Or Friday, depending on where you are and happy new moon.
A Mystery Guest
In June, I wrote the words A Mystery Guest, and walked away to do something else, and upon my return (and then later returns, so many returns, many happy returns to me), I realized that possibly what I actually meant is a surprise guest.
And now, on my nth visit to an otherwise blank page, it dawns on me that really I mean neither of those things, and I actually mean a motivating force to clean house.
There is something about knowing someone might be coming over, even in theory, that gets me to interact with my space differently, to see my surroundings with new eyes.
The oomph factor
Knowing someone might come to visit also provides a handy burst of adrenaline which coaxes me into doing, eliciting at least 15% more more oomph into tasks (cleaning, tidying, harmonizing, reorganizing, bringing things into congruence).
Projects towards which I might normally feel ambivalent to reluctant.
Ambivalent to reluctant
Ambivalent to reluctant to filled with dread, depending on what they are. Or simply unable to begin.
Executive function, why hast thou forsaken me.
This is where an external oomph-enhancer comes in. There’s probably a better word for that, but my mind is half cobwebs, and the word I am reaching for is rarely where I thought I left it.
Verbs I use in place of “cleaning” to remind me that while I might perceive it as a tiresome chore, I will feel exponentially better once it’s done:
Gleaming. Sparkling. Rejuvenating.
Words I use in place of “tidying” for the same reasons, and because I am much more allergic to “tidying” and neatness/order/organization than I am to cleaning:
Congruencing. Harmonizing. Interior design acupuncture.
Words I use in place of “tasks”, or, goddess forbid, “chores”:
Secret ops. Mission. Side quest. Bonus challenge for extra points!
The Connor DeWolfe Method of Housecleaning
Apologies to anyone I’m friends with, probably I have sent you this tiktok video by text more than once, I am obsessed with it.
Connor DeWolfe does Tiktok videos about the trials and tribulations of trying to get things done with ADHD, and never has any content been more relatable to me personally, someone with ADHD and also lives in a state of Goldfish Brain due to the fun combination of a concussion and Long Covid.
[Sidebar, everytime I describe myself as someone who has ADHD, I am obligated to quote Sarah Marshall who phrased this so perfectly: “Do I have ADHD? I would say that ADHD has me…”]
Here’s how it works
Anyway, in the video, a friend (played by Connor who plays all roles) calls and says, “Hey man, I’m coming over in forty five minutes”, which then gets Connor to absolutely speed-demon clean the apartment.
Connor, from his very clean desk, calls the friend to see when they’re arriving because they never showed, and the friend reminds Connor that this was all Connor’s brilliant plan all along…
Yes, Connor was the one who asked this friend to occasionally call and say they’re coming over, in order to get Connor to clean up, knowing he’d forget he asked for this.
Absolutely genius method. I live for this. I live by this.
My friends and I often and regularly say to each other, whenever we find ourselves in a state of inowanna or otherwise stuck on getting started, “Hey, heads up, I’m heading over, be there in 45 minutes!”
And even though I know they aren’t, and physically could not, because they live in faraway places, this magical phrase is enough to get me to set a timer or go into the forest focus app, and do whatever feels most urgent.
Aka whatever I would most likely address first if someone were actually coming over.
Do you see?
Sometimes this approach gets me to do even more cleaning, and sometimes (see: long covid, brain damage etc), I might only have ten or fifteen minutes in me before I need to sit and stare into space for the rest of the day.
But who cares, at least the dishes got done, the kitchen rug was vacuumed.
Everything is slightly better than before, do you see?
I love this
I love this for me. I love this for the world.
Obviously people vary, so if this is something you find stressful, you could play with the idea of an imaginary, kind, non-judgmental visitor coming in a week or a month, or whatever would allow you to do small bits here and there.
The Half-Assed Method of Housecleaning
Big fan of doing a little or more than I expected, a non-zero amount of improving things.
It is easy for me to get into all-or-nothing mode, but I keep re-learning that five minutes of stretching is better than zero minutes, and will bring me joy. Similarly, clearing and dusting one shelf helps too.
More than I think it will.
More than I think it will
It’s the approach of the Shitty First Draft for writing, or the Rude First Draft (for emails to companies I am currently feuding with), moved into the realm of the home.
