Happy Thursday to most of you and Almost-Thursday for me…
Last week we talked about Latibulation, slow process, fun words, recovery and solitude, and before that we covered new moon wishes and new moon rituals.
Today I’m talking about Fall Gleaming (the autumnal version of spring cleaning), some tricks that are helping with my to-do list, and we also cover baking, nihilism, and celebrating a breakdown. It’s a fun ride.
A fit, of sorts
I have been in a fit of Fall Gleaming this week, which took me by surprise, this being of course what I call the autumnal version of spring cleaning…
A fit? A fury? A need.
Obsessively drawn towards, occupying my mind.
The autumnal version of spring cleaning…
It sweeps in suddenly (haha, it sweeps in) and takes me by surprise every time. Does it sweep me off my feet? Okay, enough broom-related jokes.
For me, this autumnal drive to sweep everything clean comes in stronger than the spring cleaning urge.
In spring I do often feel a gentle but steady pull towards harmonizing my space, an urge towards congruencing.
The fall version feels more intense.
Fall for me is more intense. Pre-fall, really. The days here are getting a little darker a little earlier. I find myself reaching for a sweatshirt in the mornings.
It’s still summer and fully 90 degrees Fahrenheit today (32 C), but I can feel the shift coming, and with it, my strong desire for everything to be cleared out and renewed, questioned.
Does this belong in my life? Do I belong in my life? Who am I in relation to my space?
I find myself craving a great whooshing out. An emptying. Everything must go! Everything must be dusted!
Also, I don’t even understand how or why so many things ended up in my space, who agreed to this?
This is one of the great mysteries of living alone.
How is the sink full of dishes again? Who put this here and for what purpose?
Who agreed to this? (Oh, it was me again!)
At some point, I allowed my space to be taken over by visual reminders about projects I have already forgotten.
We meet again, my great nemesis, the eternal ADHD conundrum of [out of sight out of mind] versus do not underestimate my ability to ignore a visual reminder!
On the other hand, a nice thing about traumatic brain injury (and long covid brain fog days) is that I can’t stay confused about this long, because I’m on to being confused about the next thing, like why am I holding this glass of water???
Why am I holding this glass of water?
It’s not the glass I use to drink from.
I remember just enough to know that I poured it from the filtered water pitcher, not the sink. And it’s not for watering a plant because my plants died during the brutal winter cold spell.
Figure eights of confusion
I wandered back and forth in my extremely small space for the longest time, holding the glass in my hand, tracing a path of compact figure-eights.
It is very tiresome to exist in a state of near-permanent confusion.
Until I found the ice cube tray I’d set on the counter just before filling the glass with water.
The water was for the ice cube tray, good job, babe, you figured it out.
Nothing but surprises when your brain can’t hold onto anything…
I am the protagonist in Memento, whose name I also cannot remember, except instead of trying to solve the murder of someone I love but not remembering anything beyond that, I am trying and failing to solve the tiniest mysteries imaginable.
But we get there eventually, and that counts.
Taking me (by surprise)
After a month of bed rest, I have been enjoying getting to spend multiple hours out of bed, but am also trying to take it easy and not send myself right back into bed mode.
This weekend I was compelled to do a deep clean of my tiny closet, and then that was not enough, I also had to pull out the tiny refrigerator to clean behind it (and rescue several tiny spoons), and then back to bed again.
No one expects it
No one expects the Spanish Inquisition or the autumnal desire to have everything be crisp, clean and new.
At least I don’t, even though the latter happens just about every year.
What is it about Fall Gleaming
It’s a mystery to me but also a beautiful one. I like fall with its crisp air and promises of fresh notebooks, anticipation, sweet honey cake, vibrant colors, new beginnings.
Noticing that I am also experiencing some trepidation about winter out in the wild wilds, will I get two new windows installed in time, will I get the plumbing fixed before the pipes freeze again, it comes so fast, I am not ready.
But also: it is not possible to be ready. And that too is part of this seasonal shift.
The question ran away, but I am still here
What is it about fall gleaming?
It just feels important that everything get refreshed, dusted off, reconsidered, re-evaluated.
I re-read my wishes from summer solstice, from spring equinox, from winter solstice…
Some are still here, renewing themselves, and some were solved and resolved (it solves itself!), and some surprised me: was that what I wanted? And why?
Because my energy and focus are both limited commodities these days, I rely heavily on a technique I refer to as pac-man ops.
Ops as in secret ops, pac-man referring to the act of gobbling up all the colored dots and power pellets.
The point of pac-man ops is to break down my list into tiny steps (CWUs, Complete Willingness Units), rename them to be more palatable, and then to gobble them up speedily as if I am playing pac-man.
