Tuesday, April 19, 2016

The Power of an Hour (alternate title: "One Week Early")

I have a little white board on the side of our fridge where I write down "up and coming events". My out-of-house excursion list is akin to a to-do list. Each and every time I clear off one of my must-go places, I do a quiet hurrah inside of my head and feel lighter as the board becomes emptier. I love when that little board is empty (which is never).

The must-go items on my agenda seem to pile up on me. The last time I had a new batch of places to go and things to do, the dates piled up in very close succession. "Blood donation; fund raiser outing; candle party" on Wednesday, Friday and Monday.

Three items I couldn't wait to rub off that board. Wednesday, Friday and Monday. That was a lot of places to go in a very short time period but I could do it. Wednesday, Friday, Monday. Then my board would be clean.

After last week's exhaustion level hit a peak I couldn't wait for Monday to be over with so I could relax. I even considered backing out of Monday's obligation due to my state of feeling overwhelmed. But it was one LAST day. I could do it.

I did hard things on Monday. I scooped the dead mice out of our window wells before my daycare day began. It was a two minute job but I hadn't managed to get it done. I did not want to draw attention to the fact there were mice in our window wells when my daycare family was watching me. Nor did I want to draw attention to the fact that I was "playing" in the window wells while the kids were around This is one thing they have not discovered on their own and I was not about to lead the way. My daycare days end and so do I. Thus, the dead mice kept falling to the forget file in my mind. Tending to that ugly little task felt like I had climbed to a new plateau. I was ready to tackle the day.

The day was ... a Monday. I will say no more but I just thought about six paragraphs during that "...". I could not wait for Monday to be over.

The kids left, I had to run over to my neighbors to get their okay to trim back their tree which hangs over and sheds into our playground (another task I had been procrastinating over for the past few weeks). The weight on my shoulders was getting lighter by the moment.

I had frozen hamburger in the fridge and planned to make spaghetti for supper. As my Monday progressed, I looked at that frozen hamburger and thought "You will keep another day! I need a brainless meal tonight", but after tackling two hard things at the beginning and end of that very day, I had the stamina to thaw out the hamburger and tackle making spaghetti for supper.

I had to be out of the house by 6:40. I had one hour and ten minutes to do all I needed to do. I got much done. Not only did I make enough spaghetti for supper, but I made a spaghetti and meat sauce casserole for lunch the next day. I was really on a roll. I thoroughly impressed myself. "I CAN do hard things. I can!!"

I raced out the door at almost 6:45. I had left my departure time too late. I was going to be late. In fact, I had to wait one minute for a train to pass and I was one minute late when I drove up to my destination.

There were no other cars around. This was a "candle party". Where were the other guests? Oh no!! I bet the party was at my friend's daughter's home, not here! I was at the wrong place!!

I rang the doorbell anyway, thinking I could get further instructions from my friend's husband and carry on my way. When my friend opened the door, she greeted me with, "Colleen! What a nice surprise!!" Surprise?? I thought I was supposed to be there. I confessed that I was a minute late but she advised me that I was a week early. Oh.

I was one week, minus a minute, early for that "very important date". I was so anxious to wipe off my white board, I arrived ONE WEEK early.

I was deflated. I could have been at home, settled in for the night and watching "Dancing With the Stars". Instead, I was a confused surprise guest at my friend's home.

She invited me in and we had a very good visit. A visit we would not and could not have had a week later when her house was full and she was hosting her daughter's candle party. Sometimes the best visits are the most unexpected ones.

I'm not very good at showing up when people invite me over. So I was really out of my league to show up completely unexpected. I'm not sure who was more surprised. Me or my friend. But the things I got done in that hour and fifteen minutes before I raced out the door, were more than I accomplish throughout the week most of the time.

I CAN do hard things! I CAN!! I just need to fool myself into believing I have only an hour to get them done.

Give me a week and I will take two. Give me an hour and I can get things done. Perhaps that is the secret to getting those hard things done. Set a timer and quit when the hour is up. I like racing. I hate when I think a task will take all night or an entire afternoon.

My white board is blissfully empty until "a week from Monday". I wonder. What will I accomplish between "now" and "then"? Will I wait until that magical hour before I have to race out that door next Monday? Or will I convince myself that I only have an hour to get more hard things done?

One hour at a time, hard things could get done. Just one hour. The secret is to follow through on that idea. For just one hour.

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