Clarice James

Smart, Fun, Relatable Fiction


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Pregnant with Fashion Faux Pas

Has anyone by fussing in front of the mirror ever gotten taller by so much as an inch? All this time and money wasted on fashion—do you think it makes that much difference? Instead of looking at the fashions, walk out into the fields and look at the wildflowers. They never primp or shop, but have you ever seen color and design quite like it? The ten best-dressed men and women in the country look shabby alongside them. ~ Matthew 6-27-29 (MSG)

This post is meant to make you feel better about yourself—at my expense, of course. It’s a brief history of my fashion faux pas.

BACKGROUND: I was the second oldest of six children. My sister Suzanne was just shy of two years older; the four youngest were boys. Part of my responsibility as one of the oldest was to help my brothers look presentable. I washed their faces, buttoned their shirts, pulled up their pants, and made sure their shoes were on the right feet.

USA, New York, New York City, Paperboy (14-15) holding newspapers, shouting

It’s what sisters did for their little brothers back then. My mistake was thinking it was what all girls did for all boys in any situation.

THE SCENE: My mother and a neighbor were having coffee at our kitchen table. My 11-year-old self was present when the neighbor’s 15-year-old son, and our paperboy, stepped into the kitchen to deliver the newspaper.

I noticed his fly was down, so I quickly reached over and zipped it up for him, hoping to save him some embarrassment at the next house. His mother laughed, my mother scolded me, and his face turned bright red. It took me years to understand what their problem was.

BACKGROUND: Back to my older sister. I envied her when she started to develop in all the right places. Especially the summer she got the black and white one-piece bathing suit that emphasized her curves. I insisted the same suit with the stiff built-in cups fit me as well as it did her. I talked my mother into buying one for me too.

THE SCENE: At the pond, wearing my suit, the 7th grade boys all abuzz.bathing-suit

To get away from the 7th grade boys’ google eyes and wisecracks, I dove under water, swam along the bottom to the raft. I climbed up, planning to sun bathe away from shore with the more sophisticated high school crowd. When I sat and leaned back on my hands, to my horror I saw my two cups crushed almost flat, revealing my less than full figure. I dove back into the water, poked the cups back out, swam to shore, went home, and didn’t return to the pond that summer.

BACKGROUND: As a junior high student, I had a crush on the aforementioned paperboy. I wanted him to notice me. When the neighborhood kids got a game of softball together, I decided to go. I chose my striped top and a pair of short-shorts I’d inherited from someone somewhere. (My mother never would have bought them for me.) Of course, I didn’t want my parents to see what I had on, so I feigned chilliness and wore a hand-me-down London Fog trench coat over my outfit. Pathetic that it made sense to me at the time.

london-fog-coatTHE SCENE: In a big, bare field, all the neighborhood kids in jeans and t-shirts, playing softball. I, alone, in a raincoat.

I hung around clutching my coat closed until it was my turn at bat. The longer I waited, the more I was afraid to take the coat off. When I finally did, I felt like Gypsy Rose Lee [Younger people, ask your parents.] I stepped to the plate. No one whistled, but all the kids laughed. My softball career ended that day.

BACKGROUND: In high school, my nerves got the best of me. For a period of time, I sweat like a pig. [They still say that don’t they?] Nothing could stop it. Going to the prom with a boy I hardly knew made it worse.

THE SCENE: Not wanting sweat stains to show up on my hot pink prom dress before my date arrived, I stuffed tissue under my arms to absorb the nervous moisture. It worked so well I forgot it was there. Until I was standing in the middle of a crowd at the prom and a damp wad of tissues slipped through my dainty cap sleeve and plopped at my feet. My date made himself scarce the rest of the night. Never did like that guy.

BACKGROUND: Married with three kids early in life, I didn’t have much of a budget for clothes. My mother-in-law gave me this cool African top, made of stiff cotton in bright colors of orange, browns, and yellow. I wasn’t quite sure it was my style, but I wanted to be in style, so I wore it.

african-topTHE SCENE: While waiting at a traffic light, a car rear-ended my Pinto without slowing down. I hit the car in front of me and so on down the line. The ambulance was called. While the EMTs checked everyone out, I leaned against my car with my head in my hands, more upset about my car and the inconvenience than my physical condition.

