I shall be known as… OVER-PREPARED MAN!

I have a pattern of being underprepared for things and then panicking. I also have a pattern of having DREAMS about being underprepared for things and then panicking. One night, in the middle of one of these, I suddenly started thinking coherently about a way to destuckify this pattern…

‘I’m going to experiment with being OVER-PREPARED MAN!’ I thought. A secret superhero identity!

This is great for me because I have ludicrous fear popcorn about being prepared in case it makes me a boring grown-up. (Even in Brownies I always failed pocket check.) But clearly I can’t be a boring grown-up while playing at being a superhero!

I imagine Over-Prepared Man as very cartoonish (if I were going to do a voice for him I’d use the Tick as a starting-point) and covered from head to toe in a wildly clashing assortment of weaponry, armour and paraphernalia – including, in homage to Alice’s White Knight, a bunch of carrots and a beehive.

White Knight

All you can really see of Over-Prepared Man is his superheroic chin and cheesy KA-CHING! grin. He likes to leap in enthusiastically and shout, ‘This looks like a job for… OVER-PREPARED MAN!!!’

I usually don’t interview Over-Prepared Man so much as take on his mindset when I want to over-prepare for something. Like last weekend, I went on a coaching skills course (which I’ll probably rave about in more detail later) and it was entirely thanks to Over-Prepared Man that I was able to get ‘socially acceptable business-person’ outfits for both days laid out by Friday night AND arrive on time both days, suitably groomed and carrying a packed lunch and a stash of business cards. Let’s just say punctuality does not come naturally to me.

Punctuality is really on my mind at the moment, because I want to start volunteering with Carefree Kids, a local charity that does play therapy with troubled children. Not surprisingly, they’re sticklers for punctuality (just imagine the emotional impact of letting down a vulnerable child.) This is a real challenge for me. I have ISSUES around being on time, because I was savaged by a timetable when I was four (I’m only half joking!) This looks like a job for… OVER-PREPARED MAN!!

I’ve realised that part of the magic of being over-prepared is not having to be exactly the right amount prepared. Not having to do x at exactly y o’clock. Not having to follow anyone’s schedule. Not being timetabled! I can get around my fear of being timetabled if I let myself do each step any time within a big fuzzy timezone. Getting ready to leave any time before I need to, so then leaving is just leaving, not a daunting agglomeration of washing-dressing-eating-journeyplanning-packing-leaving that all has to be done right now or else. And then leaving the house any time before I need to, so it’s not having to leave right now or else.

This also works really well with going to bed. I’m sure I’m not the only person out there who sometimes stays up late because they’re too exhausted to contemplate brushing teeth and finding pyjamas :D (a problem that only gets worse the later it gets!!) Getting ready for bed any time before I need to solves that.

However, today I ran into an extra layer of trouble. I’m an introvert. This doesn’t mean I’m shy or don’t like people – far from it!! It means I recharge by being alone and expend a lot of energy when I’m with people (brilliant explanation here, which wins points both by using a hamster ball metaphor and by saying that ‘introverts give energy on social contact’. I’m giving people energy!) It also means I’m scared of the cleaner. Yes, really. She’s perfectly lovely, I’m just not so good with the COMPLETE STRANGER IN MY HOUSE thing. So today, I was late for a meetup with a friend because it involved these four steps:

1) Leave room.

2) Walk past THE COMPLETE STRANGER IN MY HOUSE AND MAYBE HAVE TO INTERACT WITH HER. Exposure!!

3) Leave house (more exposure!)

4) Commence social interaction.

ALL of these were setting off my introvert buttons. It was only after the cleaner left and I felt able to creep out of my hole that the Over-Prepared Man solution came to me. If I need to leave the house on a Tuesday, I can leave before the cleaner gets here. I can hang out in, say, the library, a cafe, or a pub until it’s time to go to where I’m going!

AND THEN I realised I could apply this to any house-leaving situation. So step 3 (leave house) and step 4 (commence social interaction) would be separated by a nice restful sit down with a book or laptop. Leaving the house would be easier because it wouldn’t be leave-house-commence-social-interaction. And leaving the library/pub/cafe would be easier than leaving the house because I’d already be in public and most of the way to my destination.

It’s all about SEPARATING THE STEPS! And pausing! (Paws!) Get ready (paws!) leave house (paws!) commence social interaction! AND it’s all about doing each step in my own time, because doing it early counts as doing it in my own time!

Wow, I can apply this to so many other things now… How would OVER-PREPARED MAN approach the transcribing work I’ve been not-doing while writing this blog post? I wonder…

I got heraldrybunnied

This happens to me sometimes. It’s like getting ‘plotbunnied’, where you have an intense urge to write a story, except I get an intense urge to make up a coat of arms. This particular bout of knight-in-shining-armoury was brought on by joining Challenge Accepted, which is the ULTIMATE in dorky, mock-heroic, playful, celebratory, self-loving productivity-geeking, and quite literally makes any job a game. I would highly recommend this, especially if you’re at all into fantasy or gaming, but even if you’re not.

