To-Do Lists

image retrieved from pinterest.com

I am sitting there at the table trying to rush things along- my usual way. In my head, I have a list running loops through my brain- the gears are turning fast. Birthday celebration, get home, tidy up house, finish laundry, get kids to bed, vacuum, work on my thesis paper. The to-do grows ever longer each passing minute. And like always, I am in a hurry to get things done. I check the time again, slow minutes ticking by unhurried while we eight wile away the minutes in a farmhouse kitchen. I bite my lip and try to catch Husband’s eye. I am getting antsy.

Tick, tick, tock.

Another much wiser and learned than I looks at me from across the room- with a slow smile says, “No rush. Relax and sit back. There is no need to hurry.”

But even as I ponder this concept for but a slip of a moment, I still tell myself, “Of course there is need to move along- look at all there is to be done.” The lines crease my forehead in a tell-tale way- too many years wishing for just five-more-minutes to get one more thing done. I can feel the tension moving through my neck and down into my back.

It takes every ounce of energy in me to relax and wait.

Later on, when the work of the day is over and done, I re-visit this idea of slowing down. I am quieter now- more willing to listen. More receptive.

After my thoughts settle a bit, I start to think back on the day. I recall seeing that little songbird that lighted on the weigela bush at dusk. It’s cheerful tune begging me to listen. I think of four newly crafted paintings left drying on my verhanda, the efforts of three sweet girls. I am prompted to recall a quiet morning spent in attentive concentration to the task at hand. I am reminded of the smell of the water just before the rain. The sound of the breeze rustling the Horse Chestnut branches just outside my window. The daffodils gently lilting, their fragrant heads down-turned.

I think of all there is to hear and see and attend to in our everyday world that presses us not a whit. Rushes us naught.
It is there for our pleasure. If we but take the time.

I think of dear ones now gone into eternity.  I wonder if they could have asked for just one more day, would that ever have been enough to quench the thirst for more time?

Why is it that to-do lists appear completely obsolete when one finds themselves immersed in the natural world thinking about the eternal?  It is all a matter of priority.

It is ironic that when our lives are lived out in the normal, mundane, a time when we could stop and take it all in: we don’t. Again I ask: why is it that only when we find ourselves facing uncertainty we take stock of our time and choose to spend it more wisely? We would do well to view our lives in retrospect once in a while. Reality has this way of gently reminding us every once in a while of what is important and what is not.

To-do lists and mental notes-to-self, as well-meaning and self-serving as they mean to be, are quite useless when one is facing priorities of the heart that really matter. We cannot take our to-do lists to the grave. Time is only at our disposal while we have it.

What we have today is our time. It can be spent lavishly or foolishly wasted. Managed or enjoyed.

“Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?” ― Mary Oliver

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Making time

picture retrieved from y9npk.edublogs.org

We move through mounds of snow, he and I, in slow, steady motion.  Cutting our way through the drift, making our way around the various obstacles that mark our path. We make a u-turn when branches block our path, finding ourselves cutting a wide berth around the small blue shop where our two cats sleep under the warm heat lamp. Our poles there to guide us, while our feet remain securely encased in a web of wire and plastic, we push forward.  Awkwardly, we make our way around the barn in fading light of day.  I misstep and find myself nearly toppling over, but catch myself just in time.  Moving this way is hard.  It is challenging- but so worth the effort it took to get my weary soul out here in the brisk air.

We find ourselves in the middle of our back field walking in rhythmic motion, carefully watching each step.  It is beautiful here in the quiet of this open field.  In the still of this snowy evening.  And snowshoeing is a fine way to pass the time- albeit not the easiest way to get around.  Earlier, the clutter of supper preparations and a day’s worth of toys, books, and other odds and ends surrounded me.  I almost didn’t make it out here- feeling there was just one more thing I should have been doing.  One more task to attend to.  Getting outside to play and move about all seems such a luxury for me as a mother.  It is easy to see why we women and mothers forgo pleasure when the demands of life appear so urgent.  And perhaps some fathers are guilty of the same.  Mealtimes, laundry, housecleaning, school work, life- it all seems so pressing and urgent.  So needing of our time.

