Thursday, February 24, 2011


I don't know if I've ever mentioned it in this space or not, but in my current job, I'm able to have Tuesday afternoons off. Our staff works longer hours the remaining days of the week, and we each rotate our flex afternoons. It is one of the best things ever, as I'm sure anyone who has a little free time in the midst of an otherwise mundane 40 hour workweek will tell you. Last semester, while I was in grad school, I had to forfeit my free afternoon, and it was awful. I had grown accustomed to that time by myself, and I missed it.

You can imagine, then, the joy that now overcomes me every Tuesday at 12:30, as I drive away, windows rolled down (only in Florida), ready to embark on an afternoon free from the office.

Most of the time, I run around town doing errands, crossing things off my to-do list. But for the past two weeks, I've rested, read, cleaned, enjoyed time outside. Tuesdays are my new favorite days.

In adulthood, I'm learning that you have to fight for what's important to you. If my home is truly a refuge for me, I need to make it a priority. If simplicity is what I crave, only I can make it happen.

Several months ago, on a visit to Jordan's grandparents' home, his grandmother was telling us how she and other mothers in their neighborhood used to set plastic chairs in their front yards, gathering each day to visit and talk and enjoy time together. She said it with such a smile on her face, as if those were some of her fondest memories. The men would talk in one circle, and the moms would sit and watch the children play, talking and laughing amongst themselves.

My mother-in-law said what I'm sure we were all thinking: "How on earth did you have the time?"

I'll never forget the blank stare on Jordan's sweet grandmother's face. "Well, I don't know. We just sort of made time."

I've noticed it for a while now, this pleasure people get from their busy-ness, their full planners and out-of-control schedules. We think that the generation before us had it so much easier; we think their lives were just simpler, when really, our grandparents experienced exactly what we are experiencing: a war overseas. A drowning economy. The birth of children. Loss of jobs. Dinner to cook. Appearances to keep.

The difference, perhaps, lies in the strides our own generation has made with technology. We don't need to borrow sugar from the neighbor next door, because there are three grocery stores within a five mile radius, and we have at least two cars to get us there. We don't really need to build relationships with those in our community, because we still can call and text and e-mail and message our friends from far away. Why step outside your door and out of your comfort zone to talk with your neighbor when you could just as easily pick up the phone or turn on the television?

I don't know what I think about it all. I have a love-hate relationship with e-mail. My dedication to Facebook is waning, but I dread all the information I'll miss if I give it up. I hate talking on the phone, but I don't want to lose touch with people I love who live far from me.

All I know is that the Tuesday afternoons when I do simple things -- eat with a friend, read on the patio, plant flowers, wash dishes, write in my journal, sit -- are heavenly, and I mean that in the most literal way. I think heaven will be simple. A little less hustle and bustle, a lot more enjoying the moment. Like my Tuesdays.

Errands have to be run. Clothes have to be cleaned. Relationships -- all shapes and sizes and distances -- are important.

But why not make more time for the personal? Why is my first impulse to log onto Facebook? Why not just sit quietly or get my hands dirty? Why not meet a friend for coffee instead of checking my email for the umpteenth time?

I love my slow Tuesdays, but why do I have to wait until one day a week to enjoy my home? Why not live a little more simply each day?

It's a constant struggle, but I think our lives are worth fighting for. If I want to live in intentional community with others, then I have to get off the computer and invite people into my home. If I want to finish the book on my nightstand, I need to make the time to sit and read and think. If I want my home to yell to the outside world that fun, happy people live inside, then I'm going to have to get dirty planting and hanging and scrubbing and working. If I want to live simply, I will have to say no.

Where this pressure comes from to be miserably busy together, I have no clue. It makes no logical sense to me. So I'm going to work harder to overcome that pressure. I don't want to eat with my cell phone on the table. I don't want to interrupt those I love by checking for texts or tweets. I've got some re-evaluating to do. Because my Tuesdays are just too good to only happen once a week.


Anonymous said...

I love everything about this post. beautiful.

Megan said...

Thank you for putting things into perspective! I remember being a kid and spending afternoons on the porch with my grandparents--eventually their tiny stoop would be full of family members and random people who happened to be strolling by. It was nice...this post was a great reminder of that.

- Megan @

Brooke Bailey said...


Anonymous said...

So true. Why don't we reprioritize if those moments we DO live simply are so wonderful? When our life is over, what do we want to be remembered for?

Thanks for pointing it out :)

Rachael said...

Great post!
You are so right!!
Love everything you said. And agree with you!

Marli and Memory said...

this was great... reminded me what is really important. :)

AbbieBabble said...

Annie, sometimes I think you have a direct line into my brain. I've been spending a lot of time thinking about living simply lately. You make such a good argument for it, and so beautifully. I think I'm going to go home tonight, leave the computer off, and just be. Thanks, as always, for the inspiration!
P.S. Your email last week made me smile for days.

crystal.cattle said...

You summed up a lot of things I have been thinking, but wasn't sure how to say them. You're exactly right you have to fight for what is important to you. Thanks for the great post!

Anonymous said...

I love this. I have been learning how to live simply this year and it has only been a blessing. I love your last line: "Because my Tuesdays are just too good to only happen once a week."

danielle @ take heart said...

i love this, friend.

The Many Colours of Happiness said...

I completely agree. I found myself with an afternoon off yesterday and panicked a little because 'what do I do?!'. I realise just how much pressure we feel to pack our lives full to the brim, not usually with so little things of meaning. This post really brought all of that home. I'm definitely going to enjoy my afternoons off from now on!

Four Flights said...

I sometimes go 2 weeks without ever seeing my neighbor in person (we live RIGHT next door to each other), but we communicate every day through twitter, our blogs, facebook. sure, we are both busy, but it would be nice to actually see our neighbors more. so last Friday as we were texting, I said, come on over for a margarita! she and her family ended up staying for dinner and it was a great night. but you have to make that effort.

marisa said...

i recently stumbled onto your blog and i've got to say - i'm a new fan.

wonderful post and so well-said. i recently quit facebook for many of the same reasons you wrote about. the constant consumption of information was keeping me from creating, thinking, exploring...

Leslie said...