My mom has spent the better part of her life caring for others, as a nurse, a mother, and a grandmother. She is an amazingly strong woman; but even the strongest of women need a little help sometimes. In March, Mom suffered severe bronchitis and the coughing caused her to fracture several vertebrae and crack ribs. Angie and I drove up to Tennessee to help her get to doctor’s appointments and to take care of some Spring yard work.
Our trip to Tennessee was largely unplanned. One Sunday morning we packed a few bags, a couple of sandwiches, and our cat and headed off. This was the first time that I can recall ever leaving home without a set return date…or at least a date in mind. It was also the first time in our travels that we didn’t have any kind of agenda.
We spent 3 1/2 weeks in Tennessee. In some ways our days were the same as they were at home. I still had work commitments. Angie still prepared meals and kept up with daily chores. The difference though was that those obligations didn’t feel nearly as burdensome as they did when they were the only things we had to do in a day. And though I know they weren’t, the days there seemed longer than normal days and more able to accommodate the things we wanted and needed to do. In fact, there were days when I worked 8 full hours then joined Angie in pulling weeds or mulching the flower beds, made dinner together and watched a movie with my mom, while still finding time to read before bed. Was I crazy or are Southern hours actually longer than other hours?
On the way home, I thought a lot about this time phenomenon. I know there are only 24 hours in a day, each comprised of 60 precious minutes. That’s not debatable. It’s the quality of those hours that seems to be the differentiating factor. In our everyday lives, we sometimes hit a wall or fall into a rut. We may want to do other things but by the time we’ve finished with the things we need to do, we’re out of the notion or lack the energy to carry on. I was in that place before going to Tennessee.
Helping my mom helped me not to think about my own routine. The unexpected change in scenery and shift of priorities was the kick in the pants that I needed to make me to realize that ruts are self-made and therefore, just as easily self-remedied. A happily balanced day is one that includes an even mix of things that you must do and things that you want to do.