with Lynne and Leslie
Tag Archives: priorities

Wear Cute Shoes, But You Also Need Pants or Checking Your Priorities

by SweetMidlife


Lynne here. This won’t be a long one.

Not always a good look.

Not always a good look.

So, I’ve written a lot about how I am working on being more organized in all ways in my life, and this touches how I spend my time, the fact that I can actually put things flat on my nightstand without causing a landslide of bills and Christmas cards from 2013, the state of my dishwasher, and the state of my car, whose backseat may have french fry residue from taking 2 preschoolers to McDonald’s. It totally does. This is a work in progress.

But what I have found out the most is that organizing my physical world isn’t just about the tangible appearance of things, but that it’s about the inward emotions that cause you to keep your world cluttered or your schedule over-packed, and that may tell you that you can’t do any better than you are doing right now. All of that is a lie, but it feels like that sometimes. And all of this inner-looking causes you to be more mindful of the things that you tell yourself, and how they manifest (I used a big word before 7:30 am and I feel like I need some reward for this. Thank you.) themselves in your priorities and whatnot. Because sometimes you think that something is important to you, but when you look at how you actually spend your time, you might see that this isn’t actually  as true as you think it is. And you might think that something ISN’T a big deal to you, but when you actually look at your life, you realize that you spend more time doing that particular thing than you might have thought, and definitely more than you want to admit.

I thought of this yesterday, when my son and I were getting ready for the day. We headed into the bathroom it brush teeth and wash faces, and I had my phone in my hand, because before this, I had been looking at something on my beloved Facebook. The words “beloved Facebook” totally just came in my head, and I almost didn’t write that down, but it is true, I spend a lot of time there, to the point that if I am reading it and then have to do something else, I either keep my phone in my hand or my eyes on my laptop, or I rush through the other things real quick so I can get back to the blue and white land of comments. And as wonderful as Facebook can be in reaching out to people and staying connected to family, and as much as I use my phone to have really wonderful conversations with the people in my life,  it can also be a time suck if it distracts you from living the life in front of you. Or the toothbrush in front of you, which is what happened yesterday when I found myself trying to get the toothpaste out of the cabinet and pick up my brush without having to put my phone down, and when I did, looking nervously to make sure that my phone was still there. I am sad to admit that. But it happened.

My phone should be an addendum to my actual life, which includes things like eating and writing and personal hygiene, and not the thing that I come back to after I get those pesky things done. For me it’s my phone. For you, it could be the TV, or talking, or daydreaming, or anything. And all of these things are good things. But if they aren’t the main thing that you know you are supposed to be doing in your life, then, well, do some reordering.

Don’t let the accessories in your life become your life. Because you can’t go out in just heels, a purse, awesome shoes, cute earrings, and a headband, no matter how bumpin’ those things are. You are gonna need some pants and a shirt too, y’all.


Disappointing my grandma, making my life a little easier. Forgive me.

by SweetMidlife

Leslie here! I moved away from Miami, where I was living as a underemployed Gen-Xer with my parents and sister, to York, Pennsylvania, and for the next 19 years, up to today, have never lived in the same state as any of them, or as my extended family (except for my almost triplet Nikki, who was in Orlando when I moved to Florida again ten years ago, or my almost quadruplet Kiki, who moved here after I did and was my running buddy for a while.)

This means that as much as I have made the places I have lived, including West Palm Beach for the last decade, my home, there is always that other “home,” be it Maryland where I was raised, or Little Rock, where my parents settled. Most of my travel in that 19 years has been centered on those other places, where vacation time has not meant that I was resting. More often, like my parents before me, who moved away from Maryland with us temporarily in the early 80s and for good in the 90s, those trips are almost as scheduled as my actual job – an hour for lunch with this aunt, two hours with Grandma. A drink with this friend before dinner with another. And hey, we told So-and-so you were in town, and she’s just down the street so you can fit her in before you get on the plane, right?

