Kindness Looks Different Every Day

I just finished writing my post about being kind to yourself when I completely flipped out on the family of disgusting pigs I live with. I have a fairly long fuse when it comes to building-blocks-1563961_960_720clutter and everyday filth. I quickly learned that nap time is my time and I rarely clean or do chores. The playroom is a constant source of stress but not enough for me to actually do something about it. I have an idealistic hope with realistic expectations of what living with young kids is like.

But when the end of my fuse is reached, there is absolutely nothing that seems right. Every speck of dust makes me think that we are wallowing in the depths of unhygienic dispair.

After skipping church for a much-needed pajama morning, we were herding everyone toward the car for some playground and pumpkin picking family time. I looked at our toy-strewn dining room table with crusted leftover sauce from dinner a few nights ago and the idea of leaving this house became too much.

Frank suggested I stay home and write. His go-to solution for these moods is that I need quiet time to read or write. And he’s mostly correct. After he drove the girls off, I recognized that I couldn’t write when I knew what was looming upstairs. So, I did a quick tidy, vacuumed, and wiped down the table. Our bathroom and kitchen counters still need to be cleaned. There are toys on the floor that I vacuumed around. Yet, it was just enough for me to be in a better space mentally.

I think it was Elizabeth Gilbert who said something along the lines that if you want to pursue creativity, you have to give something up. Meaning, there is not enough time in the day to write and clean and make beautiful fall memories and take a nap and exercise and…. We have to choose. We have to prioritize. We can’t have it all. (Does anyone know this quote? I googled all sorts of ideas but couldn’t find it.)

I need to remember this in my own path toward kindness. Sometimes (most times) being with my family wins above writing or cleaning or whatever else is on my to-do list. But sometimes, I have to skip the pumpkin patch so that I can vacuum and write and be quiet.

The vacuuming took less than ten minutes. Could I have done it another time? Sure. But, it was getting in the way of my outlook–toward myself, toward my kids, and toward my mental wellbeing.

I’m learning that there’s no prescriptive formula for self-kindness. What I need one day will be different from what I need another day. I need to remember this as I pursue loving kindness toward my neighbors. What they need one day won’t be the same isn’t what they might need on a different day.

As we learn to love kindness, I think this is important to remember. We are complex beings who need all sorts of different things. When we remember this and learn to shift with our ideas of kindness, perhaps we’ll understand each other a bit more.

How do you enter into a creative space? Do you have to have a clean workspace or are you ok with a bit of clutter? 

BackyardThis post is Day 17 of the Write 31 Days Challenge. I’m spending the month of October writing about the Backyard Justice. You can find the entire series over at my Backyard Justice page.

6 thoughts on “Kindness Looks Different Every Day

  1. I’m learning this too. I don’t like clutter and disorder. But our dining room table has become the catch-all for various photo props. I’m sacrificing the order I deeply crave for a bit of creativity I seem to need. Thought-provoking post, Annie. Thank you.

    1. I type this at an incredibly cluttered desk…. 😉 I think as long as I know I can clean it at some point, clutter doesn’t bother me as much. (It’s when it feels never ending…!!)

  2. I cannot create in clean. I need stuff around me objects, coffee cups, a stress ball to hold, diversions. My desk is a bit disorderly at home. books stacked – Notes books here and there. My wife is the opposite. She comes in and straightens up, I cant stop her, though it makes me uncomfortable. The mess leaves her uncomfortable. I need a little clutter. She needs order. She cannot relax unless everything is just so. She had a rare day off with nobody home. I asked her what she did with her day, with a big smile she replied, ” I detail cleaned the bathroom!” Funny how our minds work so differently. As you say we each have our happy place. acknowledging each others is the ticket to a happier life. acknowledge that she needs her wishes met, and I need mine, but I know we need to give each other space so that each of us can do what makes us happy now and again.

    Now, if I can just get my son to bring in the garbage cans in a timely manner… I will be able to relax!

    Be well Annie!

    1. Haha! I love the image of your stacks of books and notes! I like things tidied but not too orderly – I don’t know where I’d put all my stacks of books! 😉 But, when I can’t find things, that’s when I know it’s gone too far…

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