One EMT seemed especially solicitous of me. I didn’t know why, since I wasn’t hurt. Then I heard him speak into his radio: “We’ve got a pregnant one here.” I looked around for a woman with child, praying she wasn’t hurt. Then I realized he was talking about me.

I look down at my African top and back at him. Now when a woman has to tell a strange man she’s not pregnant, that is not a good thing for either of them. He was back on his radio: “Scratch that. No baby. Repeat. No baby.”

The day I got my Pinto back, the African top went to the Salvation Army.

BACKGROUND: The windbreaker I’d received as a birthday gift was too small. I had gained some weight and was not happy. I went to the store to exchange it.

THE SCENE: While trying on the next size windbreaker in the busy department store, I realized it, too, was small. Aggravated, I tried to pull it over my head; it got stuck, and so did my arms. Blindfolded by the windbreaker, I walked around the store calling for my husband. He tried to pull it down when he saw me; frustrated at his ignorance, I pulled it back up. When I finally listened, he explained that my blouse was caught up with the windbreaker and I was standing there in my bra. The bright side: No one could see my face.

I know I’m not alone. Want to share one of your faux pas with me?

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Finding Kissing Spots

Love and faithfulness meet together; righteousness and peace kiss each other.  Faithfulness springs forth from the earth, and righteousness looks down from heaven. ~ Psalm 85-10-11 (NIV)

Often, while walking behind my husband when he was seated on our couch, I’d stop and kiss his bald spot and say, “There’s a tiny kissing spot right there just for me.”

We both knew it hadn’t been tiny for quite a while. For some unknown reason it began expanding soon after we got married. I don’t have a scientific explanation, but I’m convinced it has something to do with climate change.

Anyway, when my husband was first diagnosed with Acute Myeloid Leukemia in January, about the third thing I said was, “Hey! Do you think you’ll lose your hair?” I’m sensitive like that.

David responded matter-of-factly, “Probably.”

My face lit up. “You know what that means? I’ll have more kissing spots.”

David responded matter-of-factly, “Probably.”

I waited patiently. His hair didn’t fall out as fast as we assumed it would. Expecting it to happen after his second round of chemo, he had the nurse give him a buzz cut, but it remained fuzzy, then grew back. Then, two weeks after his third round of chemo —voila!—his head was as soft as pudding. (Well, not his whole head, just his scalp. Actually, I’ve never felt pudding, but you know what I mean.) Now I had a multitude of spots to choose from and I have kissed them all!

two heads sized

Can you say “good sport”? This is David in January then May.

I started to think about that term “kissing spot.” It was my positive way of looking at a negative situation. It reminded me of the joke, “While the optimist argued with the pessimist, the opportunist drank the water.” I wondered what other “kissing spots” I could find in the midst of this experience. I found a great example in my husband.

Every time . . .

  • a doctor or nurse practitioner reported test results—whether good or bad—he thanked them.
  • a person spent time with him, they left smiling.
  • a member of the housekeeping staff swept under his bad and emptied his trash, he told them how much he appreciated it.
  • a staff member changed her hair or wore something colorful, he complimented them.
  • a cafeteria worker brought him a meal, no matter how tasteless it looked to me, he acted excited and said, “Oh, yum!”
  • a group of med students rounded with the doctors, they left chuckling at one of his witty comments.
  • a nurse hooked him up to his rolling IV dance partner for a bag of platelets, packed red cells, or antibiotics, he thanked them.

    IV Stand

    David’s on and off dancing partner for the past 4 months.

He’d found their kissing spots. Now I needed to do the same.

In addition to his hospital room, I spent much of my time at the hotel, in shuttle buses, and trying to navigate my way from Dana-Farber to Brigham & Women’s. I saw a variety of people in various situations.

I thanked . . .

  • the young man walking by the hotel who lifted my heavy suitcases out of my car and put them onto the luggage cart.
  • the desk clerk who programmed my new cell phone’s GPS so I could find my way back to the hospital.
  • the two women who gave me a ride when I missed the last morning hospital shuttle.
  • the van and bus drivers who got me where I needed to go so I didn’t have to fight traffic.
  • every hospital volunteer or staff member who recognized the dumb look on my face and pointed me in the right direction–more than once.
  • the gifted hotel housekeeping staff whose kindness and consideration I will never  forget.
  • my son Chris, his wife Diana, my daughter Erin, and her husband Chris for helping me prepare my house for David’s homecoming.

