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Energizer Katie…

To say life has been crazy lately would be an understatement. Well, actually saying “Target dollar bins can be dangerous” would be an understatement. I’m not even sure the category for my life lately. It’s been almost 2 months since I moved and I STILL have a corner of unpacked boxes that haven’t been touched; I’m operating on such a sleep deficit some days that I think I could replace the bunny in the next Energizer commercial; my to-do lists could fill a small novel…and they’re quite eclectic enough that it might be an entertaining one at that. I’ll even admit last week I had a moment when I realized I’d reached an all-time low: I stopped at Target for some last-minute Halloween candy and I put a package of socks in my basket…because I wasn’t sure I’d have time before my weekend trip to do laundry and I’d run out of clean socks. And I’m also not ashamed to admit that those socks proved to be the only useful purchase I made that night…because I was so tired from All Saints’ Day madness that I fell asleep sitting on my couch waiting for the trick-or-treaters and woke up a few hours later, still in my school clothes, with a full bag of treats that I can’t even eat. Yep, that’s right I broke my own rules and let dairy in my house and then I didn’t even get to hand it out!
Now am I sitting here thinking I’m the only one in this boat? Of course not. I’d say society as a whole has reached this point where we’re all riding on the crazy boat together: working too hard, resting too little, and turning into little hamsters on wheels that just won’t stop spinning. I’m sure it’s true in most professions but I know for sure it is in teaching. If there are any teacher friends out there who aren’t feeling this way, please share your secret. I’ll write an entire post in your honor to thank you.
Regardless, tonight I had a moment that stopped me in my Energizer Katie tracks and made me reassess. For the past 3 years I’ve been teaching a remedial math course at night for a local apprenticeship company. As I raced out of school to make it over for 3 more hours of teaching, all of my lists of the tasks still waiting for me at home were running through my head . I was planning how I could squeeze in a few emails while my students (whom I affectionately refer to as my construction men) were on break and just how many tests I could grade while waiting for the copier to spit out the remaining worksheets I needed for the evening. Then I walked into the classroom and was welcomed with an eerie sense of quiet. My typically boisterous group seemed sullen and didn’t respond to my burst of enthusiasm with their typical sheepish smiles. A few gave me wistful grins before someone quietly let me know that one our class members wouldn’t be joining us tonight. He was in a serious car accident earlier in the week on his way to work…he is fine, but the accident claimed the lives of 2 others. He was driving alone and had merged into another car with his construction vehicle. Investigations were conducted and even the experts confirmed…this was nothing more than a tragic accident…a man who didn’t see anything in his blind spot and in a moment switched lanes into another swiftly moving vehicle. There will be no charges and he’s been cleared to work…but no one has seen him since. Until tonight. 
He walked in to talk to me during our break. Tonight was our penultimate class and he wasn’t up to staying but he wanted to make arrangements to take his final next week at a different time, when he wouldn’t have to sit with a roomful of people staring at him while he worked. I know that medically speaking it’s impossible to witness a heart breaking or for a person to walk around and function with one, but I can tell you after tonight I’d argue that it happens. I watched this big, burly man crumble as he gathered up the word problem and measurement worksheets I had so diligently crossed off my to-do list just an hour earlier. And as I watched him walk away, my plans for the evening immediately changed. I ended class earlier than usual. I told the guys to go home and spend time with their families…or even just go catch up on some sleep. I had planned to stick around after they left to grade and write those emails I was drafting in my mind. Instead I picked up my bags and walked out the door. I called my mom for the first time in days. I filled my poor punctured tire with air and then I drove to visit a friend whom I haven’t seen in far too long. (I’ll call her the Crafting Queen.) We caught up over a bean burrito (hers…still no safe tortillas for me!) and a cup of hot apple cider (mine). I returned home and took a moment to upload all the pictures from my ACE reunion at Notre Dame and revisited the joy and smiles of last weekend. And now I’m writing this. As many people pointed out this weekend, I haven’t written in awhile. This is one of those things that has elusively shifted from to-do list to to-do list and yet, like laundry, has remained undone. But tonight made me realize that it just shouldn’t be that way.
Yes, life involves a certain amount of crazy. There’s no denying that. Our to-do lists are too long, our stress levels are too high, and of course the occasional sleepless night is inevitable…but that shouldn’t be the norm. I realized tonight that trying to emulate the Energizer bunny isn’t something to be proud of. After all, he just blindly drums his way through life and doesn’t get to actually experience anything as he just keeps going and going. We never know what life is going to throw our way, when we might suddenly feel complete derailed, or when we might be forced to be that person attempting to navigate life with a heart that is completely broken, even if an EKG doesn’t say so.

 So tonight I am pressing pause on my to-do list. I am curled up on my couch with a hot cup of tea. I am going to bed before midnight. And before I do, I will spend time in prayer for the growing number of people in my life who are dealing with physical illness, emotional brokenness, or some combination of the two. I will read a chapter of the book I’ve been trying to read since September. And I will sleep without a to-do list post-it next to my bed. I won’t even let myself make a mental one.

Yes, I’ll wake up tomorrow morning with a longer list of tests that need to be graded, emails that need to be written, plans that need to be finished, papers that need to be filed, projects that need to be coordinated, etc…but those things aren’t going anywhere. (Trust me, sometimes I wish they would!) So take it from me, take a minute today to stop. Just think about your to-do lists (or novels as the case may be). Are there things on that list that keep getting bumped lower and lower on the list? Things like sleeping, writing, visiting family, drinking a cup of tea, sharing good conversation with a close friend, going for a run, spending quality time with someone you love, sharing exciting/delicious recipes with your food-intolerant friends, etc. Make those your priority this weekend. If you can’t do them all, at least pick one.  Those other things aren’t going anywhere…I promise they’ll be there when you come back to them. My bags filled with papers, grading, plans, and lists are already sitting waiting for me next to the door. But I won’t be touching them until morning. And when I do it will be with a homemade Katie-safe pumpkin spice latte in my hand as I walk out the door. Yes, I finally mastered it 3 weeks ago…and it’s been on my to-do list to share it with you…guess what got bumped?? (You have my sincere it is!)

1 cup coconut milk (I used SO Delicious barista-style coconut milk)
1/3 cup pumpkin
about 2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice blend
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
I added maple syrup, coconut sugar, and honey to taste

I heated all of this together on the stove and then poured it over a cup of STRONG brewed coffee. Then I used my new frother to mix it, sprinkled some nutmeg on top, and life was suddenly AMAZING. You’re welcome 🙂
Pure Deliciousness 🙂
I’ll face another day in the life of Energizer Katie. Only tomorrow I’m going to make sure to leave room on that to-do list for gratitude…because I’m fortunate enough to have a heart that is still intact and, at least for this moment in time, a body which isn’t attacking itself. And considering once upon a time (AKA last March) that alone was the one thing on my to-do list…I’d say I’m doing pretty well.
This is hanging in my new apartment…but it never seemed as true as tonight.

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