Thursday, June 25, 2009

The Gift of Time

Today is my only sister’s birthday. HAPPY BIRTHDAY, CAMILLE!! It is also my grandson’s birthday. HAPPY BIRTHDAY, ELIAS!! They are decades apart but it has made me think about how birthdays come and birthdays go. What have we done with all the days in between our own birthdays?

Sunday is the birthday of one of my dear friends (Margaret) but they are going out of town this weekend. So today, one of Margaret’s daughters has set up a schedule of birthday visits unbeknownst to her. Brittany privately emailed all of her mom’s friends who live in the area and asked them to sign up for 30 minute blocks throughout the entire day to stop by and visit Margaret to celebrate her birthday. I’m curious to find out how Brittany made plans to keep her mom home as Margaret works outside of the home. (I’m guessing she made some sort of prearrangement with her mom’s boss) and the friends start coming first thing in the morning so Margaret will be up and ready for the day but she’s never going to make it to work. :)

Margaret and I are both busy moms and grandmas. We seldom find time to just visit anymore. Usually, a quick exchange at church and an occasional phone call have to suffice. However, when one or the other of us is really needed, we are there. When BJ had leukemia, Margaret made sure to stop by as often as she could and when he passed away, she was there helping non-stop, giving comfort, cleaning, even taking cherished pictures the day of the funeral. When her 2-year-old grandson died unexpectedly, we went right over to her house to be with them and offer comfort. We have also been to temple weddings of each others’ children, been over to hear mission calls read and attended Eagle Courts of Honor. We are the kind of friends who know we love each other even when we never seem to be able to get together during a normal week or even month (or two or three).

Today, I am going to have 30 minutes of my friend’s undivided attention. We can catch up on each other’s lives, share memories, tell funny grandchildren stories, laugh, hug, cry… whatever. I have decided that what Brittany has given her mother is the gift of time. Could there possibly be a better gift? And one that can be shared with so many?

I recall reading a book by Linda Eyre when I was a young mom and one year her husband gave her “Wednesdays for a year” for her birthday. He was able to arrange his schedule to be home on Wednesdays and he took full charge of the children and the house all day Wednesday. She was free to write, soak in the tub, leave the house and go visiting, to the movies, to the library, to the temple, whatever her heart desired. It was a remarkable, restorative gift.

I’m thinking Heavenly Father has also given us the gift of time. When we left his presence in the pre-existence, we were given an allotted amount of time to fulfill our earthly mission. We don’t always know exactly what that mission is (as I am sure we have many “missions” and they grow and change as our life and our service does the same) and we certainly don’t know how much time He has given us, but it is a splendid gift. Sadly, I have too many regrets on how I have squandered my time on unimportant things, usually justifying it as needed “downtime.” And we do all need some downtime, but after having recently taken Stephen R. Covey’s course on “The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People” I’ve been reflecting on how I use my time more than usual. I see the need for some course corrections, to be sure. I also try not to be too hard on myself as that can be counterproductive. However, the simplest change here and there, over time, can achieve the grandest results. We are taught “line upon line, precept upon precept, here a little, and there a little, giving us consolation by holding forth that which is to come, confirming our hope!”

My hope for myself and all those reading this is that we can make even a few productive changes that will allow us to make better use of and thus have far better results with that most precious gift, the gift of time.

Friday, June 12, 2009

I Want to Dance with a Boy!!

I've been meaning to write this up for some time... I finally did and I think you will enjoy it:

Our precious and precocious granddaughter, Taylor (Kaci’s daughter), is a constant source of many funny and delightful experiences and comments. At the tender age of 3 (she turned 4 in April) she attended her first “Ball”… it was the “Colonial Ball” held at my school in February of this year. She even wore her “princess dress.”

On the way to the dance, Taylor made it very clear to us that it was her wish to “dance with a boy.” We told her she could dance with grandpa but no, she wanted to “dance with a boy.” Her mind was made up.

Taylor’s eyes lit up with excitement as we entered the school’s multipurpose room that had been transformed for the night. She was impatient about getting her dance so I found a very fine young man, about 14 years old (we are a K-12 campus) and asked him if he would dance with my granddaughter. He was so sweet. He smiled, squatted down to her level, spoke to her for a moment, took her hand and escorted her to the dance floor. Holding both of her hands, they swayed back and forth in some fashion of a two step and then he turned her around a couple of times. Before the song was over, she walked away and came over to where Jim and I were sitting, “Grandma, I need a smaller boy.”

I found one of my students, a very handsome 7-year-old named William. I introduced him to Taylor, informing him that this was my granddaughter and she wanted to dance. He said, “Ok,” and they were off to the dance floor. Taylor smiled from ear to ear as she danced with her “prince.”

She made many friends that night and had a marvelous time. When the Hokey Pokey began, she watched from the sidelines with us. It looked like too much fun to just stand there so she simply joined the others, squeezed into an available spot and began to copy the actions of the other dancers.

Taylor may be young, but she is fearless, determined, bright and she intends to get what she’s after. She knew exactly what she wanted before she ever entered the dance. When what I offered her was not what she wanted, she clearly made it known what she needed, “a smaller boy.” She’s no wall-flower and I pray her attitude never changes. 

There is much we can all learn from Taylor: Know what you want and have a clear mission statement about it: “I want to dance with a boy.” Don’t quit until you get what you want, even if it means making adjustments (“a smaller boy”). Don’t stand on the sidelines of life, walk right over to where the action is … and dance!