“Curiouser and curiouser!” Cried Alice ~Alice in Wonderland
This now famous grammatically improper outburst, exclaimed by Alice after she grows nine feet tall, is all the more misplaced and random given Alice’s impeccable English diction. At this point in the book, Alice has lost her bearings…nothing seems real. Good English fails her, despite her years of rigorous study.
I can totally relate. I’ve never eaten cake that makes me grow nine feet tall (although I have eaten cake that makes me feel nine feet wide), but Alice’s predicament is familiar nonetheless. The word that comes to mind? Disorientation.
As a mom, I’m constantly disoriented. I forget simple things and remember unnecessary ones. The neural pathways in my brain have automated certain behaviors, but others elude me. Whenever I walk upstairs, I robotically bend over and grab an armload of whatever my family has shoved on the steps to ‘bring up later’. I can’t walk by the couch without organizing the throw pillows (right on top of 3 inches of dog hair – I’m not feeling an instinct to vacuum, apparently) and as I cross into the kitchen, my hand shoots out automatically to turn down the heavy-metal-concert volume level of the TV (while simultaneously fighting a whole-body shudder at the grating dialogue of those endlessly babbling tween-y Disney show characters…Zack and Cody – there is no way you would ever live on a cruise ship…or in a luxury hotel for that matter. I don’t care how good of a singer your mother is. Your show is so inane and revolting that I’m considering suing Disney for dumbing down my kids).
On the flip side, I lose my keys and phone regularly. I forget appointments. I even forget my kids’ names. One time I actually put the milk away in the cabinet. I’ve been known to show up for games at the field where the previous week’s game was held, even though I read the address for the current game as I left the house. My brain appears to randomly scroll through my daily activities, then decides what’s important without much involvement from my conscious mind.
The result? Disorientation.
Why are we so selectively forgetful? Why do I walk around in a constant fugue state? What can be done?
First, I think we are all disorganized. This materializes in our homes as clutter. Clutter is disorienting. Having just gotten through another holiday season, my guess is you received a sizable infusion of new stuff to add to your old stuff (as did your kids). Santa is getting a little more hip to this at our house – he puts a lot of necessities (like razors and toothpaste) in the stockings, and his ‘big’ gifts are now more experiential (i.e. travel, gift cards) than material (i.e. toys, stuffed animals). This cuts down substantially on today’s clutter and tomorrow’s Salvation Army run. Thanks, Santa.
This year we thinned out the Christmas decorations before putting them away (keep: the 3rd generation Norwegian Elf which is the original Elf on the Shelf, not this modern-day cult nonsense – there are entire BLOGS written about that d*mn elf!; toss: the bright red Target pitcher with the beige pine cones – and matching mugs! – that I secretly hate because it is not an heirloom and I’ve only held on to it because I thought I was supposed to). I cannot describe the feeling of accomplishment.
Next project: going through the five crates of family photos (I have an average of three duplicates of every photo, and then there’s the 100-photo series of completely inconsequential events, such as my daughter in her bouncy seat; and driving her Little Tikes car; and sitting in her high chair adorably covered with spaghetti sauce), then I’ll be sending the keepers to a mail order photo scanning company and tossing the prints. 5,000 photos on one CD? Sign me up.
Maybe there is a daunting organizational task you’ve wanted to start – how about today?
Second, we are all overscheduled. This goes back to figuring out a little ‘me’ time amidst the sea of obligations in which we’re perilously close to drowning. And don’t over-complicate. I just schedule an hour a day (logged in the Smartphone as a recurring appointment) and use that time to do something fun – or do nothing at all. Yesterday I sneaked out back to our Sky Chair (don’t have one? Visit www.skychair.com because you NEED one) and read a chapter of my book, lazily swinging in the chair as dappled sunlight danced through the swaying palm trees and a warm breeze soothed my tired holiday-worn bones (really…it was totally like that). I’ll admit, I kept looking over my shoulder the first couple of minutes because I was afraid the neighbor would catch me ‘slacking’. I fought off the shame (and the oddly guilt-inducing feeling of decadence – I’m reading at 1:30 in the afternoon?) and relaxed into the moment.
Third, we lack the ability to plan ahead. What would your week look like if you had a game plan for dinner every night? Forget about the last-minute scramble and inevitable [defeating] call to Domino’s. What if you knew what you were serving every single night? I have never done this, but the idea intrigues me. With the cost of groceries and the breakage from spoiled food we never use, we should figure out what we’re doing ahead of time and stick to the plan. I halfway do this for school lunches, so perhaps a weekly menu, planned on Sunday night, would cut the stress down somewhat. I’ll try it and let you know.
Another big plan ahead time-and-sanity-saver? Fill up your car with gas anytime it dips below half full. If you wait until you’re running on fumes then Murphy’s Law states that you will need gas right when you’re already late for the orthodontist, thus adding double stress to an otherwise mundane appointment (personal experience talking here).
Ask yourself these questions: When was the last time you truly felt caught up? When was the last time you felt like you were ahead of the game (for me I get a twinge of satisfaction when a crock pot dinner comes together by noon – miraculous! And incredibly rare!)? When was your to-do list all checked off? If you’re like me the answer is: never. If we cut the distractions and clutter from our daily lives, something tells me that our lists will get shorter. And clearer. And more doable.
Disorganized. Over-scheduled. Lacking a game plan
Keeping only what you need or really want. Scheduling daily down time. Planning ahead.
I may be delusional, but the secret to banishing forgetfulness may boil down to these three things. Imagine – just a bit of tidying up in your life could equal never losing your car keys again. Joy!