On Abandoning “All or Nothing” in Favor of Something

Here’s a secret for you:

I’m addicted to All or Nothing, and I’m on a lifetime recovery mission.

Like any addict, this means choosing every day to reject my compulsion to indulge in something harmful – something that will destroy me – and to choose, instead, that which doesn’t come naturally but is infinitely more healthy. In my case, it means choose to do something, knowing it won’t be ALL, or to choose to do something instead of burying my head, giving up in defeat, and doing NOTHING because I can’t, it turns out, do it ALL.

This sucks.

I am, at heart, a Go Big or Go Home person. But I’m also, ever-so-slowly, learning the value in Not Going Home Quite Yet and Staying Out in the World to Do Something Small. Something tiny. Something good enough. Something. 

It took me until I was 35 to start writing in earnest, for example. To treat myself like I have something to say and like I’m worth saying it. Because, until 35, I wanted to write ALL of the Things, and all of them PERFECTLY all at once. At 35, I started putting my butt in the chair to write something, instead. Something small. Every day. And to push “publish” on the imperfect pieces and the dumb ones and the ridiculous ones and the good ones, too. To push “publish” on something because I choose to believe that Showing Up, Out Loud, is more important than Going Big or Going Home.

I have a saying I’ve imposed on my extended family. My dad turned it into an acronym because he’s a Marine and Marines doing nothing without acronyms… or call signs… or using the aviation alphabet. HAGE is what he calls this one, as in, “We’re doing this Beth Style! HAGE.” Which stands for Half-Assed is Good Enough. 

And, well, most often it is. 

photo (85)But you can see how our 40 Days of Lent: 15 Minute Projects is an extra challenge for me. Because I tend to clean my house All or Nothing style, and, lately, that’s meant Nothing WAY more often than All. The piles pile higher. The mess feels overwhelming. And there’s a part of me that scoffs disdainfully at 15 minutes because 15 minutes is only something

But I choose to do something anyway because I’m drowning in STUFF and doing something about it is the only way out.

Today’s 15 Minute Project is the Bathroom Counter. Or a Bathroom Drawer. Or, in my case, the half-assed purging of 2 bathroom drawers to have room to put the few things worth saving from my bathroom counter. 

photo 1 (69)

 If you’re joining us today, here are my expert tips, using “expert” in the loosest possible sense of the word:

  1. This is about purging, not deep cleaning. Although you’re welcome to deep clean and I certainly won’t stop you, our 15 Minute Projects are about getting rid of the STUFF that adds to the burden and makes us feel overwhelmed. So if you’re not getting to the deep cleaning, it’s OK. You’re OK. There’s time for deep cleaning later. Or there’s not. Whatever.
  2. Use what’s on hand. I used my son’s dirty shirt from the floor next to me and water from the sink to clean the counter and sink. I didn’t go mix my vinegar and water solution like I should’ve. I didn’t go get a rag. I knew if I did, I’d run out of my 15 minutes and be distracted by other things. 
  3. Half-assed really IS good enough. I cleaned out some of two bathroom drawers. I found bits of garbage, lids of hairspray, cardboard from bobby pins, half-empty lotions I’ll never manage to use entirely, and I threw those away. I didn’t clean out the drawers completely. I didn’t wash them down. I did what I could for today, and it’s something. And something’s enough. Something, in fact, was an entire bag worth of garbage and box of unused things to give away… and a clean bathroom counter that makes me sigh with relief.

photo 2 (75)

If you’re joining us today for a 15 Minute Project, let us know in the comments below. And use this space to encourage each other and to remind each other that something, even half-assed, is, in fact, enough.


Congratulations to Sue at NoBadDays 
who organized her craft table and shelves as part of our 1st 15 Minute Project.
Nicely done, Sue!



If you have pictures of your 15 Minute Projects, send them to me at FiveKidsIsALotOfKids@gmail.com. I’m featuring a new one every day.


photo 3 (52)

P.S. Quick Question: We share our bathroom with our twin boys. That’s where they bathe, get ready for bed at night, pee together in and around the toilet, etc. When I cleaned our bathroom counter, I found 9 toothbrushes that do not belong to me or Greg. 9! NINE TOOTHBRUSHES.

Where did these toothbrushes come from?? Do toothbrushes have some bizarre and rapid mating ritual I don’t know about? Because, quite frankly, I’m uncomfortable with all those toothbrushes gettin’ it on in my bathroom. 

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44 responses to “On Abandoning “All or Nothing” in Favor of Something”

  1. I kind of gave up on my bedroom when the closet road, bearing hundreds of my husband’s t-shirts, and the shelf above it crashed to the floor. Twice.
    Today, I will spend fifteen minutes clearing off my nightstand, and if I can muster the energy, fifteen minutes more cleaning up the crafts that are covering the dining room table.

    My sisters and I speak in acronyms as well, and we frequently refer to having STD, which gets us many a strange look. It actually means we have S*** To Do. I am hereby adopting HAGE!

  2. Beth, I adore you. And I think you will know I speak from a place of love when I say that one of those toothbrushes is really dirty looking. The bristles are kind of tan. I don’t care if it has a mate. I think you should throw it out. xoxo

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