The fifteen minute burst
I cannot pac-man my list all day, there are simply too many things needing to be gobbled up, and I am not able to sustain that.
If I try to pac-man as much as possible, I will go straight into avoidance mechanisms or blankness.
Knowing that I’m only going to be in pac-man mode for fifteen minutes makes it more palatable.
Pac-man mode as a form of gleaming
Eating up the bullet points on my list is like vacuuming up my list. It feels good.
It gives new meaning to biting the bullet. Sorry. Can’t stop won’t stop (making puns). It seems to be the only part of my brain that works reliably.
Freshness and refreshing
I like that not everything needs to be sparkling clean, and I can’t even wish that for myself or for my space because of these limitations on my focus and energy.
It’s like I exist inside of a haiku, there are only so many syllables that can form my day.
What needs to be refreshed? What would help the most and what is the smallest possible step?
The rudest first draft
This is my favorite technique lately when dealing with customer service, which I am quite a bit these days, especially with some companies who seem to be engaging in behavior that I can only describe as nefarious.
I get so stuck trying to come up with a script or how to phrase my situation because I don’t want to be rude to the people working for these companies, it’s not their fault, it’s the company.
Giving myself permission to start with The Rudest First Draft circumvents this frustration.
Found in translation
Instead of starting from the blank page, I can simply edit my rude first draft into something less rude.
Stop fucking stealing from me, you fucking thieves becomes Please expedite my refund request.
It’s so elegant, the art of translation. I enjoy this part more than I expect.
Sometimes I pretend I’m translating for a friend. That helps too.
This is also a form of gleaming
Gleaming is refining, and refining is something I do in the kitchen, making the same recipe or dish dozens of times, changing one element each time.
The art of small shifts, slow and steady, the practice is the practice.
Texted my chef friend this week:
Back on my (coconut chai gluten-free vegan banana bread) bullshit.
The art of pre-breakfast
I make this banana bread at least once a week, if not more, as part of my commitment to Cake For Breakfast, the Art of Pre-Breakfast, and being a Slutty Flavor Maximalist.
It is outrageously delicious. I bake it in the tiniest toaster oven that looks like a child’s toy, each time it seems like it won’t work, and then it does. That’s a clue too.
That’s a clue too
Also I deeply love that banana bread itself is a secret op, it is cake in disguise.
Sometimes it gets embellished with a vanilla chai icing and sometimes it is already over the top all on its own.
If I take a bite and make a little sound, things are working.
Refining and refining again
There is something beautiful in the repetition, and experiencing this through baking helps me with gleaming, because clean-up and organizing can get me feeling frustrated.
It is useful for me to remember that repetition is part of tending, and fall gleaming is about tending to my surroundings, being in conscious relationship with the container that holds me, the ship I sail on…
A surprise crash (the kind that makes noise)
There is a teardrop shaped mirror hanging in my bedroom, it has been hanging there exactly two years, and this week I got a text out of the blue from the local handyperson who put it up.
He said, Just checking in to see how you are doing, hope all is good.
That afternoon, I was walking through the bedroom (probably trying to solve a mystery like what is this glass of water for???), and the mirror came crashing down off the wall, missing me by maybe two inches, or let’s say five centimeters.
A close call.
Miraculously the mirror did not strike me.
Miraculously the mirror also did not break. It did make quite a dent in the floor, and I taped down the splinters (after forgetting why I was holding tape, but only forgetting once), and maybe this is a clue about needing a rug.
In further miracles, the mirror being off the wall revealed that there was an outlet behind it, and maybe that will be useful for something, who knows.
The space is renovating itself at this point. Fall gleaming has its own schedule, its own ideas.
I am thinking about redecorating as an act of removing things, erasing, deleting, undoing.
But also as an act of allowing.
Remove and refine. Let things shift as they may.
This is not easy for me but it is certainly intriguing.
A surprise crash (the existential kind)
Sometimes I crash from over-exertion, and I never know what will constitute over-exertion, but suddenly bed.
And sometimes I crash emotionally, which can sometimes feel the same as physically at first.
Have feeling a new something (?) coming in. A new aesthetic? A new look/feel & sensibility?
More like a new set of passions, a new incoming self coming in.
Not sure what it’s about yet, just that it’s very different from what has been.
A period of entry, the space of the pre-
I guess we will keep sleeping on it and baking on it and reading recipes, following clues, refining, sweeping, napping, sustaining, breathing cool evening air on the porch, watching the baby bunnies play.
This period of entry to whatever is coming (new year, equinox, what else) feels very powerful and mysterious, and yet again I only care about recipes.
