Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Live like there's a power outage

Have you head the Tim McGraw song where he talks about living like you know you're dying ? Where he asks what you would do. Go skydiving? Rocky Mountain climbing? Go 2.7 seconds on a bull named Fu Man Chu?

I'm not going to pose a question quite so philosophical.But I am going to give a bit of advice on how to live life a little better. And it's not by looking at the Xray of doom. It's by living as if you're Amish. By that, I mean ditching the electricity. Not all the time. Just for a little while. When things are hairy and you're feeling out of sorts and not so grounded. That's when it's time to pull the plug. Why this epiphany? Well...

This morning I was awakened by a loud burst of wind of raindrops banging against the air conditioning unit over my head. I rolled around a little and couldn't fall back asleep. I knew it was morning by the bits of dampened sunlight peeking through the corners of the shade. But I new it was early morning. I didn't feel rested enough to start the day. I glanced over at the alarm clock. 7:05. I rolled around a little more and dozed shortly. When I rolled over again, I heard my husband ask what time it was. I looked over again. The clock was dark. No power. After a few minutes, I was curious. I went downstairs and got my phone. It was 7:45.

It really was time to get up and start the day, but I was still drowsy. After lying wide-eyed, I finally fell back asleep. When I woke again, still a dark alarm clock, but my phone said 9:45. 9:45!!!! I can't remember the last time I slept that late. It felt good. Maybe it was the fact that it was quiet. No noise from air conditioners or fans and the windows were still closed, not letting in the sounds of birds or kids or passing cars. It was silent. Maybe that's what did it.

I felt a little lost when I woke up. My usual routine this summer has been to make my way to the bathroom, take note of who is awake and who is still sleeping, find out if they've eaten breakfast and then sit down in front of the computer to check my e-mail, check Facebook, poke around online to see what's in the news. If I don't see much of interest, I go get the newspaper off the porch, take a look and then get back to the computer for a bit.

First thing I did was grab my iPad thinking I could check e-mail on there. Duh! No power means that the wireless router is down, so no Internet access on the iPad. Oh, well. So, I did some things I probably wouldn't have done on a normal day. Hubby and some of the boys were outside assessing the damage, so I went out as well. As they went to work picking up sticks and branches and picking up the recycling that had scattered all over the street, I picked up some recycling items as well and looked at the garden. The storm wasn't kind to it. It also took the roof off of the kids' playhouse. I spent a little time outside with the kids. That's not something I do first thing in the morning.

Next, I reached for my purse and realized how overstuffed it was. I took time to dump all the contents out on the table and clean it out. OMG...it's funny what you find in the bottom. A toothpick. Sunblock. Three tubes of lipstick. Stray change and receipts. Expired coupons. I counted 18 pens. And 2 pencils. And 3 Sharpies. A mini first aid kit. And lots of other junk. Feels good to know what's in there now.

Then as I went to put my pens in my little caddy, I looked at how disorganized it had gotten during the school year. There are six compartments that hold pens, markers, pencils, erasers, scissors and crayons.  I emptied it all out and got it in order.

As I looked at all the pens, I decided to write some letters, something I haven't done in a long time. I got out some stationery and wrote to my aunts and my husband's grandmother. I used to write often to all nearly all my aunts. When I first got married there was Aunt Ramona and Aunt Marilyn, my dad's sisters (I don't really know my other aunt - his brother's wife, who lives in Florida and I have never met) and my great aunt Harriett. Then on Mom's side was Aunt Nila, Aunt Carolyn, Aunt Ellen and Aunt Lora. Nila, Carolyn and Ellen are no longer with us. There's not as many letters to write these days, but I've always enjoyed that handwritten correspondence. I've always loved getting back handwritten letters from them and have saved a good number of them.

It was also my son's birthday (son #4) and he turned 9. With no air conditioning and high humidity, I wasn't too keen on the idea of baking and thought perhaps I'd take the easy way out and run to the grocery store for a cake. But then he started throwing out ideas of all the cakes he was thinking he'd like. I showed him one in a cookbook I had borrowed from the library. It was a Texas sheet cake. The picture along side the text was a decadent piece of chocolate Heaven. He was sold. So we got to work on the cake. As I got out the ingredients, I straightened out the pantry a bit.

As I walked around the house, the boys were putting together Legos and playing with Matchbox cars rather than watching television or playing video games, which they very likely would have been doing had we not had a power outage. If they weren't playing inside, they were outside, doing more cleaning up in the yard.

I kind of felt like I was the mouse in that book "If You Give a Mouse a Cookie" But my story was something like, "If you give a bored lady who is fidgety because of lack of Internet access an overflowing purse, she'll clean out the pens and pencils. When she sees the pens and pencils, she'll decide to put them away. When she puts them away, they will remind her of writing with them on paper. She'll pull out some paper to write a letter. Then she'll start to write. When she starts writing, she'll realize she needs an envelope. When she looks for an envelope, she'll find her box of greeting cards. She'll decide to organize it. She remembers it is her friend's birthday and writes out a card..." and so on. One thing led to another, but it was all little stuff that isn't all that major or time consuming, but just stuff that I don't take the time to do on a regular basis.

Within four hours of getting out of bed, the power was restored. But I felt like I'd accomplished a bit. I had:

Gone outside and collected some stray recycling
Cleaned out my purse
Organized my school supply caddy
Written three letters
Written out a birthday card
Baked a cake
Straightened out the pantry
Washed some dishes by hand
Cleaned the stove
cleaned off the kitchen counters
Put away two baskets of laundry
Made some phone calls I'd been procrastinating about to the insurance company, doctor's offices, etc.

Compare that to yesterday morning where in my first four hours awake I'd checked e-mails, written a blog posting, checked Facebook, left to do a photo shoot, returned home and checked more e-mails and Facebook. Today felt much more productive.

I really need to have more mornings like today. Once school is in session again and there is more of a set routine, I'll become a bit more productive. But for now, I think I need to wake up and live each day like there's a power outage. Think Tim McGraw could make a country song out of that? :)

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