I still remember my daughter’s first day of pre-school. Her big brother was already in kindergarten, and after I dropped my daughter off at school and returned home, it hit me that for the first time in a number of years, I had a block of time, during the day, all to myself.

I stopped short as I stepped through the doorway, thinking about the best way to use that time. Should I do a whirlwind housecleaning, since I could do so without any kids underfoot? Should I settle in with a good book for some uninterrupted reading? Or put my feet up on the coffee table and enjoy a soap opera and box of bon bons? Not that I’ve ever been a fan of soaps or bon bons, but that was always the cliché about women who were home during the day, back before personal computers were common and working from home was a thing.

As I stood there trying to decide what to do, it occurred to me that I could easily have wasted the entire two hours trying to decide how not to waste that precious time.

I had a bit of that same feeling one day last week, although the circumstances were completely different. It was a day on which I had two meetings scheduled. One was for my writers’ group, during which we give feedback of each other’s work. The other was an author event at the Writers Museum. Between the two, I would have been gone from noon until about 9:30 p.m., with a short break – just enough time for dinner – in between the two.

Apparently, this was a day of scheduling conflicts, overloads, out-of-town trips, and perhaps a few illnesses thrown in, because both meetings ended up being canceled. Which means I had an entire afternoon and evening of free time that I wasn’t anticipating. This type of thing doesn’t happen very often, but whenever it does, I look upon it as a gift – the gift of time. And I never want to waste it.

As I did years ago when my kids were starting school, I pondered different ways I could spend this unexpected time. There are always housecleaning chores to do, projects to complete, stacks of papers to be filed or acted on, and books to read. And the danger, again, was that the time could slip away while I tried to decide on the best way to use it.

I didn’t accomplish any earth-shattering goals that day, but I did put a good dent in a number of things that were calling for my attention. I also sat outside for a while, enjoying the warm weather and a good book.

All in all, it was a productive and enjoyable day. And it helped me to remember that on every day, whether it’s a busy one, an easy one, or somewhere in between, I should always be grateful to be given a gift of time.

November 7, 2022
©Betty Liedtke, 2022

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