Capacity, Stress and a Paper Shredder

Walking into the office I noticed the paper shredder was far past capacity. Taking the lid off to empty the shredding I saw the blades were completely impacted by tightly fused paper in each gap. For the second time this year I gathered my screw driver, pliers, razor knife and tweezers for the delicate operation of freeing the blades.

Two hours later the blades were free to rotate.

Paper Shredder
Progress made after about an hour.  Those little plugs on the right took another hour to remove!

And I had learned a very important lesson.

The previous weekend I had multiple experiences of my left jaw getting stuck, requiring me to manually manipulate it back in place.   Monday I checked in with my dentist who identified my injury as a jaw sprain.

I am going to stop here for a minute to allow you a chance to laugh, guffaw and make jokes about a jaw sprain!

Now that you got that out of your system, let me say that the Dentist assured me it had nothing to do with over talking, but was indeed a function of my deteriorating TMJ (tempomandibular joint).  After asking me all the typical questions about TMJ care (had I been wearing my mouth guard at night, was I eating hard foods, etc. ), all of which I answered appropriately she asked the clincher question – are you under a lot of stress?   My Dentist knows me so well that she took my hand and said, “I know you have a lot going on right now.”

I thought I am handling stress pretty well.  Apparently my body did not agree.

As I was fixing the shredder, I had a lightbulb moment.  The shredder failed because the warning sign of a bin nearing capacity was ignored.  Likely the person shredding thought “just one more piece.”

That sounds a lot like my life.  “I can say yes to that.”  “Oh you need me to run that errand for you?  Of course, I’d be glad to.”  “Sure I have time to take on that project.”   I keep adding one more commitment or task to my life bin, thinking that I can do it.  Just keep pushing a little past capacity.

And for a time that works.  Until – all of a sudden – the final piece enters the shredder path and brings it to a grinding halt.  Or in my case my jaw says “ENOUGH!”

I needed that visual of the jammed shredder blades to cause me to refocus some attention to my own capacity and the residue that gets left behind from pushing too hard for too long.

Here’s to paper shredders that don’t get pushed too hard, jaws that move as God created the to, and life bins that don’t overflow from ignoring capacity.

It’s Just a Little Thing

Today is packing day for our next week of Family Retreat.  Since Jerry comes up a couple days after me I leave all of his “stuff” in a corner of our den and his attendant picks it up on the way to camp.  I try to keep his pile as concise as possible.  I hung one bag over the handles of his main suitcase.

Later in the morning I realized I forgot to give him a laundry bag.  I took the lightweight mesh laundry bag and tucked it into an open space in the bag hanging from his suitcase.  Right away the bag and the suitcase fell over.  My first thought was, “for crying out loud, it’s a little light thing- how did it change the balance that much?”  So I picked the luggage up and it once again fell over (what’s the definition of insane?  Trying the same thing over again and expecting a different result . . . . ).

luggageThird time is a charm?  I realized I needed to turn the luggage around so the weight was leaning into another support.  And voila – it stayed upright!!

Right away God reminded me about periods in my life (some very recent) when I know I have a lot on my plate, but I continue to add more.  It often seems like the littlest thing that knocks me over.  Sometimes I even say to Jerry, “I don’t know why I am crying right now, it’s not a big deal.”

The luggage toppling with the addition of “a little thing” was the perfect real life picture for me to see what I do to my own heart and life so often.  Now if I can just remember this lesson in the dailyness of life . . . .