Shauna Niequist, writing of her goals for this brand new year, had this to say about her resolution to live life this year with more focus on living in the moment and enjoying the little things in life- the small pleasures:

“Burn the candles. Not just when people come over. (Burn them) for you, because someone gave them to you. Open the wine and have a glass tonight while you fold laundry. Wear the perfume, the pretty scarf, the whatever that you have tucked in a box, too fancy for you.

This year, brew the good coffee, wear the sparkly jewelry, crack open that fresh journal. Gifts are to be loved, to be burned, to be eaten and used up completely, reminders that someone loves us, that someone thought of us.

Because it’s not about candles or coffee. It’s about believing that you’re worth the good stuff, that someone wanted you to feel loved and seen and known” – Shauna Niequist

Like Shauna, I often feel I am not worth the good stuff.  And by good stuff- for me, I mean time.  We never feel that we have enough time in this busy, frantic world we live in. And with our busy schedules, finding time is nothing short of a miracle. There is always going to be one more thing we should be doing- one more task requiring our attention.  And how easy it is to put ourselves on the back-burner, sacrificing the small pleasures of this hard life in the name of duty and obligation.  Life is hard enough- must we make it even harder on ourselves by denying ourselves what we enjoy?

So to Shauna’s resolution to enjoy small pleasures, I will add my own call to make time.  Make time for pleasure. Make time for play.  Make time for you. Taking time to do what it is you love.  Making time- even if that means putting life demands on hold for a while.  Leaving piles of dirty dishes on our counters- so that we can get outside and breathe in the air that replenishes our soul.  Leaving laundry so that we can rest and replenish- even if but for a moment.

Shauna’s call to burn the candles will underpin my own call to walk away from duty and breathe, rest and play.

Go for that walk that you’ve been aching for all day.

Take that bubble bath and soak for a good long while.

Turn off the computer and read that book of which you’ve been dying to crack the covers open.

Go for that drive to the ocean to watch the waves.

Sit in a chair and daydream.

Let your hair down and dance.

Take a nap.

Make this the year that you say ‘yes’ to time.

Make this the year that you find pleasure in doing what you love- whatever that might be.

We can be certain: there will always be another job or expectation on our list of obligations.  Making time to do what brings us joy needs to be at the top of that list.

Where We Are Headed… Thoughts on Teaching in the 21st Century

“To educate as the practice of freedom is a way of teaching that anyone can learn. That learning process comes easiest to those of us who teach who also believe that there is an aspect of our vocation that is sacred; who believe that our work is not merely to share information but to share in the intellectual and spiritual growth of our students. To teach in a manner that respects and cares for the souls of our students is essential if we are to provide the necessary conditions where learning can most deeply and intimately begin.” (bell hooks, Teaching to Transgress, p.13)

 

I am swabbing spots all over his chest with a Polysporin-covered Q-tip. Just moments before, he had come to me complaining of itchiness. His chest- sweltered with raw, open infected sores instigated by mosquito bites. A day prior, I had sent him home. The itchiness had been getting to him by mid-afternoon, and without anything to treat the infected spots, the two of us were at an impasse. So, his mother had come to retrieve her boy and mend his angst. As they were leaving, I looked at her and said, “Send along some ointment tomorrow, and I will do this for you.” I realized that this was a minor inconvenience for a busy mother- to pick up an otherwise well-child and take him home simply to apply medication. So, I offered to do it for her, so long as I had her permission and the medicated cream.

Later that evening, the mother wrote me a short message, and in a few simple lines, she conveyed to me her appreciation for my offer to act as nurse for her son. It was apparent that this was not something she would have expected from me, his teacher.

I thought to myself, as I read her short note: “I wouldn’t do anything less than care for this boy’s needs in the ways that he requires caring for: I love this child. I am his teacher. That’s what I do.”

But I wonder: even as my heart is calling me to care for my students in the very ways I care for my own four dear ones at home, is this what I can do realistically? As more and more of my time is being eaten up by demands that are outside my control?

