My refrigerator is a cooler on the porch
My refrigerator stopped working after the fire, so now my version of a refrigerator is a cooler on the porch. Or at least, this was a great winter solution, we will solve for the challenges of warmer weather as we get there, sooner than I want, probably.
I have become adept at workarounds, experimenting until I can make reliably tasty meals with food combinations that avoid the need for refrigeration entirely.
Pancakes made with oat milk and flax egg (drop a tablespoon of flax seed into 2.5 x warm water, wait five minutes, you get something that is not egg-like per se but gives the right texture). The pancakes get made on a plug-in griddle because I don’t have a stove but I do have electricity as of November. A blessing.
My friend who has chickens gives me extra eggs when available, straight from the chicken, no need to refrigerate. I make labneh from goat milk or sheep milk yogurt, and store it covered in oil. Bonus: conserve the whey, use in pancakes instead of oat milk.
Often it is too cold in my trailer, the olive oil has solidified and can’t be poured.
Here is the protocol: it goes by the space heater to warm up, then we need to set a bell to remind [me of five minutes from now] that [right-now me] did this and now it’s time to stop, because between ADHD, traumatic brain injury, and long covid brain fog, there’s a 90% chance we will all forget.
We being all versions of me in time and space. The collective of Havi.
Ingenuity on its own is not enough, but ingenuity plus reminders plus back-ups, now you’re talking.
What are the superpowers?
Let’s name them, call them up and in, naming as invocation…
Superpowers of no refrigerator: Inventiveness, experimentation, workarounds = new neural pathways
Superpowers of setting a bell: Presence, grace, compassion, protection, being my own form of divine intervention, staying attuned to the available information from what Riv calls the Predictive Physics Generator…
Superpowers of making do: Creativity, play, curiosity, the art of extemporizing, and of course Use What You Have.
Still, something in this is not what I want, and [Not This] is always a clue…
I skipped some stones until I figured out what was bothering me.
My refrigerator workaround and pancake workarounds are not what is bothering me at all, I don’t mind being in camping-mode. It kind of works for me.
What I dislike is the phrase (and concept) of Making Do, it reminds me of the worst and scariest times in my life, also it just feels like a boring, un-playful approach.
Uninspired and uninspiring. Who wants to Make Do?
And yet, here I am, very much making do. This is my life right now. So how are we rewriting this?
Metaphors as a form of sorcery
If you’ve been hanging out here for a while, you know I use a metaphor technique, adapted from Suzette Haden Elgin, to help me rename whatever feels disharmonious in my life.
I use this technique whenever an aspect of a word or concept is grating to me, even if in the background.
And yes, maybe not everyone is as sensitive to words as I am, but I think we are all still influenced on some level by hidden associations inside of words that can cause us to get surprise-stuck. Surprise!
Renaming and reframing is a form of sorcery; everything shifts once I find a better word.
Rewriting and self-fluency
Self-fluency is not just rewriting our habits and patterns, it’s also changing up and charging up words so they contain what we need, removing what we don’t.
We have the power to play with vocabulary, replace words as needed, reconfigure their meanings to work better.
And another aspect of self-fluency is remembering that we get to rewrite and rename as often as we want.
Aka do-overs forever, the ongoing process of updating internal vocabulary so our words support us.
It starts with unpacking Making Do, and figuring out what I crave instead.
What do I want to keep from Making Do and what is not coming along for the ride?
And then the next step is imagining how I might move from one to arrive at the next.
Necessity is really not winning any mother of the year awards
Obviously there are positive qualities I can find inside of Making Do, we’ve already identified them: ingenuity, playfulness, creativity, and so on, necessity begets invention, we know this.
And at the same time, Making Do reminds me of the bad times, it is stressful, frustrating and the opposite of lusciousness. Necessity is really not winning any mother of the year awards, according to Invention.
Oh, and also something about Making Do feels forced.
No, that’s not what I mean to say, I perceive myself as being in a situation in which I am forced to make do. Yes?
I like having the skills, not being forced to use them
Sure, maybe I derive some pleasure from being innovative but I don’t enjoy having to innovate.
Similarly, there’s nothing joyful in the moment when yet another appliance stops working and I sigh and say “okay, guess we’re gonna have to get even more creative here, because that’s the only option”.
That moment of acquiescing to the Making Do feels like a capitulation, like I lost, and bad luck won again.
Yes, I have the skills and experience to Make Do but I’m not happy about it.
Being able to do something is cool. Needing to rely on that skill or else…not a fan.
Sounds, for example
The tiny trailer makes sounds I hate. It’s been nearly two years trying to solve for these noises. Some have been solved, some have been blessedly muffled, and there are still a few left that are not miserable but also I would describe them as not my favorite.
