All By Myself…

By the time you read this, it’ll be over.  Life will be back to normal.  What follows was written last week:

As a family, we try not to publicize via the interwebs when we travel.  Somehow, telling the world my house will be empty doesn’t rank high on my list of wise ideas.

This time, however, my house will not be empty.  It will be a party of ONE.  For the first time EVER, yours truly is having days to herself.  EVER, people.  For several reasons that I won’t bother mentioning, my family is going without me to Florida.  Yup, they are leaving Miss Sunshine herself at home alone in a snowstorm.  And, oddly, she is blissfully happy.

Since the days where I required supervision, I have fed people all day every day.  Every single day, I have cleaned up after,  made plans for, and worried about everyone here that I love to clean up after (okay–that’s not really true), make plans for, and worry about.  I do love it.  Don’t get me wrong.

But time alone?  IN MY HOUSE????  By myself??? jumping

I’m kinda excited. But, you may have caught that.

I have big plans that add up to this many.   ZERO.  NADA.  ZILCH.

I’m not really telling anyone I’m alone.  I don’t want to have lunch or go shopping or visit.  I want to lay around and pick my own movies to watch and my own food to eat.

And the snowstorm just kinda forces me to stay put.  Since I won’t be going out, I won’t even have to worry about what underwear the emergency room guys could possibly see me in so that won’t be a big decision every day.

(Yes, I do think about that every single morning.  Can you imagine? “Oh, my.  This poor woman only has these old comfy undies and no cute ones.”  You worry about this, too, right?)

I might not even shave my legs.  Pure rebellion right there.  Heck, I might even grow my Tom.  (That’s a nod both to Liz Lemon and Tom Selleck.  You figure it out.)

I’m gonna eat all the salad and avocados, garlic and BEANS that I want to and no one can stop me or beg for MEAT, or complain about the after-effects of said beans and garlic!  Livin’ large!  

I might read several books–IN THE BATHTUB!!!  And no one will interrupt the ending!

Celine Dion and I might belt out some tunes very loudly–in the LIVING ROOM!

I’m gonna stretch right out in my king-sized bed and sleep until I wake up.  No shoulds or ought tos  calling my name.

And, I’m thinking about two days into my revelry, I’m gonna desperately wish someone would give me a hug, or need some advice, or watch a movie with me.   I’ll have no one to wake up with me on Saturday morning and drink a cup of coffee with while we play a game.  No one to say, “What do you want to do today?”  No one to notice my great hair day (which I’ll inevitably have when no one’s looking).  No one to brighten my day with a smile and an “I love you, Momma!”

And when they come home, I will RUN, I know I will, to the ones who make my life the fantastic life it is.  These folks are worth every single bit of all that I have to offer. Bottom line, they are what matters.

But, in the meantime, I plan to thoroughly enjoy missing them like crazy.

Epilogue:

What I’ve learned.

Too many rice krispy treats can scratch your mouth all up.  Never knew that because I limited myself to the amount that you can eat and still be fair to everyone else.  Now I know.

I am never alone.  First of all, I have these silly, ridiculously high-maintenance pets that have kept me hopping by peeing the bed and other such nonsense.  Miss Scratch-A-Lot, our little allergy dog, requires a 24 hour watch patrol so she doesn’t scratch herself bloody.  Hard to feel bored with this one around!  I did rename all the pets while the family was gone.  That was kinda fun.  It’s kind of a fresh start for everyone!

Plus, I am texting so much to my people that aren’t in this house that I don’t have time to really miss them.  We really don’t do well without each other.  I really, really love that.  My thumbs…not so much.

I cook just as much without them here!  I really did buy myself all veggies with the exception of a bit of chicken and some gelato.  But, I guess I just enjoy creating good food too much to really stop.  Which makes dishes.  Darn.  This really isn’t a vacation.  Still chores to do–just fewer plates.

Life is about the people I love all around me.  Without them, what’s the point?  And I feel gratified in the deepest part of me that these folks of mine MISSED me!!  They genuinely missed my presence.  They even bought me gifts!  They said it wasn’t the same without me.  I must be doing something right.  Welcome home, family.

Same time next year?

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Virtual Reality

I can’t hear myself think.

