Jenny: Imperfection Friday: Power Line

The fourth lesson in the second section of the Brene Brown course was about, in her words, “superpower and kryptonite.” It’s based on the idea that every strong point in your personality has a weak side, every weakness you have is also a strength a different area. If your weakness is being bossy, your strength is that things get done when you’re in charge. If your strength is sensitivity and connection to others, your weakness is that you get upset too easily. It’s something we used to talk about in teaching character: for every strength your character has, there’s a corresponding weakness; for every flaw, a corresponding gift. I like this, I believe it’s true, but I had a helluva time figuring out what my superpower was. So I reverse engineered and started with the flaws. Flaws are always easier.

Note: This is long because I used it to work out the assignment. Skip down to the part in bold if you just want to read about doing the art journal. You won’t miss anything important.

My flaws are that I waste time day-dreaming (not plotting books, day-dreaming). I lose track of time. I don’t prioritize: I’ll spend a day painting a chair I don’t really need while a book I absolutely must finish languishes, the dishes go undone for a third day, the laundry rots in the back of my car, and every surface in my house is covered with stuff that belongs somewhere else. I also have a really hard time finishing things; I’m excited by the potential in the beginning of things, but once it’s down to the hard push to the end, I wander off and start something else. I’m lazy and slovenly and disorganized, I’ll do anything to avoid making business calls or dealing with people, I lose contracts, and I can never find my phone. Oh, and I prefer night to day: it’s quieter and I can think better and people don’t bug me and expect me to do things in the real world.

So yeah, I’m a mess. My distaste for reality is what Brown calls Kryptonite, which is actually pretty descriptive because that reluctance to deal with the real world weakens me. It make my life more unpleasant, and in so doing makes me tense and unhappy and saps my strength.

So what’s the other side of that coin?

I’m endlessly inventive. I can think up six new worlds before breakfast. I have entire other lives I live in my head, everything I see when I leave the house makes a story in my head, every person I meet becomes the center of a drama. I move through the take-out line at MacDonald’s and wonder about the woman I see there most days, if she’s on the fast track for manager–she has a really powerful persona–if she’s working her way through school, if she sells hamburgers because it never interferes with her real life as a DJ or a standup comic, if she paints in her garage at night, huge canvases full of stars. I see a chair by the side of the road, and I think, “I could make that amazing.” I see piles of yarn and see limitless potential, stacks of fabric that could be anything. There are no boundaries in my head, I can go anywhere, do anything, be anyone, as long as it never gets out of my head.

Because when reality enters the picture, everything kind of falls apart. That woman in the drive-through is probably not painting stars at night, she’s probably trying to get her kids to bed so she can watch TV in a state of exhaustion. If I stopped after she handed my credit card back and asked, “Do you paint stars in your garage at night?” she’d think I was demented and close the window. Reality and my imagination do not mix; the few times I’ve tried have always ended with people backing away slowly. Yes, I know I make up stuff for a living, but the stories I put on paper are not the stories I live with for days; nobody would publish those and I wouldn’t want them out there anyway. There are enough people who think I’m nuts already, I don’t want it to reach critical mass. The stuff in my head is perfect; reality is just . . . real. Bleah.

So the journal assignment is to make one page for my superpower and one page for my Kryptonite, which I decided was Limitless Imagination and Avoidance of Reality. Or something like that. The key is what to do with that. Brown quotes a friend of her who said, “I made the decision to move from hiding to harnessing,” leaving the job that didn’t fulfill her to work on projects that used the things that were powerful within her. I already did that; I quit teaching (which I loved and which did use my strengths) and became a professional storyteller. I made the leap. I’m good. What can this exercise possibly tell me?

Well, it’s shown me one key thing: I’ve always summed up my problem as “I live in my head, of course I don’t see the squalor around me,” but I’d missed the fact that they’re the same damn thing. I was excusing my squalor because my creativity was more important, I hadn’t seen that the unlimited chaos my body lives in is the flip side of the limitless imagination my mind swims in. Creativity doesn’t come from doing things right, it comes from doing things wrong, or at least being willing to do things wrong, to stick out your tongue at convention, to say over and over and over again, “Thanks, I’ll do it my way.” The electric company and Blue Cross frown on this, as does the health department when the dishes in the sink reach the second week.

