Time Lost

I was the girl who spent hours of her life cleaning, sorting, and rearranging. Everything in little boxes, labeled and neatly displayed, placed back on the shelf, in the drawer, or corner of the closet, knowing I’d be pulling it out again the next season, and doing the same thing all over again.

Such mindless activities. Such wasted moments. I wish I had those hours back. But they are gone, swept beneath a rug, placed in a box, tossed in the corner of some unforeseen dump.

I look back and wonder if my time was invested wisely. I’m thinking not. Because things don’t matter. They are just possessions that one day will fade away.

I think of the time I gave up talking to a friend on the phone, playing a game with a child, watching a movie with a spouse. Hours I stayed up late, just to sort and re-sort, and sort again.

But if anything good has arrived from all the needless cleaning and caring of material possessions, it is this: I learned how precious each moment of life is.

I’ve learned that twice now. The first time was after my brain injury. Trauma does that, makes you look at life like you’d never seen it before. Makes you realize how incredibly fragile breath is.

Trauma also made me see how little I needed, and that ‘things’ are just ‘things,’ and nothing but life itself matters.

After my injury, I gave away thousands of dollars’ worth of stuff. My husband did as well. Our lives changed. We changed.

No longer do we spend endless hours cleaning a garage, or pulling junk out of one box just to put it in another. No longer do we drag containers throughout our home.

Time is measured differently now, by walks in the park, outings to the sea, sipping tea after a meal, talking to one another. Time is invested in us, not our things.

I’d like to say I’m over possessions, but truth is, I’m just one step away from being sucked in by the glitter and glitz. Tempted to purchase more than I need. Longing for something new. Wanting. And wanting. And wanting.

But then I remember how I used to be. All the hours I lost, all the time wasted. And I never want to be that girl again.

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How Minimalism Gave Me Extra Time

It’s the beginning of the year and all I want to do is clean. I want to sort through closets, rearrange drawers, organize files, and buy new plastic bins for doo-dads I will never use. I want to look through every box and container in our house and clean it all. But I can’t.

I can’t because I have nothing left to clean.

After my last year’s cleanse of $8000 worth of items from the house (not including furniture, books, and movies given to family and friends), my home is organized. Clean. Neat. Nothing to rearrange, not a single thing to put in order. Believe me, I’ve checked.

So now, I have nothing to do. This thing called minimalism has given me way too much time.

What am I going to do with all these extra hours?

Anything I want.>

I can read,
Or do a hobby.
I can volunteer.
I can spend time with family and friends, and not be rushed to get home.
I can go on day trips with my husband, and stop for a picnic.
I can take a walk, and stop and smell those roses everyone is talking about.
I can sip tea,
Take a nap,
Or just sit and think.
I can work on my career.
I can call relatives I rarely see,
Or write a letter.
I can learn a language.
I can exercise daily,
Then cook a labor-intensive meal (not that I will, but I can, because I have time).
I can take a long, luxurious bath.
I can take care of me.

You know, I think I’m going to like this thing called minimalism. I think I’m going to like all the extra time.
What would you do with a little extra time?

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The Story of a Worrier

It was two in the morning. Hints of moonlight streamed across the darkened walls. An air purifier hummed in the corner of the room. The night was silent, and if it hadn’t been for the thunderous roar in the pit of my stomach, I would have been asleep.

I can usually sleep through anything, sirens, fireworks, or the clap of thunder. But a hungry stomach, apparently that wakes me up.

I lay in bed that early morning and argued with myself. On one hand, I was starving, and figured I should eat something to settle my angry stomach. On the other hand, if I got up, I knew I’d be tempted to stay up, to wash dirty dishes, sort through mail, and clean the bathroom I hadn’t gotten to the day before.

I took a deep breath and tried to relax. And as I did, I thought back to the days when my children were little, and waking at 2:00 a.m. was normal for me.

***** *****
Story time:
The young mom stared at the ceiling, cast in a light glow from the street lamp just outside her bedroom window. She placed her hands in the air, imitating the shadow puppets she’d created earlier in the evening for her two boys.

She looked at her husband lying next to her. She envied him, how quickly he fell asleep, how quietly he lay in one position for hours. She glanced at the clock. 2:15 – the same time it was last night, and every night before that.

Her mind began to wander. Even though she had stayed up late, she still had many tasks to do: plates teetered in a pile in the sink; marks from soccer shoes were smudged across her kitchen floor; her son’s pants sat in a basket, waiting to be hemmed, and if she didn’t do it soon, he’d outgrow them before he had a chance to wear them, just like the pair before, and the ones before that.

Special outfits were needed for school this week, red for Monday, green for Tuesday, and a hat for Wednesday. She wondered where the cowboy hat was, the one he had wanted while on vacation a long time ago.

She remembered the cookies needed for a party later in the week, and how she’d have to make one more trip to the grocery store.

Her mind was reeling now, hundreds of thoughts all melded into one. She jumped out of bed, shivering as her feet hit the cool slabs of the wooden floor. As she snuck out of the bedroom, she wrapped her thick robe around her shoulders, closing the door softly behind her.

In the kitchen, she flipped on the light, squinting as her eyes adjusted. It was eerie being up this late, or rather, this early. No pitter-patter of little feet, no cries, no shouts, no laughter. Not even a bird. She hit the button on the coffee maker, inhaling deeply as the first drips of black water hit the pot.

