Combatting “All or Nothing” thinking (Pt 2)

To summarize: my brain = wants to do all the things, mistakenly believed it could do so through sheer force of will, children’s have confirmed my deepest fear, that I actually have no control over anything, that the universe is noise and chaos and there truly is no end to the laundry Charybdis.

Except, that’s also not true either (except for the thing about laundry- until we all adopt A’s “swimsuit every day” lifestyle, there will just always be a mountain of laundry)- the universe is noise, but it’s also music and joy. And I can’t control time or weather or biological imperatives, but I can control how I respond to them. So, I’m working on fitting my “doing” (art making, home tasking, deep thinking, reading, parenting for justice-ing,etc) into the cracks and margins. Moss is my new hero.

I was going somewhere else with this, but that seems like a good enough place to stop for now.

Combatting “All or Nothing” thinking (+an experiment*)

*An experiment in timed writing- It’s 6:30am. At 7, I have to switch my brain back from Work-Mode to Mom-Mode and get A ready to go out the door to school. The hours before 7am have become the Wild West of baby sleep so either, I’ll have to strap a sleepy potato into the car seat still blinking sleep out of her eyes OR she’ll wake up in 2 minutes. Either way, I’m going to write until I hear her, hit publish when I do and just see what kind of word spaghetti sticks to the wall.

There’s a pattern to my thinking: Do ALL THE EVERYTHING TO THE MOST EXTRA LIMIT or do nothing at all. It shows up in my art, in my writing (I have roughly 6 drafts for short essays in my head that have yet to see paper bc I don’t think I have time to write them all, so I don’t write any), and especially in my approach to tasks like dishes or laundry. In my college and pre-kid days, this served me (sort of) well. I could set ridiculous goals for myself bc I had nothing else to do- I could be the absolute controller of my time. This fed into my identity as a Person Who Does Things A Lot.

The thing is, I didn’t actually control anything. One really only had to look at the times when my plans were thwarted by illness, weather, the fact that no, Cat, you can’t actually defy science and never sleep ever. More importantly, I was too busy DOING THINGS to stop and notice all the times that sure, things got DONE, but without joy or presence. Kids are REALLY good at forcing one to acknowledge that really, one has nearly no control-

(Case in point- Just as I hit my stride and think “YES! I think I know where this essay is going” I hear a rustle and a little voice saying “mummummumm mama” To be continued)

Scenes from the studio(/thinking)

A dear friend recently challenged me to “write 5 pages” before our next conversation, two weeks later. It’s now 2 weeks later and I did not write 5 pages. What I did do:

  • unburied (literally) my notes and note cards from the Clandestine Submersible Corps and began to immerse myself back in that world.
  • This includes reopening and beginning to read through what I had of the first draft, a thing I have not done in…3 years? Since the writer’s block struck. While not sure yet how to proceed, I am surprised and delighted to not turn into a pillar of salt. Also, to find some good stuff in the draft so far.
  • Continued to collect fragments re: this season of life and our particular circumstances. I’m too in it to write about it now, but I recognize that there’s something here and so have started trying to listen and capture bits of it when I can.
  • Continued to nurture a curiosity I have regarding fungi, mosses and lichen with new library finds.
  • Tiny, slow-growing embroidery projects connected to said curiosity.
  • Applied lens of joy and playfulness to this spring’s postcard collective exchange. Absolutely missed deadline, but also 1) didn’t explode and 2) in going slow have made space for A to help and infuse her own brand of wonder to the process. Given the exchange’s theme (magic) this feels right.

Overall, I feel like good progress has been made…

Bedtime musings

Tonight I am so tired my face hurts. So rather than pursue any number of creative endeavors, I am holding C as she nurses to sleep, letting myself rest in her warmth and her weight, wrapped in soft fleecy pajamas, watching her eyelids grow heavy. It’s cliched but true that you can’t put from an empty cup so while I feel the urgency to Do Something Anything, tonight I rest. We had take out pizza tonight and no one got baths and everyone was okay.

Lately I feel as if I am moving through my days collecting moments that are ripe for writing material- the “unprecedented” times around me, the beautiful absurdity of raising fairly new and very new humans, reckoning with mortality in the face of multiple, personal health crises even while the entire world reckons with an entirely different public health crisis, and the everyday ordinary miracles of spring a la May Oliver.

Ironically, all of what seems most important to translate into words is exactly that which keeps me from doing so, because it’s all So Much and A Lot, and I can barely catch my breath, let alone snatch more than a handful of words, those flightier, slipperier things.

So for now I’m trying to just pay attention. To make notes when I can, and to give myself grace when I can’t.

i hope you too are being kind to yourself.