So, as Brown points out, it’s a spectrum. Until I’m fabulously rich and can afford to pay somebody to do the dishes and clean the house and pay the bills and deal with customer service, I have to live on all the parts of my power line, and I can’t do that until I know what my damn line is. So back to the art journal assignment.

The Art Journal Assignment:

So my superpower, limitless imagination, goes on one page and my Kryptonite, avoidance of reality goes on the other. I kept the Limitless Imagination page light, but I added heavy black marker to the reality avoidance page. One surprise: I’ve always thought of reality as Reality, That Bitch, kind of Angelina Jolie as Maleficent, but when I drew it, it was just this heavy frowning blob, which is a lot more true to life.

Imagination Reality 1

Then we had to break down both sides a little more. So as my subsets of superpowers, I put, “I live in many worlds,” “I make wonderful things,” “I see beauty in everything.” I’m not sure that makes me powerful, but they all make me happy, and happiness is powerful. Also, I think my imagination is so important to me that protecting it makes me fierce and strong, so that’s power, too.

The Kryptonite side was depressing: Because I avoid reality, I don’t connect with people. They’ll disapprove of me, I’ll say something stupid and they won’t like me, I’ll hurt somebody’s feelings . . . better just stay home by myself. (And Krissie can visit.) But my real life is chaos because I don’t connect; the customer service person at Blue Cross is probably not going to like me anyway, and I’ve been putting off calling her for weeks. The last line was the one that got me: Real life is too risky. If I never go anywhere, I won’t be taking the risk of making a fool of myself, being less than other people need, hurting people. But because I don’t go anywhere, I’m less than other people need and I hurt them by avoiding them. And god knows, I still make a fool of myself regularly.

So maybe it goes back to not hiding but harnessing. Maybe if I look at reality in a creative way, I can stop not seeing things through avoidance and start paying attention to the detail in real life. That can be beautiful, too. The sink’s a lot more beautiful without the dirty dishes, absolutely. Maybe what I need to do with reality is think, “Wait, I can make something with this.”

Or maybe I just need to do the dishes.

Here are the finished superpower/kryptonite pages:

Imagination Reality

Then the Dig Deep stuff was about meaningful work, concentrating not on what you should be doing (as defined by someone else) but on how you define meaningful work. “Pick three words that describe meaningful work to you,” she said, so I picked creative, joyful, and true. Then they’d talked about slash careers, and anybody with any experience with fan fiction knows where my mind went, but instead she’s talking about hyphenates, people who do more than one thing (producer-director, writer-illustrator). We were supposed to design our own hyphenate/slash career (sorry, just cannot see slash in any other way at this point), using our current career and another career we want. Mine was writer/artist/teacher, and that’s pretty much what I’ve got now, so I think I’m good there.

Meaningful Work

Two more lessons and I’m finished with both courses, and I’ll be really sorry to see them end. There’s been a lot of enlightenment here.

36 thoughts on “Jenny: Imperfection Friday: Power Line

  1. German Chocolate Betty says:

    Oh, Jenny, I am so glad you posted the first part (working things out for the assignment). I loved it. It was comforting to me to see that I am not the only person in the world who can “see piles of yarn and see limitless potential”… I too am excited by the potential at the beginning of things, but will often wander off. Likewise, I will also do anything to avoid making business calls (I try to do everything via email).

    So I too would have “limitless imagination” and “avoidance of reality” as major components of myself.

    I don’t write stories in my head like you do – instead I make plans. When I was much younger, my mother thought I was a hopeless dreamer who chased wild ideas, that I would never settle down, always making plans but never carrying them out, etc., etc. (in spite of the fact that I did really accomplish a lot) – it wasn’t until I was much older and we talked about it that she finally understood my making plans and building castles in the clouds was my way of fighting off depression and dealing with disappointment. I could pump myself up by following imaginary paths, until just like the “fake it ‘til you make it’ philosophy, I could climb out of my hole. Now my mother understands, but my husband doesn’t…he simply cannot understand why I need to go through this process…(grrrr).
    However, because of my propensity to think big thoughts and make wild plans, I have had several points in my varied career that I have done some wonderful things and really made a difference. Because I can also “sell” those ideas to others, and because I could also see things that others couldn’t, and because I wasn’t content to accept the conventional wisdom, I was able to find new paths that others couldn’t see. Which is a real strength.

