One Connection I Never Thought I'd Make

I'm re-listening to Uncertainty at the moment. Why re-listening? Honestly, I thought I would get more out of it this time.

I'm definitely getting more out of it this time.

In the meantime I'm still struggling with the Un-Fucking Project and its inherent difficulties.

One of the later chapters of Uncertainty goes over the inevitable point in a project when the temptation to quit is overwhelming and when the thought of quitting fills you with such relief that you're absolutely convinced you should give up. We all reach this point in a huge creative endeavor at one point or another and it can literally sink us.

Fields developed a test for knowing whether it truly is time to quit or if the sense of relief is from letting go of the creative angst. If it's letting go of angst it means the project isn't the problem, the resistance is the problem.

His very simple test is a visualization. Imagine its two years from now and your project has to come to fruition in all it's glory. You're reaping the benefits and you've accomplished what you wanted to accomplish with this massive outpouring of creative energy. How do you feel? Where do you feel it? Are you happy and contented?

If the answer is happy, contented, thrilled, and you feel it through your entire body, then the temptation to quit isn't because the project is worth quitting. The temptation to quit is instead from what Steven Pressfield calls the Resistance.

The Resistance is a very difficult concept to translate, but I'll do my best. It's actually better to think of the Resistance as an opposite. Take your calling, your creative endeavors, your very mission in life, that "thing you can't not do", and all of the hard work and delayed gratification that goes into every bit of work towards that goal.

The Resistance is the opposite.

The Resistance is what tells you your work is futile. The Resistance is what hides in your fears and tells you you can't possibly make it. The Resistance is what tells you to sacrifice tomorrow for today.

In physics terms, if creative energy is an object in motion, the Resistance is what attempts to make that object be at rest instead, and STAY there. It's ruthless and uses every bit of fear and uncertainty in order to keep us from progressing.

So in light of Fields' test I decided to sit down and run the test on my current projects and goals. Some of them required tweaking (the true goal was not what I first envisioned) but most of them survived this test.

One of the results though truly blew me away.

Sure "have another baby" and "get Chris healthy" and "get the kids back and healthy" ranked really high on the "want it so bad I can taste it scale".

They were nothing compared to "make myself sane and healthy."

Turns out what the Un-Fucking Project is designed to bring about is what I want most desperately in this world. To be in control of my life and my destiny and moreover, myself.

It's also the project I feel the most angst and resistance about, to the point of engaging in multiple levels and forms of avoiding the project including rationalizing, bullshitting myself, and outright avoidance.

I never thought to apply the concept of Resistance to the goal of making myself healthy and sane. But then it makes sense.

What greater creative endeavor do any of us have than creating our own life? What will ever top that act of creation?

Fortunately enough I already own Steven Pressfield's book which covers Resistance, The War of Art.

I've started re-reading the War of Art with a whole new appreciation for its meaning.

On Life Purpose and Phobias

I've decided to take up meditation.

This could be a very dangerous idea.

I've decided to take up meditation so I can gain more control over the swirling chaos which is my internal thought process. More specifically, I decided to take up meditation today because the hormonally agitated anxiety started getting to me.

Like most things I started looking for the "perfect" way to meditate. Like most pursuits of perfection, it failed.


Once again, I had forgotten that sometimes the answer is to just do it.

So I tried, with a modicum of success.

Nobody ever warns you about these things. That if you do X, you might unlock Y.

I carry all of my stress and my pain in one part of my body, my uterus. In chakra terms, when my uterus becomes unblocked, all of me becomes unblocked.

I'm a submissive in a long-term 24/7 relationship so I've gotten quite used to not doing my own unblocking. Problem is, the stronger I've become mentally and emotionally, the harder its been to get unblocked.


I hoped meditation would help.

It helped a little too much.

Ever have one of those "aha" moments, when you realize just how much of a moron you've been?


So all of this blockage is coming out emotionally and I can see clear as day two things:

1. My primary purpose in life is to create, nurture, and grow.
2. I spend the vast majority of my life erecting roadblocks because I'm afraid of my primary purpose in life.

