Dread

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.

Right.
Me. And?
Bubba, 12, Sissy, 10, Sassy, 3, Moo, 2.
Where was my husband? Serving his country, with orders to report out of state.
Right.

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.

quote-it-is-the-fool-who-is-haunted-by-fears-dread-of-dangers-oppression-of-mind-not-the-wise-gautama-buddha-144-64-53

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.

BECAUSE

“All these things” feel like “Everything”.

how_do_you_eat_an_elephant

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.

About joey

Neurotic Bitch, Mother, Wife, Writer, Word Whore, Foodie and General Go-To-Girl
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61 Responses to Dread

  1. That IS good advice. I find the things I dread doing are never as bad as I imagined them to be. One of my worst dreads? And of course it’s annual…. doing the taxes. I’ve done them for years but I still hem and haw and put it off as long as I can. Yes, I’m that April 14th filer.
    Mulching the garden beds ranks right up there every spring as well. I threw my shoulder out one year lugging heavy, still frozen, bags of mulch through the backyard and every time may rolls around I inwardly cringe.

    Liked by 1 person

    • joey says:

      You’re not alone at all in the tax prep procrastination. I do not do ours, and The Mister doesn’t even wait til April, but I know many people who are off to the post nearing midnight.
      I wrenched my shoulder shoveling in 2014, and totally relate to your mulch dread.
      Thank you for sharing πŸ™‚

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I am stunned that my post and yours, Joey, basically say the exact same thing today. Wow! Great minds and all that! Oh how I know the “worry” about doing something that I put off. We all are guilty of it. But when we just step up to the plate and start swinging, regardless if we even miss the ball, we at least are trying. In hindsight I am amazed by all I have accomplished just by doing. I even question … How did I get SO much done? Shaving legs …. oh man. I put that off for as long as I can. I HATE SHAVING MY LEGS. I have a great excuse in the winter … pants. No one will see those hairy legs. I am so negligent in that area that I will THINK of you to inspire me to keep my legs hair-free. 😘😘😘

    Liked by 1 person

    • joey says:

      I’ll have to go read your post, Amy. Perhaps it’s an important message to everyone during the hustle n bustle we’ve been chatting about.
      If I could let the hair grow, I would. It doesn’t phase my fella, I’d be warmer in winter, but I can’t take it. It itches soooooo badly! Don’t shave on my account, enjoy it for me πŸ™‚

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Ally Bean says:

    My mother used to say that to me. She knew I was anxious about trying new things or doing my chores, so she’d tell me that. Those. Very. Words. I don’t enjoy but will do the first three things on your list, but making phone calls is now and will always be torture for me.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. orbthefirst says:

    Apparently I am a fool, and I am ok with this assessment.
    For me its showering, at least since my last surgery. Things are different now, its hard, I am heavy, and Ive had some pretty scary falls since. But once I do it, I always end up bothered about how easy it was.
    Thats probably the biggest one, right now anyway. Some days are easier than others I suppose.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I always hated that line, because my father used to tell me that. Usually to get me to do things he didn’t want to do. He was right, but my age and source made it a sore spot.

    Like

  6. Realtor’s advise is brilliant! I can use that quite often. The list of things I think are going take me forever to get done is long, but the biggest hurdle is shredding the mountains of paper that need to be shredded. When I do get caught up with it I feel great, and then the mail arrives and the pile starts growing again, and I’m only good at shredding things “right now” for a moment.

    Shaving my legs…you know what I’m not growing too many hairs on my legs or arms anymore! I can’t tell you exactly when it started, but one day I realized I don’t need to shave my legs very often. Once every 2 months or so I’ll notice that one lone hair getting long on my shin and think oh! I need to shave. It’s so weird, but a wonderful weird. 😁

    Liked by 1 person

    • joey says:

      It does sound wonderfully weird. My mother’s mother said this of menopause. “Honey, I don’t know when it was. I just woke up one day and realized I hadn’t been bothered with it, and hadn’t had to shave my legs and that was that.” I was like, 15, and decided that’s how my menopause would be. HAHA no. It does grow in slower, but oh, it still grows.
      I hope Realtor’s advice is helpful to you with the shred. Here, Moo likes to shred. When she’s gone, I’ll think of you πŸ™‚

      Liked by 1 person

  7. Benson says:

    Excellent advice. I am a list maker and I always start multiple items on the list and jump around until everything is done. I think it may be a boredom gene. I know what you mean about phone calls. Invariably there is a recording and menus and prompts and heavily accented human voices. I wish everything could be done online.

    Liked by 2 people

  8. Bill says:

    #1, wife hates it (dealing w/junk mail too), so I find time (I would add ‘downsizing’ anything cuz: so what if I haven’t worn it in 3 years? Emotional attached).
    #2, she dislikes but does.
    #3, ‘no man has ever been murdered while doing the dishes’ — so I do them often (I like to).
    #4, I do not like making phone calls. Oddly, if they call me it’s no so bad. It’s an introvert thing.
    The RE agent done good, but so did you. You still do, and we wouldn’t miss a word of it.

