Monday, January 31, 2011

Blog to blog

Seems I've been a bit focused on things other than this blog of late. Among other things, helping Bekah to get ready for her semester in Kenya (with SIT, studying Health and Community Development) and taking her to Boston for her flight to Paris and on to Nairobi. Then it was fielding her phone calls and skype connections when her first flight to Nairobi was cancelled due to two flat tires.

We went to bed Saturday night knowing that she had set at least four different alarms in her hotel room at Charles de Gaulle in order to be sure to make it back to the airport for her second try at getting to Nairobi. When our phone rang at 5:30 a.m. Sunday finding me largely still asleep, I was awake enough to know that this was not a good sign. She should have been in the air to Nairobi.

No such luck. Her flight had been postponed again--this time because the crew was late arriving at the airport and the aircraft had not yet been checked for flight readiness. How reassuring.

I spent the next few hours repeatedly checking the Air France flight status website, watching as the the flight's scheduled departure got moved later and later in 10 minute increments, feeling powerless and fretful. At one point, I found myself thinking, "What if I considered the possibility that somehow it's better that this flight leaves late? What if I didn't chafe at this reality?" I don't know if this marked a step forward in maturity and wisdom, but it did open up a bit of open space.

Bekah did eventually get take off from Paris on Sunday. After calling SIT's headquarters in Vermont to be sure that someone would meet her in Nairobi, I did my best to get on with my day.

For some odd reason, neither Air France's website nor was able to confirm that her plane ever landed in Nairobi! We simply chose to assume that no news really was good news--that had something unthinkable happened, we would have heard, and that Bekah was fine and had connected with her SIT group in Nairobi.

How wonderful for David to receive an unexpected phone call from Bekah today, using a borrowed cell phone as the one she had just purchased was not working! And later my phone rang out with the sound of an arriving text--"Hi. Are you getting this? This is a test."

She's still far away, and for four months. But she's fine. And with the wondrous connecting thread of technology an option at least some of the time. I am grateful.

So now it's time to link blog to blog. One of Bekah's study abroad scholarship grants requires her to keep a blog, posting at least once a week. Here's the link for Bekah in Kenya. Enjoy!

Thursday, January 6, 2011

More Calendars = More Time?

Wow. Here it is January 6 already, and I'm longing for a bit of that slack tide that I wrote about in my last post almost a month ago! Or looking for some way to stop time, or at least to slow it down.

Meanwhile, I've noticed that by quirk of fate, through a combination of gifts and purchases, I now have five calendars--two small decorative ones, two large art ones, and one good sized very plain one. Five calendars, not counting the two family calendars in our kitchen. Nor the two daily planners that I bought--one pocket-sized one that rides along in my pocketbook and one larger one for my desk.

I'm wondering what's going on here. Do I somehow think that more calendars equal more time? Or that having more calendars and planners increases my chances of being organized and using my time well?

That has a bit of the ring (or sting?) of truth about it. This starting a new year thing has reactivated my fantasies of being more organized, using my time better, getting more accomplished. And behind those fantasies lies a bigger, harder task--getting clearer about my life!

Maybe I always feel this way right after New Year's. Maybe I always get caught up in the new year/new me/new life kind of thing. There's something about passing this large marker in time of one year turning to the next that stirs up questions, most of them full of high expectations, about the territory that I've crossed in the year that is past and where I hope to be by the time New Year's rolls around again.

But somehow it feels more intense a longing this year. Maybe it's because I spent several days right before Christmas helping to move my mother from Maine to Connecticut and then spend time in the days after Christmas supporting Anna in finishing her college applications.

All I know is that I stood for almost an hour in the daily planner aisle of Staples the other day, searching and hoping for the "perfect planner," not knowing exactly what that would be but figuring I'd recognize it if and when I saw it. I chatted with other shoppers who came and went. We all agreed that there were way too many choices and that none was "just right." And yet they seemed able to make a decision and move on.

I stayed there and stayed there, walking a few feet to my left and trying those, then to my right and looking there. Back and forth, back and forth. I'm sure I probably looked many times at the same ones, not remembering one title or cover from the next.

In the end, after selecting the large plain calendar that I eventually bought, a planner that I had no doubt stared at before but not noticed caught my eye. Its pages are laid out quite differently from the others, and while I can't say it's perfect, it was different enough to seem worth trying. So I bought it along with the calendar.

But for right now it's that large, plain, black-ink-on-white-paper calendar that is beckoning to me. And I think that's because for right now it looks so clean and spacious, like a fresh snowfall before any footprints have crossed it. It seems to be suggesting to me something about simplicity, something about slowing down rather than speeding up, and something about taking stock before the turn of the year gains momentum and brings new deadlines.

I think I'd secretly like to choose one of the calendar's spare white squares and mark it off all to myself, set up some boundaries, and climb right in. And then simply luxuriate in one day--one twenty-four hour block--without any agenda. No expectations. No obligations. Just a day.