A day later, I sat beside a dear friend in the front seat of her SUV, and I looked her in the eye when I lamented, “Perhaps I would renew my joy in teaching if I was able to simply care for my students, and worry less about all the other junk.”

The junk. That’s what is getting to me. Which is to say, the stuff that is weighing me down.

Junk/ Stuff. The stress over meeting outcomes and curricular goals. The stress over covering the curriculum. The stress over benchmarks. Stress in keeping records, both formal and otherwise. The stress in dealing with other stressed colleagues and students. The stress in planning and readying my classroom after hours, late into the night. The stress by way of new systems of monitoring and assessment brought on by our school boards. The stress in dealing with behaviours. The stress in dealing with unknowns: unknown diagnoses, unknown future job placements, unknown situations, unknown variables. The stress in participating in meetings and in realizing deadlines and living up to expectations. The stress of being all things to all people. The stress. All combined, these stressors have the effect of making us as teachers feel smothered and disabled in doing what we really want to do: care for the little and big people who face us day in and day out inside the four walls of our schools.

Because teaching is primarily about caring for people. Or it should be.

My work feels less and less sacred all the time. More and more rote and routine. More constrictive and prescriptive. More stressful and demanding than ever before. More top-down controlled. Which is not to say that it was ever easy- it’s just getting harder.

Teaching is a challenging career- and it’s not because of the kids.

It’s challenging because of all the other stuff we teachers have to deal with. And it’s challenging because we have neither the time nor the expertise to be dealing with some of the situations we are dealing with. What we really want to do is get back to basics. Teaching for life-long learning and then cushioning all that educating inside a generous portion of simple, genuine caring. Caring deeply for our students’ minds and the learning that takes place there, even as we care for their tender, fragile hearts and souls. Where the real living takes place.

The other day, I was finishing up my lunch when a colleague offered to take my class for a few minutes so as to allow me a couple extra minutes to eat my lunch. I took him up on his suggestion. As I was going back to my own classroom, I had stopped in the office to collect my mail when I noticed a line of children waiting for the secretary to take them into the staff room and heat up their lunch. Added to this group were others: waiting to use the phone and waiting to see the principal. I could see the anxiety building on the secretary’s face. It is a busy enough job to look after the administration of the day-to-day runnings of an office and school to add to that the role of nurse, cafeteria worker and counselor. I offered to take the students and teach them how to buddy up with a Grade 6 student who knew how to operate the microwave, thus alleviating the secretary of the taxing job of heating up lunches. That I was able to take the time to do this was thanks to my dear colleague who offered to take my own students for a few precious minutes during his own prep time. So that I could then be free to help the secretary.

As I again made my way back to my own classroom, the custodian abruptly stopped me while I was walking by the downstairs girls’ washroom: “Would you look at this!” she exclaimed rather brusquely. I peered into the stall where she was positioned over the toilet. There, floating inside the bowl, was a wrapped sandwich, a granola bar and a juice box. Fully intact.

“This has been happening almost daily,” she grimaced.

“I’ll report it to the principal,” I countered. “We’ll get to the bottom if it all.”

As I again started out, this time to find the principal, I started thinking that this was a problem, with a little time, that could be nipped in the bud. Just by way of a good old-fashioned detective eye.

I started into a classroom, asking if anyone was missing a lunch. Everyone was happily eating away. But the next room I happened upon, the teacher met me at the door and immediately communicated to me that she had a hunch it might be someone in her room. A certain person who had been missing their lunch for the last couple of days.

Sure enough, it was that certain person.

And this discovery made all because I had the time to pursue a problem and find a solution for it.

Time is really of essence. But so is love. When teachers have both time and love, powerful things happen.

Students are cared for in ways that they would otherwise not be cared for.

Students learn things they would otherwise not learn.

Problems are solved which would otherwise not be solved.

Answers are found which would otherwise go unresolved.

Children are happier.

Teachers are less stressed.

It’s a win-win for everyone. An absolute no-brainer.

Unless we allow teachers to get back to the business of doing their sacred work of caring for children and students, in ways that their teacher fore-bearers did back in the day, we will be set on a collision course to derailment.

Derailment of our teachers’ sanity.

