TAKE JOY: Staying in the Moment

I hate washing dishes!

I hate washing dishes!

No, that’s not a picture of my kitchen!  But anyone who knows me knows that I hate washing dishes. I do it when I must, but I’d much rather watch tv or read a book after dinner. While I love getting up to a clean kitchen in the morning, it never seems worth it the night before.

So there I was, scrubbing the previous night’s pans and thinking about all the other things I could be doing. Writing. Organizing my office. Loafing on the couch with a book! Grumbling doesn’t help, I told myself. So my mind wandered to what was for dinner, how to solve a plot problem in Rescue, the fact that I needed to go to the bank for my son, and on and on.  You know, all the side-effects of a too-busy brain.


There were more on the bird feeder above!

And then a cardinal flew past the window. I watched him peck at the bird seed and I smiled as I became aware of my surroundings.

The sun shone gloriously on that snow-covered day. Chickadees, nuthatches and cardinals lunched until a blue jay bullied his way in. Inside, the soapy dishwater was warm and smooth on my hands. I had a rack full of gleaming pans, clear counters, and a sense of accomplishment. The refrigerator hummed in the daytime quiet of the house and I had a great day ahead of me.

I’m not particularly good at staying in the moment, at being present. “Mindfulness”, if you will.  I think too much and don’t take time to feel, to be truly aware of what I am doing. But when I do, the joy comes.

16140423229_74ba88e2c5_zThere is pleasure in doing a task, no matter how monotonous, and it’s more than simply crossing something off the to-do list. If we can stay aware of the sensory feelings – the touch of water, the airiness of the bubbles, the pressure of our fingers – it slows us down and helps us stay in the moment. It doesn’t matter if it’s mowing the lawn, raking leaves, scrubbing the floor, or (like me) washing dishes.  In some mysterious way, staying in the moment helps cultivate joy.

I’m not an expert. I struggle to turn down the activity level of my brain and focus on what I’m doing. But I’m going to make this my effort to Take Joy this week, and I’ll let you know how I do.

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2 Responses to TAKE JOY: Staying in the Moment

  1. Melissa G. says:

    The daily drudgery that is known as dishes is not my favorite thing either, and like you, I often find myself washing them the next morning or afternoon.

    But, I find if I put some headphones on and listen to my “happy” playlist while I’m washing, it’s a whole lot less dull and chore like.

    And if not listening to music, I use the time to focus and think about things in my life that don’t always get my full attention because I’m focused on so many other things that are non-essential.

    Admittedly, that doesn’t make me very present while doing dishes, but I’m pretty okay with that. Dishes are dishes are dishes. I’ve been washing them all by hand since early 2009. I’ve had all the “present” I need when doing them. lol

    However, I’m glad you found some joy in doing the dishes. I hope it can always be so for you, whether it’s dishes or some other chore. 🙂

  2. Jennifer Jensen says:

    Hi, Melissa. I”m like you sometimes – my chore time is the time for my brain to work out problems. It feels very productive when it’s related to writing, not so much when I’m sorting out an adult child’s “issues.” 🙂 But because my brain runs on overload so much, it helps me to turn it off and stay in the moment – whether it’s dishes or mowing the lawn or (gasp) ironing!

    Enjoy some lovely warm sunshine for me, will you?