The Day IKEA Ate My Heart (and other tales of hyperbole and jest)

Hey Huffington Post readers! Welcome. Looking for my Five Reasons post? Find the first one here.

How can a place this crisp make me *that* sweaty?

On Monday, I told Riley that this was the week I was going to get back into life. Writing two hours a day, clean house, dinner made every night!, service for others, wonder for the dear children and finally, finally an orderly house. You know with all the framed pictures finally picked up off the floor and a place for every little sock and stray crayon. He was supportive, as he is every time I make the new old decision to live deliberately.

On Tuesday, I woke up bright and early. Well, at 7:45 am, but my attitude was a “chipper 5am early bird gets the worm” sort of attitude. I cleaned the house. I scooped old food out of the back of the fridge and took out all the trash. I did laundry. I remembered to feed the kids more than breakfast crackers. I returned emails. I was, I thought, totally bleeping doing this thing called life.

And then I decided to go to IKEA. You know, the place that is literally a maze you have to sniff your way through? The place that tries to convince its customers that a lack of customer service is really empowering because,

“Look at you finding everything by yourself! Spending an extra hour trying to figure out the difference between the stuva oopsilong and stuva oopsilang means that you have saved money, the rainforest and that tiny piece of your heart that any other big box store would have painted black with icky consumerism.”

Ummm. Hey. IKEA. Your stuff is only a little cheaper than Target and at least there I get helped to my car. Also. Instructions for building furniture that have words instead of primitive pictograms. I’m onto you. You’re The Man, even if you have figured out how to make an entire line of furniture called“Lack” something English speaking people find fulfilling. Stop trying to sell virtue along with the Stockholm Collection. It’s annoying.

Anyways, I threw my principles into the approaching summer storm and drove to IKEA. I was in that damn place for three and half hours.

Because maybe I need that shelf? No, definitely that one. Hmmmm. I bet that I can’t live without that wall mounted planter. Unless I can. Walk some more. Hey, Zuzu and Viola? Would you mind not climbing into the five hundred beds sprinkled throughout the store? No. Keep walking. We can’t get that stuffed animal. Unless we can. Stay next to me, I’ve got to write down 154,982 numbers so that I know what 85 components I need to make the 3 pieces of furniture I am purchasing.  Let’s get lunch. Who wants meatballs? Just me? Okay, I’ll get nine. Holy hell, nine was too many. I feel sick. Hey, guys? Can you not climb on the kids tables? Or do. Okay. Done eating? Let’s keep going. I think we’re done in the showroom floor, let’s go to the marketplace. Do I need a $9 wok? Yes. Probably. No. Oh my gosh. So many lights and rugs and really awful art prints. Hey, lady. Put down the world map. Everyone has it. I have it. You can do better. Have you been to Target? Still walking. I thought they had shortcuts to get through this thing. I totally remember shortcuts. Found it! Wait. I’m back at the lights. Oh, hey Vi and Zuzu. Tired of walking? Let me hold you. I am mama, hear me roar. This is great. We are almost through. I can do this. Just get to the self-serve area, load up the cart with boxes and go.

Only at self-serve, I couldn’t find the right boxes. I found a lonely worker hiding behind a bureau.

“Oh, you wrote down the combination number. We have that there so that the customers can get the list of all the components at once. We use that number to look it up on the computer. But not the one down here. You’ll have to go back upstairs.”

The women upstairs were as confused as the man downstairs..

They suggested I take a photo of what I wanted and go from there. So I did. The detective work that ensued was as exhausting as it is uninteresting.

Cut to forty minutes later, three carts full of boxes and two children weeping with heat, exhaustion and maybe just a little fear that we had entered a place we would never be allowed to leave. My mom and sister had come with the truck to help load everything up. They started to push everything towards the door when my mom turned to me,

“Hey, this is stupid. This stuff will take you three days to put together, there will be at least one piece missing and it won’t last into next year. Why don’t you just spend fifty dollars more and get something that won’t drive you bat&*^% crazy.”

Her suggestion was so logical it made me cry. So I left the boxes and my good intentions and climbed into the car and cried all the way home.