Derailment of our students’ achievement, in more ways than just standardized performance testing.

Derailment of our classrooms, which will look less and less like learning environments and more and more like sterile testing laboratories.

Derailment of our very educational system.

We are on a collision course and what is set to collide are the expectations that the Powers to Be have for our schools with the health and well being of our teachers and educators. Something’s got to give.

It always does.

And if I were to surmise what that might be, what’s going to give: from personal experience, I’d have to say it’s going to be our teachers.

Heaven help us. That’s about the only hope we have left.

Turning Ten…For the Fourth Time

I turn ten for the fourth time tomorrow.

That’s the big 4-0 to the rest of the world. As in, four decades.  Bless it.  I still can’t believe it. So cliche, I know, but until you’ve arrived, you will never fully appreciate how much your youthful brain is still telling you you’re not a day past 25. Seriously. The other day at school, I told my students that my Husband was planning a surprise for me, and one little guy who has taken to giving me engulfing bear hugs about five times a day looked at me incredulously and said, “You have a HUSBAND????????”

Which is to say (or, what I think he meant): “Your youthful appearance defies that you be old enough for such adult behaviour.” Something akin to that thought.

Whatever…

I am not dealing well with this “going past the thirties” birthday business, so thankfully Husband skipped the Over the Hill party and booked a weekend getaway instead.

Good call.

Except.  Now I feel like the comraderie would have helped- what with the onset of depression and all.  Feel free to message me with tips, if you have already reached this milestone. Every little bit of moral support I can muster helps. We need each other, Seniors. Or at least I do- for emotional reinforcement. And the odd back-rub or two.

Husband told me last night that he wasn’t going to lie: “Getting old is not that much fun.”

Thanks sweetie.  That’s just what a girl needs to hear from her OLDER spouse.

However, I do have to give him props for this: planning a semi-surprise for his wife and not letting her in on the secret. That is, not letting her in on the secret until Thursday.  Just three short nights ago, I was at this very instant (or close to it- who’s keeping track) walking hand in hand toward the setting sun, with Husband by my side, as we lazily travelled along the boardwalk at Peake’s Key. Kid-less. That’s “walking sans kidlets”, for those who are not yet fluent in this language. It all seems like a vague and hazy dream right about now.

I half wonder if it was.

Earlier that day, we had packed the van to the gills, dropped off one child’s stuff at Black Grammie’s house. Packed for another to go to across the road. And then packed snacks, games and more stuff for the other two to go to Charlottetown for the night to White Grammie’s house.

It is a lot of work to get away, people. And age has nothing to do with it…

Thankfully, Hubbie remembered this tedious fact and gave me a forty-eight hour heads up. So, it was with exhaustion and anticipation, we made the trek to Dundee Arms Inn in historic Charlottetown. Meanwhile, all that packing wore me out.  I won’t lie: I had a short catnap en route.

I am forty, hello.

At exactly 5:30 p.m., as we pulled out of my parent’s driveway, Husband looked at me and said with a smile, “It’s officially the weekend!”
And so it was. A beautiful weekend, complete with a lovely quiet supper with delicious food and a beautiful room furnished with antiques and an ornate four poster canopy bed. Such a luxury, this weekend getaway. Dearly needed and much appreciated.

And now it’s over. OVER.

I am back to reality once again, only three short nights later. Dirty dishes sitting in the kitchen waiting to be washed. Crud on the floor to be wiped up. Laundry waiting impatiently to be washed and folded. Children needing baths and stories and tuck-ins. Floors to be vacuumed and on and on the list goes.

Because life goes on.

It always does somehow.

Those moments we want to last? They sadly come to a close. As much as we try to hold on to them, they dissolve and fade into our memory. Leaving us with a sentimental feeling as a lasting token of their occurrence. Wondering if they truly ever really happened after all.
As much as we try, life just keeps forging forward.

And don’t we just wish we could, at times, press the pause button? Maybe not for every moment of the day, but certainly for some of them. Life is just moving past us too quickly.
I for one can hardly keep up.

And now that I am forty years old, I think time will speed by even faster.
It can seem just so discouraging, at times.

