Right alongside anyone else these days, I have a list a mile long to attend to pretty much on a daily basis. My world is a tad busier these days given some new gainful employment (to quote one of my favorite shows, Modern Family, “Claire is going back to work after a 12 year vacation!”) and that little thing called a home renovation. I won’t even bother adding that we are officially in “holiday season”. Last night, for instance, I truly got NO sleep. I went to bed scrolling through The List like some domestic Santa Clause, only to cap off my thought-frenzy at 3am with a full-blown-wake-the-hubby-to-snap-me-out-of-it nightmare. We were on a cruise ship and one of my kids went missing. The child gone missing was obviously the most horrifying, but in retrospect, so was the fact that we were on a cruise ship (not my kind of vacation). Goodbye, peaceful and restful night’s sleep.
For every minute of the day, there is something that needs to be done, I type this looking at a giant dust tumbleweed in the corner of my dining room and the perfect layer of dust on that lampshade being beautifully illuminated by the morning light. Dang that sun. Cloudy days are so much better for dealing with dust.
Last week, however, I had an interesting experience. My kiddos had the day off due to Election Day (for all the electing that they do) and instead of using the day to do the zillion things that need to be done around the house, the day quietly turned into our own community service day of sorts. We started out by working at the bake sale held at the school…nabbing folks post-vote to buy some baked treats to support the school. Works like a charm, too, as this little bake sale racks in pretty big bucks. If you don’t like the guy you are voting for, at least you will like the muffin at the end of the line.
I had signed up for 2 hours to work there with the kids. Then, we ran home for lunch and headed over to our other school (this one the elementary) to weed beds in the garden that we are so desperately trying to get up and running. Another 2 hours spent there. As I pulled out gigantic weed after gigantic weed from these school beds, I actually laughed out loud at one point. My own garden at home is still filled and overflowing with uncut, petrified plants awaiting the winter, looking like an army of botanical skeletons, yet here I am weeding these beds. My List was not getting any shorter, and yet I was working at the school bake sale. These maneuvers totally went against the flying safety procedures….put the oxygen mask on yourself first, THEN help to put it on any flying companions.
Somehow, though, as we hauled the last pile of tangled weeds to the woods and shlepped ourselves to the car (all children sitting in total silence, with one finally piping up and saying “I’m exhausted”), I felt calmer than I had felt in many weeks. This one day of helping to raise money and then also hopefully priming the scene for a great school garden brought with it a great sense of good. While it diverted from my own every-growing List and by all accounts should have added stress since nothing was being knocked off That List, it instead calmed the list in a most magical way. Attention was diverted from my own little hailstorm of chaos and brought into focus.
Look around. Look beyond. The List is usually always there but hey, don’t let it consume you so that you miss some of the bigger, better things. I had spent a day with my girls, we helped our schools and we even got to soak up what were probably the last vestiges of the warm, late autumn sun.
Of bake sales and gardens, but not of lists.