Fun, huh?

The really awesome part was recognizing that I'd avoided consciously associating the two because of the sheer simplicity of my life purpose.

As far as I thought, I didn't HAVE a life purpose.

Oh, I love to create. Love love love. But I'd always associated life purpose with something more tangible.

"Look at Sister Mary over there. She heard the call. She's dedicating her life to the church."
"Look at Ann. The only thing she's ever wanted to be is a wife and mother."
"I've always wanted to be a policeman."
"I've always wanted to be a doctor."
"I've always wanted to cure cancer."

Oh, look at them. How blessed they are to have a calling. Wonder what I should do?


call·ingnoun1.the act of a person or thing that calls.2.vocation, profession, or trade: What is your calling?3.a call  or summons: He had a calling to join the church.4.a strong impulse or inclination: She did it in response to aninner calling.5.a convocation: the calling of Congress.Origin: 1200–50; Middle English; see call-ing1
2.  mission, province, forte, specialty, field. 

          Calling (Mel's definition): that thing you must do, or else it fucks you up

I love to write. Never felt the calling as a writer, and I can't define myself AS a writer, as I don't wake up every morning thinking how much I need to write. Baker? Same thing. Artisan? Yep.

There is something I wake up thinking about how much I need to, MUST, go do.

Create. Nurture. Grow.

I've wanted another child for a long, long time. Can't do it right now but the pull is strong. I love all babies; human, animals, plants. I love them all.

I feel a compulsion to write when moved. I feel a compulsion to design, to draw, to piece, to photograph, to take rare elements and make something new from them.

So what if my calling is EXTREMELY vague. That just leaves more opportunities to fulfill the need.

..... and more opportunities to fuck it up.


It's what I must do. It's what I'm here for. It scares the fuck out of me.

Blame my dad if you want, and all of his talk about starving artists. Blame my tendency to rely on the opinions of others. Blame it on whatever. I'm afraid of putting it out there, because whatever I create stays in the world and then people can *gasp* pass judgement on what I've made. And then if they don't like it I'll just die.

It's a flippin' phobia. An evil, useless, detrimental, life-sucking phobia combined with a stupid fucking irrational thought.

And what do we do with phobias we don't want to deal with? Oh, just use everyday responsibilities and stupid excuses to keep away from whatever we're afraid of.

Huh. I guess a messy house might do that. If I've always got something "more important" to do (after all, "real life" is more important than the "luxury" of creation) then naturally I'll never get around to it.

Like I said, dumbass.

So class, how do you fight a phobia?

Exposure therapy.

Yeppers. Time to do some exposure therapy.

So now until I beat the shit out of this phobia I'll need to do two things:

1. Make something every day.
2. Show that something off one way or another.
3. Notice that the criticism does not kill me or otherwise destroy me.

Sound like a plan?

Today's Challenge - Master Bedroom and Bathroom Part 2

So today's challenge was the master bedroom and bathroom.

How did I do?

Well, like normal my ambitions and expectations far exceeded my actual competence at the moment. To be honest, the expectation that I would finish in one day was a little silly as it was. That I started at 11 am didn't help.

Then, about 2 pm when the time for my second adderall of the day came around, I realized I was in pain. Really bad background pain.

Mel's rule #1: Don't suffer needlessly.
Mel's rule #2: Don't make the week suffer for the day's sake, i.e. don't kill your productivity for the week by killing yourself reaching productivity for the day.

About 4 pm the Midol and ibuprofen finally kicked in. Oh, and the Dr. Pepper and Reese's. Yes, that kind of pain.

So back to the work I went.

I always attack trash and "misfits" first. Misfits are those things that I want to keep, but aren't in their assigned place or even assigned room. Dirty laundry and dishes also fit on that list (unless they're in the laundry room and kitchen, respectively).

Soon the bed was covered with misfits:

Cleaning out under the bed yielded even more trash and misfits.

Dealing with the trash was simple. Out to the truck it went so I could take it to the transfer station in the morning.

