7 Quick Takes Friday (vol. 166)
If anyone has seen my brain, would you please send it to me? You can find my mailing address here.
I don’t know what’s been going on this week. It’s probably some combination of DST-itis, travel fatigue, and an adrenaline hangover from the final push on the book. Whatever it is, I just cannot deal with anything. For example, my kids asked me this afternoon if they could have PBJ for lunch. I gazed from the peanut butter jar, to the jelly, to the bag of bread, and just about collapsed in tears and the thought of trying to put all that together into some kind of meal. I think if I could just have one or two days to do nothing but lie in bed and stare at the ceiling, I should be fine.
Speaking of the book, I haven’t mentioned it much lately because there’s not much to report. I want my husband to edit it before I send it to my agent, but he’s been so busy at work that he’s hardly had a chance to look at it. I assure you that you will know when I send it to my agent, because all my online activity will cease: I will stop blogging and tweeting (as well as eating and sleeping) and do nothing but sit in front of my computer, hitting refresh on my email inbox as I wait for his response. If I need a break, I might fixate on his Twitter feed for a while, reading his updates like tea leaves to see if I can decipher his thoughts on the book. (He says he’s having a bad day. That must mean he hates the book. Or wait. It could mean that he’s so amazed by it that he fears he’ll never represent something so astounding again!!!! — Actual thoughts from the last time I sent him a draft.) Anyway, if I seem to be taking this latest delay in stride, it’s only because I’ve come to believe that God’s main goal with this project is simply to teach me how to wait.
Back in business school, my husband once heard that the way to find your perfect career is to look at what kinds of things people are already asking you to do. (E.g. One of the reasons he decided to back into law after a detour in the business world was when he realized that friends frequently asked him to help them with legal work.)
I think this advice could also be applied to finding your charism. Others are often better at seeing our gifts than we are, and naturally think of us when they need help in the areas in which we’re gifted. I know that one of my friends is the go-to person around here for cooking advice, since we all know that God has really showered her with gifts in that department; there are a couple of ladies in the area who have taken on quasi-official roles as homeschooling mentors, simply because there was so much demand for their advice; another became a part-time doula after so many friends asked her to assist them in childbirth. I’d be interested to know: In what areas do people tend to ask you for help or advice?
We finally got our Lent lights up! For those of you who aren’t Catholic, “Lent lights” are a tradition where you hang Christmas lights around your house but don’t light them, as a symbolic gesture for the penitential season.
(This is not to be confused with people who are too incompetent to take down their Christmas lights before April and try to pass it off as a liturgical tradition.)
I now know two local families who are moving to the neighborhood around our church, for the sole reason of being able to walk to Mass and all the other activities that take place there. I love, love, love this idea. Obviously it’s not something everyone can do, but I would love to see more folks make it a goal. As I’ve said before, I believe that if even 20% of parishioners lived within walking distance of their parish church, we would be surprised by just what a dramatic impact that would have on Christian culture.
My husband often refers to being “behind the curve,” and his desire to stay “ahead of the curve.” Basically, to be “behind the curve” means that you’re just reacting to whatever chaos is thrown at you, barely keeping your head above water. Here’s an example, using lunchtime at our house:
- Behind the curve: The kids tumble into the kitchen. They’re exhibiting symptoms of some kind of discomfort. Now they’re scaling the refrigerator. Someone got out a crowbar to get into the child-proofed snack cabinet. After analyzing these clues, it occurs to me that they might be hungry. I look at the clock to see that — uh-oh — it’s an hour after we normally eat lunch. Then the baby starts fussing, and I look at the clock again to see that it’s time for her to eat too. Now I face the task of fixing food and filling drinks and finding clean plates and napkins with four hungry kids underfoot and a discontent baby on my hip. Long story short, there tends to be a lot of yelling from all parties involved.
- Ahead of the curve: I see that lunchtime is coming up, and I think about what I should serve. I’ve already fed the baby since I knew the mealtime crunch was approaching, so she’s playing happily in her bouncer. I get my two oldest to help me get the table set, which is possible since a) they’re not crazy hungry and b) I’m not trying to talk over whining toddlers and babies. By the time everyone gets hungry, I have all the drinks filled and the sandwiches mostly made. I tell everyone to sit down, and have food for them to start eating within a few minutes. If any chaos breaks out, I can give it my full attention since I’m already done making the meal.
One thing that has been a huge help in this department is doing a big weekly planning session on the weekends. No matter how crazy our weekend is, I do not let the week begin until I’ve planned our dinners, made a grocery store list, written up my calendar for the week, and made my to-do list. When I do that, I can usually stay ahead of the curve.
Whew! I didn’t know if I was going to be able to stay conscious long enough to write all seven takes today; the fact that I made it this far is a great victory. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to go stare at a wall.
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