When You Can’t Do It All, Do Something

A couple of weeks ago, I was reminded that, however good the scaffolding I’ve put in place to keep myself organized, it only takes a day or two with lowered vigilance to land me right back at square one.

This has been an awful winter, hasn’t it?  The same two or three seasonal ailments have been cycling through my family and classroom ad infinitum; it feels like every time we’ve recovered from one illness, we’re coming down with another one.  I – despite my classroom being absolutely lousy with germs, and having a typically hygiene-impaired four-year-old, managed to mostly escape getting sick.

Then, two weeks ago, I was hit with laryngitis.  The worst of the illness only lasted about two days, but it was two days when I was flat-out knocked on my ass, and let me tell you – my house fell to absolute chaos.

Because the persistent messiness of my life and my rampant ADHD don’t disappear just because I have the sniffles, I was faced, once I could walk and talk and think without coughing up a lung, with a once again seemingly insurmountable mess.

This time, I lucked out; I got sick on a Wednesday, and by the time I felt human again, it was Saturday and the start of my vacation, which meant I had no other obligations and the comfort of knowing that even if I spent an entire day (or two) fixing the mess, I still had days and days and days left to relax and chill afterward.  I’m happy to let you all know that I did, in fact, get back on track, and I’m ticking off most of the boxes on my To-Do list, most days.

But what if I didn’t have vacation? What if I had a super busy week coming up, or a series of commitments, or what if I was more seriously sick for longer?  How long do I let the house go for, and how long until it’s utterly, paralyzingly bad again (pssst – past experience says it really doesn’t take that long to get into a really bad place).

I started thinking about what I could have done if I really, truly felt like I didn’t have it in me – if I didn’t have the time, the energy, the “spoons,” whatever – what I could have done to keep that paralysis at bay without over-extending myself, without triggering my anxiety or wearing myself out physically or mentally.

So I’ve spent some time thinking, what’s one thing I could do in every room of my house to keep myself sane?  Just one thing to make me feel a little more grounded?

Like most things, I’m sure your mileage my vary, but I personally feel very sure of my list.  So, if my blog entries tend to resonate with you, maybe you’ll find this to be helpful, as well.

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Some Things to Keep in Mind

  • If you aren’t neurodivergent this list probably seems needless, obvious, and silly, but task paralysis is a major issue for me, and many others with neurodivergence, as is feeling overwhelmed by the inability to break down a task (and of course clutter and mess itself is a stressor for basically everyone, though it can literally stop me dead in my tracks). This list hopefully combats task paralysis by giving a starting point, and serves as a reminder that you don’t need to do it all at once; even completing one task makes a big difference (important for those grappling with ADHD perfectionism).
  • Even these tasks, in and of themselves, can be daunting on a bad day. I would love to eventually be able to offer a step-by-step break down on the way I get through these tasks (and others), and the strategies that work for me.  If you think this would be helpful to you (or as a general resource) please let me know and I’ll make it a priority.
  • I find that I function the best within a structure, but there is a point of diminishing returns with every increased point of rigidity or complexity within that structure (see my post about planners – the more “bells and whistles,” the more paralyzing, the more likely I am to abandon the system).  The catch-all bucket in the living room works well for me, as do broad categories of organization (an under sink bucket of general cleaning products (the more multipurpose, the better), bathroom bins for “hair stuff” (shampoo, conditioner, spray, gel), “body stuff” (shower gel, soap, lotion) and “hygiene” (toilet paper, q-tips, sanitary pads, etc) work well, because there is a system of organization that is broad enough to not be overwhelming, but clear enough to actually allow me to know where everything is.
  • I am in no way a cleaning or organizational guru, and holy crap, nor do I pretend to be.  I’m just learning, at age 36, what really works and what doesn’t work for me, and also learning to be patient with myself, let go of the need for things to be perfect, and work to the best of my ability within the head space I’m occupying at any given moment.  What works for me may not work for you, but sometimes, it’s worth a shot (and it may work for someone else).

 

Friday, Fri-yay: November 23rd, 2018

& (1)I’m trying so, so hard to stay positive about some changes going on right now, guys, I really am.  I never react well to change – I adjust, of course, and I’ve learned to conceal the emotional turmoil, but while there are a few situations in which I enjoy being sort of surprised, I internally freak out and hand-wring bout disruptions in my routines and expectations.  So while I know that I will be fine, I’m a little on edge.

