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Don’t let an overflowing toilet keep you from painting or writing or reading or …

This afternoon I ignored  the dirty dishes on the counter. And I ignored the clean dishes in the dishwasher. And I ignored the dog and cat hair on the staircase. They were yelling at me. “Clean me! Put me away!” I ignored their demands and went downstairs to paint.

painting in the basement

At the bottom of the stairs to the basement I saw water dripping from the ceiling. I ran upstairs into the bathroom by the kitchen and the toilet was overflowing. It was plugged and the water kept draining over the bowl. Oh, great. Now I won’t be able to paint. I will have to clean up this mess. I could hear the dishes and the dog hair mocking me, as I ran upstairs to grab towels.

“Hey, hey, clean it up right now, then come and take care of us. Clean me! Put me away! Clean me! Put me away!” said the dishes and the dog and cat hair.

I unplugged the toilet and threw towels on the floor to catch the overflowing water. Then I ignored the demands of the dishes and the dog and cat hair, and the wet towels on the bathroom floor and I went downstairs and painted.

Okay, just to be clear here. The dishes and the dog and cat hair and the wet towels, didn’t actually talk to me. But, they might as well have, because it felt like they did.

The Should Words that we let control us

There is always that tension to be perfect. To always have the kitchen SPOTLESS, and ALL the dishes clean, and ALL the dishes in the dishwasher put away, and ALL the wet towels on the bathroom floor washed and dried and put away BEFORE you get to do something creative.

You should always wash all your dirty dishes. And you should sweep and vacuum every day. And never go to bed with a dirty cup in the sink. And don’t ever leave any clumps of litter in the seven litter boxes. 

AND, I made those words capital on purpose. They are The Should Words that we let other people speak into our life. THE WORDS that WE LET control us. Living SOMEONE else’s life. Living according to SOMEONE elses values and rules.

Whose life am I living?


Whose life are you living?

If you want to leave ever single dish in your house dirty on the counter while you are painting a picture, or writing a story, or reading a book to your children. Then do ahead and do it!

Oh, dear. I have never yelled at you before. Perhaps I am really yelling at myself.

And, maybe those are your values, and not someone else’s. Please go ahead and wash your dishes and empty your dishwasher if you want to. And wash and dry and put away the wet towels on the bathroom floor before you write your story, or paint your painting,  or read to your children.

But. (Here comes the but.)

Be careful.

Because one day you will wake up and wish you had left a few dishes in the sink. You will wish you had painted more, and written more, and read more books to your children.

Would you let an overflowing toilet keep you from creating?

I didn’t.


Here is the rough sketch for the painting

Sketch by Pamela Hodges

I paint with acrylic paint in layers with a palette knife. This is the first layer of the painting.

painting in the basement

And the toilet

The toilet that almost ruined my day

p.s. It is 10:16 at night. The dirty dishes are still on the counter. And the clean dishes are still in the dishwasher, and the wet towels are still on the bathroom floor. I would rather put off the tasks that never end, and leave time to create.

As always I love to hear from you. Click here to comment. HERE


About Pamela Hodges

I write slice of life stories to help you know you are loved, valuable and worthy just as you are. I am a writer, an artist, and a cleaner of seven litter boxes. I live in Pennsylvania with one husband, four cats, one dog and two birds.

You are an artist. Yes, you are. Really.

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Get the FREE illustrated, sort of a comic book, “You Are An Artist.” Believe in yourself and your ability to draw. xo Pamela

  • DA Schuhow

    I so get this! Your imagery is fabulous!

    • Hello DA Schuhow,
      Thank you so much. What does your sink look like today. My dishes are done, but my laundry is all over the floor.

      • DA Schuhow

        My sink is broken and has been for 6 weeks! Got to lean into God’s peace as my house is not giving me any peace. The laundry…not going to go there. LOL

  • La McCoy

    Thank you for the reminder.
    I do draw every day my dear Art teacher.
    I love the cat pic!
    I think the next dog i draw will have glasses!