Sometimes, there are just so many exuberant voices in the room that my introverted side feels like I’m in a wicked rainstorm of noise with wind and buckets of relentless, bullet-sized raindrops.  I want to go find my happy, quiet place and escape.

I refuse to eat at Brann’s ever again.  I just can’t do it.  Talk about your sensory overload.  At least five TV’s within view, music playing from at least two sources.  Add in all the talking and I can’t even hear my husband from across the table!
Gosh.  Some days I hear myself say things like this and I sound just like my dad.  Once upon a time I thought he was just being a cranky old guy.  Funny how perspective changes as you get older.  :o)

I crave quiet.
When alone, I drive with no music on.
Ever since I was little and the craziness inside was too much to bear, when I find a moment I sit outside, day or night, and listen to the woods breathe and the animals chatter.

And then I find this other side of me that has been cultivated.  A side I’m not too fond of.  And no less than ten times this week, I have been reminded of a strange, sad generational epidemic.

This need we have for noise.  Be it mental busyness or occupation of our hands at all times, we have conditioned ourselves to be busy in every waking moment.
They aren’t necessarily bad things, these rectangles that play our music, show us all things entertaining, and move our thumbs at light speed.
But, they have become so ever-present that we can hardly set them down.
And I am so guilty.

When I work on my blogs, I’ll be sitting on my couch with my iPad, my iPhone, using my Mac Mini on  my flat-screen.  Four rectangles used to upload and accomplish.  When I lay down late at night to relax, I check the reality show of my friends on social media, and I may build a town hall on my pretend ranch, and then I’ll read a book that has no real pages.

VIRTUALLY, THIS IS REALITY.

It doesn’t have to be a problem until we can’t make it stop.  Once upon a time, our family had what we called, “No Rectangle Sundays.”
We were just together.  Honestly, now, I’m not sure we could do it for an entire day.  Not without having other events to occupy us.
I despise that.

Here’s why.
Recently I had a conversation with someone and this person was telling me that they had very few people in their life that could actually carry on an entire conversation without staring at a screen.  The saddest part was that this person couldn’t keep their parent’s attention long enough to get through a sentence.
How is this not the saddest thing ever?

A few days later I heard of a little four year old boy saying to his momma, “No! Put your phone down and LISTEN TO ME!!”

I can’t tell you the number of times I have been eating dinner with someone and they can’t put the phone down.  Even someone I haven’t seen in a long time.

And don’t even get me started on drivers…

What is this?  What does this say about how much we value our relationships?
It’s scaring me!!

My son can talk.  It’s because his brain is like an encyclopedia.  If you know him, you can concur.  And for his whole life he has followed me around in my momma-busyness and told me volumes of information.  Most times, I try reaaaaaalllly hard to stay tuned in.  Sometimes, he just loses me with sheer intelligence beyond my mental capacity.  Sometimes, I’m trying to follow a recipe…
Sometimes, I just let my mind wander.
Not such a big deal until he’s across the country for most of a year and I MISS those stories until my heart literally hurts!

Dialed in.
Tuned in.
Engaged.

When I was in fifth grade, we went to the big, sixth-graders class to watch a film.  Hey, 40-ish year olds, remember films?  Best days of elementary.  Other than the carnival; carnivals were epic.  But films…the big projector wheeled in on a cart, the lights out while we sat cross-legged on the floor by our best friend of the week and yelled 5…4…3…2…………and then the projector broke and the mean teacher yelled at us and told us it broke because we were being too loud.
Ahhh….the good old days.

Anyway, we had one film that taught us how to speed-read.  Darn that film.  ‘Cause I learned how, and I learned well.  I can plow through hundreds of pages quite comprehensively in no time.  A great skill until I’m trying to read, say, the Bible.  Some things are not meant to be sped through.

I’m concerned that we’re all sort of speed reading through our moments.

Date nights include phone calls.  Car rides include texting.  Conversations involve folks who have completely “left the building.”

I’ve intentionally started remembering to look my people in their eyes.
I want to listen deliberately and well.
I want to be present and not speed-living in my beautiful life moments.
I don’t want to be so busy trying to capture and then virtually share a moment with a world that really doesn’t care, that I miss the very next one.

These are my goals this year.  And this…

TO STOP THE GLORIFICATION OF BUSY.