Throw Out Your Black Purse

By DiAnn Mills @DiAnnMills

Guest Post By Tammy Karasek @TammyKarasek

We’ve all been given the same number of hours in a day and days in a week. We can’t change either of those. I’m not speaking in terms of how long we live, although we don’t choose that either. I’m focusing on the time we spend on our day-to-day activities.

Do we rush through, checking off our to-do list as if we’ll get a trophy or ribbon at the end of the week? Do we cross off one item, then add three more?

How many of us would raise our hand to those questions? I’m raising mine, that’s for sure. Often, I seem to race through my day, then move toward panic mode as the list grows rather than shrinks.

When I find myself in such a hurried state and near exhaustion or break-down mode, I’m reminded of a petite lady my family encountered at a memory care unit where my grandma once lived. The lady’s name was Janet.

I can still remember my mom, husband, and daughter sitting in my grandma’s room. Rules of the facility were that all doors were to be kept open at all times by the residents. Residents were free to walk the hall and go to the community room at their leisure, but could never go into another resident’s room without their permission. Ms. Janet obeyed the rules.

Our daughter was talking when suddenly, someone was talking in the doorway. She spoke with a soft voice. “Hello.” We responded—or started to. She immediately went into a story.

“I thought I would stop and say hello. Hello. I’m very busy, so many things.” She looked down at her watch, not set to the current time, and continued. “Yes, there is so much to do. I have to do all the things. So many things.”

She reached to the flat, empty black purse with the gold-ball clasp and short handles hanging at the crook of her elbow. Opened it. Closed it. Adjusted it back to her bent elbow. Then looked at her watch. Adjusted it on her wrist “Oh my. Time is getting late. I won’t have time to finish all the things I’ve got to do. I must go do all the things. Must go. Gotta go.”

And she was off. No wave. No goodbye.

We looked at each other and shrugged. My sweet grandma shook her head. “That woman comes to my door all day long. She says nothing else other than she has so many things to do, must go.”

Curious, my daughter and I peeked out of Grandma’s door and looked down the hall. Sure enough, she’d stopped at the next door. Same words. Same actions with her watch and her black purse. Similar to a wash, rinse, repeat cycle. At that moment, a nurse came by and said, “Ah, I see you’ve met Janet.”

“Yes, she stopped at Grandma’s door.”

“That’s her thing. Every day. All day. The same thing. She had to have been so busy in her life, and that’s where her mind has stopped in the groove of her record. It seems she did and did, but didn’t live.” The nurse went down the hall.

I returned to my chair. Thinking of not only Ms. Janet, but the words the nurse had said. Was I guilty of the same lifestyle? Did I zip through life doing but not living?

What had she done or not done during her life that had left such an impression on her mind? As our visits continued, we realized Ms. Janet was stuck in a loop.

That was twenty-one years ago, and it comes back to me every time I over-schedule myself. I see Ms. Janet and her broken watch and empty black purse. I hear her words. I feel her anguish of worrying if I will get it all done.

I’ve created a reality check for myself called the Ms. Janet Check. When I wind up where I’m in that overwhelmed mode with all the things on my list, I will find my hubby. I’ll look at him and grin, then say, “Me and my black purse have too much to do, so many things, gotta go.”

We both laugh. I’ll shuffle back to my desk and my list and see Ms. Janet in my mind. I know it’s time to throw out the purse and build in those necessary margins for living.

I question what opportunities I’m missing that the Lord has chosen me to do for Him, but I’m too busy checking off my list, adjusting my watch and black purse, that I don’t even see those divine appointments. Am I too busy I miss important encounters with people who need a hand, an ear, a shoulder?

I challenge you today to put your black purse down and make sure you create a schedule that allows you to be available for Kingdom work.   


Tammy Karasek uses humor and wit to bring joy and hope to every aspect in life. Her past, filled with bullying and criticism from family, drives her passion to encourage and inspire others and give them The Reason to smile. She’s gone from down and defeated to living a “Tickled Pink” life as she believes there’s always a giggle wanting to come out!

A writer of Romance—with a splash of sass. She’s also The Launch Team Geek helping authors launch their books and also a Virtual Assistant for several best-selling authors. She is now under contract for her book on Launch Teams due to release Fall 2023. Her work was also published in a Divine Moments Compilation Book—Cool-inary Moments.

She’s also the Social Media Manager for the Blue Ridge Mountains Christian Writers Conference, Founding President and current Vice-President of ACFW Upstate SC, and Founding President of Word Weavers Upstate SC. She’s a writing team member for The Write Conversation Blog, Novel Academy, MBT Monday Devotions, The Write Editing and more. Connect with Tammy at

Thank you, Tammy. I learned so much from your post. I think we all did!