Clearing the Mental Plumbing (“Steve, get the PLUNGER!”)

A good old-fashioned but new-fangled head clearing – that’s the ticket. That’s what’s required here. The ol’ mental plunger, to clear up the cerebral backup. Psychic laxative to unblock the brain…
Um…
blockage?
Anyway…
That’s where I is at today. Right here, right now. The normal flow of thought and feelings, the usual accumulation of crap and waste, the unrecognizable, the unmentionable, the decayed and decomposing, it’s all mushed up into a clog and resists all attempts to get things moving along.
Or, maybe this picture will induce less squirming – consider the Neti Pot.
(yeah, like that’s gonna reduce the squirm factor…)
The Neti Pot, in case you didn’t recognize the name and already ran screaming from the room, is the cute little pot that one fills with warm (but not hot, body temperature is best) water infused with salt (using their specially mixed and prepared salt – trust me, it’s better that way)…
And then pour it through your head. In one nostril and out the other. Use about half of it, then repeat on the other side.
Mmmmm. Lasting freshness.
My Beloved won’t even remain in the same part of the house if I’m rocking the Neti Pot. And she takes Ezzie with her, lest the dog investigate the goings on.
But the dumb thing works. Really well.
I’m such an addict, I’ve progressed to the next level. (kind of like moving up from a gateway drug into the hard stuff – from fluffy Starbucks drinks to REAL coffee at Biggby. Sorry – my bias is showing…)
I use the Sinus Rinse, baby. What’s the difference? Two words – squeeze bottle.
No, you really don’t want to know. Really. But my sinuses are so clean, you could eat off…
(That didn’t come off quite as awesomely as I imagined it. Forget you heard that. I blame video games, Hollywood, and reality TV. And politicians. And oil companies. And unemployed web designers.)
(Not the latter, actually. There aren’t any unemployed web designers. Not that I’ve heard of. And of course, I’ve heard of everything. )
(Ha ha. It is to chuckle. It is to laugh. It is to snort, if you’re Niecelet #1 and the timing is right.)
So, the head cleansing seems to be going well thus far, eh? Look at all the sludge I’ve already shoveled, in only 388 words and climbing.
The reason for this backlog was a major shift in routine for a week. Getting in a little employment for a few days, making for a nice addition to the OlsonEconomy, but totally changing my routine and going from zero to sixty in way too little time for this fifty-three year old dude.
Yet I pulled it off. I got where I was supposed to be, on time, did the work along with the long hours, kept most other things from crashing to the ground, and came out the other end not needing an oxygen tank and physical therapy. I came out just dandy, thanks.
Not to say that some things didn’t get neglected – the kitchen suffered. Cooking became “grab what isn’t fuzzy or can be consumed with little or no prep and have at it.” Ezri was asked to contribute to the general upheaval, and she, in her patient canine way, did. She put up with a shifted schedule, irregular mealtimes and the time change to boot, and still wags her tail mightily when we come home. I love that doggie.
And we survived. One car, one trike, two schedules, and one fast week. And I’m gonna do it again next week, not getting killed in the process.
But the area that needs the most repair is my head – my mental healing and recovery. A crazy week can lead to mental shutdown for me, and that’s never good. I lose track of the mindfulness I have to bring to each day, each hour, each moment. The awareness I must maintain to live, not just survive. When my head shuts down, all the progress I’ve made in the last two years shuts down too.
I don’t mean that I revert to EvilCal, pre-weight loss and pre-psychointervention. I don’t go ape crazy, diving into despair and decadent dishes in unequal measure. I don’t do carb therapy, grabbing whatever snacks and sugars my heart desires. Because honestly, although I did snack on some contraband here and there, I didn’t desire unlimited quantities of it, nor did I use it to self-medicate.
(Actually, my #1 craving these days seems to be chicken from Cousin’s Tasty Chicken. I blame video games, Hollywood, and reality TV. And I suspect that the gang at Cousin’s adds something to the frying oil that creates a chemical dependency – you must have more or you perish. Oh, and the CIA uses that to control your mind. Yup. The truth is out.)
So it seems that in a high pressure week, the things I’ve tried to convert into habits have taken root and are growing. I stick (mostly) to my new life and avoid my “normal” stress reactions.
Yay me!
But the mental logjam is harder to navigate and eliminate. It takes time – long moments, stress and pressure absent, where my slow, mindful approach to each day allows the things below the surface to come up, be recognized, and be swept away.
I’m tempted to say “normal” people make this sort of shift much easier than I do. They take the changes in stride, accommodating them into the structure of life, and keep everything moving forward in fine shape.
But I suspect that this picture of how “normal” people handle the stresses and changes of a busy life is not accurate. I’ve never been “normal,” so I don’t have any first hand information to compare it to, but in thinking about the frail, flawed creatures we are, I would imagine that we all find ways to roll and dodge and move in unusual weeks that are decidedly un-“normal.” We each find ways to keep our balance – some good, some not so good, some that others would look at and think, “Man, I had no idea they were so messed up!” And some that work for nobody else but us.
I’d guess that some things get dropped in everyone’s high-stress weeks, and that the lives of those we see around us aren’t nearly as perfect as we would imagine them to be. Dirty dishes are left, clothes are unhung, underwear resides on the floor, dust gathers, science experiments create themselves in ‘fridges, laundry becomes self-ambulatory, and we look around at our less-than-perfect surroundings and wonder how others do this, keep up this pace while their world stays pretty, pristine, perfect…
And “normal.”
Mental logjams come up, stresses get shelved because “I just can’t deal with this right now,” personal time is a joke, and relationships are strained for a bit.
I guess what matters most is what happens when the pressure is released. What we do in “recovery mode” – when we have a moment to catch up on the dishes, set the laundry free from its grimy bonds, throw out the pizza boxes or chicken bones, and get something out of the freezer with a good chance that it’ll actually get made into something lovely before it turns into a science experiment.
And to clear the mental logjam. To reconnect the strained relationships. To find the balance again. To listen, to think, to feel and to imagine, instead of just respond, respond, respond.
Maybe the key to moving gracefully in and out of “crunch time” is remembering “recovery time” – that we have to make the time to come back from the edge, and know that if we don’t mindfully plan that time, our minds and bodies will find a way to TAKE that time, in appropriate or inappropriate ways.
Sabbath – it’s not just for Sunday anymore.
We need to remember that nobody is “normal.” We all find our way in and out of action packed weeks in ways that are unique to ourselves. Nobody does it the same, nobody does it perfectly, and most everybody imagines that others do it better than they do. And most of us leave underwear on the floor from time to time.
The key is, after the pressure lifts, pick it back up. Put it in the hamper or the chute. Smile, bless the Lord for the ability to rise to a challenge, and eagerly anticipate that we’ll handle the next one a little more gracefully.
And maybe pick up some new underwear, just for emergencies. And a Neti Pot. Trust me – you’ll love it.
Thanks Lord, for helping to clear the way. Thanks that every time I step into a busy week, You’re already at the week’s end, waiting for me. I simply have to look for You when things settle. Help me to gracefully, mindfully shift from busy to calm, from stress to peace, from movement to stillness. And help me to look ahead enough to remember that for every fast-moving week, there needs to be a calm harbor for a rest afterward.

Thanks for the adventure – looking forward to the next one!

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