It was my privilege to . . .

darn collecting 2

David’s sister, Darleen, beautiful inside and out.

  • spend quality time with David’s sister, Darleen, who donated her matching stem cells to her big brother.
  • pray with a woman who’d been told her husband was only a few days from Heaven.
  • get a smile from a little, bald girl when I told her her light–up pink sneakers were so cool.
  • listen as an immigrant father of two, a hotel guest, bragged about his children’s achievements since their move to the States.
  • tell a woman how well David was doing the day before she herself was due to have the same type of stem cell transplant.
  • spend hours with a patient who never whined or complained but exhibited a settled faith, patience, kindness, and peace through it all–my husband.

I learned something else. You won’t find kissing spots unless you’re looking for them. Don’t worry, they’re not hard to find. God puts them all around us.

kindness act.gif

 


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Soup, Pitiful Soup

After a full day in Boston visiting my husband at Brigham & Women’s hospital, followed by an hour and a half sleepy ride home, I stopped at my local grocery store to get something for supper. It’s hard to cook for one—especially when you’re tired, hungry, and decision-challenged.

Sweet Potato Soup with Quinoa & Coconut Milk by A Veggie Venture 2010-400

Soup, glorious soup!

As I entered the store, I had a soup flashback. A few months prior, I’d taken a chance on a concoction I’d never had before from the store’s soup and salad bar. It was quite tasty. I’d enjoyed it a few times since.

That night, driven by the memory of its flavor, my taste buds tingled and my stomach growled. Gripping the cart, I plowed through Produce and past Bakery, the thrill of the hunt spurring me on.

On the way, I questioned my fervor. At what point had soup become exciting to me? How long had this craving been simmering? Was it a by-product of age, maybe a post-post-menopausal thing? I still had all my teeth, so that couldn’t be it. Was I excited about all soup or just this particular soup?  (Research for another day, perhaps.)

Ooh, maybe it was a spiritual metaphor of some sort–but what sort?

Arriving at the soup bar, I skidded to a stop. A man about my age was checking things over, making it impossible for me to read the labels on the pots. I pushed my carriage closer. (I barely  bumped him, really.) “Oops, so sorry.”

He looked up. “No problem.”

When he lifted a full ladle to his nose, I recognized the soup and said under my breath, “That’s it! My soup!” I had to stop this interloper before he sniffed-up all the aroma with his sizable schnoz.

nose man

The nose knows.

I inched forward. “Take my word, it’s delicious.”

“Oh.” He reached for an empty pint container.

“Actually, that soup’s the very reason I’m here.” I held fast to my cart and didn’t budge, blocking his view of the quart containers. “They don’t make it often, and when they do, they don’t make enough.” I stared him down. “Like tonight.” Despite my subtlety, I hoped he got the hint and wouldn’t deplete the supply.

He half-filled his pint container, which made it easier for me to be pleasant. “Usually, I buy a full pint and eat half one day, then half the next, you know, never sure when they’ll have it again. Makes cooking for one easier. Have you tried their angus beef chili? That’s pretty good too.”

Despite our riveting, albeit one-sided, conversation, I needed him to hurry it up. I was so hungry, for the first time I could sympathize with Esau’s poor decision.

The man placed a top on his container. “My wife will enjoy it. Yeah, my wife likes soup. I’m bringing some home to my wife right now.” [Emphasis on wifehis.]

Now, I’d been single before, so I knew what he was thinking. And this wasn’t it.

I had a parallel retort in mind: “My husband would enjoy it. Yeah, my husband likes soup. I’d bring some home to my husband right now if my husband wasn’t in the hospital for a stem cell transplant!  How about that Mr. I’m-Married-So-Stop-Hitting-On-Me-Lady?”

But I didn’t say any of that. It would’ve resulted in pity soup–which shrivels the taste buds, constricts the throat, and hurts going down. Besides, eating pity soup would do nothing to expedite my husband’s discharge from the hospital.

Instead I smiled. “Hope your wife enjoys it.” (But not that much.)

By now many of you may be asking, “What kind of soup is it?” and “Where can I find this delightful ambrosia?”

My answer, of course, is, “No way. I’m not telling. NO SOUP FOR YOU!” (Sorry, I’m tired, it’s late, and that was way too easy.*)

soupnazi

“No soup for you!”