I was thinking about this thought the other day- about wanting time to slow down- and my thoughts wandered to some precious loved ones I hold dear. Loved ones who have suffered in various ways and through difficult circumstances. And I realized that for some, time  has been very long. Drawn out. Difficult to bear with and challenging to stay through.

For some, time has been short.  Abbreviated.  Time has quickly come to a close.


For time is only fast and full when we are enjoying and really appreciating  the circumstances of our lives. It’s extremely slow, and at times can even be short when we are not.

For those of us who are finding time is slipping away. Revel in it. Enjoy it. Take pleasure from that time and don’t try to squander it. Time is here for us to use. It’s ours for the taking. We need to make every effort to use our time to benefit the life we’ve been made to live.
And for those of us who wish for time to move a little faster: take heart. This time we’ve been given will soon move us to new horizons. The difficulties of this life and the pain of the here and now: this too shall pass. Time is still here for you who wish it away- it is here for the taking. Make every effort to use the time you’ve been given to benefit the life you’ve been made to live. All too soon, this present here and now will be gone.

We can never get this moment back again.  These moments- they are fragile.  Precious.  Take pleasure in them.
And neither should we want to live them over- there is just too much time in the present here and now to enjoy. To live and experience. To wonder and revel in. And there is always time enough to dream about our hoped for tomorrows.

A dear friend reminded me tonight: we don’t need to dread growing older.  It is a gift that many are unable to enjoy and experience.  So turning forty for the first time is a new pleasure I will revel in.

And I think I just might make this fifth decade of my life the one I cherish most.

It Doesn’t Get Better Than This…

So I might be a helicopter parent.  A little bit hovery with a tad of overwhelming to boot.  What’s it to you?

I will admit it: I’ve done it again. Overstayed my welcome and got myself kicked out of camp.  And all for the sake of saying one too many goodbyes and maybe re-checking that the Happy Camper’s got everything he needs for his week away from Heli-Mom.  (I realize that could be changed around to be read in another way.  Heli- for helipcopter, Peeps.  And maybe I am guilty as charged of asking, “should I help you with that sleeping bag before I go?” and then maybe guilty again of just wanting to get that comforting vibe from the unspoken undercurrents that “everything’s gonna be okay.”

So I admit it: I am that Mom.

The camp director actually came stridently to the van to ensure that I was indeed on my way out. (Love you Lil Bro’.  You’re time is a’comin’ one of these days.  Soon and very soon, you’ll get this gig.)  I assured him we were leaving.  A little miffed, mind you.  There was one other Mom still there videotaping her child as she stepped out onto the grounds for the first time.  Why didn’t I think of that?

I recently read that motherhood gets better.  So, if it really bites the big one for any of us right at this moment, take heart, me hearties: it apparently gets better.  Rumour has it that it especially gets better for those Moms and Dads who send their kids off to school in the fall because they no longer have children to watch around the clock.  One blogger I recently read from was exhorting those of us parents who still have to live with our kids 24/7 that school is the ticket to freedom.  Except, Honey.  I am that ticket: I’m quite possibly your kid’s teacher.  It might get better for her, but not like she thinks it will for me.

Here’s the thing: it doesn’t really get any better.  If we think it will, we are fooling ourselves.  We are all on a journey of a lifetime and in that journey, we often can’t see what’s around the bend.  But we can see what’s right in front of our faces.  And it doesn’t get any better than that, my friends.  It doesn’t get much better than this very moment you are living.  Right now.  This moment is your present.  It is a gift.  Enjoy it for the complex beauty it portrays.  And see it for the potential it has to make your life rich and meaningful.

My present- my gift: this is what my life looks like right now.  And it doesn’t get much better than this: splashing in the pool (even if we take five-minute breaks from time to time to explain to the Fearless Foursome that others in the campground might not particularly enjoy their screams and whines for the three pool toys snagged for an afternoon’s entertainment; so would they ‘kindly keep it down’. Or else.)  Reading a book for the pleasure of it in the middle of the afternoon.  Eating ooey, gooey good s’mores.  Having smoothies for supper.  Heading to the beach on the sunny days.  Having time to watch your child do a back handspring.  Over and over and over.  Talking late into the night over a smoldering campfire.  Sleeping in on those lazy days.  Just because.

