Naturally, I didn’t realize it until I was already way down the street at the car with my kiddo, juggling snacks and water bottles and my laptop, 3.2 minutes until I was supposed to be picking up my friend’s daughter to drive the girls to their trapeze lesson.
Only… no car keys.
Car keys locked in the house. Along with the house keys.
For a second, the panic set in. FUCK!! Now I was going to be late– and also– um– dire terrible things!!!
I began to rend my garments and gnash my teeth.
But then, luckily for my favorite Anthropologie t-shirt, I remembered.
Oh yeah, my friend down the street has a key for times just like this. And there is one hidden in a super secret spot. And ohhhhh yeah I even carry an extra house key in my purse ever since I started living with a door that locks you out automatically, like an angry ex-boyfriend.
If you have a brain that works properly, you might not need as many systems in place as I do. But since my brain works basically not at all, I rely on my systems on a regular basis.
Sometimes people laugh at me when I pull out my little quarter-folded piece of A4 paper (my daily compass) and scribble down what we just talked about– a reminder to send an email, or buy a birthday present, or to remember to brush my teeth and think about whales. But I am unembarrassable, because what I know is that that little piece of paper is my most trusted safety net.
I KNOW my brain is not capable of keeping track of everything; in fact, it’s basically a sieve that only catches daydreams and dandelion fluff and show tunes.
That’s not a problem, because I have robust and elegant systems in place that remember things in my stead. It’s basically Downton Abbey in my purse.
This little key incident got me thinking about how many backup systems I have in my life. I’ve put them in place slowly over the years, but when I look at them all together there are a LOT.
Here are just a few of the systems I have in place:
I have about 20 house keys.
An extra set of car keys.
I kiss AAA on the mouth on a regular basis.
I always buy extra insurance.
I have three kinds of backup on my computer.
I totally plan to buy a Tile for my phone, except I keep forgetting to scribble it on my paper. *scrawls mental note to self*
I write ALL my friends’ names on the school pickup form each September, so that I can make a panicked phone call to any number of people if I’m going to be late for pickup.
I collect the numbers of babysitters like they’re treasure.
I keep frozen pizza, gourmet mac and cheese, and tikka masala in the freezer.
Bottles of water under the sink.
I hire coaches. Assistants. Experts.
I hire out all grocery shopping and laundry.
I have lists for what goes in the school backpack and what to pack for trips.
I have a master grocery list I print out every week.
I know this is all a little nerdy, but here’s what it gives me:
peace of mind.
wide open spaces.
and room for beauty to bloom.
It’s turned out to be a funny gift that I’m so naturally terrible at most of life. It’s made me wily and resourceful and relentless in my pursuit of finding other ways to get it done.
Unlike most people, I can’t just muddle through– not if I want to get anything really important done. Nope, if I let my wandery brain lead me around, I would be at the circus RIGHT NOW, cutting up tights for headbands.
We talk about being very very gentle here, and very very fierce.
So much of the beauty that blooms in my life is made possible by some powerful lean mean engines that hum under the surface.
So take a minute and think about one part of your life that regularly makes you crazy. (I’ll tell you what my next project is: cleaning up my effing PASSWORDS.) What sort of system could you put in place to streamline this part of your life and give you a backup system for when it inevitably fails? It might be complicated, like a project checklist or a filing system or new software.
But it might be as simple as a $3 copy of a key.
P.S. I couldn’t quite figure out how to work in lipstick, JT’s butt, and polar bears into this one. But if you want to give it a shot, tag me on Facebook and I will kiss your feet.