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Change-Up - Body by Henson, brain by Seuss. [entries|archive|friends|userinfo]
Kelly J. Cooper

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Change-Up [May. 19th, 2009|03:09 pm]
Kelly J. Cooper
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I started feeling "gah! I want to be BACK on vacation! I hate my life!" last night.

That's pretty quick post-vacation crankiness, even for me, especially after being gone TWO WEEKS. I was really ready to be home. But a big part of it is that my house is a mess, my life is a mess, and I don't know what to do about it, it's so overwhelming.

Plus, turning 39 on Thursday also was a big WAKE THE FUCK UP yell in my ear.

I stayed up til 5am, watching TV like a slug, messing around on the Internet, getting nothing done, etc. My usual, when I'm home & don't have a lunch appointment the next day. I finally crawled into bed and went to sleep.

I woke up at 10:30am, because that's still like 4pm for me, France/Spain/Amsterdam time and that FEELS late.

But instead of rolling over and going back to sleep, I thought, What would someone tell me if I said 'I hate my life'? They'd probably say something like Change it!

Blah, blah, blah, I've heard it before, it's a cliché.

OK, here's what I do with clichés. I deconstruct them. Thus... HOW do I change it?.

Understand, I've asked myself this question a MILLION TIMES in my life. Standard answer: you turn problems into projects and break them down into smaller & smaller steps until you feel like you can do those steps, etc.

This time, in this place, in this headspace, my brain answered with this:
Figure out, step by step, how to get to a happier place.

EVERY SINGLE ONE OF THOSE STEPS will get you closer to the happy place.
That second part was key.

So I asked my brain, you mean, if we call chores "steps to happiness" you'll actually do them?

And my brain said HELL YEAH! Let's go do some laundry.

I am not one to argue with my brain when it wants to be productive, so I got up & did some laundry.

So far I've done three loads of laundry. I found my bag of clothespins. I have 5 shirts drying on a rack inside, 10 shirts drying on my new clothesline outside, and 10 more shirts waiting to go on the clothesline once the first ones are dry. The clean socks & undies are in their place. I've retrieved & folded my much smaller pile of dryer-dried jeans & miscellany and put them away. I'm waiting for another small batch of dryer stuff to be done and I'm about to go rotate the clothesline.

I also got the mail, the recycling bin, the garbage can, and the yard waste can. I watched one TV show while eating lunch (which was healthy and similar to what I ate every day while I was in Europe, i.e., some bread with a small amount of cured ham on it, but using mustard instead of butter; juice; healthy chips; an apple), deleted some things off the DVR I've burned already, and set up another burn to run while I'm working upstairs. I put things away from my trip, rinsed things off, put dishes in cabinets, and sorted a bunch of random junk.

I've sent out the weekly shiplist for MYP, including an announcement about how we're selling tickets to this Saturday's JMS lecture at MIT, and I'm working on their email backlog of the past two weeks.

I've plowed through thousands of messages in my mailbox, mostly from when I was away, and moved a couple of volunteer projects forward. I also sent a couple of emails I've been meaning to send and kept forgetting.

I set up a page where you can vote for a couple of goofy things I've said on Twitter to be printed on a t-shirt, which could win me $500: http://twitter.threadless.com/user/kjccreates/submitted

I've talked with a client and set deadlines for two projects.

I have 33 steps to happiness on a bunch of little pieces of paper.

And, I'm happier.

There's more stuff percolating about dealing with these ideas. Let's see if this is a long path, or another dead end.
linkReply

Comments:
[User Picture]From: zanzjan
2009-05-19 10:40 pm (UTC)
I was going to go for a hot air balloon ride for my 40th, but I was distracted with newborns. Wanna go with? We average out to 40, after all. (Happy Birthday, by the way!)
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[User Picture]From: kjc
2009-05-19 10:44 pm (UTC)
Yeah, actually! I've never done one of those & I'd like to... what's your scheduling look like? Do you have a place in mind?