    Liked by 2 people

  9. JoAnna says:

    Thank you x 100! Hearing the voice in your head always helps me feel more… closer to normal? Or at least that I’m not the only one. I kinda know this stuff intellectually but forget so easily, and you’re words make it clear. Yesterday I got a big rush from taking a load of stuff to the domestic violence thrift store. Today I’m taking another load to another thrift store and I’m excited. The realtor’s advice and your examples will help me Thursday when I go to the other house where the electrician said they want “everything” out of the house. But it’s really not everything. Maybe I’ll make a list of each room with furniture pieces so I can check them off as I go. That will feel good. The advice will also help when I talk to a realtor about my parents’ house. I totally get the filing thing. I have piles of books and papers, but they’re getting smaller. About shaving: I don’t have to shave under my arms anymore since menopause and my leg hair is thinning, so I rarely shave my legs. Menopause changes a lot of those things, like my nose hair grows faster and my skin is drier. Maybe some day you won’t have to shave as much. But you’re doing a great job! Thanks again for this post and your encouragement!

    Liked by 1 person

  10. scr4pl80 says:

    Oh, Joey, you don’t know how much I loved reading this post today. We have just decided to have a shed put in our backyard and even though it is going to be for me to use as my creative space, it is still a big commitment and has lots of pieces and parts. I am writing those words on top of my page and starting from there! I agree with JoAnna and Circadianreflections about the shaving bit. I don’t grow hair on my legs (or under my arms for that matter) much anymore so I guess there is one good thing about getting older! Not getting any more hair on my head though either, sadly. Vacuuming is my bottom of the list household chore along with cleaning the bathrooms, sweeping the kitchen floor and like that. Try to have a good Tuesday, you’ve done so much for others today!

    Liked by 1 person

    • joey says:

      Thank you for sharing. The shed is going to be AWESOME! πŸ˜€ You’ll get there. One day you’ll post pictures and we’ll all be jealous of your creative space!
      My hairs all grow slower now (but the face…) and that’s nice. I’m glad you’re enjoying so little shave-time — more time to make pretties!

      Liked by 1 person

  11. Everything takes LONGER than I think it possibly can, because I consistently overestimate my abilities. OTOH, if I didn’t just start, and do things anyway, Pride’s Children would still be an idea in my head, and not 1/3 published. So I lie to myself about how much it will cost me, just to get started, and then I pay the full price.

    Your twenty minutes of dishwashing would cost me the next day. It’s daunting.

    Like

  12. JT Twissel says:

    Love that Buddha advice – I confess that I am a worrier and therefore a fool! I had a realtor once tell me that to sell my house I had to get rid of my dog. I got another realtor. You must be a mighty lady – getting through that list by yourself – bravo!

    Liked by 1 person

  13. Having cleaned up two massive, hoarding homes/yards (Mom/Aunt), I can whole heartedly support your realtors advice…mentally regrouping over and over, day by day. It gets done.

    Liked by 1 person

  14. puppy1952 says:

    Love this post! I bet the realtor doesn’t know what an impact those words had on you. And you’ve passed on the wise words😁

    Liked by 1 person

  15. Matt Roberts says:

    Wow. Excellent piece, as always. Mine would have to be the dishes. I get no help at home for anything. Jen doesn’t do the laundry, or the dishes, or take the trash out, I do all of that. Even when I ask her for help she’ll be all “I’ll do it!” and then days go by and I finally do it. But I’ve gotten the dishes down to a point where I’ll do a sink full, load another to soak and go do something else. Get on the puter, play a video game, read some blogs, then I’ll go back and do the dishes some more. And I’ll do that til they’re done. I’m actually on a break from them now before I finish them lol.

    Liked by 1 person

    • joey says:

      Seriously my kids whined about doing dishes every 3rd day, so now they do them every other. MMHM. I did the Thanksgiving dishes in shifts once. I totally understand.
      Jake does dishes about 4-5 times a year, usually when people are over, so he looks even more wonderful πŸ˜‰ He consistently takes the trash out, that’s his thing, although sometimes he tries to get mad about it. I do laundry 9 outta 10 times. I dunno why he sometimes does it, but it’s a treat. He’ll do some grocery shopping, if I make him a good list. He carts kids. Takes the dog out at night. (I do that maybe 10 times a year) He sometimes vacuums and cleans the big bathroom. He’s pretty helpful, truly. I cannot complain.
      OH, wait, no, I can, lol — when asked to do things that are difficult for me — drill, heavy things, things up high, he totally procrastinates and I nag the shit out of him.

      Like

  16. Dan Antion says:

    “Sometimes you gotta do piddly shit that feels like everything.”