Here are things that are keeping me cheery and distracting me from my anxiety for a while.

I went to see Bohemian Rhapsody last weekend, and I loved it.  I know there is a significant disparity between the critic’s rating on Rotten Tomatoes (62%) versus the audience rating (92%), but I just loved seeing my boys up on the big screen.  Queen were an essential, formative part of my life growing up; I can’t explain exactly why I loved them with the intensity that I did, but Freddie and his story were a big, big part.  I could easily have sat in the theatre and nit-picked – besides owning and knowing by heart the entire Queen catalogue (including several solo albums, all the music videos, and numerous officially released and bootleg concerts), I’ve also watched four separate documentaries and read five books written about the band.  The movie is not wholly accurate, but it’s just so, so good to see “Freddie” humanized on screen.  Rami Malek is amazing, and seeing so many new fans flooding the fandom is invigorating and beautiful.  Tomorrow marks twenty-seven years since Freddie died.  If I had the budget to see the movie again tomorrow, I would.

Tomorrow we are celebrating Friendsgiving at our friend Raeanne’s house, followed by game night, which it feels like forever since we’ve done.  It’s been a pretty regular monthly occurrence for – wow – almost four years now, plus we’ve done lots of other parties and celebrations in the intervening weeks, and then more recently we ht a patch where people were busy, I guess, and so it’s been a while since we’ve gone to one.  I’m excited to hang out with Raeanne and company, and have a last culinary hurrah before I start calorie counting again (yes… that’ll be another post, but yes).

My husband and I celebrated our engagement anniversary (yes, we occassionally celebrate it, still – he calls it “Ring-a-versary”) at a place called Yujo, which is actually a really good sushi joint.  Our first date and his proposal both took place at the same sushi restaurant that has since closed down, and we had yet to really find another one we liked as much.  This one was really good, and had the strongest drinks I’ve ever had in my life.  I had one (I swear!) Long Island Iced Tea, and I was smashed.  You certainly get your money’s worth.

That’s about it for this week.  What’s been making you happy?

Five Dollar Tree Gift Basket Ideas

Yooo, Thanksgiving is over, so guess what?  It is officially socially acceptable to roll out the Christmas shizz.  Full disclosure, as I may have mentioned before, I’ve actually been in the Christmas biz for a couple of weeks now (I think I put up my decorations – minus the tree – on November 9th.  The tree will go up after Bear’s birthday party on the 1st).

I’m ahead of the game for basically the first time in my life; it’s the day after Thanksgiving, and I’m decorated, I’ve bought Christmas cards, I’ve got my card list, I’ve made an Advent activity jar and bought Bear an Advent calendar, and I’ve bought (and wrapped!!) all my gifts.  The only things I have to do now is enjoy making a Christmas play list, and enjoy the holiday.

Oh, and I thought it’d be fun to compile a few Dollar Tree Gift Basket Lists.

I’ve written before, briefly, about my love of all things Dollar Tree (and I hope to write more about it in the future!).  There are tons of DT gift suggestions around, but most of the one I’ve seen are very vague or generic.  Going to DT several times a week, plus shopping their website, means I was able to put together a few pretty specific lists.  These gift baskets will cost between $15 and $20ish, but remember, you’ll be packing them with between 15 and 20ish items!  So they’re pretty substantial gifts.

For the Wine Lover’s Gift Basket, I didn’t mention alcohol because you can’t get it at DT, but you can throw in a bottle of good-but-cheap wine (I love Barefoot myself) and put the cost of the whole basket at just a little over $20.

I hope this helps someone out there hoping to put together some cool gifts for friends or family (and remember, you can add or take away items suggestions to make bigger/smaller baskets based on your tastes and/or budget!)

Friday, Fri-yay: July 27th, 2018

& (1).pngTrying a new graphic out.  I’ve used the phrase “Fri-yay” on social media before, and yet it wasn’t in my head when I made the original graphic for my Friday posts…?  Don’t know why.  Anyway, I think “Fri-yay” is a good in-a-nutshell take on what I post about in these entries, so we’ll see how I feel about it given some time.

