Office Hours

I will start by confessing, I am abundantly blessed when it comes to my personal work space. The crazy Queen Anne Victorian house we bought came with a single room on the 3rd floor. The rest of the 3rd floor is the attic. There were concerns when I claimed this 5th bedroom as my office. The stairway up is steep and narrow. It is so narrow that I come down the stair sideways with my backside against one wall and a hand on the opposite wall for stability. My desk was brought up in pieces and assembled in the room. Before moving in we painted the room a pale pink with deep blue trim. I love being up here. When it rains I hear it clearly. When it snows I feel like I am in a snow globe.

I am also blessed to be married to a tech wizard. For 40 years he has been on the bleeding edge of technology in the Silicon Valley. When he retired, we bought this house and moved away from the life we knew for a life with our grandsons and a lifestyle that suited this chapter of our story. He has set me up with a 3 screen extended display, Evernote scanner and Brother printer to support the custom built computer with all the software I desire and top speed internet.

My office is what makes much of what I do possible. I can spend hours researching, reading, writing and investigating the world without leaving home. I can organize the stuffing out of just about anything. This is where the work gets done.

For many, the idea of a solo office sounds isolated and lonely. For others, it is the dream. I am in the dream group. I need solitude and quiet to bring my efforts to their fullest. Like a diesel engine, I need a glow plug to get started and a good warm up before I’m ready for the road. It takes an average of an hour for me to start writing. By the time I edit, rewrite, reconsider and grammar check, even the shortest posts can take a full morning.

My biggest challenge is those stairs. In order to get to my office, I have to actually come up the stairs. Sitting down, firing up the computer and diving in is easy. I’m already committed. I’m already up here. It’s opening the door and transitioning from the lure of the tv, the comfort of my reading chair by the fire, the extra cup of coffee with my husband over the breakfast table, the freedom of not having to answer to anyone else’s schedule.

I set my own office hours. I am the only one I am accountable to. I open the office, set the tasks for the day, decide when it’s time for a lunch break and if I am going back to the office after lunch. I also am the one who would fire me.

You see, I know the long list of things that could be coming out of this office. I know the books waiting to be written, the projects and the goals, the courses of study and the courses to be presented. I know the connections and relationships I want to develop. I know the incredible blessings I have and with that comes great expectations and responsibility to be a good steward of those blessings. None of those expectations are external. They all come from me.

It’s not enough to have all the tools, all the time, all the freedom. I have to climb the stairs and do the work. That is where the joy, the reward, the fun is. It’s not in the having. It’s in the doing. It’s in hitting the “Publish” button. It’s in seeing the word count for the day pass the goal because I was so wrapped up in the story that the count was no longer the goal, the story was.

My hope for you this Monday morning, is that you find delight, joy and energy in your office hours. I plan to keep mine more faithfully.

I’ll put the kettle on…

If you watch much BBC you will hear a line repeated often…”I’ll put the kettle on.” Many times it’s preceded by “fancy a cup of tea?” For those not familiar with this social cue, it translates to “this conversation is going to need some time…time for the water to boil…time for the tea to steep…time for the tea to cool enough to drink and time to actually drink the tea.” It’s an invitation to sit and share what’s on your mind.

For the past 2 years, I have been struggling. Having moved to a new town in a new state and knowing only a couple of very busy people, making new friends has been on my list of things to do. My new town is a fairly old, established town. The house we bought is 120 years old. Most on our street are newer. They are right around 100 or so. The few neighbors we have spoken with have lived here most of their lives and are now much closer to the end than the middle of those lives.

I have been on the lookout for opportunities to connect with like minded people. I love reading and thought the library was a natural place to start. The day I walked in to get a library card, the woman at the desk asked me if I had my state issued driver’s license. I said I didn’t. As she turned her chair away from me to go back to reading her magazine she said “come back when you do.” I guess having the actual deed and title to the home we own 4 blocks from the library and a wallet full of ids wasn’t going to get me a library card.

The next attempt was reaching out to the historic society. After all I have a 120 year old Queen Anne Victorian house. I thought Renaissance Wife would be a natural corporate sponsor for the historic museum in town so I filled out the application and sent in a check. Crickets…. but the check was cashed. On their Facebook Page and website, they listed a book club. “This has to be my on ramp,” I thought. I bought the book. I read the book. I went to the museum the night of the book club. No one was there. Not even a sign on the door saying it had been canceled or moved. Nothing. I posted my experience on the Facebook event…more crickets. And, the book was about manners holding polite society together!!!

A couple of weeks ago, I tried a women’s Bible study group. I went on line, created an account, registered for the group, paid the $13 for the book and was excited. These had to be my people, right?

Not so much. When I arrived there were 5 women all focused on their cell phones. One looked up and asked me if I was new. When I replied I was, she told me to sign the sheet on the clipboard because she sends out an email with information each week. Ok. Signed in and sat down. Over the next 10 minutes or so 12 more women came in and sat down in the circle of chairs. Not one said hello to me. When the women who sends out the emails started the study, no one offered to share their book. After an hour and a half, she closed in prayer. I stood up, put on my coat, picked up my purse and made my way to the door passing 4 women on the way. Not one said a word to me. Nothing….

A week later, having heard nothing from the email lady, I emailed the church and asked for a refund for my registration. They processed it very quickly with no questions asked.

All this to say, I am confused about how to connect with people in this day and age. I admit freely that I have some old fashioned ideas when it comes to hospitality. I believe in making people feel welcome when they enter my environment, in being where I say I’m going to be and that a women’s Bible study should be the most gracious place for a new person to find themselves. I believe in putting the kettle on. I can’t believe hospitality is dead. It can’t be.

While I have been writing, I have had a cup of Daily Beauty Blueberry Lavender tea. You see, even if we are not in the same room, when I write I feel like we are having a chat and you are so kindly listening to my heart. Having a cup of tea with you is a very deliberate action. My tea kettle in on the first floor of our home with my office on the third floor. I waited for the kettle to boil, brought the mug up two flights of stairs, and logged in to talk to you about my heart. I can’t tell you how much I appreciate you taking the time to “listen”.

Now, it’s your turn to talk. I’ll put the kettle on…how do you take your tea?