For those of you just joining us, welcome back to The Waiting Room, a series of essays solicited from the team at Heather Elder Represents that share insightful and sometimes hilarious tales about a learning experience with the agony that can come with waiting — stories of learning, adjusting and sometimes even appreciating it.
It is my hope that as we all keep navigating through the unknowns, that you will feel inspired by, and even draw strength from them. We truly are all in this waiting room together!
Kate Chase, Creative Strategist, Guest Editor
Running for the Moment
By Missy Hunter, Writer
On a daily, non-COVID-19 day, I am fueled by to-do lists for both work and personal tasks. Every day, I sit at my desk, pen poised above an open page in my notebook, rapt with attention as if taking dictation from Julia Child, reciting the ingredients and preparation notes for Beef Bourguignon. I detail to-dos on paper because the act of writing the words means I’ve now freed up space in my mind for more important thoughts in need of pondering, such as, If a bunch of cats pounce on each other, is it still called a dog pile?
Of course, lists help me organize and prioritize, but mostly, lists bring certainty and visual progress.
Nowadays, in this time of waiting, everything is on hold. It is a challenge to create much less, see progress. Only a select few can say, “oh, the last time this happened, we…” A global pandemic is a first, among what will be many firsts. So how do we wade through these uncharted waters? For the past several weeks, I’ve kept two guiding thoughts in mind.
Waiting doesn’t mean standing still; it means moving in other directions.
I’ve learned to be more flexible, to take things as they come, to be open to possibilities I might not have previously considered. The Novel Corona Virus and the shelter-in-place orders have ushered in a time of creativity. Creativity has been a savior for my mental health.
Celebrate the Here and Now
My daughter has a gift for being able to live and be happy in-the-moment. Yes, this is topical now, but long ago, she perfected not looking to the future until it’s arrived at her doorstep. What might have been a disadvantage for my daughter before COVID-19 is now a trait our family covets with admiration.
I am thinking, how long will we be sheltering in place? Will summer come and go with us still in our homes? While she is thinking about going wherever the day takes her. There are so many unknowns for all of us. I’ve now taken a page from my daughter’s book. Chapter one; we can be sure of what is happening right here, right now.
Instead of making a to-do list and planning my future, I make a list of everything I have completed, and cross it off, as if I had just completed the task, at that moment. For example, “drink water when bored; pee a lot.” That cute exercise only lasts so long, though.
This time of waiting brings anxiety for some. The one thing I’ve come to rely on when I need to step away is to run the fire trails in the hills near my house, something I haven’t been able to do too often, until now. I leave my music at home so that my senses are open and ready. In the hills, I take in the sound of placing one foot in front of the other, the foot-strike change when an incline is underfoot, feel the motion of the descend at full speed. I notice the tall grass that appears somehow, way greener than I recall. I smell the just blooming wildflowers, feel the cool shade from the trees. Now, when I go to these trails, it’s for the first time, every time.
As Robert Frost wrote, “Two roads diverged in a wood and I – I took the one less traveled by, and that has made all the difference.”
I am on the road less traveled and enjoying all that this unknown journey has to offer.
Diving Into Everything
By Lauranne Lospalluto, Senior Agent
When I look back on my childhood growing up in Texas during the 70s I think most of the summer and those long, hot, and humid days spent outside hopping between my neighbors’ yards and pools while waiting for the dinner bell to ring signaling it was time to come home. Time somehow seemed to move very slowly. So whenever I would proclaim to my parents that I was bored, they would calmly respond, and in pretty much unison,
“Go find something to do.”
Those five words went a long way towards shaping who I am today. Not only did they encourage me to stop waiting but also that my parents trusted I was capable of figuring it out, free to try new things. This ultimately meant that I became the “Jack of all Trades, yet Master of None”. You name it, I’ve probably tried it — ceramics, jewelry making, harp, fencing, batik, screen printing, animation, stenciling. Stained glass, knitting, crochet, juggling, paper making, to name a few.
And then came those weeks at summer camp where I embraced my free time by trying ever more new things — and where I found the trampoline, spent hours perfecting my flips and then taking my new skills to the diving board and rope swing at the lake.
In college, I started waiting tables and filled any downtime with finding something to do. I couldn’t simply stand at the bar waiting for my drink order when I could make tea, fill condiments, or wipe down tables in the interim.
And today, as my family and I quarantine ourselves and I find myself longing for those long, slow days spent outside, I will hear the calming voices of my parents encouraging me to “go find something to do.” Their words now keeping us all on track, embracing the waiting as an opportunity to dive-in and try new things.
See you next Saturday with Chapters 10, 11, & 12 from Sarah James with Little Normal, Little Normal, Doug Menuez with his tale of The Gentle Heart of The Ninja, and Jennifer Davick’s Turning Questions into Answers. Come join us in the waiting room!