Grabbing a pen, she began a list for the new day. By the time her family slid out of bed, the young mom was showered, dressed, with breakfast waiting on the table. Fresh chocolate chip cookies sat on a plate, and the fixings for dinner were in a bowl in the fridge.

The young mom was happy she had accomplished so much, and though she smiled at her family, she was tired. She wished she could sleep a whole night, could wake up refreshed and renewed, but the truth was, she didn’t know how.

Worrying had become an addiction, a nightly habit she didn’t know how to let go of. Worrying stuck with her through each stage of her children’s lives, as pre-teens and teens, as young adult men who were gone and married. She didn’t know life without worry.

It wasn’t until her accident that worrying took a new face. It seemed her body only wanted sleep, and the only worrying and thinking she could do would be for herself. She needed to heal, and in order to do that, she had to let go of the one thing she’d relied on most of her life – worry.

***** *****

The Bible tells us not to worry, and all those times I read it, I didn’t understand. I thought worrying meant I cared, but the truth is, it meant I wanted control.

I think worrying has many aspects, and there are many reasons God tells us not to worry. He wants us to trust in Him. He knows what worry can do to our bodies, and how it infests our minds.

Worrying harms our health, giving us high blood pressure, making us gain weight. Worrying makes us tired, unhappy, dissatisfied with life. Worrying takes time and energy. And if we are giving our time and energy to worry, how can we give it to anything else?

I’m not much of a worrier anymore, and rarely wake up in the middle of the night. For both of those things, I am thankful. But maybe I wouldn’t be if I had never been a worrier. Maybe I needed to learn a few lessons. Like: Worrying isn’t worth my time. And: Worrying steals life.

I have learned to let go of worry, and hang on to life.

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Slow Down, You’re Moving Too Fast

Life speeds by, one minute after the next, one day forever gone, one month, one year. Children grow, new lives are born, others taken away. Time mixes together, mingling our years into one, until what we are left with are significant moments that mark our days.

It’s a cliché to say time passes quickly. But it does. We blink, we breathe, and time is gone. How well I’ve learned that time can be taken away, as well as people, as well as life.

I know we can’t stop the passing of time. But perhaps we can slow it down and learn to enjoy each day a little more. Perhaps we can learn to stop watching minutes tick by, and stop crossing days off the calendar.

It’s a journey I’ve been on, learning to enjoy life, and not see it as one quick passing of time. I don’t believe we were placed on this earth to work and eat and sleep and work again, and watch time sift through our fingers. I think life is more than that.

Sure, we have obligations, children to attend to, as well as spouses. We have jobs, some of us two. We have dinners to prepare, and breakfast to serve to our families. We have school commitments and sporting events. And, unfortunately, that’s not all. Life is busy, hectic, and sometimes confusing. And when it gets that way, time speeds by, until our days and lives have passed.

I want you to take time this weekend, to enjoy life, family, or being alone. Here are a few things I found helpful.

1. Get up before everyone else. Enjoy your tea, coffee, or freshly squeezed juice. Breathe.
2. Involve the family for breakfast. Make pancakes and eat together. Talk, or just be silly.
3. Laugh at life. Laugh at mistakes. Enjoy the mishaps. At the sheer insanity of it. It may not slow down time, but it will make the moments that go by seem like a breeze instead of a whirlwind.
4. In between errands, or running to sports, or in the middle of a Saturday-long clean-a-thon, stop and breathe. Literally. Wherever you are, close your eyes (preferably not while driving), and take a few deep breaths, and slowly release. Listen to the world around you, and for just those few minutes, enjoy each sound.
5. Take time to hug your family, your spouse, your children, your parents, or whoever is with you. (Or a stranger? – That might be taking it too far.) Take time to tell them you love them, not in a fleeting way, but with heartfelt sincerity.
6. Do one thing with your family, something that is fun. Stop at the park for lunch in between errands. Go down a slide with your child. Kick the ball in a field. Take twenty minutes to let them know that life is more than work, that they are more important than anything.
7. Do one thing with your spouse. Watch a movie, sip wine, sit on the patio, take time to be a couple. No children, no phones, nothing but the two of you.
8. Do one thing for yourself. You are special, unique, and busy beyond belief. Take a bath or a long hot shower. Paint your nails. Read a book. Go for a walk. Do it. For you.

Nothing can stop time. It speeds by, as if its very mission is to make our lives into a harried frenzy. But only we can do that. Even with all the commitments and activities we need to attend to, our lives can have quiet moments that silence time, if only for a moment.

Slow Down. Don’t Move So Fast.

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Insignificant Moments

It was Sunday night. I was tired, cranky (just ask my husband), and bummed. The weekend hadn’t gone as planned. In the midst of running errands, doing chores, attending activities and church, the one thing my husband and I hadn’t done was spend quality time together.

But sometimes, I think life happens a certain way for a reason. I think I needed a reminder of what life is really about. Because life doesn’t always happen in large chunks of time (though that is nice, too).

Life is created in tiny slices, moments that often slip through our fingers. Click To Tweet

Moments like this:
-A husband holding your hand as you drive to the store.
-A child’s face when they win a derby race.
-A grandchild’s smile.
-A spouse’s hug, when you are disheveled, worn, exhausted.
-Cuddling together on a Saturday night, watching a favorite television show.
-Creating a smile on a stranger’s face.

It is in the insignificant moments where life is created, ones we often forget. Click To Tweet
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