So today I made a coat of arms for Monster Talk.

By Zigeuner     English: Picture made for the Blazon Project of French-speaking Wikipedia [GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html), CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/) or CC-BY-SA-2.5-2.0-1.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.5-2.0-1.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

Starting from the middle, we have our monster. This dragon (or strictly speaking, wyvern, since it’s got two legs) is depicted tails nowed. It’s got its tail in a knot! THIS IS SUCH A PERFECT DEPICTION OF TANGLED STUCK EMOTIONS I CAN’T EVEN.

In heraldry, green is the colour of love and hope. So the wyvern is green to show that our monsters love us and can change.

The heart symbolises the loving, safe and judgement-free space in which monster-whispering takes place. This fierce-looking monster is completely surrounded by the white light of pure love. And he needs it too, they always do.

White in heraldry symbolises truth, sincerity and peace, which works perfectly even though the actual reason I picked it is that the only other colour allowed next to green and purple would be yellow. Frankly, this coat of arms looks enough like it fell in a vat of toxic chemicals as it is. :}

And then we have purple. Why purple? Because in heraldry, purple is the colour of sovereignty! Get it?

The blazon of this coat of arms would be, ‘Purpure on a heart argent a wyvern tails nowed vert flammant gules.’ I think.

Big Sister teaches THE SHINY STAR FORCEFIELD!

You can meet Big Sister here and Little Sister here.

I had to pass through an area containing a person around whom I felt very, very uncomfortable. I’d been thinking that I needed some kind of extra-special conscious entry or forcefield to help me, so while walking there, it occurred to me to ask Big Sister for advice. (I always have the best conversations with my sisters while walking!) Little Sister was there as well, so it went like THIS:

Me: Can you give me any advice on this special forcefield thing?

Big Sister: *shines with golden divine light*

Me: That’s your answer to everything!

Big Sister: *shines*

Me: Wait, that means it’ll be MY answer to everything in a year too. That means I’ll be able to shine! Could you start teaching me to shine now?

Big Sister: Of course! First you have to find the star in your heart.

(I put my hand on my heart and the others did likewise. Little Sister started singing ‘Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star’, which was the only song I would sing when I was four. Big Sister and I joined in, and I visualised a bright star in my chest while I was singing.)

Big Sister: Found it?

Me & Little Sister: Yes!

Big Sister: Right, now you say all the qualities that your star is made of.

Little Sister: Love!

Me: Light!

Little Sister: Happiness!

Me: Beauty!

Little Sister: Wonderfulness!

Me: Freedom!

Little Sister: Sparkles!

Me: Hope!

Little Sister: Play!

Big Sister: That’s lovely. Are you done?

Little Sister: Loveliness!

Me: Parties!

Little Sister: Birthdays!

Me: Christmas!

Little Sister: Bunny rabbits! Pussy willow!

Big Sister: (chuckles) Is your star shining nice and bright now?

Little Sister: YES!

Me: Yes!

Big Sister: Great. Now take a big breath in, and let your star grow a little bit bigger. Every time you breathe in, let your star get bigger. Bigger than your body… out to the tips of your fingers… down to the tips of your toes… up to the top of your head.

(We all did this until we were walking along inside three balls of brilliant light. When the light reached the top of my head, I was startled to find that a tall crown of golden-white fire flared up from my head into the sky.)

Little Sister: I’ve got a crown!

Me: Me too!

Big Sister: Yes. (smiles) Now we just need to keep our stars big and bright. Let’s sing our star song again.

(So we all sang ‘Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star’ again, in a blaze of light.)

Little Sister: Now what do we do?

Big Sister: Let’s do some more qualities.

Little Sister: Bunny rabbits! Pillow fights! A good sneeze! Raindrops on roses and whiskers on kittens!

Big Sister: Fine, fine, we can sing that if you want to!

So we sang ‘My Favourite Things’. Then we did qualities again, except this time we were shouting out all our favourite things as well. Dogs! Cherry blossom! The sky! God! Ice cream! Crying because you’re happy!

We got into the area in question, and the person in question was there, and it was fine. We kept doing qualities while I sorted myself out, and it changed again, from favourite things to everything that came into our heads, because everything that came into our heads was mysteriously part of the wonderfulness. Hockey sticks! Mirrors! Being warm! Tweezers! Shouting things out!

Then we got through that area to the door and this happened:

Little Sister: (patting the door) Hello door!

Big Sister: Hi door!

Me: Hiii door!

Little Sister: We love you!

(I should add that this kind of enthusiastic door-love is a totally normal part of conscious entry with my sisters, but it’s the first time they’ve done it with an actual door. And then we went in.)

Big Sister: Now you don’t just forget about your star. You let it get smaller. Do a nice big sigh and let it get a little bit smaller. Then another, and another, until it fits inside your heart again. Ah-h-h-h!

Me & Little Sister: Ahhhh!

(We did this and it felt as if the star-energy wasn’t dissipating, it was just relaxing down to a sort of seed state inside us.)

Little Sister: Big hugs!!

(And then we all had a group hug.)