Posted in Bits & Pieces

Garage Assail

GarageSale“This is the last time I’m having a garage sale!” has come out of my mouth at least a half dozen times, but…this time I mean it. For real. Seriously. The whole process is loathsome to me, and…I’m done.

You would be correct if you are assuming I had a garage sale this past weekend.

Yes, we made a few bucks at a time when it really comes in handy, but…it was indeed my swan song.

What about garage sales do I find dreadful? Well, it’s a bit of an anxiety trigger for me, I admit. One issue being that every sale before this last one, I have had the joy of dealing with a mom who argues with people about what excellent quality her things are and what she paid for the items when she bought them retail. She reminds me of Rocky Balboa in the corner of the boxing ring crying out, “Cut me, Mick!” so she can get back in the ring and remind the person who was looking at a toaster that “they don’t make them like that anymore,” and then proceed to explain that the toast that comes out of said toaster is delectable.

Let’s just say that my mom isn’t cut out for garage sales. And…neither am I, I realize.

Not for the same reasons, though. For me, it’s the overwhelm of culling through the stuff, hauling, setting up, closing up, setting up again, tearing down, boxing up, and giving away gsalethat is what I am pretty sure I can live without from here to eternity. With my mom laying low on this one, I thought I may have a better time, but the stress of getting “open” our first morning manifested itself in my being less than pleasant, and that’s when I realized that maybe it’s best that I live up to my vow to skirt future sales.

I chose not to mark prices on anything and just go with whatever came out of my mouth when people asked. The main goal of the sale was to purge a lot of “treasures” that had accumulated over time and were really just taking up space. I told myself that people were paying me to lighten my load to the Salvation Army drop-off. And I got rid of a mountain of stuff and made scores of people smile as they heard my pricing.

But that doesn’t mean I accepted everything. While I totally get that some people really like to bargain for their finds, I am not a fan of someone trying to quibble over something marked 25¢. Especially when it’s something for which I should legitimately have asked much more.

Perhaps that is why I decided to stand on principle with the little man that wanted this beautiful blanket for 50¢ when I had asked him for only a dollar. Even when he tried to explain to me that since he was a little man he only wanted to pay a little for the blanket, I smiled and told him, “No…I’m pretty set with the dollar.” He smiled back but didn’t seem to register what I was telling him. It may sound terrible, but in our haggle tango, I was not ready to succumb to his charm. Perhaps it was because he had shown me his wad of money when I had to break his twenty dollar bill so he could pay 25¢ for something else.

He came back later that day, and my husband saw him the next day, too. I admired his tenacity, and had he shown up at closing, I would have simply given him the darn thing (which no one else had asked about) to reward his persistence. But for whatever reason, I chose to stand my ground with him. Mom should be so proud.

Garage sales bring me to an obvious assessment: people are crazy. From the ones that don’t even turn their cars off because they are sweeping in and out looking for a specific something to those that spend loads of time debating whether to buy a decent dresser for a mere $3, it takes all kinds—and we are clearly a nation of overabundance. My dad used to say “one man’s junk is another man’s treasure,” and that is certainly true in the garage sale world. I can’t believe how much, well—junk—left our house this past weekend. I hope our buyers are enjoying their new treasures.

When the last of the leftovers was packed away, we were exhausted but lighter. There was a definite satisfaction in having survived yet another sale. Our last sale. I mean it. Quit smirking—I’m serious.

Posted in Bits & Pieces

Techno Interruptus

mobile-technologyI’ve started to write this post about 37 times now. I keep getting interrupted for various reasons…my friends and I refer to it as the “Something Shiny Syndrome” —something shiny passes by, and off I go. Too often it is of the technological variety. Text…email…a thought that sends me Googling to find something out…

It is true: I suffer from Techno Interruptus. And you know what? I have a LOT of company.

Sometimes it just borders on the ridiculous. Like many years ago, when one of my nieces was getting confirmed at her church. My sister, who needed to sit along with her at the front of the church, handed me her purse. “Here—hold this.” Simple enough words, but I had no idea the embarrassment I was in for. Right in the middle of the (very quiet) service, my sister’s phone rang some obnoxious ringtone. I quickly dug it out of her purse to silence it, but it didn’t respond to any of the methods I knew to stop it. All eyes were on me to shut that damn thing up. Eventually, something I did succeeded. The church breathed a collective sigh, and my trauma was over, right? Nope.

You see, they called back.

At that point, I simply got up, walked down the aisle while ringing all the way, found a cabinet in the lobby and shoved my sister’s entire purse into it and shut the door. I gathered my dignity and walked with head held high back to my seat. In silent prayer, I asked God if it was a greater sin to choke my sister IN church, or wait until we were no longer on “official” turf. She, of course, thought it was hySTERical.

I bet lots of us have been in meetings where there’s at least one person who thinks it is totally fine to let all of his audible notifications go off throughout the entire meeting. I mean, the phone isn’t ringing, right? So what’s a little chirp here or there? Sometimes I wonder if they just like people to hear how “phone popular” they are…because why else would that be okay? And the simple answer to silence phones doesn’t always do the trick, either. I have a coworker whose vibration setting makes a sound loud enough that you might as well have it as a choice for an audible sound. And I love when he leaves it on the table and he gets a call…We all just stare at it with our heads cocked like it’s some sort of scientific wonder. (In many meetings it is a welcomed diversion, I must admit.)

