“If something is worth doing, it’s worth doing half assed.” (KC Davis) I quoted to my partner as we got back into the car and we laughed.
All day, a day of blue skies and glorious sunshine, I had wanted to get to the sea, to lie on the beach, and maybe go into the salt water, that great healer. All day, the fatigue, perhaps made worse by the heat, pinned me to a deckchair in the shade in the garden, my eyes closed, listening to my audio book.
Finally, when the puppies were in bed, we got in the car and drove to see the sun set over the islands. The curlews were calling, swooping around in groups. The sky was reflected in the wet sand, and our older dog sniffed around happily as I walked a short way along the seafront to a bench. The wind had increased, bringing salt to my face.
…This wasn’t a beach swim, but this was worth doing…
My holiday reading this year, How To Keep House While Drowning, has been hugely influential already. Also remarkably, it is the first time I have ever read every single page of a self-help book!
The author, KC Davis, has taken great care to never have a chapter longer than two pages, to make it accessible to neuro-diverse/ADHDers, and of course the exhausted and overwhelmed.
I bought the book on the basis of a quote where she was explaining that these chores which she renames as “care tasks” are MORALLY NEUTRAL. She is influenced by Brené Brown and Kristin Neff and this de-stigmatising, shame-removing process is beautiful. It’s not that I don’t know this stuff, I’m a feminist, but she really shines the light into the corners of our unconscious entrenched beliefs.
Returning from the beach a few days previously, I’d announced, “When we get back, I’m gonna take everything out of the car and see what we’ve got, clean it, organise it and make some bags of the things that we need for the beach so we’ve got everything we need each time.” When we got back, I remembered The Book! This idea of mine was a maximum energy project and would have only have a moderate to minimum impact on my well-being (I don’t even get in car once a day) – so I DIDN’T DO IT!
And so many things since, I have not done, or done half assed.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m a neat freak. I love storage solutions, I believe in a place for everything and everything in its place, and have spent my life trying to restore order to the chaos that living creates. 40 years ago I was so unwell with anxiety and OCD That I could not sit down or eat because drawers needed everything sorting into order. Decades before Marie Kondo, I frantically organised everything including my mother’s sewing box and stationery in my search for peace.
I’ve come a long way since then, and recovered from the disorder relatively quickly. Only if you look very closely, you will notice that when I peg the laundry out that the pegs must be equidistant, the categories of items must be hung together, and if I’m somewhere where there are plastic coloured pegs (I have wooden to avoid this) then different coloured pegs cannot go onto the same item. But no one else notices this. And yes, I fold my knickers, I vertically store clothes in drawers, keep my shoes in transparent stacking boxes and have to have matching coat-hangers, but these are my personal foibles and I can live with them. It’s not considered a disorder if it doesn’t prevent living.
Living with Long Covid / fibromyalgia / ME (the second two being after effects of cancer, steroids, chemotherapy), the fulfilment of the hope that I would one day be on top of things continues to elude me. It can also be part of the “crash and burn“ cycle, whereby a small amount of energy encourages me to begin a project I cannot complete.
Davis’ book works for me, because I can plan. I love her grid system of sorting tasks into those that will give the maximum benefit / moderate benefit / minimum benefit to my well-being in that moment. The second part of her grid is organising things that take the least amount of energy to the maximum amount. When the grid is complete, it’s easier to see which ‘balls to drop’. The categorising really appeals to my OCD trait and means I can now become committed to how many things can I do half assed!
* This blog was written lying down, dictating into my phone notes. Then I edited the typos propped up on a lounger. When I add the pics and then publish it, it will have been completed in less than an hour, still in pjs and all lying down. It’s half assed, which makes it shorter than usual and probably more readable. Thank you KC.