    I like that. I see this all the time at work. People not doing stuff because they dread doing it. I write stuff for people, even stuff I don’t understand, because it’s easier for them to edit something crappy than it is to put marks on a blank page. Now, go shave those legs.

    Liked by 1 person

  17. bikerchick57 says:

    Okay, so I’m going to remember the words of your realtor. Because sometimes I have the dread and think too much about it.
    1) Filing – I have Mary filing and mom filing and it stacks up in a pile in the closet because I don’t want to take the time to put it away and then six months later it takes me an entire Saturday afternoon to do it and that is what I dread. I currently have about six weeks’ worth…
    2) Shaving – Not for me. When you hit menopause, Joey, the hair slows down. You may only have to shave your legs every other week or once a month, depending on your extra-curricular activities.
    3) The Help Desk – I dread calling because I never know who is going to answer. There are some people that are never any help. Today, I got a new girl and I thought I was going to be on the phone with her for 30 minutes, but she helped me within 5. I will not dread talking to her again.

    That’s it for now. There’s more, but you don’t have the time. I never ever dread coming here, but I do dread the lack of time to visit more often. Happy Tuesday, Joey!

    Liked by 1 person

    • joey says:

      Thank you for sharing, Mary! I can’t fathom spending so much time on the filing, I’d dread that, too. I do mine weekly, bi-weekly if it’s light πŸ™‚ The one thing that really matters is throwing the stupid shit away as soon as you get it. That’s my #1 tip there.
      I do look forward to less frequent shaving. My husband doesn’t care, it’s me who can’t take the itch. My girls are the same. Sassy is DYING to shave, which is forbidden until the end of swim season — but they will shave off one of her eyebrows if she does that, so she suffers the itch. It grows slower now, so let’s hope that continues! (Course along with that, thinning hair and eyebrows, too!)

      Liked by 1 person

  18. Laura says:

    Girl, you have no idea how much I needed your realtor’s advice tonight. This is literally PERFECT timing and I’m pretty sure I’ll make it to another day just because of y-o-u, Joey. Bless your whole heart.
    And seeing as sharing is caring, here are mine. Feeding the cat/dogs/birds. Laundry – sorting, washing, drying, folding, all of it, even though it’s in the comfort of my own home. Grocery shopping. Vacuuming, dusting, or swiffering the mountains of dog hair collecting under our bookcases. Making a salad.
    So sad, right? Clearly you can see I’m nearly overwhelmed with the work of it all. Alas.

    Liked by 1 person

  19. Thank you, I needed this reminder. πŸ™‚ I remember a line in a bad western – ‘There’s two things I don’t borrow – money or trouble.’ But, I do borrow trouble by letting it get me down sometimes just thinking about it only to find out it wasn’t really relevant to begin with. Life – some days diamonds some days stones but don’t think about the stones on a diamond day. πŸ™‚

    Liked by 2 people

  20. markbialczak says:

    I do agree that Mental Mountain Building is such a common obstacle for me as well, Joey. I will remember you wise realtor’s words, thank you.

    Liked by 1 person

  21. Amy says:

    I love the realtor’s advice!! At the part about the kitchen cleaning, I was thinking about how much I dread it and put it off and then how I actually timed it once…and it was EXACTLY the same…20 minutes. And then I thought about how much effort and time I had wasted sitting there dreading it. lol. I have to set a timer for the mom filing. That stuff is just awful. I have a goal to be finished with a certain pile by the end of the year. And I’m still daunted by the large swath of time I’ve given myself. A bite at a time.

    Liked by 1 person

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  23. marianallen says:

    Realtor is a wise, wise man. What I hate? Cutting my toenails. Fingernails, not so much, but some. But a HATE AND DREAD the toenails. Cold feet, for one thing. Not so limber, for another. But the hatred and dread are so great, if somebody came and said, “I can just take those right off your feet for you,” I would be all, “Oh, WOULD you? Thank you SO MUCH.”

    Liked by 1 person

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  25. reocochran says:

    I agree with you, Joey! This older realtor knew how the tasks seemed enormous, but he made sense and now you have given me an excellent suggestion for my own 33 year old Boss, man is she a worry wart and makes mountains out of molehills! Shhh! Don’t tell my boss (youngest daughter Felicia). She writes a lot of notes, she does two personal notes, two friend not and two acquaintance notes a day, first thing in the morning. It helps her feel grounded. I will tell her the words of your past realtor. Take it easy, girl!
    Your filing task sounds very all encompassing, by the way! Yikes!

    Like

  26. Anxious Mom says:

    Smart realtor. I’m gonna file this one away for myself and others. I hate folding clothes 😦

    Like

  27. larva225 says:

    I’m almost embarrassed to admit I’m thinking β€œnew year, new _______” thoughts. Realtor-san’s words are a good thing to have.

    Liked by 1 person

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