Once when Jacob was cooking some stew, Esau came in from the open country, famished.  He said to Jacob, “Quick, let me have some of that red stew! I’m famished!” 

Jacob replied, “First sell me your birthright.”

“Look, I am about to die,” Esau said. “What good is the birthright to me?”

But Jacob said, “Swear to me first.” So he swore an oath to him, selling his birthright to Jacob.

Then Jacob gave Esau some bread and some lentil stew. He ate and drank, and then got up and left. So Esau despised his birthright. ~ Genesis 25:29-34 (NIV)

*Sweet Potato, Quinoa, & Black Bean from Hannaford Supermarket. Enjoy!


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Through a Glass Darkly: The Quilter

As an author, here’s how I see things vs. how they really are. Sort of.

The way I imagined it . . .   

Jeff ConwayRecently, while walking through the Mall of New Hampshire, I noticed a man, probably in his mid-forties, with his hair rolled into a slick pompadour like Jeff Conaway as Kenickie in Grease. He wore a royal purple  satin jacket with knit collar and cuffs. Embroidered in gold on the back were the words “Perth Amboy Foreign Autos.”

A short, sandy-haired woman dressed in a flowered turtleneck and denim jumper held his arm and clogged along loudly beside him. She looked nothing like Stockard Channing as Rizzo.

While the happy couple admired the display of miniature hand-blown glass animals at a kiosk, I “found” them a family.

A trio of tittering pre-teens, windowshopping outside Claire’s, seemed perfect for the role of their daughters. I named them Sephira, Solara, and Sienna.

A 15-ish square-built boy, looking bored near the escalator, became their son. The crotch of his jeans was almost level with his kneecaps. Crippled by this ill-advised design, I dubbed him Yugo.Yugo

They’d traveled all the way up from Perth Amboy, New Jersey for the “Happy to be Scrappy” Ladies of the Lakes Quilters Triennial Quilt Show. It had been held over the weekend at Kingswood High School in Wolfeboro, where “Mrs. Kenickie” had taken first place.blue-ribbon

The family planned to return home directly after the judges’ decision in time to phone friends and family before the news got old. They would’ve, too, but for the nuisance of a dragging muffler on their 1992 Chrysler Town & Country mini van.

Rather than pay for an extra night at Motel 6, they hiked to the mall about a mile from the mechanic’s garage. Before they entered, their kids watched as their proud dad pinned the blue ribbon to their mom’s jumper.

The family whiled away the hours, not bothered by their car trouble, just pleased to be together to celebrate this milestone occasion.

The way it was . . .   

John Travolta hairThe couple, Hank and Betty Dutra, hailed from Raymond, NH. Hank combed his hair this way because twenty-seven years ago Betty told him he kinda looked like John Travolta in Saturday Night Fever.

Hank bought the royal purple satin jacket (practically brand new) with the Perth Amboy logo for $5.00 at Goodwill because he’d never owned anything from Australia before. Betty hated it. He wore it today mainly because she’d made him come to the Mall.

Despite Hank’s jacket and hard-headedness, Betty wanted this day to feel special. That’s why she’d exchanged her comfy sweats for a proper jumper. After all, it was Mall of New Hampshire in Manchester, not Dollar Tree in Raymond.

Used to her everyday sneakers, she clung to Hank’s arm, unsteady in her dress clogs.clogs

As they passed by the kiosk filled with miniature hand-blown glass animals, Betty  whispered to Hank, “Who on earth would pay these prices?”

Hank answered, “Who knows? Maybe the kind of people who live in Hollis and Bedford and Exeter.”

They listened to a trio of girls cackling outside Claire’s and witnessed a teen boy’s jeans slip down to his knees.

Hank shook his head. “Aren’t you glad we have dogs?”

“Don’t forget the chickens,” Betty said. “They might cackle but at least they keep us in eggs.”

flex-seal-liquid_1000After a few hours of browsing, they bought some Flex Seal Liquid Rubber (as seen on TV) so they could repair the used truck bed liner they purchased for their 2016 double cab Ford 2500.

The blue ribbon on Betty’s jumper? It was there when they left the house. She’d taken first place in the “Happy to be Scrappy” Ladies of the Lakes Quilters Triennial Quilt Show held at Kingswood High School in Wolfeboro that weekend.