(And thanks!)
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[User Picture]From: zanzjan
2009-05-19 11:56 pm (UTC)
There's a bunch of places in this area that do it, I just need to get off my ass and call for more info. I'll try this week, but no promises.
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[User Picture]From: rmd
2009-05-19 11:02 pm (UTC)
that's pretty awesome, babe.
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[User Picture]From: gilana
2009-05-20 12:38 am (UTC)
That's wonderful! Seems like a great way to deal.

And I think I actually missed wishing you a happy birthday -- oops! SO HAPPY HAPPY BIRTH-MONTH!
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[User Picture]From: muffyjo
2009-05-20 12:47 am (UTC)
I have this theory, it's still in the testing stages but it's a theory. You know how there are stages that you go through as a baby, then as a toddler, then as a kid, then as a teen, etc? The kind that are developmental stages, stages where even if you had the tools you couldn't use them until your brain was ready to use them? You know, you can have a room full of color but infants latch onto red and black immediately, that kind of thing. So, I have this theory that those sorts of things continue at larger intervals throughout your life. There are just concepts you can't quite grasp until your brain has done this chemical thing that allows you to be open to it.

I found that in my late 30s. There were simply things I figured out that hadn't clicked before. Things that started making sense. In my early 30s I decided to be my own parent and to fix all the things I knew were wrong, and I could do better, about me. Something clicked and I got it. In my 40s it's been more about deepening my awareness of how to have positive inner conversations.

So this is my long winded way of saying, you might have actually gotten to a point where you can now actually hear yourself the way you WANT to hear yourself.

And yeah, I so get the milestone of age thing. Oh, and about that organizing...let's get together again, we totally rock and roll on that together!
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[User Picture]From: dpolicar
2009-05-20 01:01 am (UTC)
Woohoo! Fingers crossed.
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(Deleted comment)
[User Picture]From: roozle
2009-05-20 01:48 am (UTC)
You have just inspired me to go clean up my downstairs bathroom. I'm going to call it a step to happiness.
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[User Picture]From: miss_chance
2009-05-20 03:46 am (UTC)
I don't have a Twitter account, but if I did, I'd totally vote "Yes!" for the last two shirts. :)

I like the "each little step makes you a little happier" idea. I know it's true for me that when I'm down on myself, even one little productive thing helps. Two little productive things help a little more... there's an outer-bound where I get so effing productive I can't stand being me anymore, but that usually only happens a couple times a year with shit-tonnes of deadlines garroting me.
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[User Picture]From: catness
2009-05-20 04:06 am (UTC)
steps to happiness - I like that a lot

makes happiness not seem like such an insurmountable mountain
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[User Picture]From: foomf
2009-05-20 04:50 am (UTC)
Huzzzah for the last politely acknowledged birthday until you hit a century!

Also huzzah for the breakthrough thought. You triggered one for me as well: Given that our squishy pink and grey brains actually ENJOY doing small, easily framed activities and reward us with bursts of opiates, to the extent that MMO game designers put those activities into their games to hook us into continuing to play, it makes perfect sense to frame one's own life into those same activities, and to take advantage of the tiny DING! of completion and the corresponding brain opiates.

So cool.
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[User Picture]From: whitebird
2009-05-20 04:56 am (UTC)
That's definitely a good way at looking at chores!

And then a good day was had, and that's awesome!
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[User Picture]From: wonderreader
2009-05-21 05:10 am (UTC)

steps, happines

Steps to happiness - I might have to borrow that - and I totally agree about one's brain connecting to different things at different times of one's life. Hope you can keep up the steps - you need a little pedometer of happiness to measure your progress.
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[User Picture]From: cmeckhardt
2009-05-27 04:14 am (UTC)
Go you!

Sometime after I'd been living alone for a while, I made the discovery that when I'm living my myself, if I do housework, that is self-care, not just chores, or things that I'm "supposed to do" according to the recordings in my head of people who were bad for me.

At the moment, this is a good reason for me to keep living by myself. Maybe one day I will sort my mind out enough that "chores" will be okay even if I live with other people.
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