Beyond those obvious stories of cell phones causing distractions, there is a subtler form of Techno Interruptus (TI), though. Like when I have texted someone a question that I would like to have the answer to, and then I get into a face-to-face conversation with someone else. The text notification goes off, and…there are times I am guilty of wanting to know the answer right then. In my mind, I’ll be distracted from listening to the person who is right in front of me and think “remember to get that as soon as you can.” But even if I don’t, there is that moment when the other person I’m talking to hears the sound and must wonder “is she going to answer that or not?” I know when it happens to me, I typically defer to the person’s phone. I’ll say, “Go ahead and get that if you need to…” and then…I wait.

And that is kind of a lame feeling. And it’s really lame when the other person chooses to answer the text and then goes back and forth for a bit and finally tells you, “Oh, it was something stupid…” and then they tell you what the “stupid” was (which was indeed stupid), but now not only have you been interrupted for something stupid, but then they’ve taken more time to summarize the stupidity for you…And by the time it’s all done, whatever you were saying that got interrupted has packed its bags and headed for the beach.

It is a struggle to not let technological accessibility become the updated tyranny of the urgent. Accessibility can be awesome…but also detrimental. I love being connected. As someone who works a flex schedule, it is a necessity for me. But that doesn’t mean that because I can be interrupted, I should be interrupted. TI is bad for connecting with the people for whom you should be present in the moment. The easy, obvious answer? Simply power down.

Power what?! Yeah, I know. But disconnecting guarantees that no notification will cause a distraction. And, since I am not a brain surgeon, I’m pretty sure that any work fallout will not cause anyone any bodily harm.

Oh, mother of pearl. I just lost my train of thought because I got an incoming text. And it’s not coming back to me, either. Well, I guess whatever absolutely wonderful sentence or two that I was going to close this post with has now evaporated. Ironic, huh? Yeah, I thought so, too.

Posted in Bits & Pieces

What If God Wrote You a Letter?

writing-with-penPersonal letters are a real treat anymore, aren’t they? We cringe at a full email inbox because most of it is work to do or stuff to delete after wasting a precious moment of our lives. But to get a “real” letter in the mail (or, heck, even a truly thoughtful email!) is like a cool spring morning that you just want to breathe in deeply and enjoy.

 

In the blogging world, it is not uncommon to come across letters that parents write to their children as a way for the kids to be able to remember a time in their lives and to know that they are loved. I know I still have the few letters my parents wrote to me in college. Little prose snapshots of a time gone by for me to cherish. And I have numerous fits and starts of letters to my own child…something that I should really be better about.

 

Years ago Ellen DeGeneres did a hilarious bit about calling God and getting the runaround. But…what if God wrote you a personal letter? What do you think he might say to you?

 

In my own musings (NOT to presuppose God…yeesh…don’t get your knickers in a knot), I would hope that–like the typical “parent letter”–there would be a chunk in there about how much he loves me. I’m pretty sure that might even make the first paragraph. Maybe he would say that even though he sees me stumble every day, he hopes I know that his hand is right there ready to help me up. And that even though I mess up all the time, he loves me just the same. And that even though I don’t understand all about him, he’s patiently waiting for me to journey on. I’m thinking he might even say, “Don’t worry, I’ve got the patience of a saint” and draw a little smiley face next to it. Because my God has a sense of humor. Looking at my life, I just know this to be true.

 

Would he then take some time to tell me some of the things he sees in me that he likes? Maybe that would be a short paragraph. Maybe not. Words that I would like to see him use include compassionate, loving, kind, loyal, supportive, forgiving…maybe he’d put an asterisk next to a few saying *you’re improving, but…still needs work! Keep trying!  This portion of the letter is so hard…I am such an imperfect work in progress there might not be anything for him to write about. Maybe he would be reduced to having to write something trivial just to cover this base like, “Your personal grooming habits are impeccable. And have I mentioned what a nice, thick head of hair you have?”

 

Perhaps he would then offer me some loving encouragement about all the ways I need to grow up. That would be a long paragraph. Included there would be things like I need to be better at loving the people around me, have more patience, grow a thicker skin, tear down my carefully built walls, and take better care of myself. He’d find a Godly way to say “Get your ass in gear, Lisa,” so that I press on toward the goal to which I am called. Of course, being God and all, he’d know just the right words to use so that I’d still feel his love after he read me the riot act. After all, the whole omniscience thing is his gig.

 

Just thinking through this imaginary letter has been an interesting exercise for me. I encourage you to explore this idea, too. What if God wrote you a letter? What might he want your heart to know? Well, here’s one thing I do KNOW: he would definitely sign it, LOVE, God.

 

Posted in Bits & Pieces

It Was the Water

My 86 (and a half!) year old mother just shared with me a personal insight she had. I’ve always known that she never learned to swim and that she had a healthy fear of the water. And I’ve always used that as a bit of a reminder about how letting our fears “win” limits our options. I think sometimes it’s much easier to see things like this third person. Today, she said to me simply, “It was the water.” She had been reflecting on how when she was a young woman, a popular thing to do was to go to North Avenue Beach in Chicago, but she frequently declined invitations because she knew the boys would want to swim and goof around in the water—and she couldn’t do that. She was too afraid. So she rarely went.

She said, “I’ve got to face the truth—it was the water.” And then she spoke of the fun she knew she had missed out on–all because of the water.

And what is my “water”? What fears am I letting win over me? What will I say when I, too—Lord willing—am 86 and a half?

And what is your “water”?

Posted in Bits & Pieces

Agenda

If the world were merely seductive, that would be easy. If it were merely challenging, that would be no problem. But I arise in the morning torn between a desire to improve (or save) the world and a desire to enjoy (or savor) the world. This makes it hard to plan the day.

–E.B. White