Monday, October 22, 2012

Look! It's autumn. Or: Still peaceful, happily surprised

Madeleine took this picture at the dedication of a local park (engineering done by Mr. Suite!). And then we rode in the balloon. A Very Good Day.
Over the summer we took approximately forty-nine trips to the river, "rednecking it" with our lawn tractor trailer full of toddlers and inner tubes and a cooler full of pb&j sandwiches, iced tea in Mason jars.

For the first two weeks of October we left the flotation devices and life jackets and whatnot accessible. "One more swim" was still possible. Beach books still resided in go bags. Sun tea was even an option because we still had, you know, sunshine.
Salvador has discovered his pockets. So boy.
Now that the rain is here and our stove is crackling with flames that fog up the viewing glass I am almost instantly ready where I wasn't before. I didn't see this coming, and the surprise is a little burst of joy over and over. Fall. How is it possible to be taken unaware by a season one has loved for 40 years? I think it's a bonus, a little-known side effect of that cliched but wonderful practice of "living in the moment."

Come to find out I like the NEXT moment a lot better when I enjoy the one I'm IN well.
The tractor races at Farm Suite's front room always draw a big crowd. Scalewise anyway.
When Madeleine, our nearly 14-year-old, was a tiny baby, we were unfortunately anxious. (Royal we again.) When is the next feeding? How long will she sleep? Should she sleep that long? Can we grocery shop between naps or let her sleep in the car? We missed a lot of joyful moments, I fear, in the practice of scheduling and looking for what was next.

Our schedules today, as I go on and on about here, are ever-so-Seussian muchly much much more busier than that. (The house it often looks like it was visited by the Cat in the Hat.) On a daily basis our calendar is so full as to give me hiccups if I look toward what is next, or worse, how many/few minutes we have to prepare for "what's next." Algebra, chemistry, literature, ballet, tap, jazz, modern dance, flute lessons, community theatre rehearsals... they all go better with a cup of tea and my full attention. The next will come around in its own time.

And just in case you ever struggle, as I have for years, with how to do that, how to be fully present and still be ready when the agenda switches up, I want to share the logistical, completely non-spiritual tool that has helped me achieve a little bit of peace in apparent chaos.

It's a calendar. In my purse I keep an old-fashioned appointment calendar. I also have it hand "synched" to my phone and kitchen wall and computer calendars. Even though I resisted this system for years, preferring in my fantasies to think I was better unencumbered by such mundane tools, I actually feel much more FREE having it all written down, keyed in, cross-referenced.

My little purse calendar saves the double-booking disasters and saves my life. (We also have a newer launch pad system of dance bags, snack bags and whatnot that I think you can probably imagine better than I, and this is instrumental in the new peace system as well. I might write about that later but I'm not very predictable in the posting. Maybe I should put blogging in my calendar. A-hem.)

Does jazz start at 3:00 or 3:15 on Mondays? Would we be able to pick up an extra child in the carpool next Tuesday? Can we move flute to Friday at 4:00? In five seconds I can answer and I don't have the anxiety that comes with the not knowing, the must-remember-to-check.

When I get an email tweaking rehearsal schedules I transfer the new information to my calendar(s). When the girls get invitations to parties I write the time and contact info in my calendar. When I make my weekly menus I write them in my calendar.

The calendar saves us from the fast-food drive-through, which my kids and wallet dislike strongly, on nights when there's no time to go home for dinner between dance and theatre. I can plan ahead for portable meals for my actors and snacks for the rest of us. I can reasonably tell my dear, patient, already organized since birth engineer husband what time we will be home.

Don't get me wrong: I still struggle with busy-ness. But it seems somewhat manageable this way and I can even feel free to be happily surprised by something as small as a "divine appointment" with a friend at a coffee shop or something as huge as the change of seasons.

Now to go deflate the inner tubes. Because, friends? It's raining outside.


BLD in MT said...

Its nice when one can feel they are in a nice flow. When it feels like you've found a nice way to manage all the bits of life without stressing over them too much. It sounds like you have. Good for you. My day planner (which lives in my bag) saves the day so often I don't think I'd be anywhere on time without it.

We are settling into our fall routine here as well. We took in the peppers which were our version of tubes. "Just one more week" of ripening maybe....but we've finally accepted that summer is over once again. Ah, what a cycle.

Boy, I should like a ride in a balloon like that. I bet the view was breathtaking.

CaraDD said...

It sounds like a great summer was had by all :)