And Hank made sure everyone in the Mall of New Hampshire knew it.

For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known. ~ 1 Corinthians 13:12 (KJV)


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Posies, Puppies, & Posterior

I’m back—but then you knew I couldn’t stay away long. I’ve got a lot to say. Mainly, THANK YOU to everyone who’s prayed, sent cards, emailed, texted, called, and dropped off meals while my husband, David, continues on the high and low roads to recovery.

posies puppy and posterior

Three of the many cards we received. *Cheek not David’s.

I love all those . . .

  • Who kept in touch since you first heard the Acute Myeloid Leukemia diagnosis and said, “Let me know if I can do anything.”
  • Who sent just the right card—or multiple cards!
  • Who sent daily Scripture verses.
  • Who only know us through Facebook, yet offered to pray.
  • Who wrote and spelled every word right (well, most of you but you all get a pass this time). 🙂
  • Who happened upon my blog, read it, and commented.
  • Who cooked and/or baked or bought something delicious for us. (Downside for you: I will blame you for my weight gain.)

Because I have a weird sense of humor (and need material for my next book), I even love those who said stuff like this . . .

  • “You look tired. And I’m going to tell you every time you do.” [That was you, Deb.]
  • “I’ve heard of AML. I think my aunt died from that.”
  • “Did the doctors tell him the treatment could damage his vital organs?”
  • “How do you feel about your husband having cancer?”

Seriously, these friends are the ones who feel close enough to speak what’s on their minds and in their hearts. One of them crocheted my husband a prayer shawl and a matching hat in a week. Another prays with her granddaughter that David won’t get a fever. One offered to keep me company on one of my many trips into Boston. One made sure we had pie on π Day. Another offered to lend David one of her wigs—chin strap included! All of them have kept me laughing!

When someone is battling illness, it’s hard not to let it define you. Early on, that was my first prayer with David. “This is cancer, it’s not us. We are Christians. We have faith. We know what the ultimate future holds. We are not afraid.” We’ve had to repeat that statement a few times, but only because we are also human.

While the hardest part for me is seeing my husband sick, for those who know David, the hardest part for him is not being around (or able) to help me. His love language is service—particularly service to me. I am blessed!

We’re trying to live as normally as possible, but it’s hard to do.  First, because we’re not that normal to begin with. Second, we have a visitors’ ban in place. We haven’t seen children and grandkids since Christmas! As soon as David’s blood counts level out, that will change!

Since David felt so bad when I had to cancel my book launch celebration originally scheduled for January 31, he encouraged me to go ahead and have the celebration anyway. So, on Sunday, April 10–which happens to be the day before the Red Sox opener at Fenway–we will celebrate Double Header, my first published novel. God has good timing, I think.

I would love to see you there. If you have a copy already, bring it to be autographed. If you have one that’s autographed, come anyway to celebrate with me and enjoy some ballpark-style refreshments!

So I know how much food to have on hand, please register on EventBrite at http://tinyurl.com/zbntf2b.

image001

Every card reflects the richness of family and friends.

“But what happens when we live God’s way? He brings gifts into our lives, much the same way that fruit appears in an orchard—things like affection for others, exuberance about life, serenity. We develop a willingness to stick with things, a sense of compassion in the heart, and a conviction that a basic holiness permeates things and people. We find ourselves involved in loyal commitments, not needing to force our way in life, able to marshal and direct our energies wisely.” ~ Galatians 5:22-23 (MSG)

 

 


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No Steamer Trunk or Man Servants Needed

Before my husband, David, was officially admitted to Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston for treatment for AML (Acute Myeloid Leukemia), his doctor said, “You’ll like the rooms. They’re quite nice.”

Even the nurse doing the pre-admission test agreed. “The doctor’s right. You can decorate any way you want, too.”

That’s all I needed to hear before I started packing everything he and I would need to make it a home away from home. Not that I was silly enough to imagine the Ritz Carleton, but I did wonder whether the style would be more Marriott or more Hampton Inn. Didn’t matter; I was sure I could work with either.

When David realized my intentions, he eliminated the second suitcase and scaled down from an extra large to a medium. By the time he was through, we could have used the small one but for his size 15 slippers.