So I pretend the trailer is a boat and the sounds are the creaking of a ship at sea.
Oh yes, I nod, when a sound happens, that was quite a wave. We’ll make it though. It’s a sturdy ship.
I look out at the sea (the tall grasses, the enormous sky), and sing sea shanties. It’s just noises. Ships make sounds. I don’t have to love it. It’s a grand adventure, and not all parts of it are fun.
I have more quiet than I ever would in a city, and I get to live on a boat without having to do any of the boat things.
Sometimes this reminds me of the tougher times in my life but that’s also a reminder that I am a badass, and I’ve been through much harder things than any of this. It’s gonna work out.
Dishes, for example
I don’t have hot water in my tiny trailer.
Well, I thought I was going to have to [insert new word for Make Do once I find it] for three weeks, because the tiny part needed to fix the tiny hot water heater was delayed, but then it got more delayed until six weeks had gone by without hot water.
And then it finally arrived and I paid someone to come from an hour away to switch out the relay, and they couldn’t get it to work at all, so now I just don’t have hot water. At least it’s spring!
Though to be fair, I only ever had it to begin with in the shower, it never reached the kitchen because the line is too long, and the kitchen sink is high-efficiency low-flow, anyway, the point is I’ve been doing dishes without hot water for a long time now, but this winter it got pretty brutal, and I would cry from the shock of the freezing water, and nothing about that was fun.
Solutions (a word that means solving a problem and also: a liquid mixture)
So I heat water in the kettle, pour it into a wide-mouthed glass jar, add soap. Set a timer for 25 minutes to let it cool. Try like hell to remember what the timer was for.
If I’m lucky, we only go one round of this. Then I dip my sponge in the warm soapy water, play the one song saved on my phone, play the game of how many dishes can get done in the space of a three minute song, dance it out, somehow the dishes get done.
Does this always work?
Haha not at all.
I’m working with ADHD, two concussions, long covid brain fog, perimenopause, complex ptsd. Some days it’s like my synapses are on extended holiday and forgot to tell me where they were going. So yeah, sometimes a timer is not enough.
Sometimes getting to the right temperature water to do dishes takes all day, haha, love this journey for me. My mind is a zen sand garden constantly being erased by monks.
But remembering is a practice, and practice means we are in process, and the first rule of being in process is that we can be gentle with ourselves, there’s time. We live by Safety First. We try things, and we keep adjusting.
Patience. We’re playing the long game here!
This week I am in Tucson, where I have access to wifi and a shower, and hot water in general. Blissful. I appreciate it every single time I wash my hands, and that appreciation is another gift of Making Do.
What do I want?
We’ve established that [Making Do] contains some positive qualities that I appreciate, as well as distressing associations that lead me to resist and resent anything related to it. That’s the part about discernment, good job for discerning.
Now we start the process of winnowing, sorting out what is invited to remain and inform the new word or concept, what we need to eliminate, and what we need to add.
Let’s start with what I wish to keep and go from there. If there’s a word or concept you’re working on rewriting, you can use this as a map, adapting for your own needs, and see where it takes you.
Keep, Leave Behind, Add
What I wish to keep from [Making Do]
Creativity, playfulness, inventiveness, workarounds, alternative thinking, imagination, possibility, remembering that there is more than one exit.
What I wish to leave behind, what does not need to tag along
Aka my list of Unnecessary Items…
Exasperation, exhaustion, monsters of shame and self-blame, and their familiar not-helpful sing-song stories about how I am soooooo bad at life.
What I wish to add:
Freedom, joy, pleasure, spaciousness, a relaxed positivity, trust in my creative abilities, being the Sorceress On A Sailboat, being adventurous and loving the adventure.
Also fun superpowers like the ones in my favorite power phrases:
- It Solves Itself!
- I Crave It, Actually!
- I Trained For This!
- Do Less To Get More!
Let’s talk more about these false narratives (starting with how to recognize them)
It is so very common for self-criticism monsters to disguise their cruelty as concern.
Aka “You are forty five years old, how are you such a mess, how do you not have your life together enough to have sorted out the absolute basics like hot water, refrigeration, things that in theory could allow you to focus on your work and writing, how are you such a spectacular fuck-up, it’s embarrassing, how is it even possible for someone as smart as you to be so inept at adulthood?!”
So first of all, we can recognize this as monster talk because:
a) it is unkind,
b) it lacks both compassion and context, my wise selves know I’ve been though some stuff, and nothing about this situation is anyone’s fault, definitely not mine, they won’t blame me for being where I am, and
c) the patterns of vocal emphasis follow what Virginia Satir named Blaming Mode, a learned form of toxic communication we can fall into with ourselves or each other out of habit, and one we can also unlearn, with time and practice. The better we get at recognizing it, the less likely we are to use it.