Half-assed is enough, certainly enough of a start, and, more importantly, half-assed is playful.
And playful gets it done.
As often as not, doing a little gets me enthused to do more, whether now or soon.
The Just One Song Method
Sometimes I don’t want to wash dishes, but I will for just one song.
Then it becomes a dish-washing dance party, and I put on another song.
This is a proxy, though also someone who exists, both in my phone contacts and in my mind, and presumably also in the world at large. Mr Smith has exceptionally good taste.
And so sometimes I like to imagine that Mr Smith will text to say he’s in Santa Fe at a gallery opening but will be driving through my area on the weekend, and might stop by to have a porch beverage.
When I run this experiment, I think about ambience.
Maybe this is making the most outrageously delicious batch of horchata or chai.
Serving it in the most beautiful mug I own…
What would I bake. What incense or candle. What do I highlight in my space?
This is not for Mr Smith, who is not coming to the middle of nowhere and is not invited in any case.
This is more like a form of stone skipping, imagining a visit from someone who adores beautiful and unique things arranged just so gets me to approach the questions differently, or to rewrite them altogether.
The new questions
Imagining Mr Smith announcing he is coming to town is a way to get me to ask new questions:
What do I treasure in my space? What do I want to move to a new spot or out of the way entirely?
How do I want to set up my space so that its essence really shines?
How would I want to welcome someone who has exquisite taste? With what decadent edible treats?
Eventually I will remember that the person with exquisite taste who deserves to be welcomed, cherished and treated like an honored guest is me.
Until then, it helps me to plan for an imagined Mr Smith, or an imagined version of a someone I’d like to enjoy my space and company.
That look of joy
Whenever new handyperson comes out to visit, he always takes time to look around and appreciate the beauty of both my home and the surroundings.
What a place you have here, he says happily.
He loves that it doesn’t look or feel like an RV or a cabin, it is like nothing else other than itself.
While I sometimes get frustrated about things that aren’t working or aspects of living here that are not comfortable, he sees the magic and the art of it all.
Reconnecting to what is good actually
It is comforting and enlightening at the same time when someone else sees the remarkable beauty that you have temporarily forgotten about.
Sometimes doing some Fall Gleaming (my version of spring cleaning) is a way to reconnect to what is remarkable, or even to what is cozy, simple and sweet.
Dreaming of a bridge
Sometimes I want a version of this [impetus towards cleaning and reorganizing] to be even better than the Connor DeWolfe Method, the Mr Smith Method or any of the other methods, but what does that look like.
Am I preparing the space for me? What is the bridge between where I am now and being someone who makes everything beautiful just for me, for no reason at all, which is the best reason of all.
My space, for me. A delight.
Yes it would be fun to have a special visit to look forward to, but also: what if I am the beloved, mysterious, much awaited visitor?
A practice run
Okay, so I think this is what I meant to write about in June. My friend from Arizona was going to come camp on my property for a weekend, and then she had to call it off because a family emergency called her to drive across the country.
And I felt sad about not getting to see her, both because I miss her, and because I live such a very quiet and isolated life out in the country, and it is so very rare that I get to see anyone.
But also I deep cleaned my tiny home for her visit that never came to pass, and I remember feeling glowy about that. What helps with glowy feelings, and what is the treasure in a practice run?
The art of the brief sprint
Usually I do my gleaming ops in spurts, something gets gleamed each day, dishes get done and put away no matter what because otherwise I get overwhelmed, and vacuuming happens every day, because a tiny space accumulates dust and grime almost impossibly fast.
But sometimes I realize it’s been a while, because my energy is so limited, and projects pile up.
Zeroing in on a feeling
Wish: I want to remember how I feel (steady, calm, reassured, inspired, hopeful, alive) to have everything or even some things fresh and sparkly.
I want to conjure both this experience and this collection of feelings more often, in my mind and in my space.
Yes, I want imaginary visits from real friends! I want real visits from imaginary friends! Or at least, to imagine those too.
I want to channel this good feeling into more good feeling.
And whether any of these friends, real or in my mind, are going to visit me or not, I can imagine, pretend, tell myself that it’s happening, and maybe some day it will…
Maybe some day soon I will have guest space and we can rally together outside, may it be so or something even better.
What changes for each guest?
