I’m still visiting my friends in San Dimas, California. One of the little things I do to try to be a good guest is wash dishes. My girl made a killer risotto Milanese last night, which, in addition to the toddler’s dinner and all of our afternoon snacking, left a daunting mountain of dishes. I claimed dibs but said I’d get it in the morning. All of us preferred to eat pudding, sing along to some Tom Waits, then binge some House (especially intriguing to watch with someone who has the show’s go-to catch-all diagnosis of lupus).
This morning, while the little one was securely strapped into his high chair, I climbed onto that heap.
Chores can be really hard. My difficulty with them is due to my fatigue and arthritis and fibromyalgia pain in my hands and my back. Yours could be anxiety or ADHD. Or a toddler.
After I quit my full time job to continue building my business as a speaker, my first part-time job was bartending at a golf course. I started there four days a week, but it got to be too tough for me, all the physical activity and the long hours. I asked to be cut down to three days. A couple weeks later, someone quit or got fired, then the college student employees went back to school. I ended up working, like, nine days a week. It was miserable, but I stuck it out because they did a lot for me and I didn’t want to screw them over or put the remaining staff in an impossible situation.
You might say it was character building. Vacuuming was what got me. After a long day of hustling, on my feet, sometimes 12 hours, I couldn’t just be done and leave. There was everything to clean up. I wasn’t just bartending. I was the cashier at the snack bar. I often was the cook. I had to come around and play waitress sometimes, all at once. Then, at the end of the day, it all had to be cleaned and stocked. The kitchen, the bar, the bathrooms, the dining room. It ended with vacuuming.
I despise vacuuming. I despise vacuum cleaners. They’re up there with ironing boards, umbrellas, coffee makers, and … oh, there’s something else and I’ll remember the next time I have to use it. The point is, these items never function quite right and they often attack.
Vacuuming, for me, really hurts. My shoulder, my hand, my feet, my soul. Yet every night ended with me shoving that cantankerous beast over about 700 square feet of carpet.
I managed it like this: I started it. Then I did it. Then it was done.
It’s as simple as that. You begin, and you keep going at your best pace with your best means, and then eventually it’s done.
Leading up to this trip, I was immensely busy. I barely had a spare moment in the past four months. It was good busy: work busy and social busy and adventure busy. It was super hard to fit in the chores though.
When I did fit in the chores, I did them like that vacuuming. I started, I worked, and then I was done. But in the final couple weeks, I found something even better.
I worked like I drive.
I love a drive. It’s a time when you can’t be feeling bad about what’s not getting done because all you can do at that moment is drive. And you’re doing it. There’s no way you can be mowing the lawn in that moment.
Driving gives me such peace. It’s time I can hang out in my own head. I daydream. I plan out the rooms in the guest house / artist haven I’d love to have some day. I redecorate my house if I had unlimited budget. I talk to God. I talk to my dog. Sometimes they talk back, you know, in their way.
That’s how I do dishes now, and any other chore. I use it as a break in the day from the work and the people and all the other things that are pressing on me. In that moment, it’s just that chore. So I start, I drive, and then I’m done.