    Except – do NOT ask me to do the nitty-gritty work of actually making things happen. I too am excited by potential, can fight the good fight to get acceptance, but absolutely abhor the grunt work of actually turning the idea into reality. Because once I have convinced people, and my idea gets picked up, I’m off to the next one. (Well, usually it was already there, but I was still having fun “selling” the first one.)

    Luckily, I have twice in my life had the opportunity to move on and leave the grunt work for others (but still get credit for the idea, smile). I am in the process of doing this again, and it looks like it’s working again. (Two projects, one already passed off to a junior colleague, so I just advise, and looks like since yesterday I’ve got a second junior colleague to take over the day-to-day on the other one.)

    RE: avoidance of reality. Oh, man, that’s me too. On so many levels. When I read Fast Women, I thought, gee, I’m Travis. If you avoid making decisions long enough, things will work themselves out. (Not.) My imagination here does me the disservice of making me convinced that the only result will be the worst possible outcome. So I do nothing. Which is friggin’ illogical. It costs me a huge amount of emotional energy to deal with certain things – so I wait until I no longer feel fragile. Only until I am up against the wall will I do what I need to do. Sheesh. I’m actually a quite logical, intelligent person, but this side of me is not. Because the reality is almost never as bad as my imagination, but that doesn’t stop me…

    Sorry. Overactive fingers. Don’t know what got into me.

  2. German Chocolate Betty says:

    Jenny, I think you’re right…

    A post scriptum to “if you wait long enough, things will work themselves out”: last summer our house was broken into and almost all of my jewelry stolen including wedding/engagement rings from my first marriage (my husband died in 1999), other pieces that were gifts or inheritance from him, my grandmother, my in-laws (Hubby #1 was an only child and pre-deceased his parents and I inherited my MIL’s jewelry). We had given descriptions, etc., to the police, sent off info to the insurance co and got lost in the shuffle, until (new, replacement) ins agent contacted us. Then around Christmas, a claim adjustor finally showed up, made a couple of odd comments like, well, there was a pretty big sum (yes, nearly 6 figures), and he’d have to check with the police if that seemed “feasible” or not, even though I had photos and some receipts (but definitely not all, obviously) which came across as though he didn’t believe me and that was enough to send me into a deep, deep depression (and in my alternate universe they were going to pay even less). So, I have been trying to find more docs, but keep having panic attacks, so have been “avoiding reality” as usual. But today, when I got home, there was a notice from the ins co that they were paying the “max allowed by my policy”. I will probably have to submit the extra stuff still, but our wonderful agent went to bat, and no more anxiety attacks on this for me. Whew. (Although the “max” could not cover replacement even if I could replace the stuff. But still…)

    Lucked out again. Unfortunately, this is also reinforcing my bad behavior. Sigh. No hope for me, it seems.

  3. Office Wench Cherry says:

    Holy wow. There have been a few of these posts – okay, all of them, that have really spoken to me. The comment about living in squalor/chaos because creativity was more important hit a nerve. Hard. It reminded me of something I read a book recently that threw me for a loop. In Far From You by Tess Sharpe, a YA mystery, the main character is a recovering Oxy addict who is investigating the murder of her best friend. At one point she desperately wants to score, not because she wants to get high but because the discipline of staying clean is weighing her down and she wants the chaos of being an addict again. The freedom of not having to be responsible and good and strong.

    That totally summed up what I think and how I feel about food. I’ve been working hard to lose weight and become fitter and healthier but there are days when I desperately want to lose myself in a ginormous bowl of popcorn slathered in butter. I want to live in my imaginary world where I weigh 130 lbs and my house is clean and organized because that’s easier than doing the work to get there. Not the physical work but the mental work.

