Archives for posts with tag: do the damned dishes!

I spent yesterday focused on self-care. I slept a lot. I also canceled prior plans, rather than expose friends to yet another opportunity to get sick. I drank water. I sipped broth. I soaked in a warm bath. I enjoyed a hot shower. I took a small amount of symptom relieving medication. I ate soup. I stayed home. It was all very dull. I was still sick enough that my most notable companion was the cough that developed during the week. I couldn’t focus very well, and reading just put me to sleep over and over again; sleep was likely what I needed most, anyway.

I slept like hell last night, waking around 1 am, coughing. I was up with that awhile until it settled down, and the next round of symptom relievers kicked in. I went back to bed, and slept badly awhile longer. I woke slowly around 8:00 am, which could have been sleeping in, if I hadn’t been up for 3 hours during the night, coughing.

…So far, I’m not coughing much this morning. This is a sign of real progress. I’m not “over it” yet, so today is a day to continuously remind myself not to “over do it”. The upcoming work week is a short one, and I can’t afford to lose even an hour of productive work time. I feel annoyed to catch myself balancing the needs of my employer against my own, as I consider the upcoming week, but this, too, is a sign of slow recovery. I may be properly well in time for Thanksgiving. I frown when the thought crosses my mind that if I’m not well, I should stay home from that holiday event, and let friends and fam enjoy it without me, rather than risk getting them sick. The thought of doing so saddens me, though it would certainly not be the first time I ditched on a holiday rather than get people sick. I really try not to share contagion.

I look around me this morning, and another sign of wellness as it returns to me is that I am very much aware (and self-conscious about) the disorder that has crept in all around while I have been too sick to care much about any of that. The dishwasher has clean dishes in it left from the last time I ran it, and there are dirty dishes covering the counter by the sink. All the soup mugs and most coffee mugs, many of the glasses, then the bowls, all of the flatware… I am annoyed by the disarray, although I don’t give myself any shit about it; I’ve been sick, it’s to be expected. In the bedroom, the general sense of order is lost to the visual chaos of piles of laundry here and there on the floor, obviously not sorted, just… clothes left where I dropped them. The vanity counter mocked me with the untidy display of cold remedies, an empty tissue box, and the earrings I was wearing when I came home from work early last Tuesday. This is unquestionably the worst my residence has looked… since the last time I was quite sick. This was supposed to be a weekend to clean house, bake for the upcoming holiday, and get some downtime, instead I’ll spend it attempting to prevent myself from “over doing it” on all the shit around me that clearly wants to get done, because if I throw myself into the matter energetically, without mindful self-care, and an awareness that I’ve been quite sick for several days, I’ll find myself exhausted and miserable tomorrow, and possible sicken myself all over again for the week to come.

Adulting is hard. lol

I start a load of laundry, as I head to the shower. No problem with the water pressure, and the load in the wash is cold-water wash, so no concern about cheating myself of hot water. It’s a time management win that doesn’t add a ton of additional effort to my experience. From the shower to the kitchen. Dishes now? Dishes later?

Coffee. Coffee first.

I sit down with a notepad and make notes instead of rushing into a ton of verbs without any organization at all; I’ve probably only got so much energy in me, today. Self-care has to stay at the top of my list. So… I put it there.

There’s something about a list on paper that just works for me.

I sip my coffee and consider what matters most, and start there. Obvious stuff, mostly: do the dishes, put them away, do laundry (already started), and put that away, too, take out the trash, break down the recycling and take that out, too. I stop there. I sip my coffee and stare out at the deck awhile. “Peanuts”, I think, as I watch the leaves shift in the wind beyond the sliding glass door, “I’m almost out of peanuts for the squirrels.” I add “get peanuts” to the list, and then, “get gas”. It’s enough. Could I do more? No idea, yet. This will be enough, though, and even gets me out of the house briefly. I consider whether to visit a local market, too; it would be a pleasant outing, and it is perhaps encouraging of further wellness, just that I am interested in considering the excursion. I make that one a maybe, and finish my coffee.

Pacing myself doesn’t really come very naturally to me. I grew up in a sort of “do something, even if it isn’t right” culture of taking action and initiative. Those aggressive cycles of activity and exhaustion make planning and following through on plans more difficult, though, and taking the approach that action comes ahead of thoughtful decision-making got me (someone with a dis-inhibiting executive function impairing brain injury) into way more trouble than it was worth! It’s not my way, these days. I follow a path of consideration and planning, and reliably careful execution, tempered with comfortable adaptability when plans fail. (My results vary.) Plans do fail. That’s just real. ūüôā No point taking that shit personally. Panic and drama are not welcome.

