Deadlines, please accept my hearty thanks

Courtesy of FamousQuotesAbout.com.

Yesterday I had to wrap up a few small things for a client before “officially” starting my holiday (which begins today because of school schedules). I handle their Facebook page and needed to get a post up, catch up on “likes,” etc. When I open Facebook, it automatically goes to my personal account, and it was a full half-hour before I made my way to my client’s account. Where that half hour went, I have no idea. It was as if I was lost in some sort of social media time warp where three seconds is 30 minutes in “real” time… kind of like the whole “Fido is 108 in dog years” thing.

It’s this kind of situation that makes me thankful for deadlines. And as we approach the culminating experience of the Thanksgiving season, our awareness of the full-stop on meal preparations is likely quite acute. We are hosting at our home. I am crossing things off lists, figuring out oven temps and times, and preparing for the juggling act that has already had me doing things like pushing a grocery cart with my elbow while squeezing my cell phone between my ear and my shoulder on the phone with the furnace company and using my other arm like a traffic cop to direct my children away from the bread samples and over toward the wine section.

This isn’t a recipe for gratitude. It’s the near-silent beginning of a crescendo that offers the strong possibility that I will lose it over too many sweet potato skins hitting my freshly steamed floors this evening. But what I am thankful for is that tomorrow, whether I am ready or not, the deadline will come as I pour and pass delicious cranberry cocktails, sink into a chair and feel the stress exit my nerves due to either that first sip or the fact that the turkey is my husband’s gig, not mine.

Deadlines move us forward, whether we hit or miss them. When you don’t make them, you may find yourself tracking down a restaurant to deliver or losing a client because you couldn’t deliver. In the end, you are a different person. You may be wiser for the mistake you made or reassured in your success, but you have changed on some level.

Sometimes it’s just nice to have a deadline because you know what you are waiting for will come. I’m looking forward to tomorrow. Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!

Thank you Jeff Kinney

On behalf of my daughter, I am thankful for the visit Jeff Kinney paid to our neighborhood bookstore, The Book Cellar. She was thrilled to meet the author of the Diary of a Wimpy Kid series, as she’s read every single book at least twice (including the one she received two days ago). According to her teachers, he was friendly, generous and wonderful with the kids. And he’s even rolling across the country in a big tour bus fit for a rock star!

When she met him, my daughter told him that she’s his biggest fan. That was much better than what I told John Taylor when he signed my book a few weeks ago!

Thankful for those quirky little treasures

This morning a friend and former co-worker of mine posted a YouTube video that reminded the old account team of a project we did back in our quick-service-restaurant promoting days. We created this contest called Wendy’s Search for Sizzlin’ Sounds, asking musically inclined hamburger lovers to put together tuneful odes to the American classic. It was a fun project and definitely ahead of its time (several years before YouTube, Glee and American Idol existed). And, apparently, it is a gift that continues to give, because seeing this video about one woman’s passion for fried chicken has been a highlight of my day.

Thanks to social media, I have many bright spots brought to me by total strangers who put a little piece of themselves on the interweb for all to enjoy. Blogs are definitely a part of that, but I am not sure I could pull off anything as rich as this. Not only does this woman have an awesome voice, she has crafted a heartfelt dedication to something that apparently means the world to her. After all, as you will learn in the song, she is such a good customer at her local fried chicken eatery that the manager opens up the drive-thru window at her request after it had closed. She even goes so far as to add a benediction thanking Jesus for all manner of chicken-related blessings, asking Him to pass the butter and praying to Him to not die skinny. She also claims that the chicken died so that she might live.

Maybe this was tongue-in-cheek. I don’t know. But it is precious and has provided me with a bright spot, especially this evening after addressing a 15-towel plumbing accident. If I had such a gospel song in me as this woman does, I’d sing one equally as devoted to quirky internet finds as she has to poultry. Though I am chicken-adverse, I am waiting for the karaoke version. Enjoy!

Thankful for naps

I have not taken one today, though the thought of a nap right now is quite appealing. My head sinks into cool pillowcase that warms up quickly under my expectant cheek. Within seconds I am transformed from reality to dreamland as the billowing slate clouds look upon me through the window. Or my eyes slip closed as I lie on my wicker loveseat in the shade of my back porch on a 93 degree day.

Naps have been my remedy. When I was 17 and suffered from daily migraines, I would bury my face in the crook of my family’s living room couch and let the total darkness heal me. (Fortunately, these headaches were temporary.)

At times, naps have eluded me. When my first child was a newborn, she barely slept. The only sleep I was able to get would be classified as naps, but it was as if my body only hovered over the bed, never quite hitting it. And my sleep was dreamless. (In the end, she became an excellent sleeper.)

Naps have been a bond. Just before my second child outgrew them, we had an after-lunch routine. We would climb our stairs like Everest, paddle across our landing in a canoe and find shelter in a deserted cabin also known as his room. He didn’t nap without this ritual, and I ended up falling asleep next to him. We both have lovely memories of this time.