    Yeah, avoidance of reality is my Kryptonite too.

    I have more to think about and say but I’m at work and need to get back to it. Work where I am grateful that my co-worker loves to talk on the phone and saves me from doing it more than I absolutely have to.

  4. Squalor? You want squalor? I had to move my sewing project out of my bedroom because I can barely move in there – so much STUFF hanging around. A ginormous bin of felting/hat-making supplies that I have no-where to store. I taught myself how to make hats for Christmas presents and now can’t bear/bare/is (there another spelling?)to just toss the stuff because I might want to make hats again some day and I spent a hefty amount buying the stuff – even though I made my own hat forms.

    So now the sewing is on the kitchen table because I’m making new clothes for work. The only reason the dishes are done is because someone else is doing them and I’ve avoided making dinner for days now.

    I have this theory about being able to make everything I need from junk, if only I had a big enough junk pile to sort through – but I live with people and people don’t like big piles of junk…

    when I’m doing something – I’m doing it. So totally focused that a bomb could go off next to the house and an hour later I might raise my head and ask if something happened.

    I’m a serial doer. I quilted until I get saturated and then quit in the middle of a project. same with ceramics, hats, cross stitch… you name it and I probably have one of it hanging around somewhere unfinished.

    My fear is that I’ve reached that point with writing and I’ll just never finish. Or should I just accept it an move on? I don’t know. I could just stop in the middle of the sewing project and leave it on the kitchen table until someone throws a fit.

    I think the superpower is adaptability. But is it worth the chaos?

  5. Sheri Hart says:

    Offer a local student/aspiring writer an unpaid (or nominal stipend) internship with you. You can talk to her about writing while she does your dishes. She can proofread your McDaniel work and learn a ton for free.

    I would have jumped at the chance to clean the house of an NYT author and have him/her talk to me when I was in school. Seriously.

    What a remarkable opportunity for someone and a potential boon to you. Make a connection without leaving your house — get her to pick up milk and eggs on her way over.

    I’m a fellow reality-avoider. I have had to set up all my bills on automatic payment or I don’t pay them.

    I spend more time thinking about how to avoid certain things than it would take me to do them.

    If not for my kids and their various activities I’d rarely leave the house. I’ve managed to sustain a successful copywriting business like this for 15 yrs. LOL. I suck it up for 3-4 in-person client meetings each year. Thank God for the internet and email.

    Of course since finding out my son has asperger’s, it has put some of my behaviors in a whole new light. 🙂

  6. Thea says:

    Reality avoider, oh yeah, big time. But I got tired of living with the weight, dragging the heaviness. Work is always the burden, whether The Work is writing a necessary letter, cleaning the kitchen, showing up at class, putting my name on the volunteer calendar. Now I get the work out as soon as I can, soon as it appears. I try not to *carry* anything. For me, what I carry gains density over time and mashes all the fun. Now I do stuff, get rid of it, cut it loose. Doing stuff and cutting it loose can become a drug, sure, since there’s always more stuff to be done coming at me. But now I’ve time and opportunity to indulge in fun, and I feel lighter.

    I hope this doesn’t come off as smug. I lived long years one way, got bent over, decided to experiment with a different way. So far, the different way works. Here I am, in a new place and just — happier. More peaceful.

  7. Sure Thing says:

    Oh wow! You know, frequently, research shows that identical twins separated at birth actually are more similar than twins raised together. Twins raised together often choose to be focused on different aspects of their talents and skill themselves accordingly.

    Somehow we are twins separated by an ocean and 30 years. (It’s me birthday, I’m writing this AFTER the wired post on Argh. While I’m going to be awesome, you may all carry on about your business.)

    The other point about bringing up twin studies is to suggest we can choose what to focus on in our talents thus mitigating the weakness. But what do I know? I lack sleep now.