The misfits however... many of them don't have a place as of yet, and my organizing areas are already pretty badly backlogged with other stuff waiting re-assignment and final placement. I couldn't very well leave them on the bed, and I couldn't take them somewhere else... so the boxes ended up back against the wall. Grrr.

Now most people wait to vacuum or sweep until the end but I find a clear and clean floor to be much more pleasant and motivating than waiting. So I brought up the Dyson and went to town.

Now, having completed the vacuuming, I had to face the facts; it was too late in the day, and I was too tired, to finish all I had planned.


At times like this when I notice my energy and motivation are on their last legs I make a short little list of what I think I can finish. The list contains three projects: something I can finish in 15 minutes or less that I won't need to touch again, something that will gratify me and fill me with delight in the morning, and something that if I don't finish it will annoy the hell out of me.

The 15 minute project I chose involved making a permanent place for all of the doggie toys I'd discovered while cleaning. Like all 15 minute projects it had a definite set of criteria: must be a permanent solution and must not use or require anything I don't have on hand. For the storage to work it needed to be usable by our smallest dog and be simple and complete.

An old laundry basket I had on hand fit the bill perfectly:

For the gratifying project I chose setting up my vanity. The vanity had similar criteria; easy to do and only involving materials on hand. A folding table and folding chair worked well:

From left to right: makeup brushes, hair items, face cream, hand towel, phone charger, radio/speaker, mirror, internet connection stuff, makeup drawers under table.

As for the last project, I REALLY wanted to at least mostly take care of the bathroom so I wouldn't need to look at it's current state.

At this time Chris called saying he was leaving work. That left me an hour and half to clean the bathroom, clean myself up, and make dinner.

I gave myself 40 minutes for the bathroom, which mostly did the trick:
I'll have to deal with the organization, floor and soap ring in the tub later, but everything else is clean.

That left me 50 minutes to jump in the shower (desperately needed at this point) and make dinner.

Thank God dinner was simple, and only needed half an hour.

I was dressed, made up, and had dinner waiting when he walked through the door.

Only one thing remained: a huge pile of laundry and dishes left on the bed. 15 minutes took care of that:

So current state of bedroom:
Clean floor, very little organization. Ugh.

So what I learned today:

  • Stop expecting perfection.
  • Stop expecting projects to take half the time they'll actually take.
  • Remember that I'm not always at my best.
  • Make cleaning easy to pick up again, and organization easy to pick up where you left off.
All in all, not a bad start.

Today's Challenge - Master Bedroom & Bathroom Part 1

Shortly before we moved to the Inland Northwest, my best friend had an idea.

Knowing my apparent inability to keep things in the household clean and organized, she suggested that I take pictures once a month of my progress and send them to her.

I did not do that. Irrational beliefs concerning well, a lot of things, kept me from doing so.

However, I must admit she had a point.

So I'm going to take her idea, and make it BIGGER.

Thus, Today's Challenge is born. I will take photos of one area of the house I want to complete clean out, redo, etc and post them.

I will include why it's a challenge, and what I intend to do about the challenge.

Later, I will follow up with my progress and what I learned.

So today we're doing the master bedroom and bathroom:

Storage by door


Corner (note short wall)

Part of floor

Internet equipment


Chris's side with To Read pile

Master bathroom

Master bathroom

The issues:

  • Two adults with ADHD, one space. Any organizational system must be simple, memorable by both, and extremely visual.
  • Too much stuff, too little space, no organization.
  • Too many hats; we've used the master bedroom for SO many things, including Chris's office when he was working from home AND a music space. We need to reduce the number of things we use the master bedroom for.
  • Odd room design; as you can see the master bedroom is the loft in a chalet style home. The walls are short. The closet is short in height, but extends back to the short wall leaving a bunch of semi-useless space.
  • The master bath only has room for one person to get ready at a time. In the morning that can be an issue.
  • The useful part of the closet that we can reach (i.e. where the clothes are hanging) is full of clothes and there are more clean clothes to put away.
  • My shoe collection is large and haphazard at the moment.
  • I don't have anywhere but the bathroom to put on my makeup, there's no room in the bathroom FOR my makeup, and I want to put on my makeup while Chris is getting ready in the morning.
  • Chris's "To Read" pile is sky high, as is the pile of magazines he hasn't read yet.
  • There is no good established way to deal with dirty laundry.
  • The internet connection equipment is stored in the master bedroom for good reason, and cannot be moved to another room.
The good:
  • There's plenty of space if used properly.
  • There's some blank wall space.
What I've done before this point:
  • Shoe rack for the door. I'm not happy with it as a permanent solution.
  • Organized both sides of the closet, complete with labels. Chris's clothing runs professional to casual from left to right, making getting dressed for work very easy. His socks and underwear are in the hanging shoe organizer, tshirts shorts and jeans in the sweater organizer. We've run out of room on his side, despite removing items that don't fit. My side runs from dresses to tops and lingerie, with panties and bras in shoe organizers. I've also run out of room.
My plan:
  • Take out anything that doesn't belong. All papers, all office equipment except internet connection equipment. Bedroom is for sleeping (and other related activities), clothing, and getting ready in the morning. Chris's laptop must stay because, well, it must.
  • Set up a makeup vanity where the internet equipment is now, with allowances for the equipment. Move all makeup to drawer cart stored under vanity.
  • Take out the black wire shelves by the door and replace with a 9 cube cubby shelving unit for the extra clothing. Mount curtain rods above the shelving for my shoes.
  • Take excess clothing out of closet so everything is easier to reach. Clean out back of closet which is currently unused. Turn back of closet into world's most soundproof meditation space (seriously).
  • Pare Chris's To Read pile and move excess to eventual home of all books, aka Basement Hall Storage Area.
  • Set up permanent clothes hamper for dirty clothes.
  • Clean out bathroom; remove all unnecessary duplicates and empty containers. Organize medicine cabinet and drawers in a useful fashion.

On Fixing Yourself

I am currently fighting through the middle of what could be charitably called a "life transition".

Heh. That phrase doesn't include any swear words. The way I'd really like to put it is at least 99% vulgarity.

I'm attempting to "un-fuck" myself.

The term "un-fuck" is very, very important. It alludes to the fact that due to how I handled my life mentally and emotionally, I managed to extremely fuck up how I handle myself and by extension, the rest of the world. Yes, there were outside circumstances; biology, culture, how I was raised, etc. Those are external factors and they strongly influenced how I dealt with my brain and my emotions.

But the reality is I still made a choice (even if the choices available weren't awesome) and fucked myself in the head and the emotions.

Accepting that I MADE those choices and CREATED the mental and emotional structure that followed does not absolve those influences from responsibility. It just emphasizes the fact that if I MADE the choices and CREATED those internal structures, I can DESTROY and REPLACE those structures that leave me mentally and emotionally fucked up.

Therefore, the quest to un-fuck myself. Could use the word normalize, but that doesn't work. No one is "normal" and no person is completely the same as everyone else. I could use the term "sanity" but that's also nebulous and open to interpretation.

No, the answer is not to chase a nebulous concept, because you'll never get there. The answer is to chase something not nebulous; something definable. So the quest is not sanity; the quest is to eradicate every way in which I internally fuck myself over.

Problem is, I do that in so many, many ways.

* * *

In order to understand what I'm doing, I need to back up a bit and explain the surface issues.

I have ADHD (attention-deficit hyperactive disorder), Generalized Anxiety Disorder, and an extremely high IQ (155 or so as of last testing).

ADHD is a congenital difference in the structure of the brain that leads to difficulty managing attention and focus    (look, a shiny!) combined with several other traits. It's structural, and chemical, and treatable. However, as of yet it's not curable. Let's not get into the concept of "curable", that pisses me off as much as "normal" does.

Generalized Anxiety Disorder is what it sounds like; anxiety over EVERYTHING. It's basis is a mix of structural (some people are more prone), chemical (ditto), and learned behaviors.

