Monday, May 7, 2012

Chaos, Entropy, a messy house, a to do list, and a cup of coffee amidst the chaos.

(Apologies, Blogger's photo editor is making me crazy. The photos are all scrunched in together, and its going up like this for now.)

After three weeks on the road, I'm home again for a good long stretch. There's lots of things to share about adventures had, and friends made, and lessons learned, and growth, and dreaming, so up on the top of my list is "write blog posts". I have a list of one word reminders for them, they look like this:

the aftermath
contentment and concern
worth and worthiness with the goal
the next four years
ask about phil
Bodhi's walk
run at the thing you fear
bikram community
did that just happen
beginners mind
bliss in the water

I usually have a list like this that has ten or twelve topics on it, and what I want to write about usually comes out in Savassana, or during a really challenging yoga pose, or while I'm driving or walking. Hardly ever just before I fall asleep anymore, thank goodness.

I have to stop myself from writing in my head, and just write the one word down so I don't forget the topic, that word works kind of like a cork in the writing stream, and the thought stays dammed up behind it until I get to my computer and pull the cork out.

Most of the time the post is still there, waiting to be written, and sometimes, I miss the window of emotional connection to what I wanted to share and the bliss of the lesson is lost, so the writing is flat. When that happens, I'm out of balance, I've forgotten that writing in a timely manner is important, I've over balanced something else to the detriment of remembering and sharing something I learned on my journey.
Ski stuff, kite stuff, beach stuff, winter stuff, bike stuff, the seasons are crossing over, the travel has come to an end and things are really really messy.

Most times I just let those go, sometimes, I force the concept out anyway and wish it held the impetus of the moment in the writing.

Now that I'm back home, I have about six weeks before biking season starts, and I have thoughts and fears and opportunities in these six precious weeks. I have a loose plan, which includes things like:

Spend lots of time with the kids.
Check on Independence Pass ski possibilities before we lose all the snow
Stay in shape
Maybe get in better shape
mail flyn's apron
pick up Kurt's
get bike tuned
get ass on bike
check into Crossfit situation, make a decision and a commitment
Grocery shop, relearn how to cook
Unearth bikes and massage stuff
redo massage website
sort stow and put up ski stuff
look into race camp (portillio, hood, cost?)
write Bikram scholarship
read the seven books I've been putting off
apply for kids camps scholarships
Finish second edit of novel
Finish screen play
Book proposals
write out aps concepts, find developers
ed materials compilation and workbook
(funny those two things come after each other in my head)
fly the trainer kite with the kids
get Bodhi in skate camp
get computer running well again
hang up hammock
write thank yous
tag photos
clean house top to bottom, sort all crap and throw tons of shit out

I don't really feel like I "can" do any of those things until I do the last one.

But the truth is, I'd just rather not do any of those things when I am in a messy environment with the weight of all I've been putting off hanging over my head. Cant and don't want to are two very different things.

The trick is to get into a head space where you can take the wins for the few things you HAVE gotten done, feel the intention for the next thing you will do, and be grateful for the work you are currently doing. Sometimes it will be a 12 hour marathon push. Sometimes it will be ticking shit off the list so you can feel like you are getting things done.

I hate writing in a messy house, with other pressing concerns all around me, which brings me to the icky list:

deal with student loans
deal with medical case
deal with other medical case

And suddenly, its too much.

My house is a mess, my bedroom is a mess, my desk is a mess, my kid's' room is a mess, and I can't get point by point through everything I need to do until I get a handle on how out of control everything feels and how overwhelming the piles are.


I have learned a trick to pull me through this situation. Because if I had my druthers, I'd do this in a certain order. I'd put everything on hold and spend two weeks cleaning and organizing my house (taking time off after school for the boys), then I'd go grocery shopping and get the food situation under control, then I'd get my exercise schedule plugged in, then I'd go down my list of writing projects and everything would be neat and tidy.

I could say, "There, that's done. Now I can do this." But if I do that, I will miss opportunity to write, to read, to play, to exercise, to love, to connect. And that is what life is about, not how tidy my desk is while I'm writing at it.

Not as bad as it has been, there is too much stuff, its time for a purge. That process is a full time commitment for about four days all day. How do we look forward to this?
Would I prefer it to be all neat and perfect? Sure. I can get a lot done faster when my environment is conducive to creativity. I walk around in a clean and tidy house with a sense of bliss. But if I wait to write until everything is in its place, I'm going to miss the boat on something. Like Ethan's new lego creation or Bodhi's new stop motion animation movie. Or laying on the floor drawing. Or going to yoga and feeling my body and my intention for it and allowing the sorting of my concept for the next four years to float through my tissues before I make a plan.

And if I'm willing to chunk it out, knowing that right now, I'm a bit behind, but these six weeks are a gift, at the end of them, I'll probably have a pretty clean house and a couple of projects under my belt. Finding gratitude in the work is the tricky part. Because its easy to flip under the line and see all you haven't done, rather than being filled and thrilled by whatever you are getting done.

