Recently I’ve fallen victim to two “systems”. This is all the weirder because I’m not a person of systems, certainly not of systems designed by someone else. Which is the problem.
Okay, let’s back track. I have a group of friends who is trying very hard to convince me I’m an artist. I find this a bit bizarre because, honestly I’ve never thought of myself as one. Only as a sort of craftswoman. To quote Agatha Christie, I treat this like any other craft, like embroidering pillows or arranging flowers.
Only it’s not exactly true. It’s more that I’m like the women in the village who painted cosmetic boxes to help feed their families, or mom making wardrobes for soccer players’ wives, because that brought in most of the income for the family. It’s a craft I know, I do, and it provides part of the income for the family, and right now it helps with younger son’s tuition, etc.
However, it started with this video by Peterson. Of course it did. I’ve read Paterson’s book, and I’m not particularly taken with the underpinnings of the philosophy, but I’m taken with “he just makes sense.”
You know the whole “antidote to chaos” thing?
I used to look forward like crazy to the summer vacations, partly because, well… School was hell, as it is to most gifted people. (There’s a belief among “normal” people that “gifted” people love school. It’s not true. By and large, we love learning, but we hate school.) Partly because it gave me a chance to study and learn and do other things.
But what I found is that I needed a structure to summer vacation, or I was tired of it in a week. (And due to the times I lived in, it was 3 months, sometimes 4, sometimes 5 depending on how governments were changing and who was in charge in the ministry of education. One year it didn’t start until November because something went wrong with the sewage pipes at school.)
I was fortunate that my mom came with ONE built in structuring the device. NO ONE, not even Himself up there, could convince that woman that mornings SHOULD NOT be devoted to house work. So in the morning, in summer, I cleaned. We dusted and dust-mopped every day, even if we couldn’t see dust (it helped with allergies, too.) We did dishes from breakfast. We washed clothes (by hand.) and we ironed.
In the afternoon, I learned to give myself courses of study, or other things I wanted to do (like draw and make stuffed animals.)
Turned out as much as I hated school and its regimented “now do this” time, I needed at least loose structure to do anything.
But I didn’t internalize that as a lesson, and I kept falling into the opposite every time I lost my external structure.
The last time has been the last six years, and my work has suffered. The structure I lost: the kids’ predictable school schedule, when Marsh graduated from high school.
I’ve only realized that’s what I need (a structure) this month.
Part of the problem is walling off time to write, and all the things that keep interrupting. If I am a artist, it explains the tendency to chaos, because sometimes you just have to write/whatever, and it sends everything out of kilter.
OTOH I know I benefit from order. Most creative people do. “This is the place I work” and “this is the time I work” really seem to help. We just don’t have it naturally.
I’ve been trying to combat chaos since I read the twelve rules. Then Dorothy Grant pointed me at Flylady.net. It’s silly (complete with stuffed dolls) but it’s helping too. I know I tried housekeeping systems before. They didn’t work, because they played into my natural tendency which is binge/do nothing. So I cleaned like a dervish twice a year and kind of cleaned once a week. It’s not been working, so I’m trying the FlyLady which is “A little bit every day”.
So far my kitchen is staying clean, but I need to deal with the other stuff.
The truth is, we, the children of the children of WWII might have had order imposed externaly, but few of us had a internal “system”. There was no “Early to bed and early to rise” except maybe as a joke. There was no “This is how people of our class keep our houses.”
I know that people grow appalled by how people keep their houses now, but the mess and dust isn’t even the big thing (well, it’s for me, because auto-immune and asthma.) It’s the lack of order. It’s needing something and losing hours searching through piles. It’s buying three of the left handed phillips head screw drivers because you can’t find the first or second you bought.
It’s the fact that external chaos causes internal chaos and increases stress.
I don’t know if this will work long-term. As you see this blog post is very late, because… well, mostly because I took benadryl, because my auto-immune is kicking up.
I might have more to gain/lose from order than the rest of you. I need to keep stress under control or the auto-immune will kill me.
Right now I’ve managed to keep the kitchen clean and I’m working on getting better with laundry. (Part of this is I need a place to stow the ironables, other than the foot of my bed, and do the ironing more regularly than once every three months.)
I’m working on it, okay? Part of this is throwing a lot of stuff away (or donating it.) The lady who packed us to move time before last told me something interesting: have one set of sheets on the bed, and a spare one. No more. When one gets holes, replace it.
My mother tends to have sheets all over, and she gave us alot, but it was filling every space in the house, and most of them weren’t even a size I could use, which is why the lady told me that. (Didn’t throw them out but stored a lot of them, long-term, in the garage. If nothing else, they’re nice fabric.)
Other thing is, I’m getting rid of clothes that don’t fit, both up and down. I buy clothes form thrift stores. A full set is… $100. I can afford to change if I finally lose weight. (Or, heaven forbid, gain.) I keep a couple of things for sentimental value, but ONLY a couple of things.
But I think it is important to combat chaos, both external and internal. And to do it, you need to start with what you CAN control.
Chaos is the unmaking, the destruction of order and civilization. We sort of need to do the opposite, both in our lives and the world.
Start with our spaces/our lives. Let it propagate outwards, to our words and thoughts. Order, not chaos. Light, not darkness.
Go clean your room.