The last few weeks have been busy and I’ve a bit stressed trying to keep track of all the moving parts. Everything bubbled to the surface this past Sunday night when Chris and I got into a quibble about cleaning. I was frustrated about how the living room was covered in dust (as a result of him fixing a leak and patching the ceiling), and he was frustrated that I was getting so worked up about some dust (and seemingly unappreciative of what he had done). I recognized that we were each coming at the situation from different perspectives, but couldn’t articulate that in the moment. I completely (and wrongfully) skipped over the part about thanking him for taking the time to fix it and jumped right ahead to worrying about who was going to clean up the mess since we were having family over for dinner the following evening. Chris reacted to my overreaction, and pointedly asked, “Why are you so crazy about cleaning?!” It was a legitimate question.
My freakout about cleaning reaction wasn’t really about the dust – I was taking my stress about other things in my life out on him, including stress about a big assignment due at work the following day. I couldn’t move past it when really, it wasn’t a big deal. The world would not collapse into itself if things didn’t get cleaned up right that minute and it’s not like we were going to eat off the living room rug. We were going to eat off plates like civilized people in the dining room. But, I was being too stubborn to back down.
The more I thought about it, the more I realized that I failed to show my appreciation for what I had in front of me: a talented (albeit now frustrated) husband, willing to spend his free time patching the ceiling (among other home improvement projects like, building a mudroom addition which will be getting its very own entry), climbing out of bed to kill spiders for me, and hundreds of other meaningful gestures of love and kindness. (OK, maybe he kills spiders on my behalf to maintain his own sanity because he doesn’t want to hear me worry about how they might turn into mutants and take over our house or climb all over our faces while we’re sleeping, but I digress.)
As it turns out, Chris worked his magic on Monday and the house was spotless, I got my project done on time, and dinner was perfect. I knew I needed a break though, so on Tuesday, instead of rushing around town after work to pick up the dog, book it to the gym, fit in an errand, cook dinner and more, I threw my schedule out the window and just slowed down. I ran Cooper around the yard for a bit before cleaning my car out top to bottom – a chore that I had been putting off for weeks. I had a leisurely dinner, stopped by the library to grab a few new books, visited with my parents, and then read instead of watching crappy TV shows before bed (Bravo, I love you, but we need to take a break). I was a little sad that I didn’t get to work out, but the whole evening was a good reminder that taking care of myself means much more than just working out, eating well, and checking off my to-do list.
It means taking a step back and putting thing in perspective: the challenges I’m facing aren’t difficult in the grand scheme of things – at any given moment, people are facing hardships that make my problems look like a great vacation. So, I’m going to make point to try to keep things in better perspective and to acknowledge and appreciate what I do have: a wonderful husband and fantastic family and friends (who love me despite my faults), a roof over my head, food on the table, a job to go to every day, my health… the list goes on.
To do: show more appreciation for small gestures of love and kindness.
I stumbled upon two other things that quite literally helped to put the universe into perspective for me and reminded me just how inconsequential some dust in the living room is.
- A Radiolab podcast called Escape! Listening to this podcast, during the second segment, I learned about the two Voyager spacecraft, which scientists believe have reached the outer limits of our solar system and are heading into seriously unknown and uncharted territory where the sun is no longer king. What’s going to happen? Nobody knows! The mystery of it all is beautiful and if physicists can figure out how to send things into outer space, I think I can problem-solve a dusty room.
- The Scale of the Universe 2. This site allows you to explore different facets of our existence as humans from the microscopic level of a tiny atom, all the way out to the edges of the observable universe and everything in between. Be sure to zoom both in and out to get the full experience. A great way to see our world from more than one perspective!
Dust and mutant spiders aside, I hope you enjoy the links!