Experiments in Mindfulness: start by washing the dishes

I'm beginning my year of mindfulness by examining my personal space because an obstacle to mindfulness is chaos and clutter. My personal space often reflects my scatterbrained, spontaneous, exuberant approach to life. There are slips of paper with poems and notes scrawled on them, coffee cups and water glasses left in odd places, socks and clothes piled in corners. I routinely leave doors and drawers half-open. I literally don't even SEE the mess until someone alerts me to the fact that I've been stepping over the same pile of books (arranged in the middle of the floor, no less) for the past week.

*SIGH*

I'm really hoping I haven't set myself up for failure by choosing a word that flies directly in the face of my ADD tendencies. Perhaps I should hedge my bets and say I aspire to mindfulness? Because what comes naturally to me is hyper-focus--an altogether different sort of beast.

I often "lose time" because I conduct my daily life while my mind is elsewhere (composing blog posts, rhymes, ditties, songs).

My husband says these ADD tendencies are what make me interesting and amusing (huzzah-huzzah for a man who sees my "liabilities" as strengths). I'm forever getting wildly excited about new possibilities, plans, dreams. But then I forget to do the simplest thing like wash the dishes because I didn't rein my brain in long enough to realize there were dirty dishes moldering in the sink.

The clutter and chaos are part of my creative process. So, I'm choosing not to condemn myself for it. However, it IS frustrating (to others, mostly) when I come prancing to the breakfast table chortling a new jingle and the children are not amused because there are no clean socks and Mom, why haven't you signed off on my homework yet?

So, this is what I know: clutter and chaos might be the catalyst to my creative process but they are also a drag on actual productivity and a hindrance to mindfulness; ie. it's hard to give others the gift of Being Present when you're always rooting through the sock pile, digging through piles of papers or freaking out over lost coats.

I need to find a way to embrace my creativity while also containing the disorderly cloud of chaos that trails along behind me.

I've discovered that in managing my son's ADD, I have to be careful about overburdening him with a lengthy to-do list. Instead, I provide just two or three tasks (written on paper) which he checks off himself.

I've decided to do the same thing for myself. Instead of revamping my ENTIRE way of life, I'm committing to just one daily thing.

For the next two weeks, I am going to do the dishes and tidy the kitchen each day before I sit down to write.

I'm not guaranteeing success, here. Let's call it an experiment. I want to see if making one small change can lead me toward my goal of increased mindfulness; ie. if my "daily work" is accomplished early in the day, will I have more freedom to Be Present?

I can't believe I just wrote this. Now I'll have to get back to you in two weeks and let you know how it's going. Ugh. Loathsome accountability! :)