I cleaned out and sorted my underwear drawer today. Exciting, right? Perhaps it would have sounded more exciting if I called it my lingerie. But let’s be real. I’m a middle-aged woman headed into her 25th year of marriage. There’s no lingerie. It’s bras, panties, and socks. As I was attempting to put clean laundry away, those cluttered waded up messy drawers pushed me to the point of “enough, this is ridiculous” and the purging began. Out went items that I never wear due to fit and discomfort. Out went items that were even too horrifyingly old and ugly to be donned in the darkness of my own bedroom. I took the time to categorize, gently fold and color code. I found pairs of socks I didn’t know I owned. I found a bra I’d spent two weeks looking for. Upon completion, my two drawers now look more like the compartments in a Victoria Secret store and less like bins of Salvation Army castaways. The whole process took me about 15 minutes and no one else will ever see it or appreciate it. But it felt great. I almost took a photo of the results, but there are some things that just aren’t Instagram-worthy. I’m also proud to say that I did not add “sort underwear drawer” to my to do list simply for the rush of then crossing it off. Instead, I considered it a bonus Atta Girl to my day.
We Real Women tend to attack our days, our evenings, and our weekends like we need to scale Mount Everest, give a motivational presentation at the top, then come back down in time to make a meal, organize and put away everything at basecamp while checking in with loved ones to make sure the cat has been fed, the dogs walked, the plants watered and the dishwasher started before we feel we’ve earned the right to put our feet up.
Rumor has it that Confucius once advised: “The man who moves a mountain begins by carrying away small stones.” Had he been writing about women, it would have gone more like this: “The woman who moves a mountain begins by carrying three bags of boulders, her purse, the dirty laundry, and uses her hips to push past trees as she checks her watch to see how much more she can do before it gets dark.”
None of us are good at focusing on small stones. As I’ve lugged my share of boulders with the rest of you, and I’ve gotten a bit older, I’ve started to learn that maybe, just maybe, it doesn’t hurt to scale down a bit. In our 20’s and 30’s, we think nothing of putting in 9-10 hours at work, head to a second job or go do a workout, then get home to kick into gear coping with whatever family needs are clawing at us and complete at least 7 different chores before calling it a day. Well, my younger friends, I have news. You won’t want to hear this, but that level of rock-hauling is not sustainable for the next 30 – 40 years.
In New England, I think tackling small projects that have been annoyingly gnawing away at our mental to do lists is a bit easier in the winter. It is cold out and it gets dark early. We tend to spend more time at home. During these weeks and months, I try to focus on those boulders – err, sorry, stones, that I’ve been ignoring when the sunshine and warmth beckon to me to find other more fun projects. So you know what else I did this weekend? I worked on my Will prep. That sounds fun, doesn’t it? My husband’s and my current wills are over 10 years old. We finally met with a planner a few weeks ago, and our homework is to get our estate plan in order (which makes me giggle, because when I read the word Estate I envision a grand manor with stone lions at the entry, overseas investment accounts, a ranch of horses and yachts at the marina. Not a small colonial with a cracked driveway, college debt, project cars in the garage and two goofy dogs in the yard.)
It’s not a 5-minute project. Collecting all the necessary information is surprisingly a bit of a pain in the butt. Think how horrid it would be for someone in a panic who has no idea where to look. Today I was reminded of my older brother, who had life-long health issues. He traveled with a piece of paper in his wallet that listed all of his doctors and his medications. He made sure I had an updated version with me as well. I realized that no one but me knows who my doctors are. So yesterday I started that one tiny piece of the puzzle and wrote down all of my doctors with their contact information. It really is just a small stone in what will soon be a very pretty, organized, pile of rocks. But it deserved another little Atta Girl. And a piece of chocolate, the prize in my world for every Atta Girl.
The younger me would have felt compelled to finish our estate planning in one weekend. The younger me would have decided my entire closet needed an overhaul in an afternoon. The younger me would have chastised myself for writing just a blog post instead of 10 chapters for my dream book. The younger me used to think nothing of attempting to climb the whole mountain every day.
The me of today is learning to be happy with climbing smaller hills on this journey. Yes, some days I still find myself trying to climb too many of those small hills, or I catch myself still trying to carry too many big rocks. And I meet a whole lot of you along the way doing the exact same thing. But we are learning to find satisfaction in the completion of tidbits – even if no one ever notices. Our daily accomplishments don’t have to always be about moving mountains. Sometimes they can be as minor and boring as sorting bras.
I’ve done enough tidbits today. I’m ready to put my feet up, which is something else my younger self rarely did. While I relax, I’ll ponder what other Atta Girls I can sneak into my days. I think next weekend I’ll pull some furniture away from the walls to vacuum and clean behind them. It doesn’t get much more exciting than that. Especially if I find some small pebbles.
Carrying the tiniest of pebbles makes me happy these days! When we built our first house it was complete and decorated in a couple of days. We’ve been in this house for 4 months and we are still working on projects and not fully decorated. I’m okay with that, as long as there are little signs of progress each week. Nothing big. Just slow and steady. Like the tortoise, my eye is on the finish line, not my finishing time! Great post!
Each week, each project, your house becomes more beautiful and more homey. I love watching your progress on FB! Thank you for sharing.