Friday, November 19, 2010

10 Weeks of Word Oracles - Backlog

© 2010 by Joyce Mason
All Rights Reserved

No one has to tell me why I drew backlog as one of our word oracles and potential goldmines of insight. I live in such backlog; it makes my hair stand on end. How about you?

My office is always in what I call an advanced state of chaos. I can barely find the things I need. Sometimes I can’t find them at all. I cringe to think of the money I’ve wasted buying replacements for things that are simply hidden away somewhere in my Fibber McGee’s closet. You know, the one where you open the door and assorted flying objects launch and go straight for your head. The avalanche is what you get for disturbing the peace of your put-off stuff. Now you want to access something or even deal with cleaning the mess and the mess is resistant.

Why do we do this to ourselves?

To read more about the word oracle series: 10 weeks of Word Oracles #1

The Bottom Line of Backlog

Backlog comes from an inability to make decisions, especially about the use of our time. It’s particularly hard for people like me with multiple interests. I keep thinking I can do it all, and my busy brain hates boredom so much, I actually try. I keep trying to do in my sixties what I could do in my forties. (At least I finally gave up trying to keep up with my twenties.) I can’t count the binders, tote bags and boxes for my various interests: making art from cast-off jewelry, saving scraps for Soul Collage cards, accumulating reading material on subjects so varied, I need a Dewey Decimal system to find anything.

Let’s not even get started on my computer. I can’t seem to let go of anything. I finally sort and do a purge on my In Box when it pushes 500. I might need one of those e-mails sometime, you know? And since I do occasionally, it just feeds my resistance to the Delete button. Add the fact that I’m terribly sentimental. Any object, e-mail, book or tschotschke given to me by someone I care about is destined to become a permanent relic.

This is a crazy way to live. I am not a slob at heart—quite the opposite. I am apparently not a good decision maker on the small things that accumulate into huge piles of backlog, whether work or do-dads. I seem to do much better with the big things—choosing a house, a spouse, a pet, or where to on vacation. It’s the little stuff that’s making my house into my Aunt Donna’s* curse. When she saw a messy house, she’d look around with a critical eye and declare, “Picks live here!” Her siblings shared my mother’s gift for malapropisms and mangling language, and her sister Donna was probably the worst in the family of everyone. Except for Uncle Enzo. He had no problem making big decisions. He wanted a “bunk” (bungalow) in “Skoke” (Skokie, a suburb of Chicago.) If “picks” could make better decisions on the little things, they could live here and I wouldn’t even complain or threaten to turn them into bacon.

Messes, Mom Energy, and Self-Love

The truth is my cumulative messiness has more to do with giving away my energy to everyone but me. I’m a giver by nature, and while this is not a bad thing in and of itself, the criminal neglect of my surroundings is a result of putting others first and my ambience last. Ambience is important to me! It’s another one of those ways women in particular can slip easily into doing for others more than the do unto themselves. (Is it time to reread The Converse Golden Rule?)

My adoptive mom was an immaculate housekeeper. I can remember how angry I’d get at her when she’d wake us up early on a Saturday morning, the only day we could sleep in, usually with a poke in the arm or ribs. Why? To clean house. What was she thinking? If you couldn’t eat off the floors, she would make so much noise, you’d scrub them with a toothbrush, if she wanted, just for the blessed silence.

Maybe I’m still rebelling, but I think it’s more that I’m too much like her in my over-mothering skills. I have to do less tending of others and more tending to myself.  My situation is complicated by the fact that my husband’s health conditions limits his mobility and energy, though he does do whatever he can to help when he can. But where it hits home is in my office, which he has nothing to do with. Work is obviously much more important than cleaning to me, but it’s getting to the point that I have to spend a lot of time clearing the debris of my backlog so I can continue to function in my bedroom-converted office. Can someone give me the formula for converting it back to organized? Can a priest, minister, or rabbi do something about this—say a prayer or at least let me tell a good joke about them?

What’s the Psychology of Whatever You’re Drowning In?

Backlogs involve resistance and poor prioritization skills for me. What’s the make-up of your mess or pile of Can’t Get To’s? These are topics worth pondering, if you truly want to break out of the endless loop of things piled up in whatever form. In the current economy, most people can’t afford household help, so it’s time to help yourself. Maybe I’ll finally read that book on How to Conquer Clutter—if I can find it!

Meanwhile, let’s discover mine some insights to downsize your current backlog.

Meditation and Journaling on Backlog

Sit quietly in a meditative posture, whatever one works for you. Have pen and paper nearby.

1.      Take three deep breaths. Say “backlog” to yourself. Let the word and the question rest on your mind, and then let your mind speak. Now ask yourself, “What’s piling up in my life that I can’t get to?” Take plenty of time to let the thoughts form or memories come back to you. Let your memories or thoughts finish speaking. When they’re done saying what they have to say, write down their message.

2.      Return to meditation. Read this thought, and then sit with it in the silence for as long as it feels right:  I understand what’s behind my backlog, and I will address it, bit by bit. This condition built up over time. I will clear my backlog with steady work. When I’m “caught up,” I will do whatever it takes to form new habits of making decisions, tackling work, putting things away and staying on top of them.

3.      When you come out of meditation, look at what you wrote about “backlog.” Take some time to contemplate it. Carry these thoughts and intentions into your week. Learn as much as possible about your relationship to backlog. Write a few wrap-up notes before the end of the week and our next word.

May your life flow!


Next word:  Belief

Note:  We’ll be taking a break for a few weeks to address some other topics, including the annual Fairy Godmother holiday gift ideas post. 10 Weeks of Word Oracles will be back in mid-December.

* The names of my family members have been changed to protect the privacy of my relatives and for consistency with their pseudonyms in some of my other writing.

Photo Credit: Person in Pile of Papers © Qwasyz | Dreamstime


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