Now I work from home and have access to naps more often than ever, but I rarely take one. They are best when spontaneous.

Thankful for change

Photo Credit: Steven Friedman

This morning our garage roof was covered with a barely perceptible dusting of snow.  Upon seeing it, my daughter yelled, “Mom, it snowed last night! It snowed!” Though the winter boots were unnecessary, out came the warmest of our cold-weather gear, piled on top of lighter jackets, sweatshirts and vests that we wore over the weekend. Our coat hooks are a mound of confusion.

Change has come to our lovely gray and russet fall, bringing the sting of frost and the residue of frozen precipitation that is the harbinger of winter. And though winter is a season I want to spend as little time as possible in, during this month of thanks, I must give credit to something that I think is very important in life — change.

Some people love change, and I am definitely one of them. I have a restless mind, and change keeps me grounded in ways that people who don’t like change probably never would understand. The best way to describe it is that old saying, “Only change is constant.” I can count on it. It reminds me that nothing is forever, so savor the good while it lasts and know that the bad will wane.

Change isn’t always easy. Sometimes it sneaks up on you, creating obstacles to your well-considered plans and surprising you with its unexpected outcomes. You may stay a step ahead of it by initiating it yourself, but that doesn’t mean you can control it. And occasionally the change delivered by fate is the best kind.

Right now, there is a rep from our HVAC company looking at our furnace. I am hoping that this visit doesn’t result in a significant change to our bank account balance. I haven’t yet determined how paying for a new furnace will enlighten me, though I have found that even the change I don’t want teaches me something.

Thankful for Choice

Looking at the variety of posts on Facebook these past few days and discussions I’ve had with family and friends reminds me how valuable choice is. So many people turned out to vote in the election, many spending hours in line to be able to have their say. And the result was an election that involved a high level of participation from the people in this country.  Whether you like the outcome or not, I’m sure you were pleased to have a voice in it.

Choice isn’t always an easy thing to live with, though. Too many options, or even just a second option, in some cases is irritating at worst and sometimes just a distraction. For example, my family lives in Chicago, where attendance at your local public school isn’t automatic.  You are faced with a variety of choices — public schools that require testing, public schools that grant access by lottery, independent schools, parochial schools, schools that cost more than you paid in college tuition. Our decision would be far easier if we had none at all.

I know people who walked into the polls on Tuesday still mulling over their choices.  It’s not an easy thing to have to choose when you don’t feel certain, and the potential for regret is high.

And how many times do you find yourself flipping through 100+ channels on TV or spending a few hours watching old MTV videos on YouTube? Choice can be a time suck when not put to good use.

But despite my quarrels with choice, I’m still very grateful to have one. Choice forces me to be a better person, to think about consequences, to motivate myself, to inform myself so that I can make the best decisions for me and anyone who’ll be affected by my choice. Choice encourages tolerance. When you understand the implication choice has on a person’s life, you have a basis for seeing why they might take one path vs. another. This doesn’t always happen, because choice can be abused. But the potential is there.  Each individual just needs to embrace it.

A time to blog about gratitude

I’m taking a page from Paige (Paige Worthy, her real name) and hopping on the NaBloPoMo bandwagon, shooting for a blog post every day.  For the uninitiated, NaBloPoMo stands for National Blog Posting Month and is a take on NaNoWriMo, which is National Novel Writing Month.  I should be doing NaNoWriMo, but I am opting for NaBloPoMo for a variety of reasons I won’t go into here.

Furthermore, I will continue the copycat trend by blogging about thankfulness.  It’s the season of gratitude, and Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday.  This is the perfect recipe (I hope) for getting me into the habit of posting more often.

I sat here for ten minutes trying to cook up an idea on thankfulness.  My mind was blank.  I got up to make dinner while thinking about what I am most thankful for… family, friends, health.  But it seemed a gross understatement to blog about being grateful for those things.  I think we need an entirely new word for that.

Then I looked at those three words and saw instantly a common thread — time.  None of these things can be appreciated in the absence of time.  Can you give and receive love from your family without committing time to them?  No. Can you appreciate the support and company of friends without spending time with them?  No. Can you enjoy good health without putting the time in to maintain it?  Not if you’re a midlifer, at least.

The more I age, the more precious time becomes in my life.  I can remember slow-moving Sunday afternoons in my twenties when there seemed to be just enough time… and maybe a bit too much… to enjoy the day.  It has been so long since I haven’t felt the window of time closing on one activity to move on to the next.  The pace of my life is frequently abrupt, and I cannot picture it going any faster than it does now.  Even when I am waiting impatiently, I think about how my time could be spent doing something else, and I feel the lost opportunity as the minutes pass.  When time walks out the door, it’s over.  It never comes back.

So, I am launching this month with my thanks for time.  I wish I spent it more wisely.  Every day I recognize that I don’t manage it as well as I would like or always use it in ways that are productive.  But I am very grateful for all that it has given me.