Thriving On Chaos … Or, Um, Not

I’m not one of those women who thrives on chaos.

I see those women, you know, at the grocery store – they’re usually on their cell phones while pushing shopping carts, usually barking some kind of orders into the phone (trying to get someone else to help them with the long list of things they have to do). They usually have their hair immaculately done, colored and highlighted and swept into an impossible ‘do. They have expensive-looking designer bags in the front of their carts, which they are pushing through the store like they’re on some kind of timer. They always have great high-heeled shoes. …

This is not me.

I’m the one behind them, usually trying to get around them with my own shopping cart. My hair is usually coming undone in some way, or I’m tucking it behind my ear. I don’t even have my cell phone charged, let alone have it on and to my ear in a place like the grocery store. I have no one to bark orders to, so I’m usually just listening to the Muzak, sometimes humming along. I’m often lollygagging around the cheese aisle, or staring at the beautiful pottery on the top shelf by the produce, touching each piece, thinking about how roasted asparagus might fit on that long plate and how that color would look so pretty in my dining room. I often have a little Post-It note tucked into the buckle of my knock-off purse, reminding me to get the milk, or the Day-Quil, or whatever other item drove me into the grocery store that evening, because I’m sure to forget it if the note is not there. (Leaving instead with the beautiful piece of pottery that I didn’t even know I needed. …).

Chaos … Not my thing.

Mellow: That’s my thing.

I have friends, you know, who fit into the thriving-on-chaos mold. Quite a few of them, now that I think about it. In fact, my closest friend of all is the epitome of this. I always wondered if that’s why I like her so much, and why she likes me:  Maybe we’re attracted to opposite types. She gets energized from chaos, relishes it. She complains about it, really, but honestly what would she do if she didn’t have 800 things on her to-do list? She has her kids enrolled in every activity in every corner of town, and spends entire weekdays toting them back and forth. Her weekends are a litany of parties, kids’ games, school gatherings, meetings with friends, filled in with tiny gaps of errand-running. She always looks a little exasperated, but she looks energized, too.

I, on the other hand, am Slacker Mom in comparison. I do not have my kids enrolled in a hundred classes. I do not spend entire weekdays toting my kids around. My weekends are never a litany of parties, gatherings, meetings and errand-running. My weekends are usually relaxing. Usually.

This “usually” is what’s on my mind this week. The holidays seem to bring out another side of me. I’m now turning into one of the chaos women – on my cell phone in the shopping aisle, frantically planning family dinners, calling my husband to make sure we got one of the gifts for the kids. We are getting up early on the weekends, ordering the kids into the car under great duress. I spend my lunch hours fighting my way through shopping aisles, and stop again on the way home for things for the dinner party. I stay up late to print out address labels for holiday cards and spend entire days wrapping presents, usually grumbling about how I’d rather be doing a hundred different things. And I can only see it getting more intense as we count down the last week to the  holiday. …

I don’t really like the “chaos” me. And, being out of practice, I don’t thrive on it at all. I don’t enjoy talking on my cell phone in the grocery store, and I will never look normal plowing past the tomatoes in high heels. I don’t enjoy feeling tense, and worrying about the 800 things on my list. It doesn’t make me feel energized. It makes me feel miserable. I need to take a deep breath, and get back to lollygagging around the cheese aisle. I need to get back to the mellow me. …

Especially because I didn’t even get the immaculate ‘do in the process.

How about you? Do you feel you’re one of those people who gets energized by over-the-top activity?

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4 thoughts on “Thriving On Chaos … Or, Um, Not

  1. I don’t get energized, I just get drained. I’ve been is a state of chaos for way too long now. I’d like to stop the world and get off really but that’s not happening. It’s the holidays! Yay!

  2. So it sounds like you’re a bit like me, Kwana — always craving the peace, never the crazy.

    Well, after the holidays, I’m sure we can get right back to the quest for peace. I’ve gotten better at it since I turned 40! 🙂 Oddly, there was a peace that came with that. Kind of a “You know what? — This doesn’t MATTER” feeling about a lot of things. … Hang in there!

  3. Just getting around to reading this one because frankly, my entire life is chaos…without the glamour. It’s the work thing you see…I’d be perfectly relaxed if I were independently wealthy. Pesky work…always getting in the way of what I’d rather be doing!

  4. I seem to function better when I am in the middle of chaos. It seems to motivate me and keep me thinking straight and it keeps me calm. Knowing that the deadline is looming, keeps me on a high, but not a nervous high. The adrenalin rush is something else. Many years ago when I was managing a Field Ops Department, we had year end reports, next year budgets and schedules, customer reports and etc, etc going on in the office, my VP walked in and asked how can you get anything done is all this chaos. My secretary said, “This guy thrives on chaos, its fun working for him!”. The VP left. We got it all done in time and I took the staff out to drinks.

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