“I’m going to the hospital,” he said, “not on a fancy cruise. I don’t want to walk in with a steamer trunk and two man servants, saying ‘Nurse! Show me to my stateroom!'”

Davd and Man Servants

I’ve gotta say the medical staff’s idea of a “nice room” is a bit different than what I had envisioned. Everything is white, off white, or gray. Not a pop of color anywhere. Unless you count the red blood cells bag hanging on the rolling pole—which I do count, but not as décor.

I played with the idea of asking my friend (who’d made my matching toaster and mixer covers) to make some stylish covers to hide those unattractive, beeping machines attached to the IV poles. Maybe some throw pillows would be nice. Dumb ideas, I know, but these are the things you think about when you don’t know what to do when someone you love is sick. (Okay, these may be the things I think of, not you.)

Pop & FloSince my husband isn’t allowed to receive flowers, I offered to hang his get well cards up around the room to make it more cheery. He was not interested. Instead he keeps them stacked nearby on a bench near his (white) paper towels. When he wasn’t looking, I was able to rearrange his Pop Tart boxes and Flonase package on his dorm fridge to give the space more color and balance.

Instead of me taking care of David, it’s still the other way around. It took me a few weeks to feel comfortable driving into the city and finding the parking garage. He instructed me on the simplest route, and I’ve stuck with it. I pray daily, “Get thee behind me detours!”Detours

Since I get to park free in the Dana-Farber garage, I have to traverse the maze of additions, bridges, and hallways that connect to Brigham and Women’s.  For the first two weeks, I got lost every day.   Thankfully, I’ve been blessed with a natural dumb look, which alerts security I’m in need. “May I help you?” Presto! I’d be pointed in the right direction! (I’m gonna use that look more often.)

Finally, it was David (the guy who’d been wheeled in on his back on a gurney) who searched online for maps of both hospitals, overlaid and spliced them together, and drew red arrows from one place to the other. When even that seemed overwhelming for me, he gave me a simplified cheat sheet to help me on my way in and another one for my way out. It’s been three weeks now, and I still cheat.

My sense of direction isn’t my only deficiency. It’s the little things I have to remember now because he isn’t with me. The first night back from Boston, I locked myself out of the house. Fortunately, David had thought in advance to give my neighbors a key. More than once, I’ve gone to bed with the TV on because it was his job to shut it off. And, if I wanted a working radio and CD player on my trips to visit, I had to learn to drive the Venza, since that was “David’s car.”

[Speaking of the Venza, did you know you can’t put a desiel hose in its gas tank? I tried, I really did. Those gas station pump people are pretty smart, I tell ya.]

When I thought I lost the Venza fob (keyless thingamabob), David called valet parking and asked them to search for it. In the light of day, I found the little bugger. It had blended into the black-carpeted floor of the car—along with the black gloves and black earmuffs I thought I’d lost the week before. He also apologized to them for me.

And, as you may have guessed, I needed David to do the Photoshop job of himself in actor Michael York’s ensemble from Murder on the Orient Express, and the one of our friend, Jeremiah Peters, as one of his man servants.

I’m all set now because I have a list which I review before I leave the house:

  • David’s clean laundry Check!
  • David’s snacks Check!
  • Lunch for me Check!
  • Phones – both my old dumb one and my new smart one (which I don’t know how to use yet) Check!
  • Fob Check!
  • Sunglasses Check!
  • Electronic parking pass (which I wave randomly at anything bolted to the concrete wall until the gate goes up) Check!
  • Cheat sheet Check!
  • House keys Check!

Before I headed out yesterday, I mentally reviewed my list. Satisfied I had everything on it, I opened the door and stepped into the garage. Something didn’t feel right. I looked down.

I was in my stocking feet.

On a more serious note, even though the effects of chemo are extremely unpleasant, David is coping well emotionally and spiritually. He says of his time in the hospital, “I liken it to my stint in the Navy. I’ll follow orders and do my time until I get discharged.”

As for me, I prefer not to compare David’s hospital stay with his time in the Navy. Why? They kept him for four years! Can you imagine the damage I’d do in that time?

Car in parking garage

Thanks for your well wishes and prayers! Shalom. 

Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you. ~ 1 Peter 5:7 (NIV)

You will keep in perfect peace him whose mind is steadfast, because he trusts in you. ~ Isaiah 26:3 (NIV)

 


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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.