Monday, September 18, 2017

Because a List is the Remedy for Scattered Thoughts


Have you ever held a helium balloon in your hands and lost grip of the string?  You can feel it slipping from your grasp, yet your mind can't convince your hand to clutch quickly enough, so you simply watch the balloon float away.

I experienced this sensation all last week, except that the balloon was my thoughts.  So many thoughts!  Some were mundane: Buy eggs!  Send checks for the kids' school pictures!  Reply to that email!  Call to make that appointment!  Do not forget the eggs!  Or the school pictures!

But I'd forget.  The thoughts would slip through my grasp and float away, never to be seen again, which is further evidence for why I need to write lists to function in daily life.  All week long the same principle applied when I thought about writing here.  An idea would form loosely, but before I could get a good grip, it would be carried away on some invisible breeze.

I said all that to say this: in today's post, please bear with my scattered thoughts.  I'm clutching them as tightly as I can.  (I'm also reverting to a list, because -- see above -- lists work for me.)

Hurricane update.  Last post I told you that my parents had evacuated their Florida home for Hurricane Irma.  They've since returned.  While there's exterior damage to their house, there's no interior damage or flooding.  We're so grateful, yet we know many weren't as fortunate.

Fall is in the air.  We had the most gorgeous weekend -- sunshine, mid 70's in the afternoons, cooler mornings and evenings.  The best part, though, was that when I breathed deeply, I could smell leaves and a type of earthiness that's solely reserved for the fall.  It made me inexplicably happy.

Sort of, but not really, saying RIP to summer projects.  I'm starting the fifth week of the semester, which means one thing: I will perpetually reside in a state of needing to grade something -- speeches, essays, exams, student blogs -- for the next ten weeks.  That being said, this past weekend I looked at my list of the summer DIY projects that I wanted to complete (I told you I thrive on lists!), and thought, "One more.  Do one more.  You've got this."

So today as my kids were playing outside, I pulled out a drop cloth, wood, my palm sander, paint, my trusty one-and-a-half-inch angled paint brush, and a can of spray paint, and then got to work in my garage.  Something inside of me changes when I get to work with my hands, not just within my head.  It's rejuvenating.  It's therapeutic.  Right there, I promised myself that no matter how busy the semester gets, I'd still remember that this "mere play" might be the best way I can spend an hour, especially when I might not feel that I have an hour to spare.

(By the way, I can't wait to show you my day's work when it's done.  My annual DIY week where I showcase favorite summer projects will be coming soon!)

Be prepared for some changes.  Speaking of big reveals, in the near future, Robin Kramer Writes will be getting a new look.  I'm excited to refresh the design so it looks slick on both desktop and mobile versions, so be prepared!  I think you're going to love it.  I already love it, and it isn't even done yet.  I can't wait!

Friends, as always, thanks for reading.  This week, may your thoughts not fly away from you, may your lists be helpful, and may you find happiness in the littlest of things -- even a fresh breath of fall air.


Image compliments of A. Currell.

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Sunday, September 10, 2017

Keeping Our Eyes Above the Storm

Millions upon millions of people will have a story of how these recent hurricanes, whether Harvey or Irma, have impacted them or someone they know.  My parents, for example, evacuated their Naples home on Thursday, and they're uncertain when they'll be able to return -- or what, exactly, they'll return to.  Yesterday I spoke with a man who just had sold his home, seemingly a congratulatory event, until I asked him where he was moving.  "Southwest Florida," he replied, offering me a pained smile.

It's a lot to absorb.


I watch news coverage, not sure whether I want to be informed or not.  It seems strange to look out my window and see a perfect September day -- calm blue skies, light breeze, sunshine -- when the view is so contrary elsewhere.

So, like millions, we pray.  We offer tangible assistance, even if it's small, like the lemonade stand my daughter and her friend held this afternoon to raise funds, fifty cents at a time.

 

I think about the stories that will emerge -- the women in shelters who are nursing infants, or those who are elderly or already hospitalized, or the headstrong residents who refused to evacuate, even though they were advised repeatedly to do so, or the rescue personnel and helpful citizens who will serve and give tirelessly, perhaps even to their own harm.

These people add their collective experiences to the millions upon millions of people throughout history who have suffered their own losses, whether from accident, war, or natural disaster.  We humans are no strangers to suffering and displacement, it seems, even if we never face something as epic as a hurricane.

And it hurts.

I'm thankful for wise words, like these from Max Lucado, that remind us of this important truth, even in the midst of the hurt: "The storm is coming, but God is with us."

We lift up our eyes to the hills, where our help comes from.  He's with as we wait, wrestling with the unknown.  He's with us when the brunt of the storm hits.  And He's with us in the aftermath, day by day, minute my minute, as houses and lives are cobbled back together.

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Wednesday, September 6, 2017

The Best Type of Problem to Have

 
The other day I encountered the strangest problem: We had too much chocolate cake in our house.

If you're thinking, "Wait just a minute.  There never can be too much chocolate cake in one's house," I understand.  I really do.  But -- defying all odds -- we legitimately had more chocolate cake than we could reasonably eat.  Unbeknownst to my husband, I had made a decadent chocolate Texas sheet cake for a Labor Day picnic, and unbeknownst to me, my husband had bought a chocolate cake from the grocery store for the same picnic.  On top of that, fewer people attended the picnic than we expected, leaving us with more cake than a family of five should consume.

Of all the problems in the world, this is a terrific one to have.

The next day I texted several neighbors and invited them over.  There is enough cake for everybody!  Come over!  Come hungry!

And that's exactly what happened.  Our neighbors came, and we ate cake together.

It's a good day when a problem can be solved with chocolate and sharing, don't you think?

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Wednesday, August 30, 2017

Figure Out All the Things!

Last week I learned the names of over 100 new students in the four college classes I'm teaching this semester.  I don't know what I forgot in order to make this mental space available, though.  Something had to go.  I'm sure of it.

Fall is always a season of influx and output.  New students enter, new classrooms are learned, and new routines are established.  My kids experience the same phenomenon, except that they come home with multiple worksheets that need to be signed and requests from teachers to "tell us something about your child."  (As a side note, when I'm asked to say "something" about my children, I immediately look at them as if I've never seen them before and become unable to synthesize any useful biographical or descriptive information.  Perhaps that is what I forget while assimilating 100 new names.)

At the same time, while we establish our work and school routine, I hanker to bring order to our home, too.  This weekend, for example, I noticed that our garden was making one final push, which resulted in giant batches of pesto, fresh capresi salad, several zucchini breads, and a raspberry pie.

Of course, after spending time in the garden, I also noticed that our grass needed to be cut. Two hours later as I walked through the back yard to appreciate the newly-manicured lawn, I had another thought: "Wouldn't it be nice if the inside of my house looked as good as the outside?"  Then I answered my question (because I'm a polite conversationalist, even when talking to myself): "Yes, yes it would."  I moved room to room, dusting and vacuuming, organizing and purging.

I was a woman on a mission.  I cleaned the entire house -- closets! cabinets! crannies!  -- then I looked over the uncluttered spaces and declared, "It is good."

Finally, there was a bit of order to my world.  I've learned names.  I've completed and returned paperwork.  I've cut grass, made pesto, and eaten raspberry pie.  I've cleaned the house, and it's stayed somewhat clean.  (Kids make much less mess at home when they're at school, after all.)

This process of taming and figuring out All The Things -- the garden, the grass, the house, the paperwork -- seems especially fitting during this particular season.  Even more than January, the start of school signals a fresh start

We're at it again.  Happy New Year.

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