Also, holy crap, have I honestly gone a week with nothing?  No posts?  I’d really hoped I’d have found my groove by now, but to no avail, I suppose.  Well, anyway.  Not going to let this get me down.  NOT ON FRI-YAY, DAMMIT.

Thursday marked the second-to-last day of summer session for me; I’m on-site on Tuesday, and then on our plane on Wednesday.  That’s been enough to buoy me up, but beyond that:

First, I’ve been looking around for on-the-plane distractions for me, since flying makes me nervous, and discovered that Dollar Tree carried Extreme Dot-to-Dot books.  I’m not going to purchase any for the flight itself, because when they say extreme, they mean it, and I’d want a steadier hand to complete the pictures, but wow.  Some of the picture number close to five hundred dots, and the books retail on Amazon for between $8.85 and $12.95, so if these books sound intriguing to you, keep your eyes peeled.

Second, SDCC happened, and we got the next new episode of Steven Universe, called “Legs from Here to Homeworld.”  It’s… it’s a lot.  And yet, so very little.  But worth watching, if you then don’t mind having to wait until who-knows-when to see the rest.  It was originally an app exclusive, but is now free to watch, no log-in required, on the Cartoon Network website here.  (We also got a movie announcement, which is squee-worthy on it’s own, but I’m still a little bitter that we get a CN movie and Teen Titans GO just got a theatrical release, grumble grumble).

Third, GISH starts tomorrow!  One positive thing about not having posted all week is that I now have a couple of half-finished entries that I can hopefully power through tonight and cue up for the next ten or so days, because I will be leaving mid-GISH (which I expect to take up most of my time pre-vacation) to head to Florida, and between those two things (and daily life duties) I will have time for basically nothing else.  Anyway, I am hype for GISH and really happy with my team this year.  I will be posting about the experience afterwards, but if you have questions, I once again recommend the official website.

That’s all for this week!  I will be in Florida next Friday, so I likely won’t be posting, but expect an extra long Fri-yay post the following week!

How is everyone out there?  What’s keeping you all going?

 

Feel Good Friday/Friday Faves: July 14th, 2018

onnie & CaroleYes, yes, I know – it’s Saturday again.  I keep doing this.  This week, my excuse is that my whole schedule has gotten flipped upside down.  I spent a week out of work, and then had to adjust to a weird schedule of working only Tuesday and Thursday; we spent our Wednesday as a family out and about (which made it feel more like a Saturday), and to top it all off, my husband was covering a co-worker’s vacation and was working 2pm to 11pm instead of his usual 8am to 5pm.  So my whole week – and concept of time – has been thrown out of whack.

Here is what’s kept me grounded:

First, Wednesday was spent at Kimball Farm, which was a blast.  I hadn’t been there in several years (we did a community outing there during one of the other ESY programs I worked), and it really has something for everyone.  Bear got his first taste of mini-golf, he got to see some animals (and pet an alligator!), and spent some time earning tickets in the arcade.  He ended the day with a huge scoop of Orange-Pineapple ice cream.  I have a couple of small pics on Insta here.

Second, my sister spent hours online last night messaging me eBay links to long forgotten tech toys we had as kidsThe Teach-Me Reader and The Videosmarts Learning System to name a couple – and ended the evening by announcing that her 1984 Whiz Kid Toy Computer would be arriving on Thursday.  Seriously?  I still can’t believe she actually bought it, but I’d be lying if I pretended I wasn’t going to play with it.  I had one prior to first grade, and I loved it.  We can learn to spell together!

Third, Andy ordered me laminating sheets and I’m going crazy thinking of things I need to laminate.  All my checklists from my previous post have already gotten the treatment, and I’m busy designing both additional checklists and organizers for me, but also piecing together a preschool curriculum for Bear that we can get started, hopefully on Monday.  He’s looking forward to it, and so am I.  I plan on spending a big chunk of time after he turns in tonight getting some of those tasks completed.

Finally, the GISH registration has been extended and my team is starting to take shape (yeah, kind of late this year).  If you don’t know what GISH is, click the link or Google search its previous incarnation, GISHWHES.  It’s a massive multimedia international scavenger hunt interested in subversive art and acts of kindness.  This year it runs July 28th through August 4th.  I’m thrilled to see it brought back – we thought last year was the end!  – and am participating for the seventh year in a row.