So I try to look at what I can accomplish without seeing the potential consequences in the piles that are overwhelming to look at. If I look at my bedroom I'm going to either get depressed that things are so messy, or I'm going to stop everything else to get that done. And stopping everything else might be the thing to do, but it can also be a detriment. I may get my room clean and organized, but I've only been home for two days, and I would miss the opportunity to play with and reconnect to my kids because I can't get over how messy my suitcase is.

If I'm gonna do a big four day project, it should be one that has holes for yoga while the kids are at school, and may b,  and maybe it shouldn't start for another four days or so, until I've been home for a bit.

SO. Deep breath. It is appropriate that things are in chaos, because I've been traveling between snow and beach for three weeks, so everything is out. It is also appropriate that things are in chaos because one season is ending and another is beginning, and in the natural order of ending one thing and beginning another, there is a messy bit where everything overlaps.

The trees are budding. The snow is melting. Its muddy, there are leaf bud casings all over the lawn, which is trying to be tidy, but there's still winter stuff around. The nature of change is messy. The bliss in change is that things are changing, new opportunities and new life is beginning. Float along and pick up some bud casings, but don't let the fact that they are falling and making the lawn messy stop you from doing somersaults with your kids. Its a tough balance, allowing the chaos of change, embracing and living within it, and working towards the order you crave.

My desk looks like this... its months of mail, bills, writing, ideas, projects. There is order in the chaos to some extent, but its not pleasant to sit next to with it yelling at me. Its not nice to look at, either.
I spent today "chunking" projects. The trick here is not to stop moving until you get to a place where you feel like you are coming through the other side. (That means this thing, then the next thing. The next thing might be 20 minutes with a book.)

If you think of it only as tidying, you will get sucked into the "This must be perfect before I can do that" mentality that leads to paralysis.

Its also hard if you live with other people because one pile makes people leave other things around it. (Try it. Leave a coffee cup in a clean sink and come back three hours later. All the other dirty dishes in the house will have migrated to visit with their nasty friends. Its a dirty dish convention.) In my house, the push through the chaos is recognized as a quarterly "mom tidal wave" when stuff gets cleaned up by god! And the kids and Tom pitch in really well, but it took some honest conversation about not leaving your shit around just because you see stuff on the couch.

So after the kids were off to school today, I went to yoga, and then I read my book at the coffee shop, because reading these books is on my list for this six weeks, and then I picked up Kurt's new bike apron from Basalt and visited with him for a few minutes, and then came home to this mess. And I had to actively let go of wishing my house was clean as I stepped over my suitcase and the bags from the Snowbird trip and put my yoga stuff in the wash with some beach stuff.

It started snowing, so my plans to move my ski stuff to my car and then to the storage got cancelled, which made me want to stomp my feet, because I want to move things around, that has a bigger immediate affect, and I'm not emotionally ready to sit down and sort through the paper all over my desk.

So I moved bags of clothes out of the living room and into the bedroom. I hung up my wetsuit. I wrote some thank yous and realized that the next thing has to be my  scholarship application to Bikram Teacher Training because the deadline came and went while we were traveling. And that made me think about my sister and my fella and how we all fall prey to this chaos, and I knew I needed to sit down and blog before moving forward with anything else.

Blogging is discipline, it doesn't take that long, and while my chronology is getting pushed around (Id rather blog continuously in chronological order), I know that its easier for me to write a post about overcoming paralysis brought on by the big mess, and all the work ahead and the fact that I wish I could just spend this six weeks writing and playing with my kids when I'm in the middle of actively overcoming that obstacle, than it would be for me to put together a post on the most amazing vacation I've ever been on, the POC OBX trip.

So I sat down after I cleared some space, looked at the pile next to me, told it, "Your time is coming, paper, you are on my hit list." And knowing that I'm going to go hang up my laundry after I finish this post and then get through an inch of mail, I found a peaceful opening to sit down and write.

Its never gonna all be done. So take the time you need to do this part, too.
Its not pretty. Its not perfect. But it feels balanced, its all I have to give while staying sane and happy, and I'm not willing to go underwater with sadness just because I suck at filing, or there's lots of gear all over my bedroom because I'm lucky enough to lead an adventurous life that makes my bedroom sandy and the milk in the fridge sour.

This is the part of that life that includes "repack, cleaning, and sorting the detritus of an adventurous life" and I'm lucky to have this problem.

I think this is a big piece of it as well. I'm not ready to completely refocus on things that include judgement of character. I'm not angry at myself because I have a ton of stuff to do and things are messy. I'm grateful for new friends I've made, the depth of connection that Kurt and I found, new things learned, time in the sun, time walking in the sand, time skiing with friends, time testing my skill under pressure. If I turn my wrath against the mess, I lose the opportunity to nurture gratitude for all that just passed. And that would be a shame, because I made connections that deserve time for gratitude and reflection.

Once its clean and orderly, by the way, I'll do my best to keep it that way. But I hope and I know that there will be ski trips and bike trips and camping trips and projects that will throw a messy wrench into that prospect. And I'm grateful for them. And I'll welcome the entropy, and swim through the chaos, putting little pieces away until I come out the other side again.

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