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Semi-Conscious column: How to get the laundry done

Mari Rose Hale

What I should do is laundry. What I want to do is watch hummingbirds and sparrows and geese. And my friend the bald eagle, if I’ve been a good girl and my timing is right.

Laundry and I have only just met. I was not the laundry fairy in my household until recently. I had to call my friends multiple times (but not the same one because wouldn’t that be embarrassing) to ask what temperature corresponded to the spectrum of the rainbow I was about to agitate. But we are developing a relationship, laundry and I. It’s more off again than on again, but we’re making progress. Cultivating a routine. I think we have successful LTR (long-term-relationship) potential. I think my friends and family hope so.

The secret is balance. And space. Lots of space. And patience. Sometimes I get anxious and upset with things, like how long it is taking, or the damn sock thing and I have to take a time out. I have to take a cleansing pranayama breath, and realize that this is about me.

I have asked the Maytag to be in a place it’s not ready to be in. I want it to be on spin, but it’s still on rinse. It’s not the Maytag’s fault. It is just working through its process, genuine to its own nature. I can’t ask a Maytag to be a Ferrari. I must come from a place of love and let it be what it is. Let it eat the socks it needs for its own nourishment. I must see the beauty in its gentle rhythm and unhurried, cleansing process and hear the music in its hum.

I step back. Check in with myself to manage my frustration. What do I need right now? What would fulfill me in this moment that I can give to myself? I remind myself that it is not laundry’s job to make me happy or content. It can’t do that. It just can’t. The power is within me. I decide I need some bird watching and a cup of adaptogenic herbal tea. I think holy basil. Or ginseng. And also a blanket because it is raining out here. But when it is, man, you should see the colors. There must be a thousand shades of green.

Relaxing with my calming tea, I look at the clock and realize that I am still in loungewear and it is almost 3 o’clock. Immediately, my Shoulda Angel starts to harp. It’s like a shoulder angel but is cranky and critical, and every sentence starts with a variant of “should.” You should, you should have, you should’a (which is pretty much just gangster for “should have”) — you get it. It’s more a gremlin really. All cute sitting up there when it’s calm, but feed it a crumb of anxiety or self-loathing and out come the claws and fangs.

“You should have gotten much more done today than two loads of darks. Like, for example, get dressed … or maybe indulged in an intimate relationship with your toothbrush?” Shoulda Angel has permanent resting bitch face and a tone to match.

Wait. Underneath the yammering, I hear a different voice, a much softer one whispering to me. It is peaceful and gentle. It says breathe, be quiet, and look again. I shush the Shoulda, and take stock. I review the progress laundry and I have already made today, through our mutual allowance and respect of each other’s process and timing and needs. Because I must be a good girl (I am, I am I am!), I did see the bald eagle cruising, hunting, high above the mountain. I saw a flock of geese fly upriver, a frenzy of sparrows hunting and playing on the breeze, a hummingbird drink out of my planter, and ducks. An osprey flew so close to me I could see his eye. I think he winked at me.

In the non-avian realm, I have given closure to a complication, made breakfast for my boys, taken pictures of some rain-kissed flowers, said hello to an old friend. I also had a lovely texting chat with a new one. Oh, and bathed. Oh. And wrote this column. And two loads of darks.

It’s been a charmed day, I decide. I think I’ll ease up on Maytag for a bit. Let him rest. Do his thing. Bug-watching or whatever. Besides, there’s still the folding. I don’t want to strain myself. As I turn the light off in the laundry room, I smile and pat Maytag. Barry Manilow starts singing in my mind. Looks like we made it … his voice rings.

One day at a time.

Mari Rose Hale is a Glenwood Springs writer. She blogs at mariroseland.wordpress.com. Semi-Conscious appears on the fourth Tuesday of each month in Body & More.


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