    • Hello La,
      Oh how fun. I would love to see your drawing of a dog with glasses.

  • Sue Sutherlin

    I would definitely allow the needs of an overflowing toilet to momentarily distract me from being creative (after all, it could cause SERIOUS damage if not dealt with). The rest of the stuff . . . it’ll never end. ALL the dishes are never done, the laundry is never really finished, . . . you get the idea. I think you should invest in self-cleaning litter boxes! Seven litter boxes is a lot of scooping! I’m glad you successfully walk past the dishes and other stuff to go paint and write! Bravo!

    • Hello Sue,
      Ha, you just reminded me I haven’t cleaned the litter boxes today. Well, for that matter, yesterday too.
      Today I get to ignore the laundry.
      Love Pamela

  • Berdeane Bodley

    Pamela Jane, there is only one you & you are very special……love you!!!

  • Krithika Rangarajan

    Aaah…while I am amazing at ignoring physical clutter, it is impossible for me to ignore the virtual clutter – aka EMAIL!

    LOL – I feel horrible for not sharing my favorite articles! So I stop writing and spend an hour sharing the wisdom of others.

    Then I feel guilty for not paying attention to my words.

    It’s a vicious cycle! 🙁

    Thanks Pam #HUGS

    • Hello Dear Krithika,
      Ah, the email is getting you. I appreciate you sharing my stories. Where can I find yours?

  • Robn Patrick

    I have a hard time with this. I feel GUILTY if my house isn’t clean and therefore can’t “play” at my writing or crafting. And even worse than that is my worry over what other people think about my house. Why is that? Why do I put more energy into making my house a place that others approve of when I’M THE ONE LIVING HERE? GRRRUMPH!

    • Oh Robin,
      I know exactly what you mean. I wrote about having Lego’s in the dining room. How I was going to relax and have my house be mine. Than two days after I wrote the story I put ALL the Lego’s back in the basement again.
      I brought some of the Lego’s back up yesterday, and will bring the rest back up today.
      Robin, the plays you wrote for Vacation Bible School are delightful. You are so creative.
      Perhaps today you can spend it like you want to.

      • Robn Patrick

        Pamela, I’m just starting to write the scripts now! And yes, I have to put blinders on in order to not see all the “should” jobs I could be doing. But dang it, you are right. It’s time to do some creative goodness.

    • Sue Sutherlin

      Robin, come by my house some time! I won’t judge you if you won’t judge me! Believe me, you’ll feel right at home (and be treated to lots of love, as I push stuff out of the way to make a space for you to set down your cup of coffee or tea).

      • Robn Patrick

        Thanks Sue! I do know that you wouldn’t judge me and I love you for it!

  • Berdeane Bodley

    OMG, I can’t believe you actually used the “should” word, you ARE becoming your Mother!!!
    I love you………Mom

    • Hello Mother,
      Now, that wasn’t me using the words “should”. The should’s were the negative voices of social pressure telling me what to do.
      Being you would be nice, because you are special. But I want to become me.

  • Cathy Duffy

    Your words make me smile. Thanks for sharing them. 🙂

    • Hello Cathy,
      Thank you for sharing your smile.

  • I used to be the person who couldn’t relax until there were no dishes in the sink. Then I turned into the person who couldn’t relax till Jessie did the dishes in the sink. I’m still not a person who can easily relax. As far as writing though, I write as long as my writing surface is clean and my office doesn’t suffocate me with too many things out of place. And further away than my office. Well, the toilet would have my attention, but other than that, it can wait. And then when my words are on the paper instead of screaming to come out. Then I can deal with it.

    • Hello Anne,
      Having written, makes life so much easier to deal with. Clutter often kills creativity. Especially if I can see it.
      The words was when I put the bills I had to pay next to me on my desk. That really killed any writing.
      I hope today you can relax a bit. My worth always felt tied to my being productive, so if I rested, I was not valuable.