My youngest daughter rang last week with a confession.
‘Mum, I’m addicted to plastic.’
I knew how she felt. I’d been feeling somewhat the same.
I thought about this confession and my own (very similar) feelings and decided that I would reframe it with a more positive spin. I’m not known for putting a positive spin on anything, so bear with me as I struggle to articulate my reframing.
When Tim, my husband, was diagnosed with cancer in July last year, I took over kitchen duties. When we’d moved in, eight years before, we tended to dump things in cupboards and drawers, and over the intervening years we’d not done a great deal to move things around. It meant the cupboards that might more usefully be used for food and kitchen-related storage, instead stored boxes of CDs, VHS tapes, jigsaw puzzles, framed photos, x-rays, and the like.
I took over kitchen duties and thus kitchen organisation. It started my affair with plastic – specifically, Tupperware. One of my daughters-in-law had hosted an online Tupperware party some months before and I’d bought some modular mates to store basic baking needs (caster sugar, cocoa, icing sugar, brown sugar, etc). In my reorganisation I put them in the drawer where the saucepans used to be. My eldest daughter hosted an online Tupperware party some time later, and I bought bigger modular mates for plain and SR flour (regular and gluten free) and cleaned out the DVDs to create space for them. I got a buzz each time I opened the drawer or the cupboard and saw the containers so neatly labelled and organised.
More recently my eldest daughter decided to become an Independent Tupperware consultant and in the spirit of supporting her business, I quite quickly built up my collection of Tupperware. A few weeks ago, my youngest daughter took the same step. Two daughters, two businesses to support. The outcome is that not only are my kitchen cupboards beautifully organised, so too is my fridge and now my freezer.
The satisfaction this brings me could be put down to any number of things (shallowness, not enough else going on in my life) but my positive reframing led me to see it in a different light.
We are into the third year of a global pandemic. This has meant I’ve had limited opportunities to see my family – I haven’t been to Tasmania since January 2021, so it’s been over a year since I’ve seen four of my children and the vast majority of my grandchildren. I haven’t seen my other son, his wife and their children (who live in Qld) in 11 months. I saw them last when we were all able to visit my mother in southern NSW, and so that was the last time I saw Mum, my sister and my brother.
Tim was diagnosed with cancer in July last year. The day before he was to have surgery, we went into a ‘five-day’ lockdown that extended well beyond five days. It meant I wasn’t able to visit him for the whole time he was in hospital apart from a quick visit on day 10. He had a number of complications and so his stay in hospital (the first he’d ever had) went well beyond the 3-4 days we were expecting. Tim started a six-month course of chemo in August and again he had to go through that on his own as I wasn’t allowed to accompany him to any of his treatments.
Not long after Tim started chemo, I was officially informed that my position at the university was to be made redundant. My last day was November 19, 2021.
There’s a lot we have no control over:
- COVID isn’t over (no matter how much everyone wants it to be)
- Chemo affects a person’s body in often uncontrollable ways
- Universities cut thousands of jobs (around 40,000 staff gone across the sector)
And then Russia invaded the Ukraine.
At roughly the same time, floods devastated northern NSW and SE Queensland.
And mosquitoes brought a form of encephalitis to piggeries in the border region of NSW-Victoria. Some people have now been infected and some of them have been hospitalised.
The other thing that’s been on my mind, in terms of ‘things I have no control over’ is turning 60. Today, as it happens. My sister, Debbie, told me on Saturday that 60 is the new 30 (twice), but that didn’t make me feel much better, I have to admit. It’s not that I’d prefer the alternative, it’s just that 60 sounds so old! I know, when I think about it, that it isn’t old – it just sounds it. Deb wrote about this in a recent blog post – and also added some great photos of us from over the years.
After talking to her over the weekend, and after a (very lovely) surprise virtual birthday party on Sunday night, I’m starting to feel better about it. Well, it’s not like I have any control over it. I’m 60 whether I like the idea of it or not.
While I have no control over wars, the pandemic, cancer diagnoses and treatments, being made redundant, or turning 60, I do have control over my kitchen.
I realised, in my reframing, that I’m not addicted to plastic; rather, I’m addicted to an organised kitchen. A little space over which I have control.
And, I have to admit, it feels good.
In Deb’s blog post, she included a clip of Missy Higgin’s singing Total Control (from her latest album). It took me back to the days of Countdown and so I dug out the The Motels’ version, from 1980.
What do you feel you have control over?