52 Ways to Shift Your Focus

Shift #9: Different Place, Different Time

A holiday weekend always shakes up my sense of what day it is, because nothing occurs at its usual time. Yesterday, Memorial Day, meant that everyone was home around here and there was no alone time to do the usual Monday writing work. But it did mean that there was time together outside, digging around in the garden, chatting, while the sun was out and the best part of the day offered itself as a gift. It meant there was a party later in the day, to celebrate a friend’s birthday. It meant remembering why it was a holiday and who gets honored as a result. I thought about my parents quite a bit, how my father fought in World War II, how my mother was not the typical stay-at-home mom in many ways, how the gaps in age between myself and my siblings are partly a result of Dad going off to the South Pacific on a minesweeper.

I was still in that frame of mind this morning. I didn’t want my family to leave me home alone while they went off to work and school, even though home is where my office is and alone is part of the deal. That feeling surprised me with its unusual intensity and I wondered what was really going on here.

And I was absolutely loathe to go sit in front of my computer and write. This is exactly when a shift in focus is much more than a suggestion; it’s required.

But doing some project was not going to work. I had to accomplish something because that is also part of the deal with a home office. So, naturally, I cleaned.

I also laughed at myself. But, you know what? Running the vacuum around the house got me moving while I thought about other things. It spiked my energy. It caused me to look at the dog, the culprit who creates the need for frequent vacuuming, and give her a good brushing. It made me hungry enough to go make an egg sandwich between breakfast and lunch.

Cleaning also made me consider what my mother’s point of view must have been when she was hanging out at home doing all the housework as she and my father had agreed. I don’t do all the housework – we split things differently here – but what was that like? She never brushed a dog, since we never had one, but she vacuumed the hell out of our house once a week no matter what. Her movements were determined, impatient, and not quite delicate as if she were sucking up demons.

Did she think about things then? She must have. She was an introvert; I can’t imagine her being sad when everyone left in the morning. But I could be wrong. She might have wanted something other than housework and kids and Mass on Sundays. I know she came alive when we went on vacation.

She came alive when we went to a different place and our sense of what day it was shifted. She laughed. She took photos, hiked, washed fruit bought from a stand on the side of the road in a stream. She willingly stopped to talk to strangers. And she was the navigator, map spread across her lap, suggested directions coming out of her lips while my father drove.

Maybe it’s the shift to summer that has me thinking about all this. Memorial Day does, after all, kick off grilling-camping-hiking-relaxing season here in Minnesota. So, along with the shift in sense of time, I’m taking my laptop to a different place. The office is too confining for the summer; I’d rather see the garden over the top of my screen. Or, perhaps, the patio at one of our many coffeehouses.

Different places. Different times. Bigger life.

My partner leaves for work. Photo by kcmickelson.

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