A moment in time.

“I am invariably late for appointments… I’ve tried to change my ways but the things that make me late are too strong, and too pleasing.”  ― Marilyn Monroe



I was planning to visit the children in Hobart, a four hour drive away. The spreadsheet file I had been working on had to be sent to my accountant by 11 am. When I checked it, I realized it had been corrupted. I spent an hour retrieving the previous saved version and retracing my steps to get it to the required finished product to send on. There were a few unexpected queries from work that needed my urgent attention. Time was marching on. The house looked like a tornado had hit it. I still had to have my morning walk, shower, dress and pack.To top it off I was fighting this tremendous pressure in my chest to make sure that I got away on time so that I could be there on time. This made me frazzled. As if reading my mind the children each sent me a text, urging me to make sure I left on time, to make sure I would be there at the appointed time for dinner. I became anxious at the texts. This was not a child’s graduation, a wedding, catching a plane, or a medical appointment. This was not a national emergency. This was dinner. When the third text came through, everything descended down on me and I sat down on the floor and cried.

It was a descent of my own making. I had not been able to put myself above the moment. I had let it get to me. I has lost control of this moment because of all the other moments that had gone before. It was all the other moments. They all came flooding back.

My life had always been that we must be on time.

I had lost so much of myself over the years due to worrying about being on time and often not quite making it anyway because of lost time in the worrying. ‘Come on, get ready. Quick, quick.’ I would never feel quite ready and would become flustered in feeling not quite ready, applying make-up hurriedly, leaving behind a mess in the kitchen, arriving to wherever-it-was-so-important-to-be-on-time all anxious and stressed.

When being on time counts, such as catching a plane or attending a medical appointment or attending to a national emergency, I can and do prioritize being on time. At other times, other things are more important to me. My priorities differ.

My preference is to always be there for people; either late or on time, I will be there. My preference is to finish what needs to be done over here so that when I get over there, I can fully engage in the moment of over there. My preference is to remain calm so when I arrive I can relax and enjoy the moment of now. My preference is to calm the distressed child, attend to the unexpected accident, take the phone call from a friend in need, mop up the spilled milk then try, as best as I am able, to get there on time. My preference is to attend to whatever I feel is most important, to take in my stride those ‘things’ that get in the way of plans and schedules. My preference is to remain calm and, if too many important things crop up, slip the ‘being on time’ to a lower priority – and not worry about it.

My values and priorities are important too.

The point is not whether being on time is a good value to strive for or not. The point is, it is not my value. It is a value that belonged to someone else. I became stressed and anxious by not living up to a value that belonged to someone else.

The reason that I was feeling upset now, was not because I may be late, or because I was overwhelmed by too much to do before getting away. I was grieving for those times I had violated my own values, for those times I had not taken the time to calm the distressed child, or mopped up the spilled milk, or taken the phone call from my friend and for those times when I was not there when I should have been because I was rushing to be on time to somewhere else for someone else.





My values # 3 Dependable

“When the night has come
And the land is dark
And the moon is the only light we’ll see
No I won’t be afraid, no I won’t be afraid
Just as long as you stand, stand by me”    Ben E. King

I have always considered myself to be reliable, dependable and trustworthy.

Through the turmoil of my life being turned upside down by my husband leaving me, my being reliable on everyday issues was truly tested. Being punctual, answering emails, paying bills on time, returning phone calls, having a neat and tidy house, keeping appointments, remembering birthdays ……. these slipped way down on my list of priorities as I battled with my grief. As I slowly emerged from the haze, however, some of the issues continued. It was as if I was questioning the merit of placing such importance on what I now deemed ‘trivial’ issues. It was as if I was saying to myself  – ‘You have lost trust, joy, your companion, your direction in life, your dreams for the future, your life’s work and your financial security. What does it matter if you are late? Who cares if you do not sweep the kitchen floor? Does it really matter if this year no-one gets Christmas cards?’ At the same time, I was concerned that I was losing part of myself, part of who I had been, part of my character and reputation.

Then I thought more in depth about the meaning of being reliable, trustworthy and dependable.

To me, being reliable is acting in a consistent way – predictably on time, neat, well-groomed, always keeping appointments – with the emphasis being on consistency rather than any particular admirable human trait. A car can be reliable. Someone may be reliable without necessarily being trustworthy or dependable.

A trustworthy person, on the other hand, will always keep confidences, will remain loyal and faithful and will keep promises. They will not lie, cheat, steal, or ever behave in an unscrupulous manner. They will always be honest and truthful.

Being dependable means showing up without being asked or reminded. You will just be there. You show up for work, social gatherings, your children’s events, your mother’s birthday. You will always do the right thing. A dependable person is reliable in mood and temperament. Not all over you one minute with affection and warmth; then cold, aloof and withdrawn the next. You know where you stand with them. A dependable person will express their emotions in a mature and healthy way, never belittle anyone, or gossip in an unkindly manner. A dependable person is a pillar of strength, someone others may lean on at a time of need. They listen with understanding to others’ concerns. They support others in grief. A dependable person does not collapse in a crisis. They understand that they cannot control events but they can alter their own responses to events. Where a situation may lead others into panic or disorder; they remain calm. When times get tough, they would never cut and run. A dependable person is unfaltering like a solid rock in their values and principles; steadfast in their beliefs. They will stand up and do what is right. They do not let circumstances dictate their behaviour. Instead their values, ethics, morals and sense of purpose drives them.

The more I thought about it, the more I realised that I was still living by these values. My reliability may have slipped on some trivial matters, but I have remained reliable “when it counts”. With absolute certainty I have remained trustworthy and above all I have remained dependable. I have always been and will always be there for my children, my family, my friends, my neighbours and my work colleagues. If any one of my loved ones was hurt or in crisis, I would drop everything and go to them as I have always done. I am still that “pillar of strength” – someone others may lean on at a time of need. Whilst taking much courage at times, I remain dependably calm and level-headed. I am unwavering in my core beliefs. My home remains a sanctuary of peace, comfort and relaxation.

I remain a rock of strength.