Friday, April 30, 2010

Reality checks

You have to be Zen to appreciate what I did this morning. Regular people are quick to call such things OCD (and BTW, I am so tired of the glib-pop western psych ways of seeing things). The act in question: I timed myself unloading the dishwasher.

The timer was right there; I use it to boil an egg in the morning, as I am in the grip of the latest study, in which people who ate an egg (or three) for breakfast ate less calories throughout the day, and lost more weight than people who ate a bagel for breakfast. So it's not like using the timer took effort. And it is a very nice little Pyrex timer that will obediently count up for you if you like. I use it a lot, sometimes as a reminder that I have somewhere to go. I am always working with or against time, it seems, like some long-legged bird that doesn't stand up too well in the stream.

This morning seemed crowded. My first priority was a shower complete with washing hair. Yesterday I had been too tired, don't know why. Went to sleep knowing it was first priority. I have many observations about how as you age, just taking care of your body's needs becomes harder in every respect, except that you learn not to get drunk.

But breakfast came first in my day, and a discussion with Tom, who is modeling the financial management that would enable us to move to a continuing care retirement community some day. Then we talked about my concern, how I lost impetus on my poetry projects this week. By listening, he helped me see that I had just met a couple of karmic obstacles, but really did keep working all week. (Working instead of blogging, because that's the way it goes. You can't multi-task writing.)

Unloading the dishwasher, not counting silverware, took five minutes. That's all. I kind of thought so. I knew my resistance to doing it didn't really make sense. This, then, was a successful reality check.

The problem, if there is a problem, is that the dishwasher often needs to be unloaded in the morning, and that's when I have the energy to do a thousand things, including working through my karmic obstacles to writing. I'd think I'm not that unusual. One wakes up refreshed. That was part of my problem this morning - I had slept ten hours, thus not waking up till the sun began piercing the little holes in the room-darkening shade. Thus I woke up refreshed. But there wasn't so much morning left by 9:00 a.m. However, letting the clean dishes sit in the dishwasher means the day's dirty dishes start piling up on the counter. We don't like that.

I think I have partly worked through the dishwasher-resistance problem now that I understand it only takes five minutes. You can make it through anything for five minutes. And giving thought to this little problem tells me it would be best to do said task in the evening, when I usually don't want to do anything much, anyway. Yes.

And now it has gotten to be after 5:00, what with meeting a friend for coffee, then fertilizing the azaleas and the dogwood, and the bulbs in the front of the house, since it is going to rain tomorrow. I do have just a bit more energy than I usually have, though, so I am going to actually, finally set out to learn GIMPshop. I don't think the world needs another person making sunsets more contrasty and people's faces more orange, but, oh, sometimes when I should resist, I don't.
[the image: something leafing out in the ravine]


  1. ah yes reality checks. so nice in this case to have a measure for the distance between reality and imaginings. I could use a mind timer for many things on many occasions.

  2. Yep, feeling pain and feeling sick is draining.. I don't know about the eggs though, it's full of cholesterol and I'm starting a vegetarian diet. Oh, also, I agree.. Knowing that a chore only lasts a few minutes is a good way of getting it done, as opposed to resisting and thinking against doing it for days.. You are funny, I am adding you to my list of strange OCD friends.

  3. Occasionally I will time myself by seeing how many small kitchen tasks I can accomplish while heating the dog's meal :30, or defrosting something in the microwave,and experience the sensation of slowing down when focusing on a task.
    Since I stopped working in radio I sometimes miss doing time sensitive tasks like reading a 30 second announcement when you have 27 seconds before joining NPR for All Things Considered.

  4. I really relate to what hadv said..... knowing that a chore only lasts a few minoutes is a good way of getting it done....... a new way to think about doing my chores! Love it. Barbara

  5. Its easy to get bored. You have to find activities to keep you busy.