It doesn’t get much better than that.  This present is the gift of time and freedom.

But it doesn’t get any better when we get back to life routine either.  Because it is the very moment we are in at that given time as well.  Those moments: they will be the present when they return to us once more and as such, they will be the best moments we can aspire to.  They will be the present of familiarity and order.  Of routine and organization.  Every present is a gift.  It’s how we perceive the gift that makes all the difference.

The thing about presents is you have to receive them.  You have to take them for what they are.  They are something to be enjoyed.  Appreciated. Something to be used to the fullest- indulged.  Because the presents that are to come will one day be those moments that are right beneath our feet, those moments right underneath our noses that are calling strongly to our hearts.  Because living in the present is all we have.  It’s all we need.  And it is the best. It is the very best that moment can offer us as a gift.  For each moment we have to live and breathe is certainly enough.  Does life in all its messy glory really need to get better when what we have right now is already good enough?

I will certainly need to remind myself of this when I am running thirteen ways to Sunday in the dead middle of the Fall/Winter rush.  I will need to remind myself again.  When I am heading off to hockey games, lacing up skates for figure skating practices and sorting through papers in various lunch bags.  I will need to remind myself that it doesn’t get better than this.  Four healthy kids and a vibrant, beautiful life to live.

It doesn’t really get much better than this for those of us parents who are looking for a better day ahead.  Those better days are right now.

Spent and Used Up…

It’s been a long day. Preceded by an even longer night. In which I woke, startled by my dream. A telling dream- of projected fears and failures and worries about things to come. And now, here I am again. Ready to head into another night. And then, another day. And on and on.

Sadly, there is nothing new under the sun.

Some days feel like a long string of poorly made sitcoms played back-to-back. Others, an intense drama- leaving me gripping at my seat. Still others have their laudable comic relief, whereby I can find the laughter amidst the everyday scenarios. But some days are like a horror show. And they leave me wondering at the truth that lies within. About what is real and what is not.

Motherhood is like this sometimes. And in spite of our best intentions, these kinds of days are just a poor excuse for cheap entertainment. And that is putting it nicely.
At their worst, days like these make us dearly wish we could switch the channel. And of course, this is not an option. We mothers are in this for the long-haul. And it is tiresome, tedious work. Weeding through to that which is the best and the most sacred in our days. As small a part as that might be. And in doing this: focusing up, rather than down. Choosing to focus our attention- which is pulled this way and that, on those things which are the most worthy. Those things which are precious and beautiful and rare. On those things which might otherwise elude us.

We seek out priceless moments of peace. We focus on the moments that we deem special and significant. We focus on beauty and growth and change and movement. We contemplate. On whatever those moments might be specifically for us. And when we cannot muse- when our tired and aching bodies and minds are completely unable: we let things go. And we forgive ourselves. Realizing there is always tomorrow. Always another day, another opportunity.

To live the life we were given- with confidence and authority. With beauty and grace. With conviction and strength. And all while abiding in the mundane rhythm and flow of our constant days, as under the ever-constant glow of radiant star-shine that is our age-old sun. This is truly being. And it is truly what a mother does best.

I read recently a story that has been told by Max Lucado, best-selling Christian author, writer and preacher, about a lighthouse keeper. The Keeper of the Light was given oil but once a month- precious fuel to keep the lighthouse lamp burning bright. A lamp to light the way for sea-faring vessels and ships looking for safe haven or a reliable means with which to chart their course. But as with those of tender-heart, he received many heartfelt requests from the villagers. Could he spare some oil for a poor peasant woman to warm the family hearth? Could he allow a little oil for another to light his lamp? Still another, could he give a little oil for to lubricate a farmer’s wagon wheel? And to each, the Keeper said a resounding ‘yes’. “Of course he could spare a little here and there.” It was not much to ask, each small request. But in time, the oil supply threatened to run dry. And indeed it did so on the last few days of the month. The lighthouse went dark. And because there was no light to guide and lead the way, the inevitable occurred to the sea-faring vessels which depended on the Keeper to preserve his oils for such a time as this. They crashed upon the rocks and many perished. Shipwreck after shipwreck, and all because of the Keeper’s good intentioned gestures toward those whom asked and to whom he could not answer, “No, not now.” “Sorry, not today.” “I need to preserve this oil for whom it was intended.” The Lighthouse Keeper was rebuked for his unwise choice to lavish the oil. For what it was meant- it’s main purpose and intention was to be conserved. Stored up in preparation. That oil was meant to be saved- indeed preserved for those of whom their very lives depended on it. And now it was gone.