I just really wanted that day to be the start of something new and somehow I had left that big blue store feeling like something old.  I called Riley and cried some more. And then turned down the radio so the girls could sleep and cried some more. And then got home and, you know, cried some more.

And when the tears had cleared and the house got quiet, I found that part of my soul that the day had dampened and let it dry out.  So maybe I decide to live deliberately every few months after another few months of chaotic living. So maybe the shoes will never have their place, maybe the emails will fill my inbox and maybe the dinner will be made late, when it’s made at all. My intentions are good and my hopes are strong. And you know what? When those two things take a beating, I’m going to be glad I invested in good furniture. Or at least, middle of the road furniture. Can’t you just hear it now?

“Man, today was frenetic. At least I am not having to Gorilla Glue the girl’s desk together again.”

Hmmmm, doesn’t that just warm the cold and dreary spirit?

So long, IKEA. I’m quitting you.

Until I’m not.

List Making, Scheduling, Planners: You deserve to use them and here's why....

Sometimes I get anxious.

Take Sunday.

My little family was all lined up in a pew at church. Zuzu sat sullenly trying to get over the fact that I had the audacity to curl her hair that morning, Viola growled at the boy behind us and Riley held my hand while restraining said growler girl with the other arm. And I...I felt like I was being crushed beneath the shiny stiletto heels of a life I am not good enough to control. I had taken on too much, said yes too many times, had too many hopes and too little talent and on top of everything I felt very certainly that my lipstick was smudged.

The congregation began to sing but I couldn’t join in. I knew that if  tried to open my mouth a scream might leave it instead of melodious worship for our God in heaven.

So I prayed.

Please. Let me know what I am allowed to have. Please let me know what I am allowed to want. Please let me breathe. Please give me perspective. Please be merciful to this girl that is too inward looking. Please know I am ashamed of my problems, these tiny things others would pray to have as their only trials. Please know that intellectually I understand I can do this,it is just my heart that betrays that knowledge. Please let me be enough. Please let me know where to put my time. Please forgive me for not knowing. Please forgive me for my weakness. Please give me strength. Please help me.


I waited for the warmth, for the assurance I've felt at other times and it didn't come. So while the congregation sang and Viola’s growling grew louder, I took out paper and pen and began to write.

I thought I’d write my feelings, spill them outside of myself and remove the poison, but instead I began to make a calendar. Each day of the week and under every day the three sections of my waking hours. Morning, afternoon, night. Under each collection of hours I wrote the things I would accomplish in them. Homeschool, writing, playing, dinner making, cleaning, loving, service and one on one time with Riley. As I cataloged my week, I felt the warmth I had expected. And in the warmth I was given an answer.

I deserve to have control over my own life. What a revelation. List making, deliberate living, calendars and schedules are one way to show my life, my hopes, my family the respect they so fully require. I cannot have everything, but I can choose my dearest desires and throw my everything into turning them from candy colored dreams to tangible reality. There is purpose in choice. And direction in deliberateness. And hope in form. And my goodness, maybe, just maybe, I get to have what I want.

Did you ever think of such a thing? That maybe you get to be the person you always hoped you would be?

Starting today, I am going to give my life the respect it deserves. Yes, that means list making and goal setting. But those things don't really mean rigidity. They are a means to creating time to live in the moment.  Something I’ve lacked as my disorganized approach to the fullness of my existence has bounced me from disorganized day to chaotic night and back again. I am so tired of being too busy to live happily and freely and completely.

Will this new approach make me 5’10”, thin as Giselle, busty as Kate and rich as Oprah? No. But I don’t really want those things. What I want, with every aching part of my hobbit sized being, is to be the best version of myself. And I think, I hope, I pray, that this is the first step. One of many pushes forward that will keep me moving towards that better me I can see off in the distance if I squint my eyes just so.

Want to join me?

You deserve this, too.

Some of my favorite intentional living tools come from Tsh Oxenreider. This daily to do list is amazing. Her book, Organized Simplicity is phenomenal. Find all the (FREE) downloads here.