dfd_804gs_324

Latin for “I came, I saw, I want to go home.”

Until then, we’ll keep the faith, keep laughing, and covet your prayers. Thanks.

Whoever dwells in the shelter of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty. I will say of the Lord, “He is my refuge and my fortress my God, in whom I trust.” ~ Psalm 91:1-2 (NIV)


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The Great American Whine Flu

StopWhining400“In holy worship they’ll honor the Holy One of Jacob and stand in holy awe of the God of Israel. Those who got off-track will get back on-track, and complainers and whiners learn gratitude.” ~ Isaiah 29:23-24 (MSG)

I want to become less of a whiney American, as in a United-States-of-America American. [Whether the Great American Whine Flu has spread over the borders into Canada or Central and South America, I cannot say.]

Here on the home front, I will start in these small ways:

  • I promise not to stand in the cereal aisle and whine nasally, “But it’s so ha-rd to decide with all these choices.”
  • If a retail store’s computer is hacked by criminals, I’ll cut up my card and cut my losses. I won’t threaten them with a class action lawsuit. Besides, any pockets lined by winning that case will NOT be mine.
  • If television continues to offer trashy and ignorant reality shows filled with fake, tasteless drama (and people), I will stop watching them. I have the power; it’s as close as the off button on the remote.
  • In addition to the price tag, I will check the “Made in . . . ” labels before I start my self-righteous rants about the horrors of child labor.
  • Before I argue that every citizen in this grand country of ours deserves flat screens in every room, the latest technology for their pre-teens, huge master baths and  walk-in closets, and brand new vehicles in their three-car garages, I will take a closer look at the Native Americans.
  • Before I whine about all the candidates running for President, I will be thankful I am not one of them and more thankful I can vote.
  • Before I complain about the songs my church’s worship leaders select, I will be thankful for the freedom to worship.

book-ugly-americanAs for any opinion foreign nations may have of me as an American, I hope to make a small difference in the future:

  • If I ever visit Switzerland, I promise not to say, “What’s with all the cuckoo clocks? Doesn’t anyone here own a smart phone?”
  • If I take a trip to Rome, I won’t wear a belly shirt to the Vatican and complain, “I could never live in this neighborhood. The buildings are in ruins.”
  • If I end up on House Hunters International looking for a free-range, sustainable lifestyle, I will try not to get filmed saying, “What? No stainless steal appliances?” or “What’s with all those ugly windmills?”
  • If I go north to Canada, I won’t ask, “Why’s it so cold up here?” Or, if I go south to Ecuador, I won’t say, “Why’s it so hot?”
  • If I visit Iceland (which is not on my bucket list, by the way), I won’t assume all their clocks are wrong because the sun is out at midnight.
  • If I decide to go over the border to Mexico, I promise not to ask, “Don’t you have any real Mexican food like Taco Bell?”
  • If London is my final destination, I won’t complain that they don’t speak English clearly. At least they try.
  • Whatever country I visit outside of my own, I will refuse to use this phrase: “That’s not the way we do in the States.”

Need I go on? I could, you know. But then that would be whining–or worse, preaching.

WH-PES-012-Thou-Shalt-Not-Whine

PS: God? If I don’t whine for a while, do you think maybe I could get that new kitchen I want? I would really appreciate it. No, really, I would. Pleeeese . . .

Enoch, the seventh after Adam, prophesied of them: “Look! The Master comes with thousands of holy angels to bring judgment against them all, convicting each person of every defiling act of shameless sacrilege, of every dirty word they have spewed of their pious filth.” These are the “grumpers,” the bellyachers, grabbing for the biggest piece of the pie, talking big, saying anything they think will get them ahead. ~ Jude 1:14 (MSG)


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What’s the Upside to Beating Yourself Up?

Pink boxing gloveThis is what the LORD says— “Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past. See, I am doing a new thing!  Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the desert  and streams in the wasteland.” ~ Isaiah 43:16, 18-19

It’s January 2016 and you’re beating yourself up for not doing as well as you’d hoped and/or planned last year. Your storehouse of self-control is still full because you didn’t use an ounce of it.

You’re scolding yourself for not finishing those projects you needed to get done. You’re disappointed in yourself for not keeping those commitments you made. You’re cranky because you didn’t reach the height needed to offset your weight.

When you’ve finished beating yourself up, tell me, what’s the upside of it? Does it make you feel better, maybe more pious? Does it change anything? Is it encouraging? Are you investing your time and efforts wisely? Or are you wasting your breath and your energy on what-ifs?

Are you appreciating the abundant and FREE grace God has for you? Or are you squandering it on self-pity, regrets, frustration, worries, and/or doubt?

Here are 12 tips to help you stop wallowing in your boohoos.

  1. Stop beating yourself up and be okay with not being perfect.
  2. Ask for help.
  3. Help someone else.
  4. Take one step, then another, then another–even if one is backwards.
  5. Celebrate each victory and write them down.
  6. Don’t give up.
  7. Remember impatience doesn’t get you to your goal faster.
  8. Don’t wait until tomorrow to be thankful today.
  9. Learn from your mistakes.
  10. Don’t compare yourself to others.
  11. Be grateful to God for another chance to do things better.
  12. Stop whining. It’s so unattractive.

stop beating

Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus,  because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit who gives life has set you free from the law of sin and death.  For what the law was powerless to do because it was weakened by the flesh, God did by sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh to be a sin offering. And so he condemned sin in the flesh, in order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fully met in us, who do not live according to the flesh but according to the Spirit. ~ Romans 8:1-4 NIV