Me: in my office, looking at all the piles and supplies and baskets, etc. that are surrounding me. And even though it’s almost all fun, creative stuff, I am completely and totally overwhelmed. And planning how I can build a fort underneath my desk.
Me: whimpering softly. “Help.”
Suddenly, floating right in front of me is a tiny little woman.
TLW: “You called?”
Me: “Uh, who are you?”
TLW: ” You asked for help. I’m here to help you.”
Me: “Like a fairy godmother?”
TLW: “Sort of. But you don’t need a fairy godmother. What you need is a, ‘Hey-chill the f*** out!’-mother.”
Me: Extremely concerned as I survey all of her paraphernalia.
Me: “Is that a vuvuzela?!”
CTFO-M: “Yeah. But don’t worry. It’s a last resort. That’s only for the times when I REALLY need to get your attention because you’re completely ignoring me. To start out with I just use this.”
CTFO-M: Whips out something vaguely stick-like in appearance.
Me: “Is that your magic wand?”
CTFO-M: “Sort of. It’s actually more of an Awareness Rod.”
Me: (under my breath) “Crap.”
Me: “OK, so what do I do now?”
CTFO-M: Surveys the damage, shaking her head and muttering under her breath.
Me: (cringing) “That bad, huh?”
CTFO-M: “I just have one question for you.”
CTFO-M: “What the hell are you trying to do to yourself, woman?!”
CTFO-M: “What was your pain level when you woke up this morning?”
Me: “Um,” (quickly considering and then discarding the possibility of lying). “13?”
CTFO-M: raps me sharply on the head with her Rod.
CTFO-M: Grimly, with lips tightly pressed together.
CTFO-M: “We’ll talk more about this later. But first we just need to do some damage control and stop the out-of-control, falling down the rabbit hole spinning that currently has charge of you.”
Me: “So what does that mean, exactly?”
CTFO-M: “It means, put every single paper, writing utensil, highlighter, post-it note, list, basket, cubicle, EVERYTHING on your big table. And then walk away. And then go and immediately slather on some “Losing It” Aardvark Potion, and listen to Shannon’s corresponding audio about ‘Losing Overwhelm.’ Right. Now.”
Me: scurrying off to obey.
45 minutes later
CTFO-M: “All right. How was that?”
Me: “It was really nice. It was so wonderful to relax. Plus I had some ice cream and read my new detective novel on my Kindle.”
CTFO-M: “Nice. Now, Chickie Baby, tell me what this is really all about.”
Me: “I’m in so much pain. I’m scared to stop and have to feel how much pain I’m in. So I’m trying to create a zillion things to do to stay in my mind instead of being in my body. But my body keeps trumping my mind.”
CTFO-M: “I know. And I’m so sorry you have to be in so much pain. It’s not fair.”
Me: “NO, it’s NOT!”
CTFO-M: “OK. So now we need to find a way to help you rest and feel a little bit better. And I know you won’t be able to rest if you’re worrying about all this STUFF here in your office. So let’s come up with a quick and dirty way to deal with it so that you can go lie down and read some more.”
Me: “Sounds good to me.”
CTFO-M: “It seems to me that we need to come up with some good questions to help this process get moving. And probably some kinds of containers to help us sort. And some index cards.”
Me: “OK. That I can do.”
CTFO-M: “All right. Now I want you to go and pick out 5 things from your table.”
Me: “Got it.”
CTFO-M: “OK. Question number 1: Is this urgent? Is there some kind of deadline or time constraint on this?”
If yes, then label one of your boxes as ‘Urgent’, put that item on an index card, and stick it in the Urgent Box.
If no, then label the rest of your boxes as ‘Put Away,’ ‘To Do’, and ‘Ideas/Projects/Creative Work/Would Like To Do’, then put that item on a index card and place it in its corresponding box.
About 30 minutes later
CTFO-M: “So, how’d we do?”
Me: “Really well. The pile on the table is only half the size that it was. Maybe even less. And I knew exactly what to focus on and what I was doing, so I did not fall down any more rabbit holes.”
CTFO-M: “Good job! OK. Now I want you to go lie down for the next 45 minutes. And the only thing you are allowed to do besides rest and sleep is to read your new detective novel.”
Me: “Yes ma’am.”
Gratefully retires to the bedroom.
1 1/2 hours later after glorious nap
After a few more rounds of sorting, the table is completely cleared off!
CTFO-M: “Great job! Good for you!”
CTFO-M: “All right. I know you pretty well, so I know how tempted you are to rush through all the boxes right now, to try and do every single thing in as little time as possible, so that you can end the day with completely cleared out boxes.”
Me: guilty as charged
CTFO-M: “But I have a very important question for you, as we are currently in the middle of a period of your best creative time.
Question Number 2: Is this really how you want to spend your creative time?”
Me: “Damn you and your stupid, hitting-the-nail-right-on-the-head questions. Stupid not letting me lie to myself or sabotage myself or not letting me avoid the creative work I actually want to do stupid dummy dumb head meany pants. You suck!”
Me: sticks out my tongue and makes a face at her
CTFO-M: turns away so I won’t see her laughing
CTFO-M: “Well, it’s your time. So you can choose to do whatever you want. But if you do choose to do the busywork of going through your boxes, then you can’t complain about never working on the projects that you actually want to work on.”
Me: “OK, fine. I’ll do it your stupid way. So what am I supposed to do now?”
CTFO-M: “Well first, let’s put all the boxes except the one with your ideas and projects on the table so they don’t distract you.”
Me: “But there’s not very much in the Put Away box. I could clear that one out pretty quickly.”
CTFO-M: “OK. But no longer than 10 minutes on that, OK?”
Me: “Ha ha-only took 5 minutes!”
CTFO-M: Great! More time for fun projects.”
Me: moves boxes
Me: “OK, it is nice to have my workspace cleared off. I don’t feel like I’m gonna suffocate anymore.”
CTFO-M: “Good. That’s what we like to hear.”
Me: “So I’m a little anxious about actually working on my creative stuff. How do I even get started?
CTFO-M: “Well, I would suggest just flipping through the cards you put in you “Project” Box and just picking out a few that appeal to you right now. But now more than three-remember the guideline of Do! Three! Things!?”
Me: “Oh yeah. I forgot how much that helps me focus and calm down.”
CFTO-M: “Well, that’s why I’m here-to remind you of those kinds of things.”
Me: flips through cards and picks three that sound like fun things to do right now
Me: “OK, I think I’m ready to start working on some fun projects now.”
CTFO-M: “Fantastic! Then I think my work here is done. Oh-and remember to also use the Do Three Things Guidelines with the steps of each of your three projects.”
Me: “Will do. Um, thanks for all your help. Although next time I think I could do without the being hit on the head part!”
CTFO-M: chuckling to herself as she fades from view.
CTFO-M: “We’ll see.”