"I have seen personally what is the only beneficial and appropriate course of action for people: to eat and drink, and find enjoyment in all their hard work on earth during the few days of their life which God has given them, for this is their reward." (Ecclesiastes 5:18, NET)

May 31, 2013

A matter of time

Lately, I've been thinking a lot about time—how precious it is and how I choose to spend it. So this is a recap of the highs and lows of my time management this month.

Book vs. blog
Instead of blogging or doing any editing projects, I spent my writing time polishing my manuscript for the umpteenth and final time. At long last, I can honestly say that it's finished. So why did it take me seven and a half years? You decide:
  • My time management skills are lacking.
  • It's my first novel and I had a lot to learn.
  • I'm not the most disciplined writer.
  • My perfectionism/OCD is a time hog.
  • Rewriting is more fun to me than writing.
  • Spending long days business writing for HP wears me out.
  • I avoid the time and hard work it takes to seek publication.
  • All of the above. (Obviously, this is the correct answer.)
My novel is quite self-indulgent. I wrote what I wanted to write and what I wanted to read. It definitely doesn't have mass market appeal. However, if you're a mature southern woman who's a Christian but not a "holier than thou" one, and you enjoy reading a leisurely paced story about simple pleasures, family, food, faith, and forgiveness through the eyes of flawed characters, you might like it. But even if no one ever reads it, for me, every moment of writing it was time well spent.

Mother's Day
I was racking my brain to come up with a gift for Mom. Then I thought, hey, I'm a mom, what do I want? The answer was easy—time with my kids. So I made Mom a card with a photo of her and myself on the front, and on the inside was a coupon "good for a day with your daughter" when I would treat her to whatever she wanted to do. Although I see Mom on a regular basis, we rarely have special one-on-one time. She redeemed her coupon that week.

I took a day of vacation and arrived at her house mid-morning. We had coffee and a nice, long chat. Then I took her to the doctor's office to have her blood work done. (It's what she wanted, alright?) Afterward, we went to a hair salon I had found after an intense web search earlier in the week. A good haircut is among the top 10 most important things to a woman, and Mom said she hasn't had a good one since moving to Katy three years ago. The salon was right by her doctor, she liked her hair stylist, and her hair looked great. It was a big win.

For a late lunch, we had a juicy steak and a frozen margarita at Chili's. Then it was back to the house for more chatting. When I left about 5:30, Mom asked if she could use the coupon again. I hadn't included an expiration date, so she had me on a technicality. But that's OK. As I wrote in the coupon, it was really a gift for myself because I love spending time with her.

Sunday School
I'm rarely on time for anything, and I've been that way as long as I can remember. On a recent Sunday morning, I slept through my alarm and woke up an hour late. In a panic, I threw off the covers and jumped in the shower. I stayed focused on getting ready, nothing else. No stretching exercises, no sipping coffee and watching Fox & Friends, no messing around. I actually almost made it in time. What it taught me, after all these many years, is the secret to being on time—you just get up and get ready. Who knew? It was an epiphany for me.

Since then, I've been on time for Sunday School, even early on occasion. Last Sunday, I was the first one to arrive, which was an unusual experience. When the teacher came in, we got into a discussion about time management. Fred told me that he gets up at 3:30 every morning so he can have two hours of quiet time to read his Bible and do what he needs to do before the family gets up. That inspired me.

I thought about how I spend the last part of the day reading my Bible, when I'm sleepy and my brain is dull. So I decided instead of giving the leftovers of my day to the Lord, I'd give Him my firstfruits. All week, I've been going to bed earlier so I can get up earlier and read my Bible first thing. Wow, what a difference. I'm refreshed after a good night's sleep and get so much more out of reading in the morning. It's the absolute best way to start the day. Why did it take me so long to get here?

Parking-lot hug
I spend nearly every Sunday with my daughter, Angy, and her kids. After church, if she's in her car, we leave it at the Target parking lot and ride together to Mom and my brother Rex's house, where we spend the afternoon mostly playing with the kids. By the time we get back to Target, I'm usually exhausted. But that's no excuse for what I did.

We were saying our good-byes and giving hugs in the parking lot. I squatted down to hug Christian, who's an especially affectionate boy. We squeezed each other tight and kissed. Then I let go and stood up. Yes, that's right. I actually let go first while that sweet boy was hugging me. How could I malfunction like that? How could I possibly be that tired or that hot or in that big of a hurry to get home and get comfy? I gave up precious seconds for what?

Driving home, the realization of what I had done hit me, and the thought of it haunted me for days. So I am resolved that when hugging any of my grandkids, I will never again be the first one to let go. I will spend those wonderful seconds wisely.

When I started this blog, I set a goal of posting at least once a month. It's the last day of May, and it will be June in about an hour, so I barely made it. Where did the time go?!

Mom and me from 8 years ago (because we were prettier then ☺)


  1. You are a great daughter!
    Are you going to publish your novel?

    1. Thanks, Stephanie. It's not that I'm that great of a daughter, however. I just have that great of a mother and am so blessed to still have her around.

      As far as publishing my novel, I query an agent only every now and then, and so far, no one has asked to read it. If this trend continues, I'll probably end up self-publishing it one of these days.

  2. Paula, I enjoyed this very much. I want to read your book. :)