Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Exhausted



“One event a week,” she said to me after she took a sip of her drink.  “We will only participate in one a week.”

“My word, Emily,” I responded.  “How could you limit yourself to only one activity a week?”

“And I always run it by my husband,” she added.

“Oooo, that must pump him up,” I said excited to add that to my list of “pumping up my husband” ideas.

I paused and breathed a heavy sigh.  “Gosh, Emily, sometimes I am gone three nights a week.”

“And how does that work out for you?” she asked me, raising one of her brows with that look that pressed a response from me, “Hmm?”

“I am so…  Overwhelmed.  Exhausted.  Overextended.  Frustrated.”




“I can’t keep my house clean.  I wake up to a sink filled with last night’s dishes.  I can’t keep up with laundry.  Sometimes I fall asleep on the couch and layer it on top of me like a blanket.  I lose patience with my children, my husband.  And I am balding on one side of my head from constantly pulling on my hair from stress.”

“Let me see your bald spot,” she leaned forward eager to witness my balding.

“Emily, I am kidding.  But I do have heart palpitations frequently.  Here put your hand against my chest.”

“No, that would look weird,” she laughed.

“Em, aren’t you afraid if you don’t respond to people and events that you will stop being invited?”

“Does that matter?  I want less.  I want simple.  So it weeds out those who aren’t as close to me.  Isn’t that a good thing?”

“I guess, but I hate disappointing people.  I want to be friends with everyone.”

“Janna, no one is friends with everyone.” 

It reminded me of something I read once in a magazine, “When everything is important, nothing is important.”
Could that apply to people as well?  When everyone is important, no one is important.

If I had less in my life, would I be able to focus better?  Would I be a better mom?  Friend?  Wife?  Daughter?  Sister?

Would I enjoy my life more?

Would it feel weird to swim against the norm of doing, doing, and more doing?

Would I be weird?

Lonely?

Bored?


To not have my plate totally and fully piled with activities, events, obligations, expectations, and all sorts of things?

Would I have time to breath?

Time to breathe.

An activity that was foreign to me at this time of my life.
But I wanted to.  I wanted to stop taking air for granted.

Ahhh, to take in oxygen like I take in a chocolate peppermint patty, sucking off the chocolate first and then pressing the white minty stuff upon the roof of my mouth, and then later when I am so inclined, my tongue takes a glide or two over that delicious mint filling.  I like to spend some time with the peppermint patty.

Maybe taking some time to breathe in oxygen could be just as fulfilling.


Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Emily


I was enamored with her.  Not because of her beauty, height or bright blue eyes.  Not because she could make me laugh.  Not because she was a strong and independent woman.

I was enamored by Emily because….

she never answered her phone.




All around me telephones ring.  Mine.  Yours.  Hers.  His. 
Someone’s phone chimes and we are all digging into our purses.  “Is it mine?  Is it yours?”  




While I was on the phone with my mother, I suddenly heard a phone ring in the background.  “Oh, hold on.  Dad’s line is ringing.”  She came back to the phone.  “Oh, wait.  Now my cell phone is ringing.”

“My word, Mother.  You’re like a phone operator.” 

“Oh my, hold on,” she said while letting out a small awkward chuckle, “Call waiting on my other line.”


I stood in the kitchen talking with a friend.  Suddenly her phone rang.  In mid sentence, my mid sentence, “Hello?” she said as she walked out of the room, phone to ear.  I smiled, and I couldn’t help but wonder, “If I called her right now, would I move to the front of the line?  Would I get to finish what I was saying?  Would she think my effort to be funny?”


These incidents didn’t bother me; they have become the norm.








But they did make me wonder.  Who is it that has the rights to my attention?  Is it the person that sits before me?  or is it the person who calls me on my phone? 

I wondered. 

Until I met Emily.


We sat talking over tea and scones as our kids ran around the fountain outside of the coffee shop.  Emily’s phone rang and she reached into her purse.  I turned my head to preoccupy myself as she was about to take her call, reaching for my phone to check my email.  But I stopped, because rather than answering her phone, she did something peculiar.  She pulled out her iPhone, clicked the ringer over to silent, and put her phone back into her purse.

“Emily, why don’t you answer it?”  I asked, intrigued. 

“Because I am with you.”

“So?”  I said, not really understanding.

“Janna, I am spending time with you.  I will call back whoever it was when I get a chance.”

What in the world?  Who was this woman?  and what were these mysterious ways of hers?

I had been brought up seeing the phone as another extremity connected to a human’s body.





I resented it, sure, when my father was pulled away on a call, but years later I found myself just as dedicated to the phone as he. 

Most of the time I loved the phone ringing.  Made me feel important.  Even loved.  But every once in a while, I felt it a thorn in my side.  Controlled by it.  Even a slave to it at times.  Answering it out of obligation, for fear to disappoint the caller, whoever it may be.  I remember a good number of times carrying my half changed baby and their soiled bottom around the house trying to find the phone before the answering service picked it up. 

I finally decided that I need not answer it if it wasn’t conducive to my life at a particular moment.

“Janna, where were you?  Why didn’t you answer your phone?”  a friend asked me.

“Oh, I was busy.  I decided that I will answer the phone when I can and I won’t when I can’t,” I said.

“That’s rude, Janna.  It is selfish of you,” she replied.

And so I began chasing the phone around the house again at the most of inconvenient times.  Phone rings.  Grab baby out of bath.  Must find phone.  Must not be selfish. 

So here I was with Emily who just didn’t answer the phone.  And she seemed so at ease with the outcome.      

“Don’t people get upset with you?” I asked.

“Yep,” she replied.  “But my mother taught me a long time ago that I control my phone rather than it controlling me.” 

She then leaned very closely to me and whispered, “And sometimes I even leave it at home.”

I gasped.

Wild.

Living life on the edge.  This was the kind of life that really excited me.

Independent, confident, and sure about her decisions, this Emily.

I leaned forward, meeting her face to face, our noses separated by merely inches, “Tell me more of your wild ways,” I whispered back, breathing tea breath into her face.