That’s it for this week!  What’s kept you going through the week?

Getting Older

You’d think that any number of things that have transpired in my life so far would make me feel old – getting married, buying a house, having a kid, even just seeing my birthday circled when I flip over the calendar to July – but no.  You know what makes me feel old?

Earlier this week, I got an email from my assistant principal looking to recruit staff to work at the summer high school orientation to welcome the class of 2022.  

Excuse me, what?

tumblr_o72zfaL8DS1uk2pieo5_1280 (1)
I feel you, John Mulaney.

Like I said, I don’t usually feel “old.”  In fact, I often have to remind myself of how old I really am. I actually have this problem where I’ll sometimes have to bite my tongue to stop myself from referring to recent college grads as “about my age.”  Like, no sweetie, she’s 23. You’re almost 36. You need to stop.

But… 2022.  2022 still doesn’t even sound like a real year to me.  I graduated high school in 2000. I started working here in 2005.  When people refer to something being from “ten years ago,” my mind still turns to the 90s.

So it’s not having a kid, or owning a home, or having a career.  It’s getting emails about future graduating classes. And other similarly inconsequential things.

How I Know I’m Getting Older

  1. Waking up at 9 am, which used to be a perfectly respectable wake-up  time, now feels like I’m sleeping half the damn day away. 
  2. I have favorite tupperware.  It’s got an attached lid (whaaaaaat.  I hope whoever figured that out got a medal.  Seriously. I’ll start with fifty Tupperware lids and wind up with five.  Attached is the way to go.) 
  3. I get excited when we go to the “nice” supermarket, and I’ll take an extra leisurely stroll down the expansive ethnic food and produce aisles.  Do I buy anything different? No. I seriously just window shop produce, now. It’s concerning. 
  4. I look forward to cleaning days with the same fervor and enthusiasm with which I used to anticipate snow days as a kid.  Days when I can get up early, get myself a big mug of coffee, kiss my husband and son goodbye for the day, and just clean??  Yaaaaaas. 
  5. I can no longer count my grey hairs.  They are legion. 
  6. I weirdly care more about cultivating an image, but care less if some people don’t like that image.  Meaning, I guess, that I’ve become more concerned with being happy with the way I present myself, and less concerned  about others being happy with it. 
  7. I’m obsessed with The Dollar Tree, discount stores, thrift shops, and over-all just getting more for less.  Which isn’t strictly an age thing, I suppose, but for me there’s been a definite upwardly thrifty trend as I’ve gotten older. 
  8. I’m basically ready for bed after one glass of wine.  Which rarely stops me from having my second glass of wine, but means I now put on my pajamas first. 
  9. I need coffee more now than ever in order to feel human, but that same amount of coffee now gives me the caffeine shakes. I used to be able to drink a large Dunks Coolata before bed and sleep like a baby.  Now I have a cup of coffee with breakfast and I’m trembling like a leaf by 10 am. 
  10. I have “bad” body parts.  Like, the other day, I complained to my husband that my “bad ankle”  was acting up, and suddenly it was like, ‘oh crap – I have a bad ankle.  This is how it starts – this is how the whole system starts to crumble.’ 
  11. I’m now over a decade older than all six Friends during Season One.  Whaaaat. 
  12. THEY ARE REBOOTING A REBOOT OF A SHOW I WATCHED AS A KID.  No one should live long enough to see such atrocities. 
  13. I once told a student I loved vintage video games – the really old school stuff – and he replied with, “oh you mean like the N64?”  This was, itself, already several years ago. I’m terrified if I said this today, the kid would be like, “Oh, you mean like the PS2?” 
  14. I buy a lot of tunics, now.  I don’t know, is this an age thing?  I don’t remember owning this many when I was younger. 
  15. We listen to the radio when we ride the bus for student internships and I recognize literally none of the songs on the radio anymore.  And some of them are serious jams, so I wind up Shazam-ing them, and I sometimes think Shazam is rolling it’s eyes at me.

How and when do you most feel your age?  Comment down below!