By Dena Walden
Organize the laundry room. Clean out closets and give away clothes. Dust the living room from top to bottom. Wipe down walls and clean baseboards. Don’t forget your one act play group has practice three times next week. Lola also has two softball games. Did you see this about Ella’s dance schedule? Pretty sure they’re not having it, or are they? Didn’t you want to spend a day at the fair in Perry? Aaron can’t go, and you definitely don’t want to make that trek solo with five kids. Ummm…girlfriend, have you not seen the mountain of laundry that needs to be done? Pretty sure there’s clothes in there from summer just waiting to be found….
Does any of this sound familiar to you? I cannot be the only one who has a continuous checklist of things that I want to do, need to do, or keep putting off with the best of intentions to do. Hence the fact that next week, which happens to be our fall break, will provide the perfect opportunity to take care of this to-do list, right? In my head, the answer is yes. Absolutely, 100%, without a doubt a week off will allow me to check some of these things off of my list, but my heart tells me to hold on just a minute. Don’t get me wrong. I’ll try my best to do those things that have hung over my head for several weeks now. However if it means putting off a moment of peace, laughter, joy, or fun with my family it will continue to remain as an undone task on said list. Lately I have been in my feelings quite a bit. I’ve known for some time that I definitely am a “blue” personality type to which I have always consequently apologized for. The older I have gotten the more I realize that this is exactly who God made me to be, and an apology is not necessary.
This past Thursday I watched my oldest child, my daughter Lola, be escorted by her daddy at Rountree Stadium as a freshman representative on the homecoming court. I sat there in awe not just at the fact that I was extremely proud of her but because in the blink of an eye she entered high school. In another breath she will be graduating, and that stings me to my core. Fast forward to Sunday, and I had the honor of singing at a funeral for the mother of one of my childhood friends. I am versed in singing at weddings and joyous occasions, but funerals take on a whole new meaning. This in and of itself was quite difficult not only considering the circumstances but knowing that this was another element of my childhood gone. This week, on October 6th, my Daddy would’ve been 60 years old. He’s been gone for almost 23 years now. We would’ve planned a surprise party filled with all of his favorite things; his family, especially the grandkids, Dale Earnhardt memorabilia, grilled food, and all things Atlanta Braves and Georgia Bulldogs. He probably would’ve worn his signature snakeskin, cowboy boots much to my chagrin, but it would’ve been all about him.
I mention these things to say this (I am preaching to myself on this one.) We must stop living our lives around a to-do list that we are constantly seeking to check off one more item. Now don’t get me wrong, laundry has to be done along with all the other necessities, but if I am seeking approval from others and basing my existence on whether or not my baseboards are immaculately kept to the point they can be eaten from then I am going about this thing called life all wrong. In this world of hustle and bustle, we are literally stressing ourselves out over things that in the end really don’t matter. I guess that’s what you learn the more years you add to your dash. You find your people whether they are the ones who found you along the way or the ones that God allowed you to create. You find them and love them fiercely, and you hang on to every single moment that you are blessed to spend with them. Take trips. Make the messes. Put your phone down. Watch the movie. Go on a date. Cook the homemade meal (and include dessert). Press pause on the things which keep us so ingrained in the everyday motions. I promise you they’ll be there when you come back to them.
For those of you who will be experiencing a break next week, don’t just follow your heart, but fall for your heart. Let it lead you to do those things that in 20 years you look back on and smile at the precious memories you were able to make with the ones you loved the most. I know that as hard as it may be, put off the things that don’t matter. Replace your time with the people and moments who do. You’ll thank yourself in the long run.