I am crap at doing the dishes. It was always a kind of “back burner” kind of issue. I thought is was just one of those things; that most people really, really loved doing dishes. And though personally I never understood why this was so, I fully embraced all the offers of dish doing that occurred during my life. I don’t know who it was now but one day someone told me, very clearly, that I was terrible at doing the dishes. Anyhoo, time passed and during that time I committed to learning how to do the dishes. I even commandeered a good friend to give me lessons. Honestly. Like I am great at cleaning, gardening, cooking… organizing (of course!) but … I don’t know.. is there a talent for doing dishes? Is it a certain kind of “eye” you need for it? All I know is that when I do my dishes I have to concentrate and force myself to do them.

Anyway, today I was baking bread for Christmas Day while also preparing lunch and entertaining a friend who had popped around with seasonal good tidings. She departed, the bread was in the oven and I looked at the mound of washing. I felt so overwhelmed! I didn’t know where to start so rather than doing everything I had been coached to do I just turned on the hot water, filled the cleaning pad with suds, put a tea towel on the counter and got down to it. All seemed to be going well. The “keep the water running” trick generally ensures that the dishes are clean and rinsed. There was water in the sink and the… forgotten it’s name… the plastic thing you fill with water to wash the dishes in… that was full of dirty dish water too. I emptied it into the water already in the sink.

Something was wrong… the sink filled with water… nothing drained. Nothing. I poked around where the drain is in the sink. There was a lid of a tin of tuna in the drain. Easy peasy. I tried to flip it out. Everything, I mean absolutely everything I did seem to seamlessly meld it to fit the drain perfectly. I had permanently pushed the damn thing in place and could not for the life of me get it out.

And do you know what this intense moment of embarassement, horror and confusion reminded me of? It reminded me of when I first meet a client and we walk into whatever area of their home or life is in a state of chaos. They have the same look on their faces as I had in my heart. “I know this should be easy, honestly I have tried but I just don’t know where to start, get depressed… so I leave the room and shut the door”. That was exactly what I wanted to do there and then. But you really can’t do much in a kitchen without a working sink. And, and… because I realised that every day in the work I do I help people to become ‘unstuck” I really should be qualified to do my own “unsticking”.

1. Stand back from the sink (or storage room or office or whatever is making you overwhelmed)! Stand back and take a deep breath. Don’t exit however.

2. Assess the facts. I have a lid from a tuna can stuck in the drain of the sink. I can’t see said lid or drain as the water in the sink is dirty. Knives, forks and fingers have not worked to leverage it out. The tuna lid is metal. The sink is metal. I can’t wash my dishes ever again.

3. Establish goal. I want to wash dishes in the future, drain pasta, and clean vegetables – therefore I want to get the tuna lid out of the drain. And I want to do it without calling my landlord.

4. Set a time line. I have to make a second loaf of bread so will need to wash dishes again soon. Time line is… has to happen NOW.

5. Define your talent areas. I am a great conversationalist. I am great a cleaning my home. I am great at organizing, I am great at fixing things (like machines, furniture etc) and I am developing a talent and taste for wine.

6. See what aspects of your talents shed light on the facts and then what aspects of your talents can facilitate your goals.

And hey presto!  The tuna lid was metal. Knives, forks and fingers had not worked to leverage it out of the drain. I needed to wash dishes in the future and I was good at fixing things (tools) and was developing a talent and taste for wine. I pulled my corkscrew out of the drawer, drilled it into the tuna lid and popped that piece of tin out the the drain in a blink of an eye!!!

We all get overwhelmed. Washing dishes will always unnerve me on some level but by stepping back from the situation while remaining in it I was able to find a solution.