What is Putz? It has been 20 years since my mom passed in early 2001. Even though it has been a long time since she has physically been with me, I can still hear her voice in my head, repeating many of her motherly maxims. One of her favorite sayings, which has become more meaningful to me over time was, “It’s time to putz around.” Mom loved to “putz,” a 1960s term meaning something like “the ability to meander around the house or waste time on frivolous activity.” For mom, putzing had become her pause button. Raising seven children was no frivolous activity to be sure, so when she had a moment of rest, she putzed. In her case, she wasn’t wasting time, but rather finding space for recovery to regroup and recharge, readying herself to take the (mother) hill again.
When I was young, I didn’t understand why anyone would want to putz. I do now. The intensity of our lives accelerated yet again in the year 2020. I find when I let myself meander on a Saturday morning, I go from listening to a podcast to cleaning the silverware drawer. The ability to approach the day without structure, finding myself doing whatever happens to be in front of me is totally relaxing. Cleaning out the silverware drawer might be the most productive I’ve been that day but doing something physical while allowing the “must get dones” to melt out of my mind for just a little while gives me a different kind of energy. Even better, that mind wandering is where my best ideas hatch.
When asked “what are you up to?” from her sister on their Saturday morning phone call, my mom would proudly say, “I’m just putzing.” That was her badge of honor. Most of us want our badge of honor to display how much we get done, but my mom didn’t need to list all that she had done that week…it would have taken too long.
I’ve heard so many refrains this past 12 months of “I am seriously tired,” and I want to remind each of us to take a moment to drop the schedule and putz a bit. Or dance. Or laugh. The physical release is a given. The mental lift could change your entire attitude.
Now that I’ve answered the question “what is putz” I would love to hear what your favorite “putzing” looks like. Cheers!