Tag Archives: laundry

Nighttime Self-Pity

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I’m feeling crazy and tired.
Kids are whimpering,
arguing,
resisting going to bed.
There is a mountain of laundry
waiting on my bed,
beckoning me
in a way I don’t want to be beckoned.
And their dad
is at a yoga class.
I ask why
he didn’t want to go to yoga
until he wanted a divorce.
Maybe he’ll find
another yoga teacher
to marry.

Singletasking

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Anybody who has taken care of children and has wanted to get anything else done has come to know the importance of multitasking. The children may be bellowing for lunch, and while I’m waiting for the food to heat up, I’m also emptying the dishwasher, switching out a load of laundry, changing the cats’ water, responding to a colleague’s email, picking up books and toys that have been strewn about on the living room floor, running to the bathroom to pee at turbo speed so that no one has the chance to hurt anyone else in my absence. My attention can be divided many different ways, and lots of things can still get done–but I end up feeling a bit rushed, tense, trying to accomplish so much in so little time.

I decided today, when I had a moment to myself, that I was going to try to give all of my attention to just one task, in five minute increments. And this, I decided, was going to feel meditative and restful. I needed to fill out a bunch of paperwork for a new yoga teaching gig with one of the local recreation and parks councils, and I wasn’t looking forward to it. At all. I kind of hate filling out form and form after form. You know the image of someone dangling a carrot in front of a donkey’s nose to keep the beast moving forward? Normally at a time like this, faced with a distasteful task, I offer myself some kind of carrot to keep my attention going in the forward direction, giving me hope for my life after the task is complete. So that’s what I started to do. After I fill those papers out, I told myself, I’m going to let myself write in my journal for a while. Because what I really wanted to do was write in my journal. Not laundry, not paperwork, not lunch preparation, journal.

There is a danger in this offering myself a carrot for motivation, and putting off doing what I really want to do so that I can first handle something I really don’t like.  To a bystander this delayed gratification technique might seem like a normal adult thing to do, a good idea. However, I’ve done this enough to realize that I actually don’t get to the thing I really want to do, because there are so many other priorities that take precedence over my desire to create, or rest, or just sit and enjoy a cup of tea. And of course you know what happens when we don’t get to do the thing we really want to do. We sad.

Hence, my idea of five minute increments of “singletasking.” Five minutes is an utterly reasonable period of time to devote all of my attention to something boring, knowing that I will switch to something lovely right after. So I reached for my iPhone, brought up my Insight Timer app, and programmed a sixty minute session with bells ringing every five minutes to signal when it was time to switch tasks.

It worked. I put the paperwork aside when the interval bells rang, and I happily reached for my journal. Oh joy! I’m a fountain pen girl, and I just recently switched the cartridge in my pen to some beautiful turquoise ink. How delicious it was to move from the black and white of tax withholding forms to the creamy pages of my Moleskine Volant journal and the flow of blue-green dancing at the tip of my pen.

Of course, five minutes later, I needed to set the beautiful thing down, and pick up the black pen and get back to the paperwork grindstone. And having to stop my thoughts short, when I was so ready to keep them going down my arm, through my hand, down the pen, and onto the page, well…that felt like…I’d tell you what it felt like, but I’d need to make sure you’re 18 first. Hint: The color blue. Second Hint: Male parts, involved in reproduction. SighBeing a woman, I’ve never had to experience firsthand what I’m alluding to, but having had plenty of guy friends tell me all about it, I can safely say that putting the cap on my pen when I’m full of ideas that want to just dance and shout and cry out onto the page is… just like that.

So singletasking. It worked. I must’ve switched back and forth between filling out forms and writing in my journal about four times before the paperwork was done, and it was time to jump into the rest of the morning’s tasks.  I finished with my journal, and I felt delighted. Content. Satisfied. And I was ready to tackle getting my son ready to go out into the frigid winter air so that we could 1)Drop off the forms at the rec office, 2)Pick up some groceries, 3)Fetch my daughter from preschool, 4)Return home, put groceries away, prepare lunch.

That moment with my journal and those forms gave me ideas about the same kind of structure applied to different tasks. This afternoon I rolled out my yoga mat, and dragged the three brimming baskets of clean laundry to the table to fold. I set the timer. I was ready to practice yoga and fold laundry in five minute increments. I am going to save the world! This is great! I was pretty excited to see how this was going to unfold. Or should I say, fold?

But then my neighbor came over with her son. My mat got rolled up and stowed against the wall. Her son joined my two kids who were parked in front of the TV watching a movie, and I folded the three loads of laundry while we talked.  The female companionship was just as good–if not better–than practicing asana. Time ceased to exist while I listened and was heard. But that is another story for another day.

