bodlon: (cumberbatch - with book)
[personal profile] bodlon

Things that are basically fucking miserable: finally waking up after a major life/responsibility crash and being deeply aware of just how much shit one has to shovel to get back up to speed.

Like, just looking at the laundry, and stuff all over the floor, and the weeks-old e-mails, and realizing that groceries haven't really been happening consistently, and knowing that the only way out of all of it is to deal with it.

And, you know, that would be awesome except that as ability tanks, accumulated crap intensifies. So when you wake up on that morning knowing that Things Must Happen Finally, the difficulty level on the Happening of Things is absolutely ridiculous and totally inimical to the gradual reintroduction of Thing Happening.

Because if you Happen Some Things, there will still be a billion Things That Must Happen, and some of them will require an extra push because procrastination and inertia are both shockingly difficult things to confront and work with.

old-shovelSo maybe you figure, "Okay, I've got a shovel. I'll just take it easy and work my way through this pile as I have time and energy." Except that pile didn't just appear. It's the sum total of regular daily things left undone, and the regular daily difficulty level is already a challenge because you're not 100%. You're maybe 50% or 75%. So you do stuff, but the pile just gets bigger.

And that's if you're lucky. Because if you're not lucky, you'll be tooling along trying to get through this, promising yourself it'll get easier as you get stronger, just in time for the Shit Truck to mow you down and leave some new fresh Hell to deal with.

This is why picking up the shovel is terrifying, and why it can feel like leaving it where it is, or ignoring it, or nesting in the great big pile of shit feels like a reasonable life decision. I mean, if your options are: a) re-injure yourself trying to do a thing, or b) accept the status quo and/or perpetual downward spiral?

Well, let's just say that familiar pain is background noise.

So why even bother picking up that shovel? Here are some reasons:

1) Forfeit is no longer an acceptable option.
Not-doing is an automatic loss. Attempting to do at least comes with some potential margin for success. You might still lose, but at least there was a chance.

2) You do not exist in a vacuum; you matter.
I have yet to meet a person with no redeeming qualities, and who does not improve somebody's life by existing. It's hard to remember this if people never tell you -- which is probably the finest argument for small acts of kindness as a lifestyle choice I've ever encountered -- but even if nobody is saying it, you are beautiful. You are worthy. You are not required to hurt. You're allowed to dig toward the things that connect you, or to ask for help with the digging, or just to acknowledge the enormous pile of shit to others.

3) There's a light.
Sometimes you can't possibly move the whole pile, but maybe there's a thing you can get to that nourishes you and makes you stronger and at least gives you some comfort while things are a mess, and can give you a toe-hold on the whole shit-moving thing.

4) Something to do.
Maybe not right away. Maybe not even for a long time. It might even get worse for a while. You might fuck up and end up with an even more ridiculous pile of shit. But at least you got to have an adventure on the way, right? Vastly superior to treating life like a waiting room.

5) You are a mad scientist.
Human beings genuinely can move a shocking amount of shit if we try. We are wily and industrious and strong even when everything is coming down around us. We survive in absolutely murderous biomes. We have gone to space. We make tools and use reason and create art. And most importantly, we learn. We can spot patterns. We're freaky-clever. 5000 lbs of manure? That's not an impossible obstacle. That's raw materials. Admit it: building a castle out of that pile of shit, filling it with fireworks, and setting that bastard off sounds pretty cool, right?

6) It really can get better.
I'm not going to lie, it might take some time and a hundred false starts. The fight-to-reward ratio might suck. You might never get to be an astronaut. But having agency, even in a bad situation, is fucking magic. Never forget that if you are alive you can make choices and do things. "Better" doesn't mean perfect, and it doesn't always look how we expect it to, but it can and does happen. You can do this.

So yeah. Talk to me about life shit management. Talk to me about your poop-based technologies. Talk to me about small kindnesses, things you have blown up just to survive, and what you do with your shovel when the party's over and things are back in order. Talk to me about the things that make it hard to dig.

Let's do this.

This post has been mirrored from Christian A. Young's Dimlight Archive. To see it in its original format, visit

Date: 2014-06-08 05:21 pm (UTC)
contrarywise: John Barrowman on Hotel Babylon, pondering. (Ponders)
From: [personal profile] contrarywise
Assuming that at least some of this adulting catch-up shitpile is literal, physical cluttery shit, I highly recommend Unfuck Your Habitat. While I miss the early days of Sparkle!text and epic animated gifs on the site, there's a metric ass-ton of good advice and information about cleaning shit and keeping it that way. There's also explicit recognition that not everyone has the wherewithal to keep things immaculate all the time, and no blaming or shaming if you're one of those people who has a hard time with certain aspects of adulting. It's pretty awesome.