Ah, yes, the old Unreliable Narrator
Monsters are the epitome of the Unreliable Narrator. We can deflect and manage them, and also we do not need to take their stories seriously.
*If you’re looking for more support with this, you’ll find it in my Monster Manual & Coloring Book, which you can acquire in the shop!
Okay, what do we do once we’ve identified monster stories / false narratives
First off, we relinquish what is not true, not helpful, not ours, not from now, not supportive of our progress.
Whoosh, goodbye, into the elevator shaft with these false perceptions, self-criticism patterns, fundamental misunderstandings of what’s actually important in life (guess what, it’s not how I do dishes!), boring monster stories, external societal notions or expectations about how I am supposed to have achieved certain things that I don’t actually need or care about. Byeeeeeee!
We give ourselves credit (and many, many sparklepoints) for noticing. When I pay attention to false narratives showing up, I can recognize them for what they are. There’s power in that.
The idea that I’m bad at adulthood is truly not only a boring and unhelpful story, it’s also based on a ridiculous premise that I don’t have to adhere to. Indoor refrigeration is not a prerequisite to adulthood!
Guess what, monsters, I’m killing it at adulthood, I self-parent the fuck out of myself, and it’s actually kind of impressive to live alone out in the wilds and take on these new challenges every day like a badass.
Sidebar: you’re always allowed to ask for reminders
Quite often I have to ask my friends to remind me that I’m a badass.
And they do, once they’re done laughing.
Honestly, a thousand points to my friends for laughing uproariously whenever I make this request, sometimes the best gift someone can give you is the reminder that your deeply-held fear belief is, while of course legitimate, also in fact extremely ludicrous!
Their laughter is a balm. It reminds me that I am the only person who spends time concerned that I’m somehow not enough of a badass, while everyone who actually knows me considers that to be one of my baseline qualities, impossible to forget.
Laugher is good medicine, laughter plus compassion plus perspective.
Oh, one more technique I wanted to mention
This is the basis of self-fluency: we practice Acknowledgment & Legitimacy.
In other words, the feelings I’m experiencing are reasonable and understandable, my reactions make sense, I’m allowed to feel what I’m feeling, even if the narrative I’ve fallen into is ridiculous.
And at the same time, I am the one who has some power to play with my patterns and my reactions, though of course I won’t always be able to do that in the moment, that’s a super advanced practice.
That’s not something I need to expect of myself, or be upset with myself if I’m not able to do that yet. We are where we are in the moment, working with the tools we have, trying our best.
Rinse and repeat
So here I am, taking a moment, being where I am with what I’m going through, reminding myself that it is okay to be a human who has monster stories and false narratives, it is okay to have learned the wrong things from trauma or any painful life experiences, it is so reasonable to be feeling the big feelings, whatever they are, even if it is not fun to feel them.
Rinse and repeat. There is really never enough of this one. Add it in between every step, and then reapply!
Alright. Back to our wordplay…
What secret words live inside the word that is not working
While I was pleased to have made some decent progress with the monster brigade, I suddenly found myself mysteriously extra-stuck on the metaphor part of things.
It just seemed impossible to locate any word, image or concept related to what I wanted.
Whenever I get bogged down in the naming process, I like to play with anagrams, and the easiest way to do this for me is to input whatever is stuck into the online anagram generator for clue-gathering.
[HEADS UP: if you deal with epilepsy, migraines, queasiness or high sensory processing sensitivity, be aware the anagram generator I’m about to link to has letters that JUMP AROUND on the top of the page. While I don’t have epilepsy, it will send me directly into an autism rage meltdown, so I remind myself it’s coming and cover the top of my computer with my hand until I can scroll down far enough to not see it, web designers I beg of you to stop making things bounce around even though you can.]
Anyway, the anagram generator is at wordsmith.org/anagram, apologies in advance about the jumping letters.
Yet again, an anagram had my back
Often as not I don’t find one particular appealing anagram, however many of the pieces inside the anagram words are such good clues that I can find some enthusiasm, and between the enthusiasm and the clues, I’m able to find a new name for what I want.
This time through the anagram generator had my back.
Are you ready to be as astonished as I was?
MAKING DO anagrams to A KINGDOM!!!!
A kingdom is brilliant.
A kingdom can contain all the positive (aka non-stressful) qualities that live inside of Making Do, in my personal definition of this phrase.
Such as Taking Inventory, which is knowing what you have, appreciating your stores, and actively practicing Use What You Have. A kingdom is a place where my ingenuity can be treasured, it’s a way I contribute to the success of the kingdom.
But a kingdom is also about qualities like sovereignty, boundaries, and clearly delineated spaces!!!! Being impenetrable. Caring for what is yours. A kingdom implies fortress and sanctuary!