This has left me, and now my husband, happy to see the people we love but exhausted by the time we get back on the plane, in serious need of a vacation after our vacation.

All of which is to say – the next time I go “home,” I probably won’t be telling anybody, except for the people associated with the event I’m going to. I hope that’s OK. You can blame my dad. Who died last year.

So that’s not going to do you a lot of good.

I should explain.

About a year before Daddy passed, three years into his fight with cancer, which never fights fair, he told me that he was now only traveling to places he really wanted to go, and not out of obligation. I don’t know if he knew how bad things were gonna get, and how fast, but by then he’d had more than 60 years on this planet – half of those spent buying plane tickets. And as much as he loved our family, he said that he’d learned that his time, money and desire not to be exhausted and have an actual restful experience at some point on his vacation were more important than other people’s guilt trips over not seeing them for twenty minutes on the way to see someone else.

“It became about obligation and not about quality – ‘You saw him, you should come see me,'” he told me. “I realized I was always the one who was going to see everyone else. I did all the running. And that doesn’t seem fair. It became expected, and we got caught up in it. Don’t get caught up in that. Go where you want, don’t be guilted into going everywhere you’re invited, and if people say something, remind them they can always come see you. They have an airport, too.”

And then he finished with this.

“Why do all of my trips have to be about being tired at the end of them when no one else’s are?”

Wise, that one.

My husband and I spent thousands and thousands of dollars traveling last year, more than usual, because of my father’s illness and eventual death, and all of the things surrounding that. Those were not fun trips, of course, but they were necessary and satisfying, and we were honored to be there with Daddy, to hang out with him as much as we could, and then to honor him at his funeral and then at another memorial service. We also went to a baby shower, a wedding, a headstone unveiling and Thanksgiving, and packed into all of those trips at least three other visits or stop-ins each trip. We were thrilled to be invited and enjoyed ourselves because, again, we love those people and wish we saw them more often.

But Scott said something profound to me the night we got home, as we grumpily unpacked around midnight and grumped around the cat and pretty much faced a night of grumpy sleep before starting the work week more tired than we were than when we left.

“You know what it is that gets me? That’s supposed to be our vacation, and we didn’t even take three hours to say ‘Let’s go to dinner at this place we really like, just the two of us, because we like it, and not because we’re meeting someone.’ Or go to a basketball game at Maryland, which we would both enjoy, or go see a show. We didn’t do anything that wasn’t about seeing other people besides sit in the hotel room and watch football, and that was wedged between three other visits.”

I was momentarily speechless, and your girl is never speechless, so this was big. Huge, even. And it hit me. He wasn’t saying we were never going to visit our family. He just meant – and I agree- that assuming everyone stays alive this year, we’re going to try to center our travel in 2013 on things that are fun, like going places we’ve never been before. Or going to Vegas. Or going back to the Bahamas or taking another cruise. Or heading to California and driving the coast. Maybe even just driving to the Keys and spending more than a night at a time.

It’s not that we never have fun at home with our folks. We do. And time is short and never promised. But you know what we’ve noticed, that my dad noticed? All of the people we love take vacations, too. They go on cruises, or to the beach. Sometimes they even come down here and see us. But if they don’t, they don’t feel the need to explain it to us. Countless times we’ve gotten emails and texts from people that say “Hey, I was an hour away from you. I should have called you. But I couldn’t get away, so I didn’t.”

And that’s fine, because they were on a trip to do something else that wasn’t about seeing us. Would have been nice. Can’t take it personally.

And I hope no one else does, either. I am going to have to call and explain to the couple of people expecting me to visit that I won’t be able to make it. I’m going to do things I never get to do in my own life – sit with a few people I seldom see and enjoy their company without checking my watch, or making them feel they are punching a clock. I want to sleep late, and not light out before my hosts gets up because I’m on a schedule. I want to spend my time being truly present with the people I am with, and making sure they feel that they have my full attention and love. And when I get on the plane to come back, I want to feel rested and know that the things and people I didn’t see this time will hopefully be there and happy to see me the next time.

