Archives for posts with tag: tidying up

My last day at my previous job was Wednesday. It’s Friday, today. I spent much of yesterday “overhauling” my studio (which is also my office, for work purposes), cleaning, tidying, organizing – putting away what once was, and making room for what is yet to come. The result? Honestly, it was a satisfying project, and it felt as if I managed to “get more moved in”. Certainly, I finished off some incomplete moving-in tasks (like actually filing the paperwork associated with the mortgage closing, the new utility bills, and the move, itself), and surprised myself by finding quite a few things that I’d managed to lug along to this new place that I truly don’t need (or value) now. I made a pile of those odds and ends, and what is still serviceable has been dropped off at a local donation center, to benefit someone else for awhile.

Today, I made the day about doing the same sort of work in my library (the smallest of the bedrooms, well-suited to being a quiet reading nook, cozy with book-filled bookshelves, and a comfy couch – and handily available as a spare bedroom, when needed). It sounds rather grand to have a library…but I’ve certainly got enough books that they need a room of their own, if I’m not making use of them in the living room décor. lol By the time I was done, there was another trip to be made to take things to a donation center, with an entire shopping bag filled with cookbooks it turns out I don’t use (not even one recipe, which sort of defeats the entire purpose of a cookbook). There’s no sadness there; I read them. I enjoyed them. They don’t meet the need, and in their departure there is now room for some other cookbook that may be “just the thing” for how I cook now. Dusting. Vacuuming. Sorting books that seemed out of place into the places it seemed they belonged. Clearing the closet of random weird clutter that had been shoved into that mostly hidden location “until I can get to it” – back when we moved in. I laughed about that more than once while I worked.

…It was my Traveling Partner’s idea to tidy “my” spaces between jobs, and not out of any need to nag me about the housekeeping; he knows me. I’d asked “what will I get most benefit from in order to get real down time between these jobs?” He suggested – as I had been considering, myself – that I take a trip to the coast and spend the weekend there, solo (I head out tomorrow morning, early). Then, he suggested-more-than-asked that I clean up my studio and library over the long weekend, too. I agreed, and it seemed a good use of my time, but I didn’t really grasp how deeply satisfying and… “wholesome”(?) it would feel. (Sure, “wholesome works – and it has felt both satisfying and rather restful and delightful.) My partner understood more than I did, when he made his suggestion about the tidying, how much I really would get out of it, as a project between jobs. 🙂

Today, I’m grateful to have a partner who knows me so well. I’m feeling contented and satisfied, and happy to be alive. I feel secure and comfortable in this home we’ve made together. I feel loved, and supported. It’s nice.

Tomorrow I’ll head to the coast, check into a room, and walk the beach for hours taking pictures of nothing-in-particular, and listening to the wind and the waves, and asking myself hard questions, and listening to my own thoughts for awhile. I’ll meditate. I’ll write. I’ll think. I’ll read. I’ll be, quiet and still, alone with the woman in the mirror. (I’m okay with that; we’re very close. 😉 )

…I’ll miss my Traveling Partner while I am away, and that’s a good thing; we need to miss each other now and then, to really appreciate how fortunate we are to love as we do, and to re-explore our joy together with new eyes. It’s been a long pandemic year…

…It’s time to begin again.

I got home so brain-tired yesterday that the rainy day commute did not have the power to stress me out; I had no fucks left to give, in the gentlest nicest way. I just could not do anything beside safely gently drive home, park the car, and then… well, just basically nothing at all. lol

The rain continued to fall off and on all evening. I sat quietly enjoying the sound of it. Meditation. Yoga. A mug of hot tasty broth. A small glass of port, sipped slowly while I chatted for a few minutes with my Traveling Partner. Quiet. Merry. It was a lovely evening.

I slept restlessly, waking every two hours or so, checking the clock, returning to sleep. I woke ahead of the alarm, but close enough; I got up early. Yoga. Strength training. A shower. A very tasty almond milk latte that shows I have been practicing; best so far. A gentle morning, in spite of my arthritis pain.

I am eager for the long weekend ahead. No occasion. Well, me. That’s my occasion. It’s the autumnal equinox, and I am taking a long weekend to meditate, and to paint. It’s only blip on the radar this morning, of little consequence, although I have a to do list waiting for me each evening that is intended to see all the housekeeping completed before the work week ends. (How’s that going, so far, then? LOL) I’m contentedly resigned to the high likelihood that I’ll actually spend Thursday afternoon on all of that, simply because the beginnings of this week are so crammed with work-day activities that I am utterly exhausted when I get home in the evenings. It is what it is. I don’t give myself any shit about being human very often anymore.

