The Joys of Lingering

The past four weeks have been a whirlwind of activity.

Don and I looked at houses and put an offer on a house in the Crabapple/Alpharetta area and it was accepted; we went through the due diligence time period; met with contractors and inspectors and an interior decorator who will help us merge furnishings from two homes into one; made phone calls about utilities and so forth.

I also met with my insurance agent to review current and future insurance needs; met with my attorney to update my will and review estate planning; got my condo ready to go on the market; began packing and sorting out items and started making trips to Goodwill as we are combining households and don’t need two toasters.

We also planned our wedding including choosing a site (The Whitlock Inn) and a date (in May) and other details.

Also, Don and I had planned months ago a two week trip to Oregon from September 12th to the 25th (thinking September was going to be a quiet month for us) so I had to pack for that.

And last, but certainly not least, I had to find time to get my hair done including changing the color of the increasing number of gray hairs to golden blonde and had to get a manicure before the trip!  Phew!  My head was spinning and each day I had to update my “to-do” list.

I am not the only person in the world who has to constantly update a “to-do” list. I look at the lives of those that I love and care about….. my son and his wife, my friends, and family members.

They are all dealing with big “to-do” lists and there is not enough time to get it all done. There are events to attend; children to raise; dinners to fix; homes to take care of; long commutes to and from work.

Stress seems to be a daily companion for all. And stress is not limited to married people or those who are parents…… I see the same push and shove going on in the lives of my single friends.

And in the push and shove and the busyness, some things get overlooked or neglected due to lack of time—one of them being the relationships with those we care about…..whether it is with a spouse, a family member, or a friend.

It is easy to think that we can make up for that lost time by the occasional big celebration or special night out.

But the truth is that relationships are nurtured and maintained in the margins of our time.

It is not the big trips or the special events that are the true building blocks for relationships. It is the constant daily deposits of small bits of time invested in a relationship that count.

So, the question is—how do we take those small moments of time and give them value?

One is simply to be aware of their importance and to be focused on the present—to be totally focused on those that you are with and to not be listening for the next text or email message that is dinging at you from your phone; to listen with your heart, your mind, and your soul when they are speaking to you and to put aside, for the moment, your “to-do” list.

You need to be in the moment…. and by doing so, you can avoid the dangers of relationship multi-tasking which is “talking” to someone while your brain or heart is elsewhere.

But there is another way to enhance some margins of time and that is to stretch out those moments—or, as I call it, “lingering” which involves taking a small margin of time and consciously staying there.

Don has many great qualities and one of them is that he loves to linger at meals.

We may have a glass of wine and or cup of coffee and instead of merely eating and jumping up to go to the next thing, we slow down. We come up for air and in doing so, we leave more connected to each other than when we began the meal.

That is the benefit of lingering…..  of taking a small margin of time and consciously trying to nurture the relationship….. to not let the opportunity slip through your fingers but instead to use it to create a bond and memories that will help you survive the busy times.

The challenge for all of us, and I include myself, is to find ways to create bonds and memories in our day to day life. This blog has always been about finding joy in the ordinary moments of life because that is what most of life is made of—small ordinary moments.

Yet, it seems to me that if we spend most of our life in ordinary moments, then we need to not waste them but instead, we need to use them.

We need to use these ordinary moments to connect with others; to look for joy; and to cherish them for what they are….opportunities to live life fully.

My “to-do” list in the beginning of September was challenging. As the month progressed, I will confess that I started viewing our trip to Oregon as a major interruption of my “to-do” list.

Yet, the truth is this “interruption” turned out to be a good thing as I was reminded of something very important. During our trip, we saw many wonderful sites—mountains and seaside views and beautiful landscapes and we had a fabulous time.

But it is not the memories of the high mountaintops or the dramatic sounds of the sea crashing on the shore that are the most important to me….. they are not the ones I will cherish in my heart.

Instead, it is the time Don and I spent just being with each other…. the little ordinary quiet moments where we lingered over a cup of coffee or glass of wine or dessert… where we stopped and took a small margin of time to enjoy the present and each other.

And once again, these small ordinary moments of quietness reminded me of the true gift of life… be able to be connected to those that we love and to share that joy with them.


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