Sanctuary. I love this. It feels safer for me to be in Making Do mode if what I am really doing is caring for my kingdom and growing my storehouses.
And the reminder about boundaries and delineated space feels very important here for me.
Space to thrive
If I have a kingdom, aka the domain of my space, then my work is to lovingly tend to the inhabitants of my kingdom, aka aspects of self, parts of me that I forget about, the Havi Collective, and to make sure everyone has what they need to thrive.
(Obviously, historically this has not been the case with kingdoms, but I am putting my history degree aside and receiving this word more on a fairy tale metaphorical plane, and not in, like, a colonial mindset sense, if the word is too loaded for you, keep searching for yours!)
And of course, since people vary, you can toss A KINGDOM if it does nothing for you, and find your own word, word-clues, anagrams, rewritings. The point is not the name, the point is space to thrive.
Bountiful and gracious
A friend of mine who, like me, is also dealing with some large and unexpected expenses, said this about my exciting anagram discovery:
“I love A KINGDOM! I wish to stave off the part of me that says the only way to deal with big, unexpected expenses is to hunker down, cut out all pleasure and stop doing anything good for myself.“
“There are different ways now. There are also many pleasures that cost nothing. I don’t have to just be MAKING DO, I can be making A KINGDOM where I get what I need. My kingdom is bountiful! My kingdom has boundaries that are lovingly and graciously set!”
Yes. That is such an elegant summing up of the magic in the renaming.
How do I want to exist in my kingdom?
How do I want to be? What do I wish to embody.
I love this transformation, the art of turning Making Do Into A Kingdom, or, as a friend pointed out, a king-dome, a place of roundness and resonance.
Anagram magic is word sorcery and also the embodiment of both Safety First and Actually What If There’s An Easier Way, both key practices in self-fluency.
How do I want to be in my kingdom? What is here for me.
I wish to be playful and inventive, embodied and discerning, actively seeking clarity but a clarity that is infused with compassion towards myself, I welcome all loving insights and laugh at monster-narratives while giving myself a trillion points for recognizing them.
Brain or no brain
Here is my actual situation right now: on a really good day, I have two hours of brain time. On a more typical day, I have between thirty minutes and an hour. On the hard days, I exist in fugue state / zombie mode, and do what I can to do the absolute basics, if I can, which is not always.
Often when I do have brain time, I have to use it to do things that aren’t directly related to work stuff, because so much else (life stuff) piled up while I was not able to do anything.
Sometimes making do is a bit like, okay, brain or no brain, we need to take any step on thing x, and sometimes making do is more like, alright I can’t do anything, and that’s the reality here.
Sometimes there is room for inventiveness and play, and sometimes we are just working with what we have. Turning the concept of Making Do into A Kingdom doesn’t necessarily mean anything gets easier, but there is a lightness to it, I have more options, because the playful approach is generative.
It is less draining for me to brainstorm ways to tend to my kingdom than it is to solve for New Problem X, when I was already overwhelmed by a long list of unsolved mysteries.
What adds lusciousness? What feels regal? What supports plenty? What is restful? What can I do right now to support the domain of self?
If the playful approach is generative, what enhances play?
These are some of the stones I am skipping right now, aka questions I am journaling on, and you are welcome to borrow any of these or add your own to the pot.
In the meantime, crown on (I have a cowboy hat, or is that a cowthey hat, since it’s mine?), wrap up in an enveloping mantle (mine is a large scarf). I am imagining breath moving up and down my spine until I am an inch taller.
And somehow it has taken me a week to write this and my brain is definitely done for today, the monks are here with their rakes, ready to smooth the gravel of my mind, back to blank, so it’s time to watch the rain now.
Come play with me, I love company
You are welcome to play with this concept in any way you like.
You can brainstorm ways to play with and rewrite any words that are currently feeling stuck for you, or you can expand on this concept of what if Making Do was actually A KINGDOM.
You are also as always invited to share anything sparked for you while reading, or add any wishes into the pot, into the healing zone, as a friend of mine said, who knows, the power of the collective is no small thing, and companionship is healing.
If you received clues or perspective or just want to send appreciation, I could definitely use some miracles right now with my emergency situation that has now been compounded with new situations.
I will happily accept support in the form of Appreciation Money to Barrington’s Discretionary Fund. Asking is not where my strength resides but Brave & Stalwart is the theme these days, and pattern-rewriting is the work, and it all helps with fixing what needs fixing.
You can also buy the my Monster Manual & Coloring Book if you don’t have it!
And if you can’t support in that way, you can light a candle for support or light one in your mind, share one of my posts with people, tell people about this work, that all helps, and I appreciate it so much. ❤️