I am mildly irked about having to go in to the office on Thursday, which jammed up  my original plan to camp on the coast and meditate on the shore over the long weekend, but the goings on in the office are not just a big deal; this particular bit is about/for the work I specifically do, so… yeah. It’d be hard to delegate that. I don’t even want to. Aaaaaand… inspiration struck me, which matters a great deal, and I need to take the new studio space for a test drive. 😀 So. Change of plans. A painting stay-cation, and I am eager to get on with it. There’s still the rest of this week, as short as it is, to get through… so.

I finish my coffee, still staring at that to do list. I find myself noticing that several listed tasks are sufficiently “quiet” that I can knock some of this out before work…

…A good opportunity to begin again. 🙂

Have you seen my way of doing things? I’m asking, because I may have lost it…

I got home last night, after a long day at work, still feeling quite merry and content, in spite of a handful of ill-mannered commuters (yes manners are still a thing). Perhaps they’ve also lost their way? My traveling partner had evening plans, though they didn’t appear on his calendar (his plans often don’t) and I expected a quiet evening at home. My expectations were unrealistic and quickly reset. First, the pharmacy rang me, just as I got home; my Rx was filled and please pick it up… Well, that’s going kill 90 minutes of my 4 hour evening to do it by bus, probably about the same to walk. I sigh, and step over the threshold, into my sanctuary of … Oh hey, damn. Dishes in the sink. An empty pop bottle on a side table. Recycling really needs to go out. Another sigh. I get to work on the dishes while I figure out how to handle the trip to the pharmacy, settling on asking a friend for a favor – maybe he’ll give me a ride there & back?

One thing I love about living alone, generally, is that there are certain things that make me feel very much at ease, and comfortable, and cared-for, that I reliably do for myself. I like to wake to no dishes in the sink and a clean kitchen. I like to come home to that, too. I prefer that no beverage containers or used dishes be left laying about, and usually have the dishwasher ready-to-go for dirty dishes to make that easy. I enjoy a measure of order – it’s one way of fighting off the chaos within. I take the trash out most days, because I don’t like the smell of it, ever, at all – so out it goes, on the regular, no nagging or reminders required. I like to get a lot of those sorts of tidying up details kept up – it matters to me. The order in my environment reflects my own sense of being – and that works with disorder, too. If I come home to disorder, expecting order – the order I typically quite specifically prepare for myself – it is jarring. Unpleasantly so. Other people, other needs – other habits.

My neighbor was available and happy to help. By the time he was ready, most of the housekeeping was done. I still hadn’t had dinner. My blood sugar was low and I was starting to feel irritable. There is no time in such a short evening for fucking about with extra shit. I feel frustrated by that. I’d grown used to being at leisure, and able to just take care of me in the fashion that feels most natural to me.

I’m still feeling frustrated and irritable when I return home from the pharmacy, but coping with it – no tears or tantrums. I swallow some orange juice and have a hard-boiled egg while I finish off things like taking out the trash and recycling, and having a shower, then making a salad for dinner, and… the evening is over. Yeah. I gotta figure this weekday evening thing out. I need a more elegant flow. A more routine routine. A more comfortable fit. I feel on the edge of tears, for really no “reason”, and more than a little confused by the flood of unexpected emotion. A deep breath. Another. I don’t fight off my emotions, anymore; I listen. Emotions are not about “reason”.

Taking a moment to be kind to myself, I remind myself that I just started a new job, just as a planned house guest arrived with all the chaos of visiting travelers, and at that same time I also got sick – greatly limiting my ability to keep things up for myself, certainly not up to being a live-in maid for guests. With a house guest and my traveling partner coming and going without any particular planning, and very different habits at home than I have, myself – things got a bit untidy. Oh, not terribly so, and anyone with kids at home would laugh off my frustration, almost certainly. Day-to-day, these days, I live in a fairly ordered environment in many respects, more so perhaps than many people would really be comfortable with. It suits (and soothes) me. I pause to recognize that it is, nonetheless, quite a luxury, and that building it is a commitment to myself. I breath. I consider my needs. I consider my aesthetic. I consider my… time. Yep. I’m a planner – by trade, and by tendency. I open my calendar, and feel myself relax.

It wasn’t that long ago, I used to let my own quirks frustrate me, instead of using them to my advantage. My moods ran my life, called my shots, and ruined my relationships. I blamed emotion generally, and cursed its very existence, seeking any method to shut that shit down – permanently. I grew up hearing women called crazy, generally in the context of expressing emotions, often very strong emotion. Made sense to me – emotional tantrums seem “crazy”, particularly when they spill over seemingly inappropriately onto some innocent bystander’s experience. Only… it’s garbage. Emotional intelligence, unfortunately, is not yet taught commonly in our schools – or in our homes.