Talk breakfast cake to me. Talk pre-breakfast to me.
The useful breakdown
The thing that generally gets me out of a breakdown is a good obsession, obsessing over green chile salad dressing, for example.
But my current bizarre and interesting breakdown is specifically related to Fall Gleaming.
Slowly over time I am getting to know this new, as yet unknown Incoming who genuinely wants everything either gone and out of my space, or put in the correct place, or maybe there is no correct place, but it’s very clear that it all needs to be out of sight.
And I either need to nap or just gather up everything I own and take it to the thrift store because I simply do not wish to look at it anymore.
What is useful about this breakdown?
Breaking down is what I do with cardboard boxes, it is the act of making something unwieldy into something compact.
Breaking down into the elements, a decomposition.
An uncomplicating. How’s that for a word and concept? What would that be like?
Sometimes breaking down is simply about the storm before the calm.
Yes, I know it’s usually the opposite, but sometimes we need to fall apart before we can have the new clarity. Did I say we, I meant me.
Sometimes we need to make a big mess before the rearranging. What if that’s okay?
Pac-man gains in powers just like Popeye the Sailor.
Sometimes I can experience this sensation of Gain In Powers from being in pac-man mode, from small wins where I can find them, from cleaning a shelf and enjoying that it is clean.
Reduce and destroy. Gain in powers. Rest. Rest some more.
Refine the process. Add compassion. Start over.
The treasure in this
There is treasure for me in the craving and in the breakdown, in the pull towards fall gleaming, and in the days when it is on hold because I need to rest some more or because I forgot what I was doing, or because I am overwhelmed by emotion.
There is treasure for me even when I forget that there is treasure.
Sometimes (usually), I make projects too big and then they become impossible, when what I actually need is to go granular.
One shelf, wiped down slowly and lovingly. One rude first draft and one translation.
Trust in the fractal process, each step counts, each breakdown counts, each back to bed is a refinement too.
Maybe. I think it is.
A conversation that, like all my conversations, takes place in my head
Havi: I feel very far from dream life, I feel overwhelmed by wanting, but also I feel overwhelmed by living in a very tiny space with everything I own.
What do I know about dream life? I know that I am living it in my connection with nature, and I know that I am craving this fall gleaming in part because my physical space needs to change.
Dream life self: Yes, there is physically too much stuff in your space. You have your best ideas when you have expansiveness, a clear line of sight.
Havi: I need a good obsession again.
A good obsession again, and again
Dream life self: It will be easier to obsess over what you want to obsess over (TBD) when your space is clear, interior design is your everything, but it has to be for you, how do you want your space to be for you, that’s the question.
Assume the space is perfect as is, nothing needs to change, just to empty / be emptied.
What does that mean?
Havi: What does that mean? Nothing needs to change, just to empty / be emptied, what does it mean?
Dream life self: Sleep on it.
I took this from a podcast episode of You Are Good, and now I cannot remember which episode or what the context was, I was just so delighted by the phrase, and then one of my incoming selves immediately borrowed it.
Now whenever I have questions or worries, Nihilism Daddy has thoughts, and I love this.
As we know it (and I feel fine)
Havi: I don’t know what to do or what to think… Is that true or is that a monster story, I can’t tell, everything feels vague and uncertain.
Nihilism Daddy self: It’s the end of the world as we know it and I feel fine…
And! Do you know what else? Decadence is a great pursuit for end times but so is creative gardening. Use your cookbooks. Keep making cake.
Yes to vanilla chai icing. Yes to being okay with being surprised. Did you know that a good breakdown is a wondrous thing? It is. Practice celebrating the breakdown.
Fall Gleaming: next steps
Fall gleaming is a power-up, just like being pac-man and eating up all the obstacles like they are treats.
Fall gleaming is a process, slow and steady, symbolic progress, everything counts.
Fall gleaming is about asking the questions, moving things around, changing the settings.
Yes, change your setting, and also change your settings.
Cake first. Rude first drafts. Get a little silly with naming things. Celebrate. Why not.
Yes, celebrating, why not
It’s the end of the world as we know it, and we’re celebrating the breakdown, or at least acknowledging it and raising a glass (of water, possibly a mystery glass, what is it for, it’s for toasting the breakdown…)
Celebrating the breakdown, putting icing on everything, having a dance party, going back to bed, cleaning one (1) shelf, keeping on keeping on. Brave and stalwart.
Let’s keep going.
I’m currently working on bonus material about how I relate to time and map out my quarters, and am pretty sure I have all the parts that I think are important, is 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) this summer 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. ❤️