by Stacia Friedman

Patti Carabba knows a lot about time management. The 60-year-old regional manager of Henkels & McCoy’s Training Program recalls being a young, divorced mother with four children and a full time job. And then her house burned down.

“I was juggling roles of mother, friend, employee, housekeeper, community member, sister, sister-in-law and daughter. I diligently crossed off my daily to-do lists, which left very little space for spontaneity or time for myself,” said Carabba. “I searched for a calendar/journal that would organize all of these obligations and help me organize my life.”

Carabba found the available day planners to be lacking. They were designed for business executives, not for soccer moms who need to help with homework, make cupcakes for the bake sale and find time to meditate. More importantly, Carabba realized that life was more than a series of lists delegating a task per hour.

“I realized I was not searching for the perfect calendar to organize my life – I was trying to find a different way to live life,” she said. The result is “Pass The Gravy: A Woman’s Planner/Journal That Allows for Grace by Creating Space,” just published in mid-December. “The publication date was delayed because my son was in the ICU the same time my daughter was giving birth,” said Carabba, who lives in Ambler.

“It is a collection of personal stories, each with a monthly theme, housed within a ‘time management’ planner/journal, which is designed to invite and encourage women to create space within their days, to allow for the unplanned, the divine, for grace to show up. I want to encourage women to put ‘being’ before doing in their daily routine.”

At one point in creating the essays, Carabba took a six-week writing workshop in Chestnut Hill with Helen Mallon. “The workshop’s deadlines helped me meet my goals,” she said.

This is a day planner that goes beyond the typical “To Do” list and includes spiritual guidance. “Pass the Gravy” begins, for example, with this prayer:

“Gracious God, who lives outside of time and resides in the imperishable moment, we ask Your blessing on this year and gift of time to us. May we be aware of the miracle of each second of life we experience. Help us not to miss that which is important while You keep us from a machine-like routine. May we ever be free from being clock watchers and instead become time lovers.”

Rather than starting with a list of things to do (i.e., dry cleaning, library visit, taxes, etc.), “Pass the Gravy” starts each day with a list of intentions: Heart & Soul, Relationships, Mind, Body, Fun and Money. “I once read an Indian proverb that stated every person is a house with four rooms: spiritual, physical, mental and emotional. In order to achieve balance, one must visit each of these rooms daily, if only to air it out,” said Carabba.

“The essays in the book evolved from my life. I walked away from God. I came back to God. And now I’ve learned how to walk with God.” Carabba’s relationship to both God and time management is a work-in-progress. “When I was in my 30s, I realized I suffered from obsessive compulsive disorder. I tried therapy and journaling. Nothing worked. I was not in a good place in my life.”

What worked? “I was inspired by Cheryl Strayed’s memoir, ‘Wild,’ in which she described how she broke free of her self-destructive behavior by going on a quest, hiking the brutal Pacific-Crest Trail.” Carabba wasn’t about to wander off into the wild. Instead, she visited the labyrinth at Chestnut Hill College. “I sat down in the center of the labyrinth and wrote in my journal. I realized it’s not how much I do that matters. It’s how I’m doing.”

From that day, Carabba started making small changes. “I begin each day by asking how I can serve and make time for meditation. I started doing yoga five days a week at Twisters in Erdenheim. I also began attending church on Sundays and going for a long walk afterwards. This allowed me to move from desperation to appreciation.

“I realized that being in relationship with God was not for the purpose of Him helping me to achieve my agenda and attain my goals, but for me to know His agenda and plan for my life. My ego challenges this daily, yet I know for sure this is the way home to myself, to my Creator, to the kingdom within, to grace.”

“Pass the Gravy” is 8”x11” and contains ample space for journaling and organizing and provides a detailed calendar of holidays. It is available at www.PattiCarabba.com and makes a thoughtful gift for any woman who needs a 48-hour day.

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