High IQ, once thought to be unchanging and entirely structural, is a mix of structural differences in the brain and practice using those differences. You can decrease or increase your IQ through using or not using your brain, but some people have an easier time due to being born with the structures that make it easier. For example, the kid with a naturally high IQ whose parents encourage (or don't prohibit) reading at an early age will find using that IQ easier than the kid who had no access to books at an early age. However, the kid with no access can increase their tested IQ rather rapidly once they learn to read and manage access to books themselves.

Of that mix of traits/conditions/whatever, there's a mixture of what is fixed (structural differences in the brain), what can be influenced (chemicals, neural pathways), and what I can outright change (learned behaviors).

In order to understand how I've decided to attack these issues head-on, it's useful to review my personal reading and podcast listening for the last 6 months:

Your Life Can Be Better (a book on ADD)
Believe it or not, all of these intersect.

The Get-it-Done Guy Podcast is what got me into podcasts in a major way. It also taught me the many small ways in which I can improve life, 5 minutes at a time. That's when I discovered I keep my attention better while listening to other people speak, preferably about real things. That led me to the Accidental Creative, which speaks specifically about setting up life so you can be your most creative. More Attention, Less Deficit is of course about ADHD, but less about the WHY and more about the HOW. So is Your Life Can Be Better.

Uncertainty is quite possible one of the best books ever, as it explores how to take the natural anxiety created by creative work and turn it into something useful. The Happiness Project is about exploring creating, well, happiness. 

These concepts all together can be summed up in one phrase: you can make yourself improve your life by improving yourself first.

The real kicker though was reading (actually listening to) How to Control Your Anxiety Before it Controls You back to back with Stuff.

How to Control Your Anxiety is written by Albert Ellis, who is somewhat of a well-know fixture of the psychiatric community. He is a psychiatrist who developed his own form of therapy for anxiety in order to treat himself for the condition. He came up with Rational Emotive Behavior Therapy, or REBT.

REBT is based on the theory that most unrealistic anxiety is caused by what Ellis calls "irrational beliefs" and therefore most anxiety can be treated or eradicated completely by replacing irrational beliefs with rational beliefs. Unlike most anxiety treatments that focus on "why" (tell me about your mother), REBT focuses on "how" the anxiety is triggered and treats the anxiety directly.

So directly after How to Control Your Anxiety, I listened to Stuff.

Oh boy.

I'm not a hoarder, but I do have hoarding tendencies I fight with on a continual basis. Stuff is full of the extreme examples of hoarding but unlike other books of its kind, it focuses on how the hoarders talk about their hoarding and respond to their hoarding. In that way, it does focus on "why" but it also uncovers the beliefs the hoarders have about their possessions.

Light bulb.

Here they were, a whole bunch of examples of people being fucked up by irrational beliefs, all laid out in a row for me to ponder. Some of the beliefs sounded REALLY familiar.

So the intersection of all of these things looks something like this:
Irrational beliefs needing to be replaced by rational beliefs +
Strategies for dealing with anxiety +
Strategies for dealing with ADHD + 
Strategies for increasing creative energy and controlling mindset +
Concept of creating own happiness +
Look how badly you can fuck up your life with your beliefs
= maybe I can change those things in my life that make me miserable by changing myself first

Thus, the un-fucking project.

WHY versus HOW

I'd been focusing way too much on WHY things were the way they were. Knowing why is very important; in fact most therapy focuses on why.

I'd really, really tapped WHY and had run out of its usefulness.

REBT's method is very simple:
1. Identify the situations that make you anxious
ex: public speaking
2. Identify the thought or belief that leads to the anxiety
ex: oh God I have to do this speech perfectly or they'll laugh at me and I'll be so embarrassed
3. Identify a rational belief that would better serve you and not make you as anxious
ex: I'd like to do this speech perfectly but it I don't I can handle the criticism and its no big deal
4. Replace the irrational belief with the rational belief through several methods

One of these methods is the dispute, where you show the irrational belief to be false on a logical and empirical basis, and detrimental on a utility basis.

Ah, utility. My new best friend.

