Too present tense…

“You’re too present tense, Mom!”

That’s what Joe told me during some discussion or other on our drive to Memphis last month.  We all laughed, but it’s stuck with me.

This time of year you hear a lot about resolutions for the coming year and commercials for financial planners asking if you’ve planned for the future.  I am always typing some appointment or lesson or trip or competition into the calendar on my phone trying to keep my and my family’s future events straight.  John and I are constantly trying to get our daughter, Avery, to plan her studies and extra curricular activities around getting into the college of her choice.  Plan, plan, plan…

On the other hand, who hasn’t heard, “Those who forget history are doomed to repeat it” or “You’re not promised tomorrow so live for today”?  If the death of my Aunt Beverly has taught me anything, it is that last one.  We keep loads of art projects and stories and other mementos from our kids early childhoods so we don’t forget that sweet time when they wrote us love notes in huge, mostly backward, crayon letters.  I’ve kept all the travel books from our vacations around the world as reminders of the places that changed me.  There is always a birthday, anniversary or remembrance holiday to remind us not to forget special occasions or days.

Then, of course there is the “be present in the moment” ideology.  I hear, “Be present in this breath” a couple of times a week from my yogalaties instructor.  What about the immediate gratification we all accuse others of suffering from, but don’t recognize in ourselves?  Drive through windows, pay per view and texting were all born from this living in the moment idea.

John and I spend most of our adult lives in look to the future mode.  Moving constantly keeps you from accumulating extra stuff because you don’t want to have the extra weight or that extra box to unpack.  There was never, horror of horrors, any extra bottles of shampoo or Windex in the cupboard under the sink because the movers don’t pack liquids, and there wasn’t any guarantee we’d use it all up before we we got the news to pack out again.  This idea is foreign to our extended families, and as of late, to us as well as  I can see when I look in our pantry or freezer or just about anyplace in this house we’ve lived in for 41/2 years. Stuff everywhere.  Our future tense has turned into very present tense living.

In reflecting on my life I can say I have been living in a limbo between the “3 tenses”, kind of multitasking time.  Not doing any one of them all that well, or balancing them efficiently, but mostly living in the present.  I live in an old home with vintage furniture and decos.  I seem to be keeping a ton of stuff on the off chance we will eventually need it on the next remodel or the one we have planned after that, but mostly, I just struggle to keep my head above water just checking off each moment so that I can get present tense accomplished  which means I have stuff and more stuff just piling up.

I certainly lived in the moment every time I sat down at the table last month.  Yikes.

I also lived in the moment while John was gone, while we traveled all last summer and while I was working on this blog.  That was obvious, I’m sure, from the late Thanksgiving week posts to the unfinished 12 days of Christmas posts.  I was so frustrated with myself for not following through.  I’ve always been a planner, and I really failed at planning and working ahead this last year and especially this last holiday season.  If I had, I don’t think the phone call from my in-laws saying they were coming a day and a half early for their Christmas visit, all the last minute running around worrying about gift deliveries, the drug out days of decorating because I never had enough time to finish or the “I forgot to mention I have a concert” moments would have put me into such a tailspin.

The Pinterest Addiction

This isn’t my house now, but it’s definitely more like this than not…and all over.

I’d like to think I don’t like resolutions because they usually don’t stick, so instead this year I’m going to work on changing my tense a little.  More future tense.  Less present.  I’m working on my health, my faith and my relationships for the future.  I am doing less in the moment stuff like checking FB, my e-mail or Pinterest a million times a day.  Most importantly, to me anyway, I’m getting rid of all the extra “stuff”.  This started before Christmas in an attempt to make way for new stuff, but I’ve really gotten on a roll since the beginning of the new year.  My family isn’t always supportive of this, but even John’s noted our house is always a mess because there’s too much stuff for everything to have it’s own place.  He knows this is driving me insane to the point I’m so overwhelmed I just don’t do anything.  And seriously, when John, the messier of us, wants to get rid of stuff, you know it’s bad.

So here’s the pledge.  This year we are going to get rid of ~1200 lbs*.  It can be trashed, recycled, sold or donated.  It can be weight we lose off our big butts, or the jar of coins we turn into our savings account.  It can be the weight difference between a smaller lighter truck that we desperately need to replace the Yukon XL that we certainly do not need.  It can be from getting more of our paperwork scanned into the computer and delivered electronically as well as shredding the years of paid bill stubs we have boxed up in the basement.   If we buy something big (other than things we are actually building into our house during the remodels) we have to subtract that weight from the total we’ve discarded.  No more keeping stuff that doesn’t work, extras for just in case, clothes that don’t fit, movies we don’t watch. No matter what, this house is getting organized and cleaned out.  Hallelujah.  Holy S***.  Where’s the Tylenol?

April Signature

*I used 1200 because it equals 100 lbs a month, but I’m not always going to be weighing this stuff.  It’ll be approximating, but that could mean we get rid of even more too.  I’ve already had bags and bags of trash on the curb and multiple donations to the Salvation Army in the last couple of weeks so I may be even further along than I expected.

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