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  • Writer's pictureCate


I love it when something clicks!

This morning I found myself the answer to a bit of a problem I have with 'listening'.

In my old age, I've realised why learning at school was a challenge for me, even though I'm blessed (cursed) with an intense curiosity and given the slightest provocation can disappear down rabbit holes of research in my quest for ever expanding knowledge. It's simply that I cannot just sit still and 'listen'.

Meanwhile, teachers like to talk (at least they did back in my school days, and as a teacher myself it was something that I had to work hard to overcome - there is just so much to share!) and they feel like they are being listened to if they see eager young faces looking at them intently as they do so!


Well, I was good at sitting there looking like I was listening, but, meanwhile, my mind took off on adventures of its own, and very little ever sunk in.

Uni was better, because as the ‘teacher’ talked (and uni lecturers like the sound of their own voices even more), it was okay, nay, expected, to sit there in the darkened lecture theatre, scribbling away in my notebook. Even better if you had missed the lecture and borrowed the tape from the library, because you could stop and rewind and make sure the notes were correct! Yup, I could make a one hour lecture last two or three hours! More!

Now, I love podcasts, and I love the idea of audio books, but I cannot just sit and listen to them. I have to be ‘doing’ at the same time. For some, I do take notes because they are ‘teaching’ podcasts and I have lots to learn (there is always, always so much to learn),

but others are ‘fun’ podcasts, with people chatting about books and things they do - and taking notes on those is... kind of weird. Same with audio books.

I tried doing art while I listened, but soon realised that a) my mind became totally engrossed in the art and b) the podcast became white noise in the background.

What about when out walking or driving the car? you ask.


Walking is hallowed ground for thinking about stories or what I like to term ‘walking meditation’ (because I cannot sit still and meditate any more than I can sit still and listen).

And driving is when I listen to classical music – my alone time with something I love. And if there is someone else in the car, we chat. Long drives? If I'm not driving, I'll daydream or sleep when the chatting runs out.

However, the answer I found is almost as straightforward as those two easy examples and you will probably go ‘well, duh’. I know my inner voice did to me.

Now, before I reveal all, the other thing I have to admit to (true confessions time, here) is that I hate housework, really hate it. I have not a single domestic bone in my body.

Oh, I like a nice tidy house, and I lo-o-o-ve creating artistic little vignettes with a ‘casually’ arranged pile of books, a naive vase of flowers, a candle, a feather… you know the sort of thing... but actually cleaning up? I hate it (mostly because it never stays done!).

Over the last couple of years, care of this basic tendency combined with a back injury that leaves me in two days worth of pain for every hour's worth of domestic chores, my house has become a cluttered mess. I’ve more or less kept on top of important things like washing the dishes and doing the laundry (and, inexplicably, I love hanging out the washing!), but, bit by bit, chaos has overtaken my home.

I recently took on (on purpose, of my own free will) a decluttering challenge – not a certain person who seemed to think that it was possible to live with only 30 books, but another, slightly more realistic mentor who understands that there may be a particular need for collections (although she is quite strict about getting them organised).

She advocates short, sharp bursts, focusing on identified hotspots.

It started off well.

I cleared out a cupboard full of never-used mugs (which I will take down to Vinnies one day, I promise, but I want to attack my wardrobe first) and threw out another cupboard load of out of date over the counter meds, and have found two (not one, but two) areas of kitchen bench which I am now able to keep clear for actually using for something other than storing unused kitchen appliances.

Our everyday dining table is even cleared of excess books and forgotten bills (the dining table for when guests come is covered in my husband’s work-from-home computer equipment. No guests, so okay. For now. I do have plans that involve the ‘junk’ room being rediscovered, but that will be a major expedition with maps and a compass)!

And that is about the extent of a month’s worth of work, but it is a start. And I have identified a range of little hotspots all over the house to get stuck into... soon.

I bet by now that you can see where I am going.

I hate housework, but I want to listen to podcasts. I’m sure you’ve got the connection.

My dastardly plan is to reward myself for doing the dreaded housework by listening to podcasts at the same time. In fact, my eagerness to hear the next instalment might even – oh, my gosh – encourage me to get in there and housework. Regularly.

Yes, I know. Hardly rocket science and YOU probably do that already.

But to me, this was an epiphany. A revelation.

Now to choose my first podcast and get in there… wish me luck!


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