Sometimes I purposely make messes to clean up messes

DW walked into our downstairs office a couple of weeks ago and unexpectedly found me rearranging furniture, bookshelves, and supplies.


“There is something seriously wrong with you,” he said without a smirk, climbing over the piles of debris and around misplaced furniture, “it’s like you have an illness or something.”

I have a plan, I thought to myself, one even better than the last time.

And the last time.

Some mornings I wake up and think, “why bother?”

Maybe it is a problem. A control problem. I never really thought about it as being something I did methodically. Until recently. When things seem overwhelming or chaotic,  I usually make changes. And they are almost always drastic changes. Instead of tackling the real issues, I tackle a drawer, a closet or a room. I cut my hair. I start a new diet or exercise routine. Those things I can control from start to finish. I can stand back after the dust settles and see real results, tangible accomplishments that feel satisfying.

On Sunday I was fortunate enough to run my second 10k race with one of my dearest friends. I’ve been silently mourning my lack of motivation and discipline to train this year. (OK, maybe not completely silently) Instead of taking spare moments to run, I’ve been reorganizing my craft room. There was a split second I thought about completely bailing on the run, but I knew my friend had been training and was counting on me for company. By mile three two I already knew I was in trouble and there were four miles ahead. My compassionate partner let me walk a few steps to catch my breath before running again, and then we set a new goal. Make it to the next cone. The next bend. The next road sign. I was tired, sore, hot and embarrassed, but I kept going. I put one foot in front of the other and stopped worrying about the next mile and just focused on the task at hand. We talked and joked the whole way without the distraction of kids, spouses, laundry, bills to pay and groceries to buy. We focused on breathing. We focused on reaching that next goal, and before I knew it, I could see the finish line.

But then I stopped.

My legs were trembling. My breath was shallow and I felt nauseous. I remembered how poor my race time was and wanted to just quit. I started thinking about the mess I had made in my craft room, my office and my kitchen. My hands were itching to organize, rearrange and clean something. Walk away from what felt like failure and create something I could be proud of instead.

“Just go on without me,” I gasped, “I’ll meet you at the finish.”

“There is no way I’m crossing without you!” my friend said.

She grabbed my hand and pulled me forward. We picked up the pace as finished runners lining the course cheered and shouted, “You’ve got this! Keep going!”

970580_612150448796317_1615874563_nWe crossed together, our names announced almost in unison, with a finish time of 1:18 (actually only 9 minutes slower than my race time last year surprisingly). It was hard not to feel proud in that moment, but it was also hard not to feel completely loved by my friend. She saw through my fear and frustration and made me keep going. She made me face myself and embrace whatever I had to give, flaws and all.

Hopefully I can keep this emotional momentum going for a while, set smaller, more manageable goals when things start to feel overwhelming rather than stop in my tracks and take apart something that doesn’t really need to be dismantled.

However, today, I do have to put my craft room back together.


9 thoughts on “Sometimes I purposely make messes to clean up messes

  1. Good for you! And you have a great friend. I’m impressed that finished runners stay and cheer on the rest. I also find craft store visits very therapeutic.

  2. Good for you for finishing that run! And what a sweet, sweet friend. I’m glad you have people like that in your life. Whenever I feel overwhelmed, I head to J.Jill.

  3. Congrats on the run! I have exactly the same problem as you. I’ve always been told that when tidying your room, it has to get worse before it can get better, but seriously … I take that to a whole new level. “This won’t fit on the shelf!” I say, as an excuse to reorganise my entire 300-book strong collection, put it in alphabetically order, and then colour-code my shelves. Or, “I can’t fit my pyjamas in the same drawer as my socks anymore!”, which is an excuse to take all my clothes out, spread them all over the floor, and make a new drawer arrangement. One day, I will have a tidy room … but it is not this day!

  4. That is a good friend — I wouldn’t have talked or joked with you — I DO NOT talk and run — IMPOSSIBLE! I would have, however, grabbed your hand and pulled you forward!!

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