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  • Writer's pictureNicole Cipriani

The Dishwashing Meditation No One Asked For

Updated: Mar 27, 2021

Guys. Still struggling with work/passion project/rest balance over here, and, per protocol, my kitchen sink continues to pay for it. Instead of writing a fresh piece about that, I found a melodramatic essay I wrote sometime during the spring of 2020. If I’m way overdue for chores, it usually means I’ve got feelings to work through. If I’m going to work through my big feelings, what better place to do it than in my own mind as I check that IADL box. I present to you, in abbreviated form, a version of what goes through my head when I finally get around to washing dishes. You can choose your own emotional parallels:

Washing Dishes in a NYC Apartment at the Height of a Pandemic When you have ADHD: A Meditation

Observe without judgement. Take the time to look at that pile of dirty dishes you just couldn’t manage last night. Or the night before. Or maybe even the night before. If we’re being honest, you may be able to go back a week. It will not help to judge yourself. It will not help to continue putting it off. You are out of clean bowls. You are out of clean mugs. You are out of clean utensils that’ll work for scooping cat food.

This mess is the evidence that you are taking care of yourself (and your cat): placed in the sink and tilted as gravity and friction saw fit. Thank the people that brought you that food, as far back in the process as you can get, and thank your past self for feeding you. Reflect on the experience of eating and the nourishment it brought.

You are embarking on an act of self-care. Your future self will need clean dishes. Begin the process of starting this big task, so that you can complete this big task.

Start by creating the space to begin. Take a breath. Roll up your sleeves (Wet sleeves are a main reason you avoid this task, after all.). Remove the top layer of dishes. Create enough space to perform the movements. The second string rests on the stovetop, stacked by size. The cutting board and the pots and pans were the base of your meal prep, and now they are the base of your waiting surface. You might fill them with water to allow them to soften and relax while you work. Use caution. Be aware of your body; delicate with your movements. Water is no place for the inside of a gas stove (Knob check. Off).

Begin. The sink is the core. The items here hold the oldest messes. Squeeze with precision to obtain the just right amount of soap. Blow any stray bubbles to the ceiling (You deserve a little fun!). Some things are ready to start, some things still need a soak to release what is no longer serving; what can become harmful. Feel yourself soften and release as you find the start to your scrubbing. Rinse the mess down the drain with the soap.

Work from the center out. Clean dishes are now drying on your tiny counter. More dishes come back to center from the waiting zone on the stovetop (Knob check. Still off). Stability and organization at the core allows you to reach out to grow. And you are growing a collection of clean dishes, you responsible beast!

Each item has a purpose and a need. Reflect on their usefulness in the previous cycle, and their potential for the next. Flippers to alternate sides, tongs to manipulate, spatulas to transition cleanly from one container to the next. Remove the residue from the cooking surface and the accidental spatters, wherever they landed. Clean the corners where food hides. Give some extra attention to the area around the bolts that hold the handle to the pan- your point of control, controlled by your muscles, controlled by your motor cortex, controlled by the frontal cortex of your brain, which plans and sequences the movements for function. The whole task initiated from your sensations of hunger.

Admire your accomplishment. Pause. Observe the transformation. (Check the time. It's usually faster than you thought it would be.) You are rich in clean tools that exist for your benefit- to continue to live your lifejob. The pans will take the heat to make your food delicious and safe to eat. They will also take the nightly clanging at the window with a wooden spoon, and the wooden spoon is ready to bring it. The mugs are ready to hold the warm liquids of mornings both organized and erratic, relaxed and pressured, certain and unsure. The bowls are ready to hold your food secure in their walls, so you can eat with your knees up, nestled in the corner of your couch-nest with minimal mess. Thank you to each one. You will use them again.

Knob check. Off, until you’re ready to cook again.


In NYC counter space is limited, all the more so in an RV. Check out our interview with Shannon Downey, Traveling Craftivist here.

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