  8. My super power is Storytelling.
    My kryptonite is insecurity.

    I’m organized, my home is tidy, I’m independant, I take care of myself, balance the books, and hang on by a thread. I’ve worked for years on my personal health, physical and mental. But one thread I’ve never been able to overcome is my lack of risk taking. When it comes to storytelling, I’m happy and filled with joy. When it comes to putting my work out there for the world to see I shrink back into myself. I procrastinate. I do negative talk. I withdraw. I become a whiny baby.

    A ton of my insecurity is about the feeling that I don’t have a degree in liberal arts, or English, or anything really, other than an R.N. degree. So why the heck am I writing? Oh yeah, the storytelling bit. : )

    Along with that insecurity is, I think, a Cinderella complex. By being a “good girl” there is the deep seated expectation that somehow I’ll earn a fairy godmother and she’ll wave her magic wand and everything will be just fine. Never happens. So I create, slog, withdraw, advance, withdraw again, slog some more, and in the end I’m raising my hands and asking what the freakin hell is wrong with me.

    Great exercise. I’m sure I have a ton more thoughts I could spit out but must go procrastinate over this latest disaster.

  9. Ha, ha, ha, and I think the dishes are easily moving into week two although I did do a small set about a week ago. Tomorrow night is dish night. I also have laundry that must be done or it will be the underwear that I hate.

    On the other hand, I am a child of an alcoholic and a co-dependent which means that some things I am BEYOND anal retentive about which includes paying my bills, making sure that I am caught up with anything that publicly might out the chaos/unlimited horizons/stories in my head. I tell myself stories to go to sleep and have fabulous dreams that can be horrifying, terrifying, joyful, etc… Sometimes I fly and float in my dreams and other times well, they aren’t pretty dreams but I do know where Stephen King gets his ideas. I just don’t want to live in those places. Ugh.

    This class is so on my list.

  10. It is fascinating to watch you take this journey–I’m so glad you’re sharing it with us.

    I used to be terrible about getting things cleaned and organized, but then I spent a decade and a half being seriously ill (and still don’t have the energy most people have) and learned that it was a lot easier to do things when they are small (a few dishes) than to wait until they were huge and overwhelming and impossible.

    This is not to say that there aren’t places in my house where there are piles of things that need to be attacked and dealt with, but periodically I pick one spot and do that, so it never gets too too dreadful.

    Mind you, I can’t be creative when there is too much clutter, so I don’t have much choice if I want to write.

    Even with all that, I too will put off making those official phone calls until there is no choice at all. Bah.

    My super power is never giving up. Maybe we can call that determination.

    My kryptonite is fear. Of pretty much everything. (Although that whole “people won’t like me” thing is way up there.)

    I’ve just learned over the years to metaphorically stick my fingers in my ears and sing “lalalalalala” while putting one foot in front of the other. You know, on the rare occasions when I actually go someplace.

  11. JenniferNennifer says:

    The bunnies are totally awesome. I mean, everything else, and all the comments are great, but the BUNNIES!!!!!!

    More bunnies please.

  12. Jennifer says:

    I had my apartment forcibly fumigated this week. My house is literally an avalanche of crap. Which I do not have time or energy to clean much of until Memorial Day, i.e. the next time I have free time. I’m tired of “Wow, you have sooooooooo much stuff” every time management has to come in here.

    But the thing is, I like projects and clothes and books and bling. They are fun. And empty spaces not covered in things creep me out. And who the hell am I trying to impress since I live alone and don’t have to account to anyone yelling at me?

    Eh, fuck it, I say.

  13. Susanne says:

    My sisters and I spent every Saturday morning helping Mom clean the house. We cleaned in what I now term “deep cleaning” mode. I hated it. Mom never allowed a lick and promise. For example, everything had to be moved when we dusted, you couldn’t dust around things. (Walls were washed every spring, yikes!)

    So in my own home, I did things when I felt like it, which meant that things weren’t done and I was okay with that. But now I’m at a different stage in life where it bugs me. I want things clean and neat because mess doesn’t do it for me any longer.

    This course you’re sharing with us, Jenny, is full of good things, and I appreciate your honesty with us. I borrowed the book from the library.

    I think we go through shifts every 7 – 10 years of our life. Courses like this, the willingness to look at different ways to live our lives, to be open, makes for richer lives.

