In Need of a Deadline

March 13, 2021

It was the vacuum cleaner.  I pulled it out of its closet home to do a thorough sweep of my living room, dining room and stairwell.  Set in an area between the living room and dining room, it would surely remind me throughout the day to vacuum the place.  I live by myself in a one-bedroom condo. 

That was in August 2020, well into our COVID lockdown, but it wasn’t until October that I finally decided to use it.  The vacuum cleaner was stoically telling me, “Use me!” but I couldn’t hear it.  In fact, I told it consistently, “Tomorrow!” 

Since mid-March 2020, my sense of time has gone to hell.  I thought I would have large swaths of time to accomplish all those things I have wanted to do for years—like clean out my closets, de-clutter my kitchen, go through boxes of old photos, letters, mementos and reconnect with friends of long ago with long meandering conversations.  All that and more didn’t happen. 

Starting Off with Goals

I had started the year with three goals:  complete my taxes, redo my will, and renovate my kitchen.  Goal #1 was achieved.  I had no choice unless I wanted to break the law.  I had a deadline.  Goal #2 was a bit more challenging.  To complete my will, I had to meet with a lawyer, which I did in early January, well before the shutdown.  She told me exactly what I needed to do.  Once I completed those steps like identify beneficiaries. power of attorney and advance medical directives, we could meet again, sign the papers and wrap it up. No problem.

I did do the work of identifying beneficiaries and changing the names on various accounts.  I did identify my power of attorney, got agreement and put her name in place.  I did review the medical directives and figured when I am ready to go to the great beyond, life support will be removed.  I was accomplishing what I set out to do in 2020.

The Inability to Move

Then came COVID-19.  The world sunk into a cloud of abeyance and I felt cloaked in lethargy.  Not knowing what to do, I did nothing.  Instead, I danced with the denial of my death.  That denial was probably more subconscious than conscious.  I knew I would eventually get to the will.  After all I paid the lawyer a bunch of money to write the thing.  I wasn’t going to leave it hanging indefinitely, but tomorrow seemed like a good day to get all the details in place. 

Months elapsed, and the papers stayed in my folder.  My vacuum cleaner came out of the closet and waited.  No friends stopped by, no classes held in my living room, no activity except grocery store-runs…no deadlines and no reason to do much.  And my decision to renovate my kitchen (Goal #3) was put on hold.  No vaccinations, no kitchen redo.  Life turned into ZOOM meetings and phone conversations, but only with those close in.  I had no energy to engage with those friends of long ago.

The Awakening

Finally, it clicked!   I had to set my own deadlines.  I had to decide what and who I was willing to give my energy to.  I was the only one to do it.  My vacuum cleaner tried to send the message, but I wasn’t receiving it.  Now a year later after the initial COVID lockdown, my tax information has been submitted to my accountant.  I am about to put my signature on the final papers of my will next week.  And I am beginning to find contractors for the kitchen.  I give all the credit to my vacuum cleaner! 

The thrust of this story is that a woman committed to sign up for one of my classes. The fact is she ghosted me. So, what happened?

A woman I didn’t know called asking about the services my business ALIGN offers. She wanted help with clearing her clutter—not her physical clutter, but the mental, emotional and spiritual clutter she has been grappling with. I offer a class called “Consciously Clearing Your Clutter, Uncovering the Subconscious Reasons for Your Clutter.” Although the focus of this class is ultimately on clearing physical clutter, much of the class helps people identify their intangible attachments to it.

For the past several weeks preceding the call, my attention had been and continues to be focused on re-branding my business. ALIGN currently works with three different tools: clutter, tarot and essential oils. It had been 12 years since I launched ALIGN. I was in the process of clarifying what aspects of my business are important to me.

During this re-branding process I rediscovered my passion for clearing clutter. Physical clutter is an important issue, because it literally covers a host of feelings no one wants to look at. But the more insidious clutter is the mental, emotional and spiritual clutter that we contend with day in and day out.

For the most part, we go about our days unaware of the stuff that fills our minds and hearts. The woman who called, we’ll call her Judy, wanted help with this kind of clutter. She was in town for only a few weeks. Could I help her now? Yes!

What One Phone Call Will Do

This one call was all I needed to create a class that would address the issue of intangible clutter. I was on it! In one week I gathered my thoughts and resources. I developed a four-session agenda, the class objectives and the handouts for the first session. The class is called “It’s an Inside Job! Consciously Clearing the Clutter within You.” I was ready!

Judy said she would call me back a few days after the initial call. She didn’t. I called her. She answered the call and said she couldn’t meet on the upcoming weekend because she had a friend coming to visit her from out of town.

She promised to call me Saturday morning to set a meeting time. No call Saturday morning. When I called her the next day, she agreed to meeting Thursday at 5:00 pm. Subsequently I sent her an e-mail asking her to consider a few questions before coming to class.

Thursday at 5:00 pm came and went. No Judy. The next morning I discovered she had sent me an e-mail a few hours before our agreed-upon time telling me she couldn’t make it. She indicated she had time to meet during the next few days. I responded using both e-mail and phone and asked her to call or text me. No text. No call. No response during the following 24 hours.

I finally got the message. Judy wasn’t coming.

Once I Knew I Was Ghosted

First, I was ticked off! Why string me along? She could have said, “I’ve decided I don’t want to take the class.” Instead, her cat-and-mouse approach drew me in and pushed me away several times until I finally figured out she wasn’t coming.

I confess I stewed on this awhile—a couple days, until I stumbled across a segment of the book I am currently reading, The Spontaneous Healing of Belief by Gregg Braden. Substantial information precedes the following quotation, but you’ll get the gist:

“Unresolved negative feelings that underlie chronic hurt—our beliefs—have the power to create the physical conditions that we recognize as cardiovascular disease: tension, inflammation, high blood pressure and clogged arteries.”

Braden goes on to cite researcher Tim Laurence from the Hoffman Institute in England, whose research shows that the potential impact of our failure to heal and forgive old hurts and disappointments cuts us off from good health. Laurence’s research indicated that “teaching people to ‘tone down’ their emotional responses to life situations could prevent heart attacks.”

This segment by Braden gave me pause. I needed to let go of the negative feelings I was harboring by being ghosted. I needed to move on. Unfortunately, it’s not that simple. Her behavior taps into memories and feelings of being ghosted in the past. It became imminently apparent I had to forgive Judy and forgive her now! Staying healthy is my priority.

The Bigger Picture

Braden’s words helped me to understand the bigger picture of this interchange between Judy and me. I believe Judy sincerely wanted to let go of her internal clutter. Otherwise, why would she have called me? Unfortunately she just wasn’t ready to do the work it required.

The few questions I sent her in advance of the class tipped her off and triggered her fearful “I’m in” and “I’m out” response. I suspect she wasn’t totally conscious of her handling of the situation, let alone the impact it had on me. Still I would have liked to have helped her.

The Bonus

Judy was the impetus for me to develop this class—a class I will launch within the next couple of months. I have her to thank for galvanizing me into action. This is the bonus of having had this brief encounter with her. I am grateful for it.

“They” say that you teach what you need to learn. Healing myself of the internal clutter that blocks me from living a happy and love-filled life is the work I must do. If I can do it, then I can help others do it, too.