The wind is blowing furiously today. I watch the leaves skitter across the deck, even being lifted from the damp pile of reds and golds back into the air to twirl and drift back down. Autumn. I do love this season. It is my favorite. I’m tempted to take a short hike today. I correct myself to consider only a short walk, instead. Even that might be a bit of a stretch. I sigh quietly; it’s hard to pace myself. The moment I begin feeling better I want to race out into the world in a flurry of activity. It’s a poor choice. I lead my thoughts back to my list, and my more modest plan for the day. It’ll still be autumn next weekend. ūüôā

I finish my coffee, and prepare to begin again. The day unfolds ahead of me, built on a gentle plan, and my reminder that self-care is still my highest priority.

I am sipping my coffee, feeling well-rested, and contemplating the weeks ahead. I’ve got a couple weekends here at home, and a rather lengthy list of “shit to get done” – mostly stuff that’s fallen a bit behind because I spend so many weekends away, these days. It’s basic housekeeping stuff: a handful of “still haven’t finished moving in” sorts of things, some common enough household repairs I can easily handle myself, and some overdue errands… real life, in list form. The list has grown long.

I’ve been enjoying life, without regret, and without allowing the list to get in the way. It’s all stuff that does need to get done, though. I’ve got a couple weekends ahead with which to do it (I am clearly not getting much of it done in the evenings after work). I find myself thinking sternly that it is time to find a proper balance between relaxing and finding chill space, contentment, and a drama free zone… and getting shit done. lol

I listen to the birds singing as day begins to break on the slim slice of horizon I see beyond my studio window. Physical limitations are hard to argue with. Cognitive limitations are hard to argue with. Shit still needs to get done. Every. Damned. Day. It’s only Wednesday morning, but since I returned home Sunday afternoon, I’ve managed to use every glass in the place – and I know this, because they are all neatly lined up on the kitchen counter, above the dishwasher, which is full of clean dishes that need to be put away (from Thursday morning)… except glasses, which I have removed from the dishwasher one by one, to use, then placed neatly on the counter. Omg – am I fucking kidding me??? Not okay. lol

I breathe. Relax. Feel my shoulders drop back down where they belong, after having crept upwards with tension, as I considered the dishes that desperately want doing. I dislike dirty dishes on this whole other “I will have a motherfucking breakdown if this shit does not change!!” sort of level – it’s been an issue for many years. Doesn’t matter that it’s me leaving the mess behind (that may make it matter more, actually) – it just needs to be handled. So human. I don’t think that is really going to change.

I smile and turn the page on my lengthy list of things to get done; it’s grown quite long over weeks and months, and it has become a source of frustration more than a list. So. I turn the page, and I begin again. A literal new list, a list for right now, and that lists some low-hanging fruit, and things that matter most. A list for evenings after work, leading up to this next, one, weekend. Only that. This is a less daunting list, already, and I find myself rather strangely already more motivated to get started.

…I can do the dishes before I head to the office this morning.

It’s time to begin again.

This morning I slept in. This morning I slept in so hard I missed a couple phone calls from my traveling partner. I woke hours later than usual, although I had gone to bed at a fairly normal adult hour sometime shortly after 10 pm, even taking that into account, I slept in far later than usual and managed a bit more than 9 hours of sleep. I woke with a stuffy head, a bit dizzy, and too groggy for the speed and dexterity I seemed to expect to have. I slowed myself down, answered the phone and enjoyed the sound of my traveling partner’s voice first thing in the morning – a lovely treat – ¬†and afterward turned on the stereo, and eased my stiffness with some yoga.

Coffee time! Oh…hey…who ¬†left dishes in the sink over night? Oh. Right. Me. I feel real irritation on the edge of anger surge through me, requiring a moment to breathe, and slow things down again.

Damn it.

Damn it.

