Home > Communication, Health, Reflections, Work, Writing > Embracing the mess

Embracing the mess

I work with contracts.

It’s important to be precise when writing contracts.

My professional pursuit of precision has shaped how I write blogs. I’ve tried to generally make mine neat, fairly linear and perfectly clear. This was easier when I had only one kid and a short-ish commute.

Now, with two kids, a long commute and a heckuva lot of change in a short time, I’ve gotta be frank: I’m getting tired of constantly pursuing precision.

Can’t I just leave that at the job? Can’t I step away from my desk and say, “Adios until tomorrow, Precision! I’ve got life and kids and love and laughter on my radar now!”

12/5/11: What edits of The Monster's Daughter's sequel look like currently

This is how a contract looks before it’s finalized. It takes a lot of time, energy and focus to attain precision!

It feels pretty good imagining that adios.

You know what I want to write right now?

Not a treatise. Not an essay. Nothing thoughtful or poetic or preachy, or–yuck–precise.

Forget a beginning, a middle and a conclusion. I want to write about now. How I can’t sleep for the fourth night running. How I read Amy Poehler’s Yes Please for a while, hoping that’d inch me closer back to sleep. (I didn’t even like Amy Poehler’s work before I started the book, but whoa am I a fan now. That’s even apart from our shared love of Gavin de Becker, whose pointers might have saved one sister’s life. And helped me with creepy neighbors. And so on and so forth.)

I want to write about how I read a little Just One Thing because it usually calms me. How I did a little sudoku, tried my breathing exercises, tried visualizing exercises, tried watching a little TV with my blue-blocking glasses on, and then read some more Yes, Please before trying visualization again. 

How, wondering where on earth I could find a little more sleep, I remembered lying on my sister’s driveway in Oregon a couple of years ago and staring up at the stars. I couldn’t sleep then, either, so I sang songs I used to share with my mom and felt infinite and connected to everything in the entire universe at that moment. I smiled remembering it.

I got up to look for a post I wrote about that, but sat down at the computer and saw my younger sister had just commented on one of my recent posts. To know she was up and thinking about me as I was up and thinking about her made me smile more.

sisters now

I like tidiness. I like precision. But I like these messy overlapping moments of unorderly life even better, when I remember it’s OK to stop fighting their imprecision. I like these rare moments where I can sit with the infinite connectedness of things and be content not trying to impose human order on them by my little words.

Sleep doesn’t always come easy. Life is messier than my house, which is saying something these time-crunched days.

But the stars, oh, the stars. Unmoved by human words, they keep right on shining,


  1. May 1, 2015 at 5:41 am

    How nice to have that moment of connectedness; however,I sure hope that you can find your sleep again!

  2. May 1, 2015 at 7:17 am

    “But the stars, oh, the stars. Unmoved by human words, they keep right on shining.”

    That is beautiful, and similar to what I tell myself when I feel overwhelmed and need to be reminded that the world is in not going to end – “The sun will rise again in the morning just like it always does.”

    • May 1, 2015 at 9:35 am

      Hear, hear. I wonder what it will take for me to start remembering this a little more quickly! Stressing about any of it surely hasn’t improved anything for me, and I can’t imagine that changing.

  3. May 1, 2015 at 9:24 am

    I fully support the messy/precise balance. If I tried to be as exacting in home life as I am in my career, I would go absolutely insane. I may meet deadlines and write tight copy and turn in impeccably researched stories in my professional life, but home is more chaotic. Unwashed dishes in the sink, a toddler who skipped yet another bath night because it just didn’t happen, a freezer that threatens an avalanche every time you open it—yep, it’s a little nutty around here. And that’s ok! I hope you get some more rest soon, dear.

    • May 1, 2015 at 9:25 am

      Haha, even this comment was messy and imprecise!

    • May 1, 2015 at 9:40 am

      This made me smile. Thank you. I’ve heard people talk about their relentless desire for perfection, but never related. Perfection wasn’t crucial to me as long as the imperfection was clear and capable of precise articulation (and thus eventual remediation). Now it seems pretty evident–ahem–these drives have a common root, and it’s time for me to start relenting! In fact, I think it will be better than OK to relent, with improved sleep flowing from it, too. ♥

  4. May 1, 2015 at 2:06 pm

    OH, those contracts. I work for a medical company and I hear about these legal contracts. Then they force our department (Quality Assurance) to provide documents that reflect that we are in compliance with said contracts… especially with the FDA. Being QA, I’m always looking for perfection especially always being audited and performing audting. Therefore, my blogging is purely for fun and my house is a mess. I decided that things can’t always be exactly the way I wish them. Otherwise, I drive myself and my family crazy. I write about the things I cannot control and laugh in their faces! Like the never ending laundry, and the dishes that mysteriously pile up the minute you dry your hands and walk out of the kitchen. I think there’s an elf I can’t see.

    🙂 Happy Friday.

    • May 1, 2015 at 3:21 pm

      I cannot begin to tell you how much you brightened my afternoon with this comment! It feels liberating to read your approach and know–by the feeling I get reading them–that I’m on the right track. Happy Friday to you, too!

      • May 1, 2015 at 7:28 pm

        Yea! “Throw your hands in the air and wave them like you just don’t care.” yeah, we’re not there yet… bet trying.

  5. May 2, 2015 at 4:02 pm

    You go girl! Free yourself!!! You can be one person at work and another at home. Why not? Great post!

  6. May 3, 2015 at 1:56 pm

    Free your mind and the rest will follow….

    I am certain that is a song. It is good though, I think. My friend, leave work at work and dance under the stars with your sons. No need for perfection. I have a sign in my kitchen that reads, “boring women have immaculate houses”, I am fairly certain this applies to life.

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