See that? It’s a breakfast casserole. Hot and cheesy and sausage-ey.
And not typically an emotional thing.
I balanced it on my lap as we drove to church on a recent Sunday morning. I took a picture because of the twinge I felt.
The twinge came in a moment of grief over the woman I assumed I would be at this point in my life. I thought I would be the person who made breakfast casseroles. Who experienced joy every time she browned sausage and scrambled eggs and greased baking pans.
And I do love browning sausage and scrambling eggs and greasing baking pans.
But ask me to do those things on an already busy Sunday morning during a time when I’m hyper focused on sending my new book into the world, and there aren’t a lot of warm fuzzy feelings happening.
Instead of that smiling casserole maker, I’m the woman whose husband signs up to bring breakfast. Whose husband makes the whole thing, never even mentioning that he signed up to bring it, partly because he’s awesome at making breakfast, and partly because he knows I’m not in a frame of mind right now to think about things like breakfast casseroles.
He knows signing up on a breakfast list or needing to remember I’d signed up, or having to go to the store on a Saturday night to get the ingredients . . . might just send me over the edge.
Let me be clear. This isn’t a gender roles issue. It’s a personal identity issue for me.
And this wasn’t even a truly emotional moment. Just a twinge-of-grief moment.
I like the things I’m doing, writing books and such, but sometimes I miss the woman I assumed I’d be.
Who had nothing else on her mind but making a breakfast casserole.
Honestly, this grief-twinge thing is only a reaction to the ideal vision I had of Future Me. Future Me was going to make breakfast casseroles and learn to sew and scrape the popcorn texturing off her own ceilings.
But Future Me was really Dream Me.
And Dream/Future Me had nothing else to do in the vision that played through my mind.
Dreams are one-dimensional. My visions of Dream Me were like a movie. Fun or pivotal scenes go into movies.
Movies may include montages of dancing or laughing or chopping vegetables in a perfectly clean kitchen. But very few movies spend precious screen time letting you watch someone go through the entire process of loading the dishwasher.
And usually, if there’s a scene that focuses on the mom having a mile long to do list and then realizing she signed up to bring a breakfast casserole, it’s probably foreshadowing that she’s about to have a breakdown of some sort.
So I’m not complaining (necessarily) that I am lacking breakfast-casserole-remembering-or-enjoying brainspace due to amazing things like book writing and speaking and podcasting.
Those things were dreams, too. (Not that podcasting was a thing, but y’know.)
But in these twingy moments, I do have to realize that I can’t do everything the way I imagined I’d do it.
The life I’m actually living includes all the dimensions. And all the angles. And all the layers. All at the same time.
And that is awesome.
So I use the twinge of grief over one thing not looking exactly how I assumed it would look as a reminder to view my life as a whole.
To take a breath and smile instead of groan. To be thankful that in the midst of a life that includes great things, I have a husband who is more than happy to take care of our breakfast-bringing turn. And even if I didn’t have him, that twinge would remind me to be thankful for donut shops with drive thru windows.
I’m thankful for where I am. For who I am. Whether or not every scene of my life looks like I thought it would at this point.
And every time I acknowledge the twinge, feel the temporary moment of grief, and shift my perspective to remember how thankful I am, I move forward just a little in my ability to declutter things that cause grief twinges.
For one thing, I know the grief twinges I feel when I declutter are temporary. I’ll live through them, and living through them will give me new perspective. And I usually like that new perspective.
For another thing, as I purge the things that don’t match up with my current reality, I make space for, and honor, my current reality. Honoring where I am right now makes me feel grateful.
And most of all, when I purge something that doesn’t fit in with who I am right now, I’m acknowledging that I change. I’ve changed and will continue to change and changing is part of the fun of life.
My newest book, Decluttering at the Speed of Life, is now available. In this book I dive deep into the grief that’s involved in some decluttering projects. I cover things a lot more life-altering than breakfast casseroles. You’ll find it wherever books are sold, or learn more HERE. You might also want to check out The 5 Day Clutter Shakedown, a video course that walks you through my decluttering methods step-by-step.