Grasses in shadow, San Diego, July 2011
And then other days, I feel like I am slogging through life, like just finding the energy to put the socks away is difficult. I look around the chaos of my house and am unable to find the verve I need to try to put it in order. On these days, the words that come to my mind are impossible, insurmountable, and the mother of all sloggy, energy-less-day words: overwhelm.
On days when I feel overwhelmed, I try to take a step back, look around and decide on the tasks which are most important, either in the world (a commitment I've made that must be done), to my family (the basics of taking care of the children) or to my mental health (get some exercise, go outdoors). Then I usually try to take care of a few of the integral things, forget the rest, drink a beer, take a shower, and call it a day.
But I must admit that lately, I've had more days when my normal strategies just don't help much. Today is one. Yesterday was one, too. I look around and despair at the state of my house - the toys on the floor, the bookshelves overflowing, the kitchen counters crowded, the stairs cluttered. It doesn't help that construction on our deck has stalled and our tiny yard is filled with disorderly stacks of plastic boxes covered with a thick layer of sawdust-mud. On a nice day, our little outdoor space is a good respite for me when it feels that the walls of my small, full house are closing in on me. But not today.
So then there are choices. I can sit down and cry, recognizing that the internal overwhelm is being influenced by the external world (like news of the passing of the beloved founder of the company where Mikhail now works, a man who I never met but Mikhail so greatly looked up to that I almost feel I did). In fact, I wish I could sit down and cry, but sometimes tears just won't come when I wish they would.
Or I can pick one thing, and do that. I can go tackle the boxes and the sawdust and the cobwebs crowding my outdoor space, and hope that clearing a little external space will give me a little internal room as well - a clearing of the internal crowding that creates overwhelm.
And if I do that while drinking a beer and listening to loud music, and then take a shower, maybe it'll just all work.
Boards from our ripped-up deck, Berkeley, August 2011
And then, after I wrote this post, it went like this: I did not find the things I was looking for in the sawdust-covered boxes, I fell through the plastic cover on one, got even more overwhelmed when my husband arrived on the scene to witness the strewn-about boxes and stressed-out, maxed-out wife, husband took children over, I had that cry in the shower, put the kids to bed, then drunk the beer.
I think I'm done.