How very much like motherhood, sometimes.

We mothers waste sacred oil- precious energy, on time and tasks and moments that are relatively unworthy of our attention. And rather than focusing attention on those things which are the most meaningful: that is, on ourselves, our families and our friends. We instead waste precious oil on things which fall much lower on our true priority list of life concerns. And in so doing, we run out, waste and exhaust our limited supply of patience, time, focus, attention, energy and stamina. Much like the foolish Lighthouse Keeper, who ran into short supply during times when his resources were really needed.

Oil is precious and must be saved for such a time as when one might need it most. We can never know ahead of time what a day might bring. And by preserving oil, by preserving our precious resources: we preserve ourselves and those we love. We protect ourselves, we mothers. So that we in turn can protect others. And we prevent waste, that is the wasting away of ourselves. From being used up and spent on that which is of lesser importance. On things which are really not all that important.

In the preservation of ourselves, we find meaning and hope. What more worthwhile reason for conservation is there than this?

Treasuring the Moments of Christmas…

I stir the sticky rum sauce for steamed Christmas pudding.  One of the last vestiges of the Christmas traditions yet to be savoured, after a generous slice of savoury meat pie with cranberry preserves.  It is Boxing Day.  And all too soon, it will be over.  The food, festivities and family get-togethers.  All good things must come to an end.  And so too must this.  Bringing Christmas 2012 to a close.  Bringing an end to all that has been anticipated and hoped for.

Another chapter in our lives, through.

And with it, this too shall pass: family gathered round the table for rousing games of Scribblish.  The newest silly family game played by young and young-at-heart.  Moments  continue to tick by.  What I wish: for time to just slow down.    For it is time that we crave the most.  It is our truest Christmas wish.  To have more time.   Time is a most valuable resource.  It is that which affords moments whereby a mug of steaming Christmas latte sprinkled with nutmeg can be savoured.  That which allows for moments spent gazing at the twinkling lights of earthy pine.  Which allows for inhaling heady scents of Christmas baking mingled with candles burning.  For feeling the warmth of flames a-glow.  For taking opportunities to visit with family and friends without the need to rush.  With time, one no longer has pressing schedules to adhere to, a stop watch ticking out the seconds.  There is time to spend.

And yet.  All too soon boxes will be packed away and new places found for books and games and other Christmas novelties acquired.  It will soon all be over, and reality will once again stare us straight in the eye.  And with Christmas over, must the feelings of warmth and light and joy slip away as quietly as a shadow on snowy white lawn in late winter?

Such a pile-up of emotions.  Joy, exhaustion, anxiety, fear mingled with hope.  Waiting for a brand new year.  One moment looking back to what has been, while the next moment is spent looking forward to what is to come.  This feeling , the after-Christmas blues is as familiar to some as a well-worn parka.  A feeling of deja-vous.   For we’ve been here before, and for certain we will embrace this emotion again.  If we are given the breath and life to celebrate another Christmas.   The years pass quickly and time melts moments into hours, then days, weeks, months and years.  And before one knows it, time has fooled us again.

One is left wondering:  where has the time gone in such a hurry?

Is the secret to slowing time down found in slowing down ourselves?  I circle the pot with my spoon, licking hot, buttery liquid as I go.  I dump the empty pot into sudsy soap bubbles to be washed, wiped and stored away.  And I listen to the noise in the background.  Happy sounds of people not in a rush.  People who have time.  Even if but for this small moment.  And I delight in the time that I am holding, as if it were a delicate ornament made of glass.  Memorizing this moment as if it were the very last.