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Lessons on living a rhythmic life.
Go with the flow of nature, from the turning of the seasons to your menstrual cycles.
Practical household tips for spiritual people;
because balance is good, messes get old, and we aren't all Susie Homemaker Perfect.


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Friday, August 21, 2009

Let's talk Overwhelm

The thought manifests as the word; The word manifests as the deed;
The deed develops into habit; And habit hardens into character.
So watch the thought and its ways with care,
And let it spring from love born out of concern for all beings.
– Buddha


Today, I'd like to address this issue of Overwhelm. How often I've stood facing my kitchen, and just didn't want to deal with it. I wanted a clean house, but I didn't want to face the fact of getting to the clean house.

Having a clean house = awesome idea

Cleaning my house = maybe tomorrow, if I have time, if I have energy, if...

And then, of course, there was the dirty bathroom. And there was the dirty living room. The unmade bed and the socks on the floor.

When you get right down to it, too, even if I clean the kitchen today, it'll just be trashed again by tomorrow, won't it? So what's the point?

Here's step 1 of the first problem with overwhelm. I want to be at the end. I don't want to get to the end, I want to be there. Preferably yesterday. And the fact is, I can't get there yesterday. So I get bummed out and just walk away from it. I put it off until later, not because I'm lazy, but because it's simply too big of a chore.

And you know what? That's usually true. It usually is too big of a chore to finish in the time I have at the moment.

But every day, it gets worse. That's the secret little problem behind the feeling that I will do it later because it'll only get messy again tomorrow. It doesn't get messy again-- it gets messier. And thus it builds up and becomes a problem.

I end up with no clean dishes, no counter space, a messy floor (why clean the floor when the rest is dirty?), and a terrible dread of going into the kitchen or having anyone over.

Well, what did I do, then? I made a single decision. Rather than cleaning my kitchen in one day, I decided to maintain the kitchen where it is. When I make breakfast this morning, I clean up after breakfast.

Plus two or three other dishes.

That's it.

And I made that into a daily habit. The point here was to establish a habit of cleaning up after myself in that one room. And by the time I had established that habit, I had also cleaned the kitchen.

You see, if you want to fight overwhelm, one of the best ways to do it is to make incremental changes. Don't get caught in the trap of thinking that something's only worth doing if you do it all at once.

This leads to "forget it, I'll do it later."

Tonight, when you make dinner, clean up after tonight's dinner. Wash two more dishes, or just clean the floor. That's it, that's all the time you need to take today.


  • You don't have time to waste on cleaning the whole dang thing right now
  • You're not going to do it when you look at it and feel like it's all too much
  • It's easy to wash two dishes or to just quickly sweep the floor
  • It waited this long, you know it isn't going anywhere, so it's not like you won't get another chance
So start building the habit of cleaning up after meals. That's it, that's all. Build a single habit today.

I remember in Al-Anon, which I attended in my youth, they had a saying, "Progress, not perfection." I altered that, and my motto became, "Progress is perfection."

Imagine this. If you go along the way you're going, you'll just keep having a dirty house. Nothing will really be different. Life will be the same as it is. But if you build one habit at a time, in 6 months, you'll have a different house. That's six rooms that you'll have and keep clean.

What do you think, a 6 rooms clean habit, or the same ol' thing?

Progress is perfection, my friend. Don't reach for the stars, just reach for the next step towards them. Then one day, you'll wake up and realize you've reached the stars. And how did you get there? You didn't jump right up into the sky from the ground. You climbed there, one new habit at a time.

I'm afraid that you're not going to wake up tomorrow, clean your whole house, and keep it that way for the rest of your life.

You have to get to the point where you're that kind of housekeeper by forming habits. Because at the end of the day, your habits will win over your desires. I guarantee it.

And how can I guarantee that?

Because humans are habitual creatures. Our minds very much desire to go on auto-pilot. So if you want to change the direction your house takes, change where your auto-pilot is directed to go.

Make auto-pilot take you into the realm of cleaning up after your meal and cleaning two other things, too. Eventually, you'll run out of extra things to clean up. That's the day that you've arrived at a brand new habit.

Your life experience is rooted in your habits. Habits of thought, and habits of action.

If you have and keep dirty habits, you have a dirty house.

Change your habits, change your life.


We'll talk more about overwhelm later. It's a huge issue for most people!

~ Livin' the Rhythm with Kimberly Weston

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