Thursday, May 7, 2009

Spring Fever Cure #2: A Good Umbrella

For me, the essential problem with spring was that there was too much of everything: too many things to do; too many events on the calendar; too many people to interact with; too many demands on my time; too many must-do deadlines; too many distractions; too many unexpected things; too much conflict between tired children, too many meals I didn't have time to cook. The list goes on. This too muchness saturated my life like a soaking rain that drenched everything. No amount of preparation, no amount of protective gear, could really keep me dry. My world had gone wet, and there was no help for it.

Even so, a good umbrella was a wonderful thing.

Under the umbrella, I could actually see where I was going, and pause to think. It didn't change the fact that the rain was coming down in sheets or the way I could feel how wet my feet were inside my shoes. What it did was give me a view.

The best umbrella I know can be found at almost any store that sells paper supplies. It's a small, spiral-bound notepad with the spiral at the top. (I can buy four of these notepads in a small pack for two dollars at Walmart.) It's important that the spiral be along the top, not along the side, so it can fit comfortably into the back pocket of a pair of jeans or shorts. Beside it, I would slip in a mechanical pencil with the lead retracted. A pencil let me erase -- this was helpful for me since I was tired enough to make a lot of errors in jotting things down. The most important feature about this umbrella was it's mobility and flexibility, that it went with me everywhere, all the time.

Everything that passed through my head that needed to get done in the next three weeks went on that pad. Willy nilly, unordered, just as it passed by. Something unexpected? Down on the list. Something needed at the store? Down on the list. I no longer needed to remember it all -- the notepad became my temporary memory. I didn't try to sit down and think of it all in an organized way. I didn't need to. All the things I had to do were floating around in my thoughts and distracting me. I could just start writing them down as they came to mind, and pretty soon I had a list that was a practical summary of my responsibilities.

I would glance through the list at every transitional point between tasks. As I went, I put stars by the items that were particularly pressing or urgent. I struck through the tasks that were finished. I tore out pages that were no longer needed.

My notepad was messy. No one else could understand it. But it worked wonders for me, because it acted like a second brain. When I dressed in the morning, it went in my pocket, and it stayed there until I went to bed.

By depositing all of the things nagging at me onto it's little pages, I was able to be fully in the moment. I was able to multi-task without feeling overwhelmed. I was able to deal with tired children and tight schedules without losing my temper.

I realized, once I started using my umbrella, just how much all the rain had kept me from seeing. I understood, almost immediately, how much energy I had been expending just to keep the water out of my eyes. The little notepad put a barrier, a pause, between me and my drippy, wet world. With it, I was able to live deliberately and navigate the weather.

Is the rain is coming down in sheets over your world? Find a good umbrella. It'll keep the rain off your head so you can think. I'm behind you all the way.

1 comment:

  1. This is so simple I think that I may just try it. Thanks so much! It's raining cats and dogs around here lately, couldn't sleep the other night with all of the tasks encroaching. I wrote it all down in a notebook and slept wonderfully after that, but a "mini" notebook on my person all day long, sweet!!! To Wal-Mart I shall go ... hummin' all the way. :)


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