Toodle loo!

Climb the Mountain…Blow It Down

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Just a quick check in to say, I have a mountain of laundry that threatens to bury us all, and an equally large mountain of resistance to doing the laundry. I want to finish my daughter’s rainbow tote, I want to rest, maybe do some restorative yoga–I feel exhausted from this week. I’d rather create than do more work to keep the house in order.

This morning, as I was trying to help smooth the breakfast routine along, I was rinsing dishes at the sink thinking about what stands in front of me when I sit down to write. I always have this feeling of being blocked, like I really don’t have anything interesting to say, and even the first words I type will be wrong, meaningless, unimportant. If I try to come up with a title first, then there is resistance to that process, and the thought that the title won’t be pertinent.  I might try to reassure myself that I can choose a title later, but then there’s an argument to that thought too–I need to have an idea before I proceed, otherwise this will all be blather. A title gives an idea of what is coming. It helps to bring some structure to a piece.

So it came to me in a flash, all of these fear thoughts from the perfectionist and the inner critic–they really have no substance. Like really well-designed scenery on the stage of a play, they look substantial, impressive, maybe even quite real–but in the end, if you stroll behind them, you’ll see that they’re just an illusion. But they’re BIG, and intimidating, and it takes a minute for me to step back and have a good look at them; very often because they are so relentless, I might not even realize that I am not those thoughts I’m having about myself.

If I do step back, I see Mt. Everest. It’s huge, it’s impassable, and on all sides of me there are boulders, crevasses, huge chunks of ice. But no wait. That’s not really Mt. Everest. That’s just the scenery on the stage of a play. If I stroll behind it, I see–it’s a cardboard Mt. Everest! One great big breath and I blow the scenery down. Now the path is clear ahead of me.

Now I can write.

So today, I will climb the mountain of laundry…I will push through the mountain of resistance…I will blow down the mountain of fear. The first mountain will take some time to tackle. The second will take some discipline and will. The third takes just one big breath.

I can do this.

 

Lonely

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I question how much I should disclose in this public cyber space, but I reason that if my experience resonates with just one other person out there, and they realize that they aren’t the only one feeling what they’re feeling, then it’s worth it for me to share.

I feel lonely as hell today. Lonely in my role as mother to two young children who need me to get their basic needs met. Lonely with a mountain of laundry, meals to prepare, floors to sweep, toys to pick up. All I really want to do is lay down, curl in a ball, hibernate this day away, and pretend the rest of the world doesn’t exist. I don’t have that luxury, what with the kids needing to eat occasionally and all.

This lump forming in my throat is all the unexpressed sadness I’ve felt for a while but to which I have given no outlet. Who am I beyond the roles and responsibilities I fulfill in the outer world? Who am I beyond my function? If I am only mother, teacher, and wife, what happens when these roles are taken from me? Will I cease to exist?

I have a creative spark in me that longs to shine out into the world. I want to express ME. But so often I find myself folding laundry, picking up toys, preparing yet another meal–and I seem to be operating under the belief that to do these things requires a sacrifice of the self that wants to create. By the end of the day there isn’t much energy left in me to do anything besides meditate and go to bed. The creative spark recedes back into the folds of my deep dark consciousness and waits again.

Over time, noticing the things I’ve put on hold–knitting, painting, music, climbing, sewing, hiking, dancing, writing–I begin to feel angry, and then depressed. No time for me. No time for what I want.

This would be the moment, when I feel this way, that I would normally reach out to a friend. Some sympathetic ear that would reassure me that this won’t last forever, things will change, the kids will get bigger and more self-sufficient, I’ll have more time to pursue my interests. The friend would say something goofy to make me laugh, and my internal pressure would be eased, maybe even relieved completely.

But today is a day when I have not one friend. No friends. None. All of my girlfriends have moved away, and over time, nothing–not even Facebook or texts or even an occasional phone call–can help to bridge the distance and the ensuing awkwardness that arises when we realize that we really don’t know each other anymore. Not in the way that we used to. Why would I call my my former best girlfriends, who have moved out of state and have since formed new groups of best girlfriends, out of the blue to dump on them about how depressed I feel? Not cool. I would have to call them more regularly, find out how they are doing, establish a stronger phone friendship, before I’d feel comfortable believing that they’d even want to hear a single word about my misery.

Where does that leave me? Lonely as hell, with a mountain of laundry, kids to care for, toys to pick up, floors to sweep meals to prepare. Better get my nose to the grindstone…