"Emotion and Reason" 18" x 24" acrylic w/ceramic and glow details

“Emotion and Reason” 18″ x 24″ acrylic w/ceramic and glow details

Our emotions are not criminal. Our emotions are not the bad guys. Our emotions are not beyond our control – and controlling them is not necessarily in our best interests. We’re not creatures of pure reason who happen to be inflicted with emotion as some sort of disorder. 🙂 We are also not creatures of pure emotion, struggling to bring order to the chaos through the magical power of reason. We are creatures of emotion and reason. Our emotions shout at us to be heard, and it’s hard to fight to make good decisions through that din, without at least some emotional intelligence.

As a female human being, I have often been told – verbally or non-verbally, explicitly or implicitly – that I am “too emotional” or that my emotions in some moment are the problem. Often whatever circumstance, information, or behavior that has caused some shit storm of emotion is over-looked, or excused, because hey – emotions can be blamed for … everything!! Only… no. I’m not having it anymore. My emotions are not a criminal act. Treating them as though they are is very misleading self-deception. To be fair, I’m also not yielding the “driver’s seat” in life to pure emotion – that just seems silly. Emotions aren’t a crime, or a handicap, but they are also not the best tool for certain sorts of decision-making. What works best for me are emotion and reason, balanced, working together, awake, aware, and present – this is what I’m practicing, myself, and this is who I am. Well… mostly. Generally. As a goal, and with some practice. A lot of practice. 😀 Yep. There are verbs involved. My results vary. 😉

I sip my coffee feeling relaxed. My after-work efforts last night made a difference in my morning, even though I was frustrated by how little time there is in an evening, these days. Last night my frustration didn’t take over, and didn’t wreck my evening. I woke after a restful night. Enjoyed unmeasured quiet minutes of meditation, some yoga, a lovely hot shower, and now this excellent cup of coffee. I feel content. Relaxed. Worthy. This morning, in the context of very different emotions, my experience is pleasant and comfortable. My emotions told me something about what matters most to me, and because I listened and took action to address the things that do matter to me (quite directly, by doing some basic housekeeping, and also making a point to enjoy some non-housekeeping minutes before calling it a night), I feel heard. No tantrum. No drama. My calendar now has the weekend planned, and Saturday set aside for “serious housework”; the fall cleaning I’d done just before returning to work was completely undone by having guests, parties, coming and going, and being sick. I know I will get great satisfaction from restoring order. 🙂

Another sigh. Taking care of me just isn’t ever about anyone else. The standards that matter are my own. The needs that must be met are also mine. The time taken to care for myself is always well-spent. Today is a good day to begin again, and to invest in taking care of me; when I do, I am more able to treat the world well, and to be love. 🙂 That’s enough… It just takes practice.

 

Tomorrow I go back to work. That isn’t today. Today, however, is a good day to prepare, to make myself ready, to review plans and expectations, to jot down questions, to plot a new commute with care, and plan out new routines that take into account my return to the workforce, as well as the likelihood that I’ll be seeing a great deal more of my traveling partner as the weather turns from festival summer to fireside fall.

The end of a chilly rainy autumn day.

Yesterday ended well, although chilly.

Who am I? It seems a day for such questions. Rainy. Mild. More yellow and amber tones in the leaves of the trees on the far side of the park than there were yesterday. Evidence of time passing, and of seasons changing. I feel transformed, myself, and able to face the prospect of working with quite a bit more contentment, and in much less day-to-day pain, even with the chill of autumn approaching. Has it really meant so much to take this time to care for myself, to live on my own terms, to follow my own agenda? Just six months? Worth it. Totally worth it. I’ll even be taking understandings gained and this perspective on the healing power of leisure into the workplace with me; I’ve learned a lot that has value to long-term workforce management strategies. Am I this person, this analyst-manager, this workforce management professional, this corporate employee? Is this who I am? No. Not really. I am not my work.

I look around the studio, very tidy – even projects in progress are cleaned up, for now, and put neatly aside. I’ll have a guest for some days, soon. Is this who I am? Hostess? Family member, local matriarch, devoted servant of home and hearth? Or am I the artist who has so accommodatingly set everything aside to welcome friends in need, lovers in distress, a traveler returning home, or family visiting from afar? Am I the frustrated citizen, attempting to dot i’s, cross t’s, and jump through hoops of paperwork on fire to comply with some requirement or another? Am I the disabled veteran, committed to my wellness, frustrated by “the system”, still doing what I can to meet my own needs over time, through diet, exercise, and careful management of my health? Am I the woman on the meditation cushion in the window, content, calm, relaxed? (Occasionally distracted with childlike delight to see a squirrel dart past, or a woodpecker stop at the suet feeder, sending both bird and feeder spinning crazily, to my great amusement.)