  14. Can’t do it.
    Too many people helped me as I learned for me to make any mentoring I do conditional on something else. It actually bothers me that the McD students have to pay except they get college credit, so I figure that’s what they’re paying for. I’m a big believer in paying it forward, one of the reasons this blog has no advertising and I don’t push my books on here.
    It’s not that it’s not a good idea, I just can’t do that.

  15. Nora doesn’t have a degree.
    Tons of people with degrees never get published.
    Really, a college degree is pretty much not applicable if you’re a storyteller.

  16. What you said resonated with me so strongly I’m surprised they can’t hear bells ringing in the next county! I am so great at daydreams and growing simple ideas into grandiose plans … and not going anywhere with them. One summer, when I was unemployed but still on the Oregon Coast and not finding work in Portland, I created a very detailed new life in my head. I moved to Portland. Made a good friend. Got a fabulous loft condo. Got in amazing physical shape. Met a celebrity (um, David Bowie) and that evolved into my friend and I (she had a detailed backstory, as did her boyfriend) ended up as best buds with DB and our lives took is in fabulous new directions. It was all even more real than my life. It disturbed my therapist.

    I still do that and I hate dealing with reality for all the reasons you stated, including feeling that people won’t like me. I generally am so sure I’m going to disappoint people that I tend to make sure they do early on so I don’t have to wait for the inevitable. Feeling unsafe out in the real world escalated after Mom’s death.

    I want a whole, creative, true life. It’s just hard to work through the reality to get there.

    I love your journal pages and reading about your journey. I’m so glad you are sharing with us.

  17. Jenny,
    I used to tell myself that my writing would take priority, and I wouldn’t do anything else until I’d written my pages for the day. So I’d sit in my pajamas and stare at the screen and play on the internet and maybe watch some TV with the computer open (because so much work gets done that way.)
    And victory was when I got pages done and had a shower and was dressed before my husband got home. (sigh)
    Then people started talking about Fitbit (the step-counter thing) and I knew I needed to get my sorry ass out of my chair sometimes. So I got the Fitbit and could see a friend’s step totals for the week next to my pathetic ones. And I at least got up and started walking. It was something I could accomplish, and I need to feel like there are things I can accomplish in a day.
    I slowly worked my way up to 10,000 steps a day, and the Fitbit computer screen gets so happy when you do that. It makes cool celebration graphics that end with a huge smile, and you feel like you accomplished something.
    Then, I thought, I should get up and do the bulk of my steps right away, then shower and dress, I could have nothing more on my to-do list than to write.
    The cool part of that was, I could accomplish something relatively early in the day. (Okay, by 11:30 or 12:00 — not a morning person.) And that was a great feeling. I did one big thing today. If I do nothing else, at least I’ve done this. It was a great move for my mental gremlins.

    Just asking — is there one thing you could do every day, first thing, that would feel like an accomplishment to you? So you start the day feeling like you got something done? Because it’s a great feeling and can make you want to keep it up and do more.

    Another thing — have you tried using timers for cleaning chores? I hate cleaning, too, but when I started emptying the dishwasher as I wait for my tea to brew — 5 minutes, on a timer, I realized, “Hey, you? It’s six, maybe 7 minutes tops to empty the damned dishwasher, and it’s time you’d have spent staring at the microwave timer and steeping your tea anyway. You can empty the damned dishwasher.” Don’t make it out to be some huge task, when it’s 7 minutes. So I do that now.

    Last thing — do reward systems work for you? Like if you get your pages done and do X and X on your to-do list, you get the rest of the day to play and paint stars or whatever you want?

  18. pamb says:

    Aw, Jenny, I want to wrap you in a cozy afghan and bring you your beverage of choice. I so understand…because the conversations in my head sound like the ones in yours. But I know *yours* are completely off base when you denigrate yourself…while mine, of course, are completely true and someday everyone will discover my screwed up insides. (g)

    I drove my practical mom & grandma crazy with my dreaming, but it’s how I coped with the strife in our environment.

