When It’s All Too Much: Do the Dishes and Sweep the Floor

Several years ago life was sooooo busy. I was running around teaching classes and trainings. Or doing book talks and taking meetings. Or zooming out of town on weekend trips and arriving back at the airport with just enough time to crash before going back to work in the morning.

Because of all this busy-ness my home was fairly chaotic.

Mail would pile up in teetering stacks. Mounds of clothing were dumped around my apartment – yoga pants with undies and socks still stuck in them that I had dropped on the floor without picking up. Dried out oatmeal pots and brown bottomed coffee cups were crammed into a corner of the sink.

My life was so top-heavy with activity, it felt like it was always at risk of of toppling over. It made me quite anxious. It felt like I had a lot of problems that needed solving, but no time to solve them. But I’d do the weirdest thing at the end of the day to try to balance out.

After all my work stuff was done, I would zip home, change into a fitted dress and heels, and go out again. I’d then meet up with a date or some assortment of people in some loud place. If I was too beat for the dress and heels combo, I’d go for tight jeans and a tee shirt at the local dive bar. There I would sip on whiskey alone and wait for something to happen.

Living this way made me perpetually anxious about whether the ConEd bill was paid (it wasn’t), if I’d have clean underwear for the next day (I purchased tons of underwear so this was rarely a problem), or if I’d have enough energy to do everything I had committed to (I didn’t really, but I pushed through anyway). Yet, I still just added more activity to my over-active life.

In order to deal with the feeling that there was too much going on, I did more.

Just like a runaway toboggan, activity has momentum. It can feel natural to add more activity onto an excessively busy life. However, this does not lead to balance. It just makes you a manic, wired shell of yourself.

The very best thing to do when life is maxing you out, is the dishes. Then fold your clothing and put it away. Then sweep the floors. Sort through your mail to junk the junk and make a neat stack of the rest. scrub the toilet. Take out the garbage. Bring your laundry to the laundromat. Water the plants.

At this point you will be equipped to look in a balanced way at your “problems”. You can then decide if you actually want a cocktail. You will know for sure if you want to meet up with anyone (and which shoes you are willing to wear to do so). You will be able to make a balanced choice.

The other way that busy-ness overwhelm can swing is into going straight to watch TV or hang out online instead of dealing with the dollops of mess around your place. Don’t do that either! When it’s all too much, it’s always time to get your home in order.

Final note: It’s extra wonderful to clean to great teachers. Put on a video or podcast of someone inspiring to scrub and sweep to. Total. Heaven.

Tell me how it goes…

Photo: in my apartment by Ken Chau

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