How to tackle life’s Tetris tipping points

kitchen before and afterWhat’s a Tetris tipping point? You’re in the zone, everything’s stacking up perfectly – eating healthy, bills paid, emails answered, legs shaved (and/or face and/or whatever else)… When suddenly, life hurls one of those stupid wonky 4 square zig-zags at you and you try to fit it in, but everything’s happening too fast and now there’s a gap. Still, you’re sure you can recover, but the 4 square vertical you were counting on never comes, and no matter how fast you try to anticipate and react, you can’t keep up. All you can do is watch helplessly as chaos closes in and… GAME OVER.

tetrisAs we move up the levels of life in age, career, and responsibility, new stressors come at us faster and faster – just like in Tetris. Sure, you can practice and plan, but inevitably, if you’re human (and if you’re not, well, I’m sure you have other issues) you’ll face that GAME OVER screen again and again. Your perfect plan will go straight out the window because life, just like love, is unpredictable and overwhelming. And we wouldn’t want it any other way!

So, how do we tackle life’s Tetris tipping points? With unrelenting compassion. I suck at housework, always have, and probably always will. I have other skills and talents that can be quite useful around the home (just ask my husband), but dirty dishes will always be my nemesis. I’ll stay on top of things for days (occasionally even weeks) at a time, but then, for any number of reasons, the stack gets past a certain height and I just can’t deal and it just keeps piling up and… GAME OVER.

I’ve laid prostrate on the kitchen floor weeping at my ineptitude. I’ve rocked out to hard-core blues in bra and panties. I’ve dressed up like an Eastern European slave girl. I’ve turned the task into an archeological dig and you can be sure I always try to pawn those dishes off on dear ol’ hubby. And yes, in times of utter desperation, I’ve even resorted to buying paper plates and plastic cutlery. I’ve also, as you can see by these links, apparently blogged about doing the dishes more often than actually doing them!

But something changed the day I accepted the beautifully human truth that I, Cymbria, am a woman utterly overwhelmed by doing the dishes. And that that’s OK. With unrelenting compassion, I released my guilt and shame – so often the source of our procrastination. It was a simple act, but one with profound and wonderful consequences.

Now when I face the scourge, I do it with humour, literally and figuratively. I crank up the comedy station on the radio, wear a scullery maid head scarf to get into character, and take my time. I still loath the task, but it no longer lurks as a constant ugly nag – threatening my self-worth – in the back of my mind. When I’m doing the dishes I’m doing the dishes, when I’m not, they’re simply not part of my Viable World.

If you’re facing a Tetris tipping point today, step back and take a breath. Maybe something happened and you couldn’t keep up… and that’s OK. You’ve been here before; you’ve failed, and you’ve survived. You might have to go back a few levels, but that’ll just give you more practice for the next round. You’re still you – and you’re still marvelously human.

Note: I let it slip in a cross-country conversation with my mother that I was posting a pic of my most recent kitchen nightmare. She was horrified. “Oh, you can’t do that!” she said. “You know how people label.” Well, dear readers, label away. All I can say is… my kingdom for a dishwasher!!   

9 thoughts on “How to tackle life’s Tetris tipping points

  1. This is very accurate. My life is approaching a Tetris tipping point this weekend, and not slowing down for at least 3 weeks. Good thing I’ve done so much Tetris practice.

    • And our parents thought we were wasting our time! I hope you survived your Tetris tipping point and that everything in your crazy three week marathon is stacking together as deliciously as that ice cream cone (which looks quite pro stacked itself lol!)

  2. Comedy routines and imagination are essential in life (especially housework), takes the serious edge off of things. Can’t believe I haven’t tried dressing up yet.
    I love how one gradually builds up a very blog-specific lexicon around here (e.g. Viable Worlds). And PS, a late thank-you for listening to the song I posted 🙂

    • I bet someone with your mojo and creativity could come up with some pretty wild characters! Ah yes, the new movement in feminism… ‘housework drag’ lolz.

      I’m so excited that you’ve noticed Blank Canvas Living’s developing “blog-specific lexicon” (love the name!). I think all blogs, essentially, create little ‘viable’ (~wink) worlds unto themselves. And, just like in a relationship (lately I’ve been calling my Viking man ‘Petunia’ – don’t ask), certain words and phrases begin to take on localized meanings that help to foster the intimacy and understanding encouraged by any shared language. I hope to work in more linking vocabulary as I go. Thanks Evelyn!

    • I miss you too! This office has never been the same without my wild redhead Michelle. Oh man, I even miss the dramz! Who am I kidding – I especially miss the dramz! Let’s make a date to catch up 🙂

  3. Pingback: Is your ‘Secret Garden’ secretly killing you? | Blank Canvas Living

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