Nothing, nothing has been more eye-opening than looking at my beliefs and behavior through the lens of utility. Is it useful? Does it help me or make things more difficult? Fuck right or wrong, does this FUCK ME UP?

Thus, the concept of un-fucking my mental and emotional processes. Not trying to "fix" me based on a standard. Not trying to reach "sanity" or "normal". Just am I helping myself or getting in my own way?

And if whatever I am doing doesn't work, what am I going to do instead?

* * *

So this has been my transition. Every time I come across a snag in my behavior that causes me issues, I chase that bitch down. Sometimes it's as simple as "I thought this would work better than it did. Oh well, let's look at what went wrong, why it went wrong, and develop another method".

Sometimes things don't work because I'm trying someone else's method and my mind doesn't work that way. Then I look at what the method attempts to accomplish then find another way to get to the endpoint that works for me. That means accepting the parts of my brain that I can't change and finding a way to deal. This is where understanding the creative process helps, because I'm constantly creating ways to do things that work for me.

Sometimes it's an anxiety or a bad reaction due to internal programming (once again something I did myself, therefore I can UNDO) so I chase the programming down and either replace it or toss it completely.

I've done my best to keep track. I've got tons of disputes saved on my computer. I'm trying to keep track of my work process and analyze it for what works. I'm doing my best to fix issues as they pop up. I've even created a subliminal message track on my phone (recorded by me and played at barely audible levels) in order to implant my new rational beliefs in my head (preceded by the all-important "I discard my faulty and limited framework and embrace my open and clear mind". No conflicting messages thankyouverymuch).

All of this is working. It's working to various degrees, but it's working.

I did not properly prepare myself for how much it would suck.

Why do people keep irrational beliefs and fucked up mental and emotional frameworks to begin with? Easy.

They get to be right.

Every time the self-fulfilling prophecy gets fulfilled, you get to feel justified. Whenever something is fucked up "because you're a bad person and deserve it", you get the warm feeling of being right and understanding the world. Yes, it's fucked up. It's still self-reinforcing and gives the brain a feeling of understanding the world.

Take that away, and you're adrift. There's not enough evidence to rebuild your understanding of reality (since reality actually exists somewhere other than your head now) and you no longer spend all your time being right. You now see all of the possibilities you blinded yourself to before, but now that you're not emotionally invested in how horrible or awesome you are you can see yourself for who you are. Now that you understand your every thought and action doesn't fundamentally change reality, you have to face your lack of control over the world.

Who you are right now is someone who is learning just what you are capable of, and just how far you've got to go until your competence reaches your capability and your ambitions.

Accepting that you can change your thoughts and behaviors, deal with the parts of you that won't change, influence the parts you can influence, and outright change the parts you can change, you hit a wall of realization.

There is so much you can do to improve, so much room to improve, and you are an absolute newbie with no experience.  You grasp that you can understand e=mc2, but first you need to learn to add and subtract.

That's where I am at this moment. The initial boost of understanding I can change all of these things has worn off and now I see just how much work there is to do before I see the huge gains I desperately want to see.

I'm eyeing the 200 lbs on the weight rack and knowing I can get there, but right now the 20 lbs I'm lifting is making me sore. Intellectually I know I'm doing the right thing but without the immediate reinforcement of success I need to force myself through every step.

So I've needed to rejigger my expectations and my milestones. 200 lbs is still my goal, but I've set interim goals at 30, 40, 50 and on up. I need my way-points, I need my encouragement to get over the fact that I'm sore and discouraged.

Plans are a constant part of life. I need to pull out and review my goals and processes and plans on a continual basis to remind myself why I'm working so hard and what my end goal looks like and why it will be awesome once I get there.

I'll get there. Maybe not immediately, but I'll get there.

I know this for sure: no matter how bad I feel right now, getting through this process will end much better than spending one more day gripped by depression and anxiety.

I can make my life better by starting with me.

P.S. As an aside, my dear husband is a fucking saint for putting up with this entire process, not trying to interject himself into the process, and praising my small accomplishments when he sees them. Thank you love.