inspired to write
DC has such a random weather pattern. One minute it's cloudy, the next it's bright and sunny. This morning, I went to the gym and it was humid and cloudy. When I walked out with fresh hair and makeup in my little black dress, it was pouring rain.
Since I took my walkabout, I've started showering most mornings at the gym. Either after a run outdoors or a hard weight workout. Normally I get ready pretty quickly but today I took care because Team Sisarina is being photographed as a full team and individually. I wanted to make sure I was finally having a good hair day.
Much to my chagrin, I did not bring an umbrella for the two-block walk back from the office to start my day. As I stood next to the door watching the rain come down, I mentioned to the Fitness First staff standing nearby that I normally didn't care about my hair but today was different.
One of the men said, "I have an umbrella. I can walk you to your office. I have 10 minutes anyway."
The woman at the desk, "...and people think chivalry is dead."
This man saved my pictures, saved my day and caused me to believe that good men do exist. He took time out of his day to save mine with a simple act. My turn to do it for someone else.
What can you do that will make someone's day so they can pass it on?
Kids in my day got spanked. Now kids get "time out." They sit in a particular chair in a certain space and think about what they've done. Normally, after crying for a bit, they end up using their imaginations and finding things to occupy them until their adult tells them their time is up.
One of my coworkers tweeted an article about how everyone needs to take some downtime. She pointedly looked at me when I mentioned it. I'm pretty terrible about taking time, especially for myself. If it's not scheduled, I don't take it. I always have a to-do list and just keep chipping away at it instead of relaxing. I'm one of the most productive relaxers you've ever met.
Being prone to terrible sinus infections, the latest DC weather change has my face feeling like it may fall off and has since moved to my lungs and become bronchial. (yes, this is going somewhere) I sound as awful as I look and feel. I went home at 2pm and took a 3-hour nap on Tuesday but have felt as if I was catching up ever since. I only went home when another coworker told me I had to. As Todd mentioned at Cup of Inspiration on Wednesday,
With so much on my plate at Sisarina between hiring new staff, transitioning people into new positions, and figuring out our budget, I've worn myself out and let this infection in. Working out, running a race, and hitting yoga classes, along with a full work-week, networking, and finding time for friends, I've overdone it to the point of utter exhaustion. But have I taken time to just relax (at least without passing out)? Pfft.
Until today, when I was forced into time out.
For 35 minutes I sat in traffic and only made it a mile. My normal commute is about 15 minutes and it was too hot to sit in a car with two panting dogs. I pulled off on a street in Chevy Chase and took the dogs for a walk. At first I was a bit stressed about not being able to rush home to get more work done, but then I heard… nothing. It was silent. Walking up and down streets with only a few passing cars, past gorgeous old brick homes with lawns taken care of by their owners, trees covered in cherry blossoms, beautiful daffodils, the occasional dog scratching at a glass door, and peace.
I met a girl and her mother sitting on their front stoop. My dogs greeted them and the mother mused about the gorgeous air and how she loves walking to Bethesda. Wondering if I was a new neighbor, she asked and I mentioned I was only escaping the traffic. She mentioned how she enjoys long walks through her neighborhood. It made me want to live next door.
As the wind blew, little pink blossoms cascaded down on me, softly touching the ground below my feet. I looked up into the tree and realized I was at peace. I had finally had a chance to slow down and sit in time out for a moment. I had been rushing everywhere for days trying to get things done and couldn't even force myself to stop. My mind quickly scanned all of the things I could be doing but I knew I was right where I should be.
Everyone needs a forced "time out." Next time, I'll be forcing it on myself instead of allowing traffic or sinus congestion force me.
How do you take your time out?
back in time: 11/25/2012
After enjoying a few days in Denver and realizing I just couldn't go to Portland on this trip, I jumped in the car on a Sunday morning and headed through the gorgeous Rockies toward Salt Lake City. I thought the Sierra Nevadas were gorgeous until I couldn't stop looking up at the Rockies. Taking sweet moments of time to take in the beauty, I found myself driving a little slower on the windy roads. The majesty of the mountains followed by the flatlands of Utah allowed me to think for half a day.
While en route, my plans fell through for a place to stay so I texted a friend from Salt Lake City who lives in Washington DC now to see if she had anyone I could stay with. She ended up calling her Grandmother and Marian (AKA Mim, pronounced Meem) invited me to stay with her for 2 nights. I found an Emergent church outside of SLC that meets in the evening and bought groceries before heading downtown to meet her.
