The Best Baked Plans…

This is why I shouldn’t have any bright ideas in the kitchen:

I was racing around preparing for a showing on Tuesday morning when I realized I’d forgotten breakfast. Seeing Squirrel left one store bought chocolate chip cookie in the cupboard – the light bulb went on over my head. Why not warm it up, killing two birds with one stone – snack for me, warm fuzzy scent for the potential buyer?

But this is me we’re talking about. No sooner had I got the cookie in the oven than I heard someone fire up a serious sounding power washer outside.

No!!! The neighbours are not getting their roof power washed (spraying gutter gunk all over my deck and backyard) today – of all days! I hurtled out the door and launched into interrogation mode:

Me: Are you just doing the driveway?

Power Washer Guy: Yep…oh, and the roof…and the gutters…

Me: Oh, well, we’re trying to sell the house (pointing to very obvious sign) and I have someone coming to see it at 1:15. I know it’s hard, but can you PLEASE try not to spray stuff all over my yard?

Power Washer Guy: No problem. I’ll have it cleaned up by 1pm.

Me: What’s that smell?

!@#$  %^&* !@#$  %^&* !!!

I darted inside to find half my breakfast smoking blackly at me from the bottom of the oven.

Really?

I switched the fan to high and opened all the doors as Power Washer Guy revved his engine sending a mist of debris swirling past my recently washed kitchen windows.

I ate the unburnt half of the cookie anyway, standing over the kitchen sink, feeling sorry for myself.

Just then my realtor called. She told me not to worry about things I can’t control. “If they can’t look past the minor things,” she said, “they’re probably not serious anyway.”

Wise words.

Because on Wednesday the burnt cookie showing had turned into an offer!!! and by Thursday night (after a few rounds of negotiation), we accepted it.

Yippee!!!

I woke up the next morning and looked out the window to see that Power Washer Guy actually did an excellent job of cleaning up after himself, but that a bear had walked right through our back fence knocking out five planks.

Sometimes the things we can’t control end well, sometimes not. I know one thing for sure, that fence repair can wait until I’ve celebrated.

How should I celebrate this untethering from the cleaning cloth? Any suggestions?

When I Move to Whistler, I Will…

(my oldest, in the air)

Here’s what I’m telling myself:

When I move to Whistler I will:

– cook more

– do yoga

– make the kids turn off their iPods

– ride my bike

– start my writing career (doesn’t that sound cheesy – I mean, who just decides to start a writing career)

– walk everywhere

– shop less

– worry less

– start back to work a few hours a week

– spend more time with Squirrel

– train the kids to sleep in their own beds all night

Here’s the truth:

None of that is going to happen if I don’t start now.

But, I’m getting ready to put our house on the market! I have to power wash, mow the lawn, organize my drawers, wash the walls, weed the garden and fluff the pillows. I have to worry, feel guilty, exhaust myself and get ill. I have to counsel the kids, apologize to the neighbours, scream at Squirrel, meet with the realtor, stage the house and sell on Craigslist.

I’m a busy girl, don’t you know.

Or, maybe I’m just anxious and that anxiety is causing me to micro focus on shit that doesn’t really matter. Unfortunately, that anxiety moves with me.

I guarantee there will be new dramas to micro manage in Whistler. Unpacking, settling in, getting used to a new school and new neighbours, making new friends, finding part-time work.

These things are all inherently stressful and require a great deal of energy, but it’s my anxiety about them that really exhausts me.

The truth is  there’s no reason I can’t:

– do a five minute meditation every morning

– throw down a sun salutation while I’m packing or playing with the kids

– go back to my simple rice, pasta, two veggie dinner plan

– start a simple, private blog for my children’s chapter book and type a sentence or two a day

– ease the kids back into a bedroom routine

None of this requires any more energy than my anxiety is sucking out of me. And, maybe if I lay the groundwork, I’ll take a little less fear and a little more focus with me when we make our move at the end of the summer.

What little thing are you telling yourself you can’t start right now?

Groundhog Day: Why Decluttering Isn’t Always Enough

Isn’t it too bad that wishing you were mainstream never makes it true? You just become that person rowing frantically with a stick wondering why all the other boats are passing you by.

I purposely don’t write a lot about my specific challenges with decluttering. There are so many reasons a person gets into trouble with clutter, and so many reasons we can all benefit from getting rid of it, that I don’t think my idiosyncracies warrant much press.

However, everyone has their unique challenges, and my family is no different.

Squirrel and I have learned from our journey through the fascinating workings of our oldest son’s brain that I share a few of his genetic variations – if you will. For example, we both have a poor short-term memory and experience a great deal of difficulty in the area of motor planning.

Squirrel likens our challenges to living a perpetual Groundhog Day where we relearn the same thing over and over again without really automating anything. Fortunately, it doesn’t affect general intelligence but it is a little hard to explain when I’m reading the directions on the box of pasta for the fifth and sixth times or when I suddenly forget how to turn on my car’s engine.

There have been many times in my life when I’ve told myself –  if I can’t make a paddle out of this stick, I really should head for dry land. But since I became a mother nine years ago, I’ve found myself drawn back into the current, striving towards my vision of a normal Mom while the kind of Mom I can be and want to be passes me by.

I know the road ahead for my son is a difficult one and my hope for him is that he builds his life around his talents and that those successes buoy him up for the daily challenges that he will undoubtedly face. And, I hope he pins his hopes on extraordinary instead of the ever elusive normal.

Getting rid of our clutter was a giant step forward for our family. Still, there are many things in our lives that we can eliminate or automate to free us up to struggle less and enjoy more. In the next few weeks I’m going to attempt to put our meals on auto pilot. Despite all my magical thinking, it turns out there is no healthy dinner fairy, and that the longer you wait for her, the more likely you are to get a visit from the pizza man.

What’s the first thing that you would eliminate or automate to simplify your life?