Lifehacking with Joanie

October 1, 2020
“I’m becoming Mom!” my sister C often observes about herself, wryly and without the abject horror I feel when considering the same possibility. Carolyn seems to be fine with her perceived growing resemblance to our mother, whereas I reject any thoughts along those lines. Not to say Joanie wasn’t really sweet and lovable; she certainly was. And I don’t mind (I guess) inheriting Mom’s penchant for uttering frequent endearments to family and friends. At least I’m not at the point (yet) where I call random cashiers and bank tellers “honey” the way Joanie did. But I refuse to accept the idea that I will eventually become as sloppy and needy and scatterbrained as Mom, that I will start watching Doctor Phil, volume all the way up, and rereading the same “tell all” books about the Kennedy family. If I’m sliding in that direction, by the way, you all have my permission to stage an intervention.

I do acknowledge one area of shared passionate interest, however. Like Joanie before me, I am a huge fan of “tips and tricks,” whether it be turning a sugar cone into a cornucopia (it involves heating one end of the cone and curling it up before it cools-and yes, it’s not worth the effort if you are making these for small children, and who else would you make these for?) or getting ink out of a white sweater (rubbing alcohol! Smelly but miraculous!). I find myself saving a vast assortment of these life hacks—and, as I recall, so did Mom. Now, Mom and I had very different methods of keeping track: I have a special folder on my computer, whereas she would just grab a pencil and scribble on any available surface. After she wrote down this Surprising Use for Baking Soda on the front page of her wedding Bible, she rarely referred to it (tip OR Testament) again.
Mom’s goal wasn’t unlocking the Secrets of the Universe, just the thrill of finding quick and clever workarounds involving everyday activities. While I think of myself as having loftier intellectual pursuits, I confess that viewing the glorious images of the galaxies from the Hubble telescope, and discovering how to chop onions without tears, hold equal fascination for me. Brighten the Corner Where You Are is my motto, I guess, especially now when our corners are so very limited.
Joanie has been in Heaven quite a while (14 years this Tuesday!) and I’m sure by now she knows everything there ever was to know. I do wonder, though, if she’s a bit disappointed that her quest for info is over. There’s a special kind of satisfaction that comes from learning something new and handy—even if that something is only the fact that you can use peppermint oil on a cotton ball to repel mice (it’s true!) I am hopeful that, even in Paradise, there are still opportunities for learning and growth—and, in Mom’s case, a few more Baking Soda Surprises to keep things interesting.

    I am an author (of four books, numerous plays, poetry and freelance articles,) a director (of Spiritual Formation at a Lutheran church,) and a producer (of five kids).

    I write about my hectic, funny, perfectly imperfect life.

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