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When the Going Gets Tough,

March 28, 2016

the tough go shopping. At least that’s the old cliche. Retail therapy doesn’t work. I’m much less of a shopper today than I was ten years ago, so I have to do something else when the going gets tough.

This week, the going got real tough. Bad things happened to a young man I think of as my son.  Bad things also happened to his father as a result of the bad things that happened to his son. I won’t go into details. What happened is personal, but I want to share my reaction to it.

It all began on Wednesday, when I received a brief video of the young man, followed by a call from his father. We talked for a while until his father had a plan. I rang off so they could execute said plan.

I couldn’t function for two days. I tried to work, but I couldn’t concentrate. I meditated in short stints, because I wasn’t able to clear my head enough to find some peace. Finally, after accepting the reality of what was going on in my two friends’ lives, I took the only “next step” available. I cleaned my house.

And I cleaned, and cleaned and cleaned. My husband and I dug into tasks we had been putting off. Small things, really, but each one left behind a positive result. I didn’t fall into a Martha Stewart moment and redecorate my house from top to bottom. I didn’t even take my baskets out to the deck to power-wash them as she would. I washed and scrubbed and dusted and polished until the only scents in the house were Pledge, Mr. Clean and Comet.

My husband took over the bathrooms. His scents were Lysol, Scrubbing Bubbles and Windex. And his bathrooms sparkled. No one cleans a bathroom like a veteran. He learned how to scrub toilets in the Air Force. Thank you, U.S.Government.

And now we are done with spring cleaning from 2014!

By the time we were finished, my heart was at ease and I had accepted that the results of my friends’ problems might not end as I wish..

This morning I finished the laundry. More scents: Tide and bleach. Again, I could see positive results from doing the laundry. Empty laundry hamper, fresh sheets and towels, shirts drying on a rack in the laundry room. I only wish the fitted sheet hadn’t attacked me.

What do you do when the going gets tough?

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  • Reply pdroberts1 March 28, 2016 at 10:02 am

    I, too, clean, and the folding of laundry, the washing of dishes, the scrubbing of granite counters all bring me peace in exact proportion to the mindfulness I bring to each of them. The Buddhists and the Benedictines understand that doing ordinary things consciously brings joy to the sorrows of this world.

    • Reply betsyashton March 28, 2016 at 10:51 am

      I’ve been practicing mindfulness and Zen meditation for decades, so I do know that doing ordinary things can recenter me.

  • Reply Jennifer Wilck March 28, 2016 at 2:31 pm

    I need to get myself off my butt when I get overwhelmed or upset. Cleaning sounds like a great idea! Exercise works too.

    • Reply betsyashton March 28, 2016 at 8:49 pm

      Ah, Jennifer, I turn cleaning into an exercise routine. Amazing how much stretching and squatting you can do when you reach for those hard-to-find dust bunnies.

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