I have some baggage around dirty dishes, associated with domestic violence at a point in life when my injury was relatively recent. Dirty dishes in the sink resurrect all sorts of chaos and damage for me, beginning with irritation and resentment, and moving through a spectrum of negative emotions. There was an emotional moment, hands clenching the edge of the sink, body trembling – I just want to make my coffee, now, but the dishes commanded my full attention; the dishwasher is full of clean dishes, and having forgotten to unload it right after work, and¬†also putting off the dishes¬†after dinner was made – promising myself to handle it ‘soon’ which became ‘after __’, which then became ‘before bed’, then didn’t happen at all. I’m irked at myself. I dislike disorder on a pretty powerful level¬†– the disorder in my kitchen screams at me about the potential for disorder in the rest of my¬†experience, and in my thinking.

I take a deep breath. I give myself a moment to recognize that nothing in the sink is actually an impediment to making coffee¬†and enjoying it. Hell – it’s not even a lot of dishes, and they were rinsed before being placed in the sink. I am over-reacting. Still, my own perspective on the dishes is that taking care of me means an orderly tidy clean kitchen – for me. Because I said. (No other reason is really necessary – although honestly, a dirty kitchen is a health hazard.) I treated myself poorly by not making a point of taking care of the dishes last night. It’s necessary to recognize and accept both the circumstances and my feelings in order to take better care of me going forward – and to make amends¬†and let it go. Yes, of course making amends is relevant even when I disappoint myself. I will face lingering irritation every time I look in the kitchen – and it may even stall my enjoyment of other parts of my day – until I make things¬†right with me. It’s not about domestic servitude, obligation, the expectations of others, or rules – I really dislike¬†dishes being left in the sink, and most particularly overnight. Why is not relevant to the moment.

This is¬†not really even about dishes, specifically. I bring it up because it illuminates a particular point about self-care. How so? Well… in shared domestic experience dishes can quickly become major drama – because like a lot of small details, how people¬†treat each other really matters. Being considerate of each others values is a big deal. That’s so obviously true when I¬†think about my¬†relationships with others…but what about my relationship with myself? ¬†This morning¬†I find that it’s also true within my experience of myself. I am¬†annoyed¬†with myself for treating myself poorly. I like waking up to a very tidy kitchen, a clean bathroom, soft vacuumed carpet under my bare feet, and details well-managed for beautiful living, and I know this about me…and rather inconsiderately¬†still¬†let myself down last night. So…now what? I have come far enough to know that continuing to mistreat myself by moving on from¬†something as¬†small¬†as leaving a couple of rinsed dishes in the sink over night¬†to berating myself for¬†having done so¬†is not ‘treating myself well’. Emotional self-abuse can take up a lot of valuable time on pointless bullshit. (I’m still annoyed, though, and I’ll be doing the dishes once my coffee is finished.)

I yearn to treat myself 100% as well as I would treat my¬†most adored lover – and to do so as well as I would strive to do in the¬†first precious weeks of connecting and investing in love. Seriously – why wouldn’t I treat me the very best I know how? That doesn’t mean Affogatos every morning – that would be mistreatment through over-indulgence. It doesn’t mean spending my disposable income on enticing frivolities – that would be mistreatment through failure to manage my resources for long-term comfort and success. It doesn’t mean refusing to spend another dollar on groceries to be frugal, at the expense of good quality nutrition and health – that would be mistreatment through a false sense of economy. (I can hear my traveling partner laughing and saying “well, what does it mean?”, and pointing out that I am phrasing things in the negative.) One thing it definitely does mean is practicing practices that build and maintain the quality of life in which I personally thrive – with a commitment to practical tasks and habits being established that keep a good household running well, however small.¬†It means doing the damned dishes promptly. It means running the vacuum cleaner¬†every day. It means – for me – making the bed in the morning, adjusting the curtains for the lighting I like, and keeping my home tidy at the standard that satisfies and pleases me, unapologetically – and also without treating myself badly by berating myself when I miss the mark. I am human, and this is a human experience. Highs, lows, successes, failures – my results vary.

I am feeling ready to stand out - unapologetically precisely who I am.

I am feeling ready to stand out – unapologetically precisely who I am.

I made my coffee, and I am taking time to enjoy it while I write. It’ll be a lovely day to catch up on a few things, and to take care of me by taking care of home and hearth – mindful service, not indentured servitude, because I can rather than because I must. Gracious delight and investment in self is a lovely approach to taking great care of this wee home I have made, and resentment is not an element of that experience. Like a child ‘playing house’, I have a clear idea of ‘home’ and what it takes to maintain that feeling – and it’s fun to do those things for myself. Even the dishes – although damn I wish I’d done them last night.¬†ūüôā