You know. Like a vacation.

A Little Love Letter to My Sister.

by SweetMidlife
Lynne here. 
 Most of you who read this blog know that it is written by twin sisters, Leslie Streeter Zervitz and Lynne Streeter Childress, who both got married the year that they turned 39.  Prior to our marriages, we hadn’t lived in the same hour and a half radius for 8 years, so while we weren’t proximity close, we still spoke on the phone SERIOUSLY about 7 times a day.  Then we got married. To other people. Who are very understanding and know that we need to talk a bunch every day. But the husbands became our priorities. So while Leslie and I didn’t have to disavow knowledge of each other and only mention the other in hushed tones, we also know that if we’ve spoken 10 times that day and our husbands get home, it’s polite to pay our husbands some attention and wrap up the phone call, leaving our debate over whether “Survivor” needs to stop bringing back old players for another day. But she is still the other half of that egg that split, my confidante, and part of my soul.  A.C. and I just took her to the airport (she was in town this weekend), and we had a wonderful time eating nachoes and homemade potato chips as she waited for her plane.  And I was with my husband, and she was going home to hers.  Which is the way it should be.  But that didn’t stop us from renacting the scene in “The Color Purple” where Celie and her sister Nettie are ripped apart and Nettie screams “Why!!”, and they tearfully do their old hand game “Me and you, us never part” through the air. But when we do it (like today as she walked through the security line), we burst into laughter.  But it’s true.  Getting married has changed our priorities, but not our love for each other.  Me and her, us never part.

Every Little Thing

by SweetMidlife

Hey! Lynne here.

So, I know we’ve written before about being busy (a main culprit of us not updating more, which we plan on remedying), and about finding room in your life for what’s important. I thought of another side of this yesterday.  There are so many things that I want to be a part of and do, and when I was younger and had more energy I filled my calendar with activities if there was space on it.   But age and sleepiness and the other stuff you get when you get older (friends or spouses or kids or pets or causes you believe in; and it’s not that you don’t have these when you are younger. You usually just fill-up quicker as you age) fill up your heart and your priority list, and you find yourself  wanting to put down balls that you previously would have juggled.  Used to be, the more opps you had, the better, because that meant that you were in demand, and you didn’t want to say no to anything because you didn’t want to burn any bridges or close any doors.  And I was thinking about all of this juggling and dropping when I heard this song on the radio yesterday. It’s a new song that I love, “Do Everything”, by Christian singer Steven Curtis Chapman, who I consider a poet.  The song says that no matter what you do, whether it be “hooking up mergers, cooking up burgers”, or searching for lost Cheerios that your kids threw across the room, that you do everything for the glory of God. Now, for me this is huge, but even if you aren’t a religious person, you can get this out of it. EVERYTHING you do, no matter how unimportant it might seem to other people, should speak as a reflection of who you are and what is important to you. For me, that’s God. For you, it may be something else. The point is, if it is worth your time to do it, you should do it well, in a way that speaks to who you are. And what’s more, if you don’t have time to do it well because by the time you get there you are too sleepy to enjoy it or complete the task, what good is it?  That song took a huge weight off of me as I reorder my priorities. I am still making decisions day to day about what my life looks like, but I don’t have to worry that if I don’t have enough stuff on my plate, that I am not living up to my potential. Through prayer and thought and whatnot, if you are truly seeking to live a life that says “YOU”, the things that will help you do that will fall into place, and the other things will fall away. At least that’s what I am finding.  And your priorities don’t have to look like those of your friends. This is about you.   So, if you are juggling today, I wish you blessings as you balance, and drop, and pick-up, and put back down, and carry the load that brings you happiness. And God glory. And shouts out loud who you are.

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