Years ago, I met with a realtor about selling our house. He walked through and made his assessment and then joined me and my notepad at the dining table.
What did I need to do to get ready to sell?
An entire legal pad’s worth of work.
Who would do this? Me.
Bubba, 12, Sissy, 10, Sassy, 3, Moo, 2.
Where was my husband? Serving his country, with orders to report out of state.
This realtor, a man then twice my age, a family man, a man of faith, so kind, saw how overwhelmed I was and said to me, “Thinking about something is much, much worse than actually doing it.”
Now, that may sound like a small thing to say, but it impacted me immediately, and I’ve never forgotten him or his words because of it. It’s so true. I got everything checked off that list except the weird ceiling tile over the basement steps. And I did it in a few months, with all those kids.
I use this to motivate myself all the time. That realtor lives in my head and I still listen to him. I listen to him when it’s early spring and the garden is a mere concept, when I plan a vacation, when I need to speak to important people. He’s there, in my head, reminding me I can check it all off.
Speak to me of this truth, Realtor. Remind me of the Buddha’s teaching, Realtor.
I regularly tell other people this thing he told me. I’ve said it to two people in the last four days, and thought about telling another, but then I decided I should just release this draft into the wild. This is for Joanna.
“All these things” feel like “Everything”.
Strangely, the realtor in my head is helpful for much smaller tasks as well.
There are things I dread like they’ll take all my strength and forever to complete. I may die if I have to _____________. These tasks weigh on me, stress me out, if only for a few minutes.
And these are not big things. Oh, yes, I’ll tell you what they are for me, but then you should tell me yours because sharing is caring.
1. Filing. Now, I don’t mean filing like I have a stack and a filing cabinet. That is Work-Filing, not Mom-Filing. Mom-filing isn’t tidy and relaxing like Work-Filing. Mom-Filing is scattered and house-wide. It starts at the desk, yes, but where it goes depends. Whose paper is this? What date? Is this expired? Ooh, I gotta mail this! I wondered where my takeout menu was! Who got this out? All over the house I go, her room, his drawer, my purse, the address book, the folders, the bulletin board, the recipe box…
2. Shaving my legs. How this can be a thing, I do not know. I always shave. I shave all the time. I shave for my own comfort. Two days, I get itchy. Three, I scratch myself bloody and bruised. Seriously, every two days, minimum, I shave my legs. But there I am in the shower, all I hate shaving. I have this lil talk with myself about the itching and the prickles and I summon the energy to spend two minutes shaving my legs like it’s a momentous occasion and I deserve accolades for this because I thought it would be horrendous. What the fuck is that about? I can wash my hair and shave my legs in the time it takes my husband to shave his face, and I don’t hear him whinin about it!
3. Doing dishes. I’ve written about this before. I act like doing the dishes is going to take me all night, hours and hours of dishes, such a waste of time. And then I’ll have to clean the stove and the counters and wipe out the sink and can I even pull through? Then I do that, and think about Thich Nhat Hanh and gratitude and it takes me twenty minutes which are not entirely unpleasant and I think Oh My God Joey, you’re such a big baby! A big baby who makes her kids wash the dishes.
4. Making the phone calls. Chatting to the help desk. Ordering the things. Getting served. Well, you just never know what you’re gonna get, do ya? When I get good customer service, I do go on about it. Write glowing reviews, thank the person endlessly, but still, I dread that initial reaching out moment. And I don’t care how fast it is, it takes too long, because the amount of time it should take is a split second.
Sometimes you just gotta do all the things that feel like everything.
Sometimes you gotta do piddly shit that feels like everything.
Either way, Realtor’s advice is good.