Not What I’m Supposed To Be Doing

Sometimes I feel overwhelmed. I know I am not the only one who is balancing on that fine line between “okay” and “not okay”. This week brought one kid’s winter cold, another kid’s blood drawn, six nights of bad sleep for everyone in the house, a holiday, too much fast food, a day off of school for another holiday and most likely a day off of school for freezing cold. And my crown popped off in a Valentine’s Day caramel. All of these are small things, taken individually, but they’ve pushed me into “I am going to sit and stare into space until I figure out what to do or until elves come and solve every problem for me” mode. I have to say, I am always hoping the elves show up soon, because I am not the best at prioritizing what needs to happen next when everything needs to happen at once.

When overwhelmed, I tend to pick the most absurd chore I can find. I tackle it for one to two hours. I feel immensely better and more in control of my life, though in reality I’ve squandered a lot of precious time and energy.

Last week I cleaned every baseboard on the first floor of our house. Some spots were immensely dusty and grimy, but not anymore! Never mind that you can’t even tell now because so much clutter is obscuring it.

The week before I tackled personal grooming-I scrubbed and buffed and shaved and moisturized. I used every beauty product in my arsenal. The next night I forgot to take off my makeup so I had raccoon eyes and the clogged pore beginnings of pimples by morning.

This week I had been reading a book on decluttering which, among other things, suggested that socks have a very hard life, living as they do between foot and shoe all day. My socks need to rest, and should not be balled up so uncomfortably. Also, my t-shirts would be so much happier folded in a kind of a roll, not piled up on each other. So this week, I tried to make my clothes more comfortable.


The winner, though, in the “This is the most unnecessary task I can think of at this point in time, and I will do it thoroughly and with gusto” award goes to…sorting through every single one of the eighty-two episodes of Wild Kratts that live in our DVR. About two weeks before Christmas, with almost every hour planned out to make sure we didn’t miss a present, an event, or a holiday memory, I started going through them. It had irritated me that some episodes were mislabeled, some were repeated, and it took extra time to find the one we wanted. So, I wrote down the name of every episode, I fast-forwarded to see if the title was correct, I deleted duplicates. I don’t want to tell you how long I spent doing this. It was longer than any other random project I’ve decided to tackle on a weekday while feeling overwhelmed. It feels silly to admit, but it felt good that something was in order.

wild kratts

Next week, I’m hoping things go a lot more smoothly. If not, I am wondering if I’ll feel like the most important thing in the world is to sort through my eight-year-old teaching materials, or research 101 dairy-free crockpot recipes, or maybe comb the DVR for errant Peg + Cat episodes.

At least we only have 30 of those.

Small Changes


I am always amazed by subtle, small changes. Small changes do not openly share all the complexities that led to that moment where something is different but no one can quite tell what. One small change, or the desire to make just one small change, may look invisible. But, the stars that had to align, the consciousness that had to shift, the bravery that had to be called forth is real, though unseen.

There is a woman who exercises the same time I do, here and there, now and again. She has some trouble walking and when I had trouble walking I noticed what brand of shoes she wore. It was helpful information I might need to use sooner rather than later. I made me a bit sad, though, because the shoes were olive green and tan and while they looked flattering on her they are not colors I wanted to have to wear.

She just switched over to fuchsia sneakers. A vibrant happy color. An athletic, as opposed to orthopedic, shoe. A shoe that carried over to the rest of her wardrobe that now included a very pale, but definitely pink, shirt. I kept looking at them, and I could feel her looking at me looking at them and she seemed a little agitated. I never got to explain that I liked them. I hope I get a chance to another day, and that my looking didn’t cause her doubt.

I know for me changing to that bright pink shoe would have entailed so many little steps of courage. There would have been the step to acknowledge that I did indeed want to be a person who struts around in neon colors. There would have been the step to give myself permission to think of myself as athletic, when I cannot run a marathon but I do exercise every day. There would have been the step to convince myself that the expense of the shoe was acceptable from a practical standpoint and from a joyful standpoint. There would have been the step where I mustered the courage to go to the serious athletic shoe department for the first time and asked for help if I needed it. There would have been the step where I put them on in public and was finally okay with being seen as a person who wanted and owned and wore bright pink shoes. A person who might be approached for being bold in this way. A person who might feel like an imposter looking bolder than they feel.

The small shiver of a frown that crossed her face let me know that there was at least one of these moments for her, at least one of these steps to get from the tan and olive shoes to these magenta ones.  There was at least one moment of doubt and one moment of courage that led to this.

I am amazed by small changes, and so happy when I see them.