Assuming I am imagining the imaginary, of course…
How would I set up my space if my chef friend was going to stop by? A favorite podcaster? An author I adore? Someone I went on one date with five years ago by accident and think about this more often than I admit to myself? A character from a play…?
Do I prepare my space in the same way for each person?
Do I prepare my space in the same way each time? I don’t!
That’s so interesting. This is a fascinating stone to skip if you are inclined to journal about things like place, design, identity, desire and so on.
I went all the way down this rabbit hole, and made an entire interior design wishlist and also a playlist based on each of these scenarios, and learned so much.
Mainly, I was reminded that actually I love design so much, and I don’t let myself love it because I am scared of how much I love it, so really that’s useful information too…
Hello and welcome, new moon my mysterious guest!
The new moon can also be a mysterious guest, who is also not a surprise, because I know when it’s coming, it’s on the calendar!
And yet also somehow I’m surprised every time because time itself is mysterious.
Same goes for full moon, solstice, equinox, pretty much any holiday, I know it’s coming, I know I want to prepare, and suddenly it’s like uh oh my friend is almost here, gotta get this place ready and sparkling!
Hello and welcome, new moon new year
Happy new moon today and tomorrow, hello new moon.
And not only is it new moon in virgo but it is the new moon of the month of Tishrei, Friday night is Erev Rosh Hashana, the eve of the head of the year! So happy new year if you are celebrating, or if you are not then you can feel celebratory with me if you like.
May it be a good, sweet new year for us all.
Tell me everything
And, what if the new year is the mysterious beloved guest I have been yearning for, craving, excited to meet?
Hello, hello, beautiful new year!
Tell me everything. Whisper in my ear.
And all incoming selves of course too
An incoming self can also be an unexpected visitor I can welcome.
It’s exciting. Something about preparing for a country weekend like in a murder story but without the murder of course.
Yes to preparation and anticipation in the air. No to murders, obviously. You know what I mean.
Welcome, mystery guest who is me
The me of the new year is a mystery guest, what a fun adventure to get to know who is here.
Can I make everything gleaming and ready for this self and these selves, these aspects of me that I am newly coming into or don’t even know about yet?
Noticing that I’m feeling some angst about this because I am working with so little energy these days, and how will I welcome what’s next?
And yet, if I know anything about my incoming selves, it’s that they glow compassion my way, have no expectations and are just happy that I exist.
Can I channel that?
And if not, can I feel into how it is so natural for them to wish me well?
Turning and returning
This is how the new year works, a revolution (of the earth), and a revolution (small, internal), hopefully not too much upheaval, just enough.
And I have probably mentioned this before, but in Hebrew, the word for this act of return is also a form of repair or making right, turning inward and outward, coming back to whatever you need to come back to, renewed.
Where does this book go (I am the book)
I am also thinking about returning as in returning a book to a library. To bring something back to its place, which is also related to everything in its place, and to me in my place.
Feeling at home in my home, feeling at home in my life.
This is also about learning to feel at home in some tight places, like chronic illness, alone in the wild wilds, the mysteries that have not solved themselves.
Lighting candles, admiring the shadows
Lighting a candle for It Solves Itself.
Lighting a candle for oh wow what beautiful wishes (what beautiful mysteries).
Lighting a candle for where does this book go.
Lighting a candle for peace and tranquility, for joy and ease, whatever is needed most and in the right amounts, here’s to setting the table and welcoming what comes.
I’m making progress on bonus material about how I relate to time and map out my quarters, let me know if there anything you want to know more about specifically? Drop any questions or thoughts here…
And! Anyone who gives to Barrington’s Discretionary (see below) will get these by email as soon as I finish editing them…
Come play in the comments, I love company!
Share anything sparked for you while reading, or add anything you’d like to into the pot, the healing power of the collective is no small thing, companionship helps.
If you received clues or perspective or want to send appreciation for the writing and work/play we do here, I appreciate it tremendously. Working on some stuff to offer this coming year, but between traumatic brain injury recovery & Long Covid, slow going.
I am accepting support (with joy & gratitude) 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, it all helps with fixing the many broken things.
And if those aren’t options, I get it, you can light a candle for support (or light one in your mind!), share this with someone who loves words, tell people about these techniques, approaches and themes, send them here, it all helps, it’s all welcome, and I appreciate it and you so much. ❤️