Goodbye Grumblings

Find the good

How recategorizing helped me battle a grumble

I firmly believe that we can all change if we really want to. It took some big, fluffy beach towels to remind me that sometimes a tiny shift, a simple change to my mental filing system, is all it takes to stop a grumble.

I like the idea that we can all change. But the actual changing part is hard.

Sometimes I want to just coast. But when I do, I find I’m easily influenced by unconscious categorizations and rulesets I’ve developed over the years.

Take, for example, a recent snark by Grumblings — about towels of all things. It’s important to note here that I’m an indifferent sort of housekeeper (and that’s being kind). Worrying about towels feels foreign to me, like I’m channelling an alternate version of myself, a Susie Homemaker from a different dimension. I like a clean and tidy house… but I rarely have one, because many things come before cleaning and tidying on my list of things to do.

I bought some giant brightly coloured beach towels this year. They are soft and thick and feel like blankets. Four of them fill up the washing machine. I washed them and put them away in the cupboard with the other towels, happy with the purchase.

Husband and Thing Two soon discovered them. They were using the beach towels as shower towels! The first few times I noticed Grumblings slithering into my thoughts with this towel grumble, I ignored him. But he was persistent. I started grumbling to myself every time I saw one of the new towels in the laundry hamper.

Finally, I got exasperated with being cranky about towels. I considered the fact that these bigger towels actually fit Husband much better than the old ones do, and that they are indeed nice and soft. I decided that I didn’t want to be the towel police. And I decided that I wasn’t going to let my mood be influenced by towels, because they’re just not that important to me.

When I thought about it a little more, I realized that I had put these towels in the special save-for-use-at-the-beach-or-pool category. I purchased them partly because they were good quality and a good price at the big box store, and partly, to be honest, because they seduced me a little with a daydream of lounging on the beach, with all the sunshine and leisure that’s implied. Since we rarely go to the beach, and I wasn’t about to return them or give up half a shelf of my linen closet for rarely used towels, I needed to move these towels into a different category.

I decided that these towels weren’t for saving for the beach or pool; they were for enjoying. I deliberately put them firmly in the use-whenever-we-feel-like-it-cause-we’re-all-grownups category. This small, purposeful shift made all the difference.

I can even say that Grumblings threw in the towel on this one.

Now I don’t feel disapproval whenever I see one of them being used or in the hamper. Instead, I am glad they are being used.

I even went out and bought a couple more as Thing Two prepared to head off to her summer job. Turns out they make pretty good camp towels too.

Discovering that I could move things into another category and thus change the way I think about these towels makes me wonder if I have any other categories that need to be sorted out, and what effect that would have.

Categorizing is a natural way for us to organize the things and people in our lives, but I think we need to pay attention to the categories we put things into. Does anyone do a regular inventory of categories? Have categories caused you trouble?

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About GrumblingSusan

Word lover. Story addict. Daydreamer. Optimist. Ottawan. Treehugger. Scouter.

4 Replies

  1. I read this with my beloved last night. He pointed out that in using categories/boxes, you were thinking just like him!
    If that doesn’t frighten you, I don’t know what will.
    But all joking aside, much food for thought here. Good for you to rise above your first inclinations!

    1. GrumblingSusan

      I did think of that as I was writing! I didn’t pay attention to how rigid my category boxes were until I understood what kind of grumbling was happening because of them.

  2. Kathey rowsome

    I love this story… Because I categorize my things all the time! And it brings to mind my best re-categorization effort. When my mother gave me her good silverware, I was fretting and frustrated that we weren’t entertaining enough to bring out the silverware and good China. Then I decided we could use it for ourselves, every day if we choose to – and not wait until we had company over. It was empowering to embrace a new way of doing things

    1. GrumblingSusan

      That’s a great story, Kathey. Thanks for sharing. I’ve been thinking of using the good china tea cups for coffee. (-:

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