Clutter June 15, 2011Posted by craftlass in domesticity, vacation.
For the past 2 years I have been awfully busy. Even when not traveling I’ve been working constantly, whether on building my career, working on outreach projects, making new connections with people, or just planning my next travels.
I also should confess that I am a slob by nature, always have been. No matter how much I try to fight back and change that flaw, I fail. I’m like a human tornado, it takes me only a few minutes to have everything in disarray. I don’t even know how I do it!
About 2 weeks ago I sort of lost it. I looked around my two homes, the external one called my apartment and the internal one known as my brain, and I couldn’t see past any of the clutter in either. I was so out of space in the first that I couldn’t even unpack my stuff from my last trip, there simply was nowhere to put it. Even worse, my mind was so cluttered I couldn’t write, properly rehearse my music, or even just function socially. This was compounded by a bout of severe back pain that required the sorts of painkillers that turn one into a zombie clone of herself, which made me spend most of my time staring about my messy place and cringing.
Before I became a musician I had been looking for a new career and threw myself into domesticity while job hunting. This is the hardest of all possible work for me, I don’t have a domestic bone in my body outside of being a pretty good baker and cook. It was awful but at least I had a nice place for my boyfriend and I to live, so it was worth it. I longed for the simplicity of those days, when I could actually get a healthy and tasty meal on the table because, well, our table wasn’t stacked with mail crying for attention and precious space memorabilia needing a permanent home.
I’ve read many times that the thing to do when feeling internally cluttered is to focus on the clutter you can actually do something about. So, I embarked on very late spring cleaning. Shutting off all my social networking temporarily, I’ve been throwing myself into not just cleaning but the sort that involves moving furniture, throwing even some beloved things out, and scrubbing until my arms feel like they are going to fall off every evening. The only breaks I’ve taken are to practice my music and dancing, which I’ve been able to find laser-like focus for without the distractions that had been plaguing me.
Honestly, as much as I hate the work, it’s been like a vacation for my mind. As I’ve been cleaning I’ve been catching up on TV shows I missed, listening to an audiobook a day, and just letting go of my own thoughts and absorbing things I love but haven’t had time for. The best part? Pulling out my inner housewife may be painful but just looking at the projects already accomplished has given me a sense of satisfaction that is hard to find in my work. Yes, my writing is far more important in the long-term, but everything moves slowly there, from writing to playing a song live repeatedly, honing away, let alone getting to the point of recording and release. It’s hard to see the progress there or whether I’m reaching anyone with it without objectivity, but I can be objective about cleaning. I can look at something like, say, the baker’s rack in my kitchen that holds my favorite small appliances and lots of cooking gear, and realize everything on it is clean and usable and even the floor beneath it could be eaten off of safely, and know that the job was well done and that I did it.
I promise, I’ll be back to my usual hijinks, this is far from a permanent state. I’m heading to the Become a Pilot Day Tweetup in DC this weekend at the National Air and Space Museum’s Udvar-Hazy Center that I’m astoundingly excited for, especially as it is packed with friends my exhausted arms are aching to hug. I do think, though, that I wouldn’t be ready for it if I hadn’t taken this time for myself, nor would I be able to pack for this trip without being able to unpack from the last!
My motto has always been, “You can’t help anyone else if you aren’t taking care of yourself.” It may sound selfish, but a little selfishness is required to maintain the strength to do what you have to do. I’ve learned this lesson the hard way, repeatedly, and I try to live by it. So, while it may have been rude to just disappear from the world for a bit, I’m almost ready to get back to the normal state of my life. After all, if you’re drowning yourself you can’t save the person next to you, and I was drowning. At least now I can see the boat to climb up on…