I had a so-so day, and yes, that was despite doing the whole morning routine. But Fridays have become fraught because my husband hates it when I clean after he comes back from running and while he is cooking, the hallways in this house are small and narrow and crossing over between the parts of the house and moving around means we get in each other’s way constantly.
Since I had only two students in the afternoon I thought I’d just do something else in the morning and clean in the afternoon while he was teaching. Problem solved. Only then I didn’t because I never really managed to start the cleaning process. One reason was that it was snowing and I didn’t want to put the recycling in the bins outside and the other was that I had time so there was no obvious starting point.
Around 45 minutes before I needed to teach and while it was already getting rather dark I thought, „Well, I could just vacuum and do the washbasins and toilets and declare it good enough.“ Then I decided to start writing this post instead but cutting the project in half, like, only cleaning parts or doing it so-so is often how I manage to get at least some things done.
That and the series of Sarra Cannon videos I’ve been watching got me thinking. Sarra Cannon often does motivational talks and I’m always a little puzzled by those because „You got this! I am so proud of you!“ and „You did the best you can! Go you!“ often leaves me slightly confused. At first I thought this was a US thing. All smiling and positive at all times! Everyone is the specialest of special snowflakes and here is your participation trophy.
Don’t get me wrong, I really like her, a lot of things she’s talking about I find highly relatable and also motivating. It took me a while to understand that a lot of her talks are as much aimed at herself as at her audience and I can definitely see why people find that appealing. I’m the weirdo who always shuts down when I feel someone wants to motivate or influence me. My „you can’t make me!“-impulse kicks in.
But the thing I wanted to write about today was the „you did the best you can!“-message. Because, no, I did not. And that’s not me being self-deprecating. That’s just me being realistic. I definitely could have cleaned yesterday. I definitely could spend more time keeping the house in order and less time playing silly iPad games. That was a choice that I made. It is also a choice that I don’t do the best I can in most areas of my life. And for a reason.
My time and energy is limited. I mean, everybody’s is by nature. If I did the best I could in all areas of my life I’d break down after a week at most. By only putting a minimum of effort in most times I get to have some energy left. Also, I don’t need to strive to be the best musician/writer/teacher/mother/wife/whatever. I can just put in enough effort to get the result that I need or want. And no, I also don’t need to become the best that I can, I can just be myself, flawed with executive dysfunction.
I have been dreaming of the time that I get a grip and have my life in order ever since I tried becoming a tidy person at age 6 or so. I am 56 now and I still am not a tidy person. I don’t really need to be, even, just tidy enough that my life doesn’t become utter chaos. And that goes for all areas of my life even the ones that are really important to me.
For me it all started with the Flylady motto of „housework done incorrectly still blesses the family“. Just moving the vacuum through the middles is better than not vacuuming at all. And I have to say that goes for just about everything. It is very freeing to just be yourself. To not live up to your potential. Apparently I had a lot of potential but I have made my peace with never having lived up to it. Doesn’t mean my life was wasted.
And no amount of me telling you „You can do it!“ will give you better skill or knowledge. „I believe in you!“ only helps when the problem is that you have all the skills, knowledge and resources you need but lack belief in yourself. And sorry, but that belief can’t really come from the outside, that can only come from within. By you proving to yourself that you can do those things because you’ve done things that are similar. Trust has to be earned, even from yourself.
Which doesn’t really help me personally here because all I have proven to myself is that the way I approached my Friday this week didn’t work. Doesn’t mean I can’t find a way that works, though, I’m creative. I could also, potentially, clean today. Will I do it? Probably not.
If I clean I’ll just vacuum the middles, move a rag over the washbasins and toilets and declare it done. Minimal viable effort.
And today after lunch I’ll go to Munich and look at yarn. I’ll tell you how it went tomorrow.
Speaking of lunch, this was yesterday’s:
And here’s the almost finished sweater I made for my husband. Part of the reason why I didn’t clean was also that I decided to sit down and do a sewn bind-off on the sweater first. Which took about an hour or so:
As I said. Minimal viable effort and now I need to get ready to buy yarn I don’t need.