The Vacuum Cleaner Survival Kit

When she was two my daughter feared the vacuum cleaner.  The sound, the suction, the fury.  She ran, hid, and cried.

My wife loves to vacuum.  Perhaps ‘love’ is the wrong word.  She needs to vacuum. 

Back then we had a Golden Retriever.  We ate and breathed floating fur.

The vacuum came out a lot.              

I created the Vacuum Cleaner Survival Kit.  Simple ingredients.  A cloth Crown Royal whiskey bag.  Fish crackers.  Miniature dolls.  A small book or two.  Little pleasures to distract a little girl.

Out came the vacuum – out came the survival kit.  My daughter and I perched ourselves on the kitchen island – ate, played and read – while my wife attacked the floors with her prized Dyson.

The survival kit worked.

Weeks before the pandemic hit, I started a new job at work.  It was stressful.  It cost me sleep, regularly, in a way that nothing at work had ever done before.

I talked with others who’d done the same job.  They’d had similar experiences.  There was comfort in knowing I wasn’t alone, and discomfort in knowing that this was my world now. 

I coped by doing what I always did.  I ran, I read, I wrote.  It all helped.  A bit.  But too often I lay awake in the middle of the night, thinking about work.

Desperate times called for…

 I pulled out a blank notebook.

And I began to write: “Last week was tough and my concern is, if it continues it will have many negative effects.  So, is born The Vacuum Cleaner Survival Kit.  Things to do, listen, think about, watch, etc… to help me … not just survive but be and do well.”

It worked.  Unbelievably well.  That notebook became my repository of everything.  I filled it with meaningful quotations from novels, Navy Seals and podcasts.  I chronicled my days and our lives.  I wrote about my aspirations and fears, about the people who pissed me off, and the things that brought me joy.  Writing it down lightened my load, changed my attitude and helped me gain perspective I lacked when I was stuck in a moment.

A few weeks ago, I marked the one-year anniversary of the Survival Kit.  Much has happened in my life since.  At work, and at home.  Good things.  Things that I’m thankful for.  Challenging things have happened too.  Health scares hitting close to home.  Many books read, many podcasts listened to.  Many people and writers who have inspired me.

And one year later, yet another new job at work.  Equally stressful.  Perhaps more so.  It challenges me daily.  So, I run, and I read.  I go to the climbing gym and I strum my guitar.  And I write it all down in The Vacuum Cleaner Survival Kit.