Aside from that, tackle the low-hanging fruit first--either the nagging stuff that's in your face and reinforces your negative self-talk whenever you see it, or the easier stuff that has a strong visual impact. So pick up the floordrobe and put it all in the laundry basket, or bag all the trash that's on the floor in your space and nothing else for now. Stack the random books next to the bookcase, clear the area immediately around your computer, or do one thing you've been avoiding, just to get it over with and out of your face. Even if that's all you do, you're likely to see and feel an improvement. Then celebrate your awesomeness and move on to whatever's next. I'm happy to cheerlead if you want! *\o/*

Another tip is to take micro-movements towards a larger goal. If you haven't done the dishes in a while, wash the top dish in the stack, dry it, and put it away. Then go do something else. Move the dirty laundry closer to the washer--it has to get there eventually in order to be washed, so that counts as progress. Or move 5 pieces of clean clothing closer to your dresser. Pay one bill. Clean one spill. You get the picture. And do it even if something else gets messy as a result--you'll get to the next mess later. Incremental improvement is totally a thing!

Creating a routine is also helpful because it builds a habit. Also, consciously create conditions that will make it easier for you to succeed. Fr'ex, if you decide to do a grocery run every Thursday after work, make a shopping list the night before and put it with your work stuff, block off that time in your schedule to reduce the chance of Grocery Time being sabotaged by Other Stuff, Do The Thing, and reward yourself meaningfully afterwards for having Done The Thing, you're more likely to do the grocery run the next Thursday evening, and the one after that. Build one new habit/routine task as a time, maybe one task a month. Entropy and inertia are strong forces, but this is a marathon, not a sprint. You have time for incremental improvements.

Another habit to get into is putting clean things away. Putting shit away is the last step in cleaning, and don't count your cleaning as being done until the clean stuff is back in the right place(s). Think of it as resetting your stuff, or closing the circle.

I hope this helps. I know this past year or so has brought a lot of changes to your life, and different challenges. You've got my support for whatever you need to do to make your life better and more awesome.

Date: 2014-06-08 07:01 pm (UTC)
anke: (Default)
From: [personal profile] anke
I've got a question. How do you have to wash the dishes to make the "If you haven't done the dishes in a while, wash the top dish in the stack, dry it, and put it away. Then go do something else." suggestion work?

Date: 2014-06-08 11:07 pm (UTC)
contrarywise: Stick figure proclaiming "Clean all the things!" (Clean!)
From: [personal profile] contrarywise
Wash it in a different sink if the sink is very full. Or move a few things out of the sink so there's room to wash something. Then put the other things back in the sink. Or not. The point is to make a small start on whatever giant pile of untended-to stuff is staring you in the face and getting you down. Maybe it's not the dishes, maybe it's the giant mound of stuff that has taken over your dining room table. You always have the option of washing, throwing away, filing, etc. more than one thing if you get on a roll, but the point is to get just one thing clean and put away. Then you can declare victory and move on.
Edited Date: 2014-06-08 11:17 pm (UTC)

Date: 2014-06-09 07:21 am (UTC)
anke: (Default)
From: [personal profile] anke
The assumption that dirty dishes get collected in the sink alwas confused me, too. You have to take them out before you can start work, and you can't use the sink well while they're in there, so it seems very impractical. Do you just pour water on the collected dishes?

Here's how I do the dishes:
- I collect the dirty ones NEXT TO the sink.
- I put warm water with dishsoap in the sink.
- I clean dishes in that water until the drying rack is full, or the water is too icky to clean anything (though then I might give something like a fatty pan a first pass so I can clean it properly later)

How do you do the dishes that cleaning just one seems practical?

Date: 2014-06-09 11:27 am (UTC)
contrarywise: Stick figure proclaiming "Clean _all_ the things?" (Clean?)
From: [personal profile] contrarywise
Very few people I know stack dishes outside of the sink unless the sink is already full. I suspect that's either because that's what they've been taught to do, or on the assumption that they (or someone like them) will clean the lot before they get to be an obstruction. Sometimes that works out, sometimes not. As a person in a multi-cat household, I prefer to keep my dishes (clean or dirty) off the counters because cats are naughtiness magnets and I like my dishes intact. They're less likely to get damaged in the sink, trust me. I also have a double sink in my kitchen, so as long as I can keep one side free, I can still do at least some dish washing by hand.

Washing one dish isn't directly about practicality, it's a trick to help with motivation and to spur progress when a person has fallen way behind on cleaning for whatever reason, and is totally overwhelmed by the mess and doesn't even know where to start. A pile of dishes may be too much to tackle in that situation, so tell yourself you only have to clean one, dry it, and put it away. It's an easy victory point to gain, and it's a starting place with that particular chore. Maybe the person doesn't stop there, but even if they do, they've completed a cleaning task, however minor. And that's a good thing since nothing was being done about the dishes before. If you are able to keep up with your dish washing and other household cleaning, go you! This advice is not applicable to you. But someone whose regular house maintenance has fallen way behind may need this sort of micro-movement towards a cleaner house in order to cope with dealing with any of it.

Date: 2014-06-08 09:52 pm (UTC)
pocketmouse: (home_space)
From: [personal profile] pocketmouse

Date: 2014-06-09 12:56 am (UTC)
contrarywise: Captain Jack Harkness, smiling (Smile!)
From: [personal profile] contrarywise


bodlon: It's a coyote astronaut! (Default)

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