    However, I’m better than I used to be at dealing with real life. I just got so sick of the chaos right about the time someone sent me the FlyLady link in 2002. I don’t take her emails anymore (it’s grown so complicated!), but she had what I needed back then. Stop expecting perfect, stop going for one big sweep and take little bites instead. So the dishes and laundry get done. (g)

    But I’m sick of the big move now for minimalist, for not having any “clutter.” I like my stuff, I want my stuff. We’re moving soon, I hope, and everyone’s like, “Get rid of all that stuff!” Except Ern & me. We’re like, “We’ll put this here & maybe those there?” I feel like a 2 year old shouting, “No!” and stamping my foot when I get all this “Get rid of it!” advice. (pout)

    Must end with a friend’s story. She’s very practical & stable, but a few years back she realized she needed psychiatric help ASAP (depression type stuff)so went for emergency evaluation/help. The nice dr is interviewing her & gets to the question, “Do you hear voices in your head?” Well, she’s a long-time published writer, so she explains about characters in our minds and how they have conversations and live their lives in there, etc. He waits until she’s done, then gently says, “You might want to answer that question a little differently the next time a dr asks.”

  19. pamb says:

    I do dishes during commercials. Before the show starts, fill sink with hot soapy water & add first load. Next commercial, wash & rinse that load, put in second. (Stuff soaks off as good in 10 minutes as in half a day. Who knew?) I’m usually done by the time the show’s over. Next show, at the half hour break, put ’em away & rinse off stove & counters. Done.

    That’s as painless as I’ve been able to make it. 🙂

  20. Glee says:

    As a gift, probably not at all commensurate with the gift of your stories to me, I will point out that it is not necessary for the. Blue Cross call center person to like you. You are the customer, not their friend. They are paid because you are a customer. And they are probably not judging you either. They have to do too many calls a day to have time for that 🙂

    That won’t help with the dishes, but maybe if you remember you are paying them to talk to you and solve your problem, it’ll be easier.

  21. Micki says:

    There’s a lot of stuff to think about in this post and the comments. One thing that comes to mind is that if the superpower and the kryptonite are flip sides, then they are like a teeter-totter. One on each end. And when the teeter-totter is perfectly balanced, nothing is happening. Things are boring, or worse, nothing is getting done. I want to be flying in the sky on the teeter-totter, but that means that the other end is bumping pretty hard on the ground.

    I don’t know where I’m going with that, but I wanted to take it out of my brain and look at it a little bit.

    Yeah, one great thing about this blog is that I often come out with the feeling, “Whew, I’m not the only one who feels that way.”

  22. Leigh says:

    Last month we closed on the sale of the house we’d lived in for 22 years. Four dumpsters. FOUR. Filled with crap, and some stuff that wasn’t crap. As I go into my new life, I’m going to ask myself: Do I really need this? Will I actually use it? More than once? If I can’t answer yes to all those things, then I’m going to summon up a mental picture of those dumpsters.

    I tend to live inside my head too. And avoid people.

    I want to stop doing that.

  23. What’s working pretty well right now is Things. I’m still figuring out how to use it for me (the program is easy to use, figuring out how it works best for me is taking longer), but I’ve found that if I put a list of things in the “Daily” list, every day the list pops up with all the things I get distracted and forget: get the mail, take your meds, go outside for fifteen minutes, etc. Then I added in clean one thing, write one page, etc. “Clean on thing” can be cleaning off the stack of papers in the living room or cleaning my bedroom, whatever I feel like that day. “Write one page” can be one page or ten, whatever I feel like that day. The key is, I have to DO it. If I don’t, it rolls over to the next day. Today I have to spend 45 minutes outside, but I also have to mow the lawn, so that should knock some time off. What I’ve found is that I get caught up in one thing and let everything else go, so the Things list along with the temporary things like “call Blue Cross” and “call Mom for Mother’s Day” keeps me up to date on most everything along with slow but steady progress. That program was expensive, but it’s saving my life.

  24. Jenny,
    I started using a goals list website after you talked about them months ago! Settled on Joe’s (, so thank you for that. Amazing how excited I can get about being able to put a little check mark in a box on that site because I got something done.

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