September 22, 2010

Just Do It!

It's September - the crazy month.  With the kids back in school it would seem that my life would be less busy, not more so.  Deadlines are looming and new programs are starting up, the schedule is packed and the calendar full. Early in the month I was fairly stressed and not in 'the groove' at all.  I felt like I was surrounded by strings and was just pulling them one at a time in no particular order.  It all seemed a bit chaotic at first, but if I have learned anything in my nearly forty-one years it is this:  the best way to deal with an overwhelmingly full plate is to just get going, to just chip away at the pile bit by bit, and eventually everything gets done that needs doing.  It's just a fact that sitting immobilized by the weight of my responsiblities and self-motivated work is no help at all.  Long ago, however, in my early days as an adult, I was yet to learn this important lesson.

I have always been a procrastinator, and I think this comes partly from a tendency toward comfort and pleasure, and the the need to feel undue pressure in order to focus properly on the put-off task.  When I was fifteen, my sister's boyfriend came to visit with a posse of college friends.  They were amazed at my ablility to lie on the couch reading for eight hours straight on a Sunday, yet somehow still get my homework done on time for Monday's classes.  Years later in University, my roommate was actually quite miffed at my ability to achieve good marks when, for the most part, I seemed to spend most of my time enjoying myself.  I am far from proud of my unfortunate habit, for it led to many years of struggle when real life kicked in.

My mother started saying 'Just Do It' long before the tough love phrase was ever applied to the Nike brand.  When I had my first child, I was immobilized for hours every day because I wanted to delay the inevitable fussing for as long as possible.  I would sit comfortably reading and nursing or playing with my baby for hours on end - at least then he (and I) would be happy and calm.  When my son was a month or two old, my mom came to visit us in our small apartment.  She quickly pointed out to me that it was possible to hold the baby in one arm and stir the spaghetti sauce with the other.  "Babies need to cry," she said, as she put him in his bouncy chair and helped me get on with things. 

My second baby was a sweet, tiny thing, another boy, born when his brother was only sixteen months old.  He was a good sleeper, and by then I had acquired that wondrously helpful item, a wind-up baby swing.  With two children, and a husband at work all day, I had no choice but to try and become organized.  Still, I had to gear up psychologically in order to achieve simple household tasks such as cleaning the bathroom and vacuuming the carpets.  I am not completely sure what held me back - my go-getter husband certainly could never understand my hesitation.

I truly think I saw household tasks as being achievable only after a lengthy, arduous climb over a very high mental wall, and once this wall was climbed over, and the chore done, I would congratulate myself far more than I deserved.  A soothing sense of satisfaction would come over me every time I stepped into the gleaming bathroom, or the just-dusted living room.  But it was not to last.  Housework, like child rearing, is like beading a string with no knot on the end. Within days the dust would accumulate and the tub ring would reappear.  I would toy with the idea of a quick wipe, but no.  Keeping up with it just didn't come naturally.  Retreating to a living room strewn with toys and baby board books, I would sit by with my book and wait for the mental wall to build itself back up and inspiration to hit me once more.

Those days are all but over.  I still allow myself to let the pile accumulate somewhat, but that is mainly due to the fact that I try very hard to maintain a balance between work (and I work hard) and leisure - the one is much more successful with the allowance of the other.  My husband is learning this, too as he gets older, because as my wise mother also has said, "The work will still be there when you return from your lovely walk in the fall sunshine.  It's not going anywhere."  Or something to that effect. 

I am so looking forward to beautiful, spacious October!

The tea towel in the photo above was designed by Suzi Warren and is available on her 'twisted twee' website.


  1. Overwhelmed? Just prior to Christmas is when it hits me, and then again at the end of the school year - late April thru mid-June.

    Your post reminds me of one that I have drafted and hope to post before Saturday - because of course, I've been too busy to get it online! :)

    Interesting post - I've had those days where I'd just stare at something that had to be done and then pretend that it didn't exist. Somehow, we survive don't we? And manage to live a fairly good life. :)

  2. I, nowadays require at least one hour before anyone visits. I am a dog owner that shed enough in a month that one could knit a jumper.
    And while the house is never dirty, neither could you ever say it's fully clean. As with last week when I was drying after a shower with my head tilted back and spotted what might be called a spiders construction, given she had added more annexes that Blenheim Palace.
    But it can be presentable after a quick spin on the hoover, then fogging the place with with a croaking amount fabreeze

  3. perhaps, 'with a dog that'. Might run a squeenchy bit better

  4. Oh - sometimes procrastination is the only way to get things done. Or something like that. And life's definitely too short to miss out on whatever else is better than cleaning....

  5. Oh, I am exactly the same way. Now I have learned the value of quick up keep. So, I never have to do four dishwasher loads of dishes in one day ever again (like I just did this last Tuesday). Well, I am trying to learn this lesson.

    Great post, as always.

  6. Anita: I will be overwhelmed again soon enough (Christmas)come November, so I plan to enjoy the in-between month of October. I look forward to reading your post now in draft. I have honed the very skill you describe - noticing something to be done and pretending it doesn't exist. It's sort of like filing it out of sight until later.

    Hee hee. I knew a boy in college who had a hat knitted out of his dog's hair, believe it or not. I asked him if it smelled when it got wet. My husband is the spider web cleaner. I'm so busy looking at what's ahead of me without looking up in the corners! Can I borrow that word, 'Squeenchy,? It's great.

    Kate: Too true! I'm afraid I am hard-wired that way, anyway!

  7. Oops! Tracey, you squeezed one in while I was responding to the others! I'm now fairly good at keeping the bathrooms clean and doing the dishes (or delegating either). There are limits to what I can stand to be in a mess!
    Thanks :)

  8. 'Beading a string with no knot in the end'. I like that!

  9. Lucille: I like it, too! Unfortunately, I can't take credit for it. I heard it somewhere a long time ago.
    thanks for reading!


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