One Room at a Time

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Photo by Oana Hodirnau

This is my first post of the new year, and I am surprised I made it to January 12 without putting together some thoughts for this little blog. When I am not steeping myself in British literature for the upcoming semester, I am often steeping in silence and stillness.

However, I needed to get past the first three days of the year when life felt like it was coming crashing back to normal. Do you know that feeling? It almost feels like an actual crash, items flying into the air, jaws hanging open, reaching for the “oh shit” handle, impact imminent. But this wasn’t how I wanted to start my year. Who would, for God’s sake?

So, I decided to re-frame what getting back to normal is. I began taking inventory of procedures and lab tests that I had been putting off for a good while: typical preventive wellness type stuff. And began making calls, checking things off my elusive, invisible list that I shift around in the air as if I am Tom Cruise in Minority Report. Not the best way to stay organized, I should stay.

I mentioned Gemma Hartley’s book, Fed Up a few weeks back, one I have only read in excerpts but is on my elusive reading list as I write this. Hartley illuminates the ways women are overburdened in our society and delves into the overlooked emotional labor women carry every day. In my post (link above), I wrote some thoughts about this, including how I planned to do housecleaning in order to do less housecleaning. Oh the irony.

My house is cluttered, mostly in a good way, with my son’s school papers, gadgets, fidget spinners, swords, balls, books. These items are as much a part of the landscape as my dining room table – and I use the term dining room loosely. (It’s the one nook where a long table can fit). So, it’s lived-in, comfortably. Much of the time I love that it’s an unpretentious space, one where I can take my shoes off and put my feet up on the pile of books on our coffee table. But there are other areas that drive me crazy, that leave me frustrated, that use up emotional energy.

A very simple example is the butcher block in our kitchen. It’s too big. We have had to go around it to get to the stove or the dishwasher, if going in the reverse direction. It serves a nice purpose of allowing extra kitchen counter space, but if you believe in an energetic flow of a house, it is indeed a “block.”

In lamenting to Eric the other day about how we might be a candidate for the Marie Kondo show, he gets up and immediately begins doing the necessary work to move the hulk of an antique piece (the block) over to the kitchen windows. And just like that, space. Like magic.

As chain reactions naturally occur, this led to a new look at our pantry, which led to shifting contents in the lower cabinets beneath counters. One small step for mankind leads to another. Small step. For womenkind.

So, I am thinking this whole organization thing is actually manageable. That preventing some of the emotional labor we don’t realize is leaking out as fast as an oil spill into the Gulf is doable. One room at a time.

I am treading lightly around this accomplishment, folks, for I know if I stand on the mountaintop and declare myself officially in a house-clearing stage, the momentum will fizzle, and I will end up grabbing another “oh shit” handle.

Treat your resolutions with care, friends. And maybe we can lighten the load together.

 

 

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It took me a long while to consider the title for this blog. I wanted something that defined me both as a person and a writer. A name that would also perhaps speak to a particular audience. Why “The Astronaut Wife?” Since my early days of blogging, I have leaned toward more of a confessional style of writing, to some degree. I write as much truth as I can muster at each phase of life. In addition, I also come from a conservative Southern family, and I have grown very far from those roots. You could say I have rocketed to the moon in terms of my upbringing. I have rocketed away from debilitating family dynamics, from worldviews that held me beneath a rock. In my thirties, and now my early to mid-forties, I have learned to live more comfortably with both sides of the moon and write just as much about the raw, dark places as the light ones. Don’t quote me on that, though. It’s quite likely I will lean more heavily toward one or the other depending on which way the wind is blowing. Then, we get to the wife part, and quite frankly, this is where the feminist in me bucked and brayed. Identifying myself as “wife” has felt simply stymieing, particularly since becoming a mother six and a half years ago. But if the truth is going to be told, being a wife to my particular husband has altered my entire shape and has given voice to much of the inner deep. So in fact, becoming a wife was the singular most life-changing moment for me in my journey to the moon and back. Fellow travelers, you can feel safe and comfortable here. What matters more than what you might “get” about me is what you might take for yourself.

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