Who am I? Am I all these – or none? When I cling to some singular potentially defining quality, like my appearance, or an attitude, or a characteristic, or some detail singled out, change becomes such a frightening destructive force, with the potential to rob me of who I am. “Who am I?” is a question that quite honestly used to terrify me – not because I didn’t have a sense of self, but because I didn’t know what “the right answer” was, and that, by itself, was quite terrifying. Follow that with finding myself unclear on precisely what is required to prove the answer. Yep. Terrifying to feel so… unidentified.

There is no “right” answer. There may be quite a few… not “wrong” exactly… “incorrect”? Inaccurate. There may be quite a few inaccurate answers. I take time to consider the difference between “accurate” and “honest”. Truthful fits in there, somewhere, too. I’m not sure that accuracy in the details that describe this being of light wrapped in this fragile vessel made of meat actually answers the question “who am I?” at all well.

It’s a pleasant enough autumn morning, on the edge of a major life change. It seems a good time to give a moment of thought and consideration to the woman in the mirror. It doesn’t have to be fancy, or deep, or complicated; I’ll pick out work clothes for tomorrow at some point later, and likely find myself contemplating the woman in the mirror, who she has become, where she is headed, and how she hopes to share herself in this new context. That’s enough for now. 🙂

A cloudy autumn day suitable for hiking. A good day to walk on; the journey isn't about the destination.

Today begins well, a cloudy autumn day suitable for hiking. The season is changing.

Today is a good day to consider the journey. Today is a good day to walk on. Change is. Perhaps it’s just the season for it? 🙂

Today is a good day for tidying up, and taking care of small things. I keep a list. I lose track if I don’t, and it doesn’t take long for some avalanche of little things to suddenly feel very big, and very overwhelming. So I have my list. Wobbly table? I put it on the list when I notice it (or when my traveling partner points it out!),  and practice staying on track with the moment I am in, without being distracted by minutiae. Some things just don’t ‘go on the list’ – a sticky spill, for example, or something that is a health or safety hazard, but most other sorts of small tasks that catch my attention go on my list to be undertaken in a thought out way, on a day that makes sense, perhaps grouped with other similar tasks. It is my way of getting as much done as I do. I can’t ‘recommend it’ – we’re different people. You likely have your own way.

Today it has been a rainy day of chores off the list: laundry, fix a wobbly table, build a lamp (some assembly required), empty a bookcase to straighten it, sort out some of the books, and a few other assorted household tasks that tend to seem ordered and fulfilling. I am sometimes surprised by how much difference a handful of small quality of life improvements can make in an increased sense of living well and treating myself well. These sorts of small tasks seem most pleasant and satisfying when I don’t feel rushed, compelled, or obligated, and I really dislike forgetting one of them completely for some prolonged period of time. They aren’t generally the sorts of things that improve for being overlooked longer, and I so easily forget them… and sometimes I… just can’t. Living alone there is no one else reminding me. When I live with other people, the observations (theirs and my own) come at me too quickly to keep track, and I certainly can’t keep up in the here-and-now trying to complete them immediately. “The Way of the List” works for me, and today I am working off the list. 🙂

Simple and enough.

Simple and enough.

Little things can make such a big difference. A tender word in a difficult moment, an unexpected smile, a sweet romantic kiss, a new solution, another point of view, a great cup of coffee, a word of praise, overcoming something I’ve struggled with, recognition of new skills, or appreciating a moment of insight, a shared moment – quiet, connected, intimate – and the little things love has to offer are every bit as big a deal as the little things I might do to treat myself particularly well. I think about my ‘to do’ list, and the way it sort of ‘holds on to my intentions’ so that I can take care of them later. How do I ‘hold on to’ all the little things I want to do to show my affection, my love, my appreciation… all the best of who I am, who I am inspired to be…so that when I am struggling with some other thing, feeling I am letting myself down, or failing someone dear to me, I can ‘check my list’ and do the things that I know matter most and say ‘I love you’ most clearly?  This isn’t about damage control, this is about growth and building on a good foundation. 🙂

Interesting thoughts on a rainy Saturday. I move through my space gently, practicing mindful awareness as I dust, straighten, and tidy up. Often playing a fun game with myself of ‘can I step so gently moment to moment that the water in the aquarium never moves?’ I’m not very good at it yet. I practice. I have left the weekend open, free of plans, giving myself time to really rest. The morning with my traveling partner was lovely, chill, and intimate. The afternoon has been productive, merry, and satisfying. I’ve no idea what the evening holds; I may be alone, but it’s not a given, so I keep working down the list, taking breaks to write, to have some water or a piece of fruit, or to chill quietly and relax for a moment and enjoy the day.

I find myself yawning. Coffee time or nap time? Looking out over the marsh I see the egret relaxing, and the ducks sitting, seeming quite content with their lot. I decide on a coffee; by the time I finished folding all the clothes (tossed unsorted on the clean comforter) so I could take a nap, I’ll have forgotten that’s what I was interested in. May as well have the coffee. 🙂