Make Time

Let me preface the main message about how I make time with a couple of notes:

  1. It’s easy to look “derelict” or collapsable in Louisiana because the mildew/mold embraces even the least embraceable of us.
  2. My house isn’t falling down. It’s solid.

A few days ago, a friend was giving me advice, and folded into it was a comment that might have insulted or angered some folks. I don’t remember the exact words, but they entered the advice something like:

. . . because your house is falling down anyway . . .

I think the reason I don’t remember her exact words is because I was not angry or insulted. Besides, I had experienced a similar comment from a stranger. “Derelict” was the word he had used. One good pressure wash sent that mold and mildew into space (or maybe to a neighbor’s house), and a friend (not the falling down friend, but a different tidy, appointed-house friend) exclaims “your house looks so great, so fresh.”

My house is solid.

I Make Time

Back to my friend who has this idea that my house is crumbling: it’s not true, but her perception is not without cause. It’s about time. My house and my projects need some attention, that is, they need my time.

A day or two before the falling down conversation, the same friend and I were talking about the bead run for our Mardi Gras Krewe.

“Let me know which days you have time to go and we’ll plan a run.”
“I don’t have time. I make time.”

I never imagined that, empty nest, I’d be battling time. But I do. Surprised? No. My dad stands, sword unsheathed, furiously battling the minutes of each day every time I visit. I don’t think we were born time warriors, but the work ethic, the (over)commitment, the creative yearnings, the desire to do, these traits and habits shape us, until one day, midlife, no young children to blame for time challenges, we find ourselves atop a mountain of obligations, endeavors, and relations, battling to make time for them all.

Lately, mostly due to work obligations, the most honest response to most requests begin with “I don’t have time.”Make time

  • I don’t have time to go.
  • I don’t have time to visit.
  • I don’t have time to attend the ball.
  • I don’t have time to Mardi Gras.
  • I don’t have time to write this blog.

I don’t like the don’ts, and they bring me to what I told my friend.

I don’t have time, but I make time.

This is how I do battle atop my mountain. I make time for people and tasks that matter most.

I don’t always make time to take a shower. But I’ll make time for a friend who drops by. I probably won’t make time to dust or mop unless I’m having a get together. But I make time to visit my parents every month. I may not make time to tidy my office. But I’ll steal those extra minutes I save to write a story, post a blog, or tinker with jpegs. I don’t make time to organize that spare bedroom. But I’ll always make time to help you lift a brick off your chest or to join you for a laugh or a jig.

If I do anything that isn’t work, I made time.

I admire people who keep well-appointed homes. I have friends who do. My mom does. I’m not like them.Make time

They make time to appoint their rooms. Those moments in between work and friendship, when my friends might dust shelves and vacuum rugs, I’m writing or making something. Maybe you’ll come to my house and think “It’s falling down.” But I started a novel. Maybe you’ll notice that I didn’t finish moving the ponds, but I finished a screenplay. Maybe you’ll see the dust and birdseed on my end table, but I’m so happy that you’re wearing the earrings that I made. And did you see my garden?

Time and Choices

We all make choices about how we spend our time. Judge me if you will about what I don’t do in mine. I don’t judge you if you do, and I don’t judge you for choosing to chase the dust. I mainly hope I have time to finish Elle’s story so you can read about what happens to her when she lands in 2019 from 3014 after a time hiccup. Sweet Ophera also needs my attention. She’s anxious to reconcile with the grandmother she ditched on a restaurant patio.

Make timeI have a couple dozen personal projects that wait patiently mid-dream for me to make time. Dust collects on the furniture. It will always collect, and no matter how often I pull it away, it will always return. I’d rather make time to till my words, dig my stories, write my garden, fire enamel, and photoshop my friends, the ones who come visit me in my falling down dusty home and the ones who fall from my foggy head into that shimmering computer screen.

I’m not yet a celebrated novelist or screenwriter, but I take comfort in stories about folk such as JK Rowling, who explains how living in squalor is the answer, and other creative humans, who sequester themselves to concentrate on creative endeavors. They confirm for me that squalor and sequestering pave the path. I took my time getting here, and now I’ll make time to follow this path.

My friend’s falling down comment didn’t upset me. But it gave me pause to ponder my choices. Falling down is my validation. This is my path. and, like my house, it’s solid.

© Copyright Pennie Nichols. All Rights Reserved. 2018.

Uncertain Journey

A couple of months ago, I made a decision. I didn’t have time to do what was involved, but part of the decision was to make the time. I made the time to begin an uncertain journey.

Monthly One-Week Visits

Once a month, for one week, I go to the “farm,” my folks’ place. They live a mere ninety miles away, but due to my long hours and endless projects, months can slip away between visits.

Earlier this year, mom was diagnosed with early stages of Alzheimer’s. Months between visits suddenly seemed unacceptable, so I decided to make a change.

Once a month, I throw a bag of clothes and my computer in the car, and the dogs and I head to the farm. I set up a docking station in the house we rent from my parents and spend a week in our little country home in the water hollow, just down the field from my parents’ home.

I’m not sharing this as a brag. I don’t have a clue what I am doing. In fact, I felt a little selfish at first. Even though I’m working, the visits are a nice break. I don’t have the worries and distractions that pressure me when I’m at home (in the city). I don’t have to feed or coddle anyone. In fact, I get coddled! Mom shows up with clementines and cashews. Dinnertime? I just show up. It’s already prepared.

Am I doing this for me or am I doing it for my parents? Can I make a difference given my ridiculous work hours?through the field

I’ll answer the second question first.

Yes. Absolutely yes.

While I spend most of the eighteen hours I’m awake sitting in front of my computer, I can take a five-minute walk and I’m in mom’s kitchen. I walk up the field three to four times a day, sometimes to join my parents for a meal, sometimes to help mom do something, and sometimes just to visit. But can I make a difference? Just as doubt was setting in, I realized that the insight I gain during the visits and meals are helping me identify ways to help. This is a new journey for us, and although it’s not one I’m thrilled about, I’m blessed and joyful that I am able to be on board for it.

Regarding the first question: “Am I doing this for me or am I doing it for my parents?”

Both. Why shouldn’t it be both?

For me: The visits are self-indulgent. They take me out of my work bubble. I may not work less while I’m there, but I move more, look up more, breathe better air. I have a break from the regular pressures of home, and I get a little spoiled.

For my parents: This is an uncertain journey. The uncertainty is unsettling. I may not know how to help, but I know it helps to talk, share ideas we’ve found, and be present for each other.why I look up

The Magic of Making Time

Remember I said I didn’t have time to do this, but decided to make time? It’s true.

My garden had gone to weeds, the walls in one room need to be torn out and replaced, all of the windows in my house need to be replaced, the shed needs to come down, two ponds need to be dug up and moved . . . The grass and weeds keep growing, the dust and webs keep collecting, the dogs keep shedding, and I can’t keep up because I work ten to fifteen hours a day. I didn’t have time.

What happened when I made time? The list of to-dos didn’t magically diminish, but, magically, I have more energy and vision for tackling that list. I’ll continue to make the time for this uncertain journey, for myself and for my parents.

Enjoy the photos I took on my walks between the water hollow and the main house (it’s not why I go but it’s why I look up when I do).

©Copyright Pennie Nichols. All Rights Reserved, 2017.