What resulted was two evenings of getting to know the life of a well-lived 90 year old woman. She lives on the second floor of a building with no elevator. "Remember the song Head, Shoulders, Knees & Toes? That's where all my arthritis is." She has more energy than most 30 year olds.
Inspirational is putting it lightly.
"When you've looked back and think it's been a long time, you also realize it's been short." - Marian Baldwin
"I meditate twice a day for 15 minutes. If I'm at a friend's house, I'll go into a closet and sit quietly. It helps keep my mind calm."
Marian's family moved to Missoula, Montana when she was a sophomore where her dad was the Director of the Chamber of Commerce. She and her best friend, Nelda, were "snotty little girls who would never go to a party unless two boys asked them on a double date." They felt they'd be safe with each other no matter what.
Marian was a drum major in the school band and played piano for the orchestra between classes. She had great friends and a crush every week. She only wore Levis, no dresses in a time when all girls wore dresses. She played with all the boys in the neighborhood - biking, street games. "Boys were always more fun because I was into baseball and football."
"I joined the Kappas in my last two years of college, most of whom had known each other since grade school. There were 20 of us. We've been friends since. One moved away and three others have passed away. The youngest of us is 85 so it's bound to happen. Our families know each other, our kids and grandkids and great-grandkids know each other. We all meet once a month to see who is still alive. We talk about who is going through cancer, illness, surgery, and death. Those who can still drive pick the others up. Our kids all learned how to ski at Park City when it was $5 to ski all day. I'd sit in the ski lodge and read while my friends skied. We taught all of our kids how to hold onto friendships by holding onto ours."
"If I wake up and haven't prayed, I pray in the middle of the night."
Marian's mother learned the gospel, read the Bible, and was a very devout Mormon. When they lived in Wyoming, she remembers being 8 years old and asking her mother if she could be baptized although she had a bad cold. They called the stake president and he said "have faith she'll be alright." Marian asked her mom, "What is faith?" to which her mom replied "You will learn as you grow." She was dipped fully while being baptized in the coldest water in a white dress.
As she grew up, they lived in a place where there was no Mormon temple, so she went to church with her Presbyterian girlfriends because "girls want to do what their girlfriends do." Her mom told her to tell the Presbyterian Minister Hamlin she was Mormon and he said she was welcome to attend, sing, and play. Later, she went to a Catholic church with her friend Nelda but stopped at catechism. Her mother taught her a lot about acceptance without her even realizing it and the philosophy stayed with her all her life.
Marian met her first husband in college when she was 20 at University of Montana. She had prayed a lot to meet someone and when they met it was like they'd always known each other.
"It was like being one, feeling like one person. We dated for two years and he never pushed me in bed. We just kissed a lot. It was like we almost knew what the other was thinking and I always felt taken care of.
"Bill went into going into the Army after we were married. He was in the 101st Airborne, ended up at the Battle of the Bulge. After being honored at West Point, he came home by train. I went to meet him at the train station in our beautiful baby blue convertible with white sidewalls, and his father and sister showed up. His father, who was in the specialty wheat business, was domineering and Bill chose to go with them instead of me, his wife. It was devastating.
"Once Bill was out of the Army, he went into business with his dad. One winter, I caught a really bad cold and ended up in the hospital with pneumonia. His father made him fly all over the US to buy machinery instead of allowing him to stay to take care of me. It pulled us apart.
"I kept asking Bill if we could go away for a weekend and work on our marriage. Get back to the love we once felt but his dad dominated his time so much that we never ended up seeing each other. I finally gave up and moved back to Salt Lake City.
"When I met my second husband, the boy next door, I thought 'I can love him.' You say that to yourself, but you really can't. About a year after we were married he told me 'I think you married me because you were lonely.' It was true. I was lonely. When you go to the temple, you get an endorsement and a recommendation. You are sealed to your husband in the hereafter but all I could think is 'don't seal me to him.'
"My second husband was a very fine lawyer, a great litigator, and a smart judge but as a person, I couldn't stand him. We had a tough marriage for 33 years but we had 4 children and later had 15 grandchildren and 15 great grandchildren. I wouldn't take back even one of my children, regardless of how hard things were."
When I left Marian to head to Sacramento, she asked me to come back and said she was adopting me as one of her granddaughters. I know I have to go back and listen more. I will never forget my two nights with her.
pictured here from top: Mountains from Salt Lake City; Marian & me via iPhone; Marian & her granddaughter, Jana, on Marian's 90th birthday