Solitude. Sleeping in. Sunshine. Strong, black coffee. Sisters.
Simple pleasures like working on a jigsaw puzzle. Watching a movie. Binge-watching a Netflix series. Snacking at all hours. Navigating and discussing social media.
Discussing the upcoming playoff games—but only in terms of the stellar musicians who will perform The National Anthem—Jimmy Buffet and Melissa Etheridge.
Attempting to solve the world’s problems—at least, those in our own worlds.
All these things and more took place at my house this weekend.
We made the most of the ongoing construction project in my home.
Gail and her daughter Lydia arrived at my home late Thursday evening, bearing IHOP pancakes to go. Pancakes at 10:00 p.m. is but one of many surprises Gail is known to bring. She is unpredictable in that respect, and that is a beautiful thing. Lydia had a craving, and while she doesn’t normally crave pancakes, she deserved them. She had to take insulin before eating them, but it’s just how she rolls now.
Lydia had her quarterly endocrinologist visit Friday morning in my small city, so they came early. As I type Sunday morning, they are still here, and I love it.
My boys are not here, however, they had an over-nighter down the road at another family member’s home. The men in their family and close circle of friends gather annually for a Christmas party, and this year it was belated. This translates into a weekend to myself. I have earned it, however, as my husband was the host for many years, and I would wake on Sunday morning to find a houseful of sleeping men—some family, some friends.
Old Man Winter didn’t deliver the punch he was predicted to; the weather prognosticators were off the mark for their warnings—at least in our area. We had two separate family events that requested the honor of our presence, and the weather forecast was prohibitive, so we hunkered down and went to neither.
We simply hung out. Suzanne came to visit for awhile, too. She had other social engagements to tend to, but there is always time for sisterhood. We even had a few adopted sisters for the weekend.
While these sisters are not related to us, we realize we can share our sisterhood with our soul sisters who may need more sisterhood than what they have. We always seem to have an abundance of sisterly love, and we find that when we give it away, it doesn’t subtract from what we have, it actually multiplies it.
I have made it abundantly clear in previous posts that Gail is typically in perpetual motion, working toward completing tasks large and small. She has work to do, and she gets it done sooner, rather than later. However, when she is away from her home, these tasks must sit and wait for her return. She sought out a few in my home—she cooked twice for us—and I do welcome her presence in my kitchen if it means I don’t have to be working in it. I let her complete these tasks, as they benefit me greatly.
Otherwise, I would have discouraged her from working on this getaway weekend that was meant for relaxation. Sometimes for people like Gail—especially for people like Gail—it is important to stop working and just enjoy. Take a break, and relax. Just do whatever. Just do nothing.
While she says she doesn’t enjoy it, I caught her working on the puzzle. Suzanne and I love to work jigsaw puzzles, and it is my impression that Gail thinks she simply doesn’t have the time. However, after I woke from a long winter’s nap Sunday, I found her working on the puzzle.
“I thought you didn’t like to do puzzles,” I told her.
“I don’t,” she said. “I’m just bored.”
I don’t believe her. I think perhaps she just needed a little push to engage in something so relaxing.
According to our Sunday paper, January is National Puzzle Month. Jigsaw puzzles, crossword puzzles, whatever puzzle puzzles you in a good way is a recommended leisure activity for the month.
My firstborn just left a few minutes ago to go back to campus for the spring semester. He had five weeks off, and we all enjoyed our time together.
I am remembering their younger days when I felt I couldn’t afford the luxury of taking time for myself. There was simply too much work to do. I didn’t have that kind of time, what with working full-time and taking care of a family and a house. My husband has always been a doer like Gail, always helping with whatever he could. I can’t imagine single motherhood as the reality that Gail, Suzanne and millions of other women experienced, and continue to experience.
I realize now I perceived that busy-ness as my only choice, I didn’t acknowledge that I had the right to sit back and enjoy something for myself. I didn’t even take much of a break on Sundays.
Shame on me.
I recall a friend asking me, when I complained about this lack of time for myself, if I couldn’t perhaps squeeze in an hour or so for myself. She dedicated every Sunday afternoon to herself, and to me, at this point in my life, sounded like a distant, futuristic luxury.
I take time now. I usually take Sunday afternoons to myself. We learned the hard way that life can forever change in just one moment, and all this busy-ness means nothing when life pulls a punch like that. All those tasks we knock ourselves out to accomplish become meaningless when stacked up against Real Life and Real Loss.
And this hard-learned lesson, over time, has turned into a gift.
With the help of one of our guests, we finished the puzzle we already had in progress, the puzzle before the one Gail is working on. I thanked our guest for her help, asking her if she enjoyed puzzles as much as I did.
“I don’t know,” she said. “I have never taken the time to find out. But I’m pretty sure I do now.”
I wish her all the time she needs to enjoy puzzles, and whatever else it takes to enjoy her life.
I wish the same for you.
I now know very well what shiplap is.
Suzanne told us in the “INTREPID” post that she had no fears except for skunks. Turns out she has a tiny little fear of heights as well. Gail had a hard time getting down, too.