'A knack for turning an ordinary event into something extraordinary.' Pamela Foley

The danger of half tomatoes

A friend’s marriage recently dissolved. It proved a long and painful process and her husband moved out a few weeks ago. I asked her how her first day back at work was, getting herself and her children ready alone. She shrugged.

“I didn’t have to deal with the half tomato.”

They make no sense

It turns out that for at least the last decade, her husband cut a tomato in half early in the morning. He left the other half sitting on the kitchen counter for her to deal with. For ten years, she’s put the half tomato in a bowl and added it to the others in the fridge. Then she shoved it in whatever dinner she prepared that night.

“What did he use it for?” I asked.

“No idea, but he left the other half sitting there. It felt nice this morning, coming down the stairs and not finding the half tomato.”

My friend listed a number of other things, good and bad, no longer part of her routine. But the half tomato stuck with me. Because it’s irritating. And I don’t respond well to irritating.

They get in your head

Something she said resonated with me.

“It’s not in my head. The half tomato no longer takes up space in my brain. Coming down the stairs in the morning feels different because it won’t be there. I don’t need to look for a bowl, cover it or put it in the fridge. I don’t have to chop it and shove it in a casserole or pie. I don’t need to feel irritated with tomatoes in general. The half tomato is not in my head.”

Half tomatoes are rocket science

Wow. Just wow. The half tomato was in her head.

Now, daft as that sounds, it’s true. I got to thinking about the silly stuff that gets into my head and it added up to a decent list. The half tomato was representative of lots of emotional and mental factors, but it was just a tomato after all. And half a one at that. But it was the most irritating thing my friend ticked off her list. There will be others, but right then, the tomato was it.

It’s rocket science and led me on an invigorating hunt. For my half tomatoes.

What are my half tomatoes?

My shoe cupboard. My shoe cupboard is a half tomato for me.

I waited years to earn the right to a shoe cupboard all to myself. With two adults and four children in our home, it seemed more important to organise them. So they all had somewhere to put their shoes. I monopolised the bottom shelf of our wardrobe until they all left home.

Then I got a cupboard of my own.

But the cupboard ended up on the other side of the garage. On a frosty below zero morning, I hated walking on the bare concrete to find my shoes. It’s something which got into my head and made me grumpy. Every morning.

My new shoe cupboard

My gorgeous husband spent Sunday morning making me a new shoe cupboard.

It’s right next to the internal door so I can hop around putting my boots on in the warm. I don’t need to do a lap of the garage in stockinged feet in below zero conditions. It’s perfect and it’s all mine.

I got into my car this morning with warm toes and a smile on my face.

It’s no longer a half tomato.

half tomatoes, shoe cupboard

There are others

Mine is an example of something minor. It didn’t ruin my life but it did occupy space in my mind. I dreaded putting my shoes on. For five of the coldest months of the year, I put it off and often made myself late.

There are lots of examples of this in our lives. Often we do it to ourselves.

That cupboard you always bang your hip on.

The plates you almost drop because they need to be in a higher place.

The chair you’ve stubbed your toe on a hundred times.

That overdue thing you’re storing for someone else which has inconvenienced you too long.

Your child’s dirty sports kit dumped on the floor every Saturday lunchtime.

The partner’s wet towel thrown in the corner of the bathroom after his shower.

The thing that’s too high.

That other thing which is too low.

The way someone treats you.

That job someone keeps promising to do but never quite gets on with.

Half tomatoes and women

We work hard and we don’t cut ourselves any slack.

Project managing most activities in the home can be overwhelming and lead to mental overload. It creeps up on us like fog. One minute it’s in the distance and manageable. The next, we can’t see our hand in front of our face.

Our heads fill with all this rubbish and it squeezes out the good moments.

They’re a combination of tiny incidents repeated over and over until we find ourselves avoiding, delaying or dreading certain moments. One day we explode and it’s not just the half tomato which ends up on the wall.

“What’s the matter?”

“Everything. Just everything.”

That’s the hallmark of a half tomato.

Squishing the half tomato

Fixing the shoe cupboard took a little bit of cash, a couple of hours and a reshuffle of the garage. A simple solution changed my outlook on a tiny part of my day. It sounds pathetic even writing it down. But removing the literal and figurative cold feet, stopped that gripe being added to the general, festering pile of moldy half tomatoes in my life.

Now I need to stop something else replacing it.

Moving a piece of furniture might take time and planning. But compare that to the time you’ve already wasted hating it being right there. Thirty seconds a day for a year is twenty six minutes a year of discomfort. Twenty years of discomfort over a thirty second gripe is eight hours and seven minutes.

Add together all the half tomato moments in your day and you’re wasting a heck of a lot of lifespan on trivia and gripe. No wonder we’re miserable.

Eliminating the half tomato moments

When you square your shoulders before doing something unpleasant, it’s a half tomato.

Navigating something physical or mental with a bad attitude could indicate the presence of a half tomato.

For me, snorting out a breath of irritation before doing something indicates a half tomato. I’m not talking about bonafide challenges in life. I’m talking about trivia which doesn’t need to happen. Nobody likes changing dirty nappies but the penalty for not doing it can be catastrophic, so don’t include things like that. Isolate the activities in life you really wouldn’t miss if you ceased doing them. But nobody is allowed to die in the process.

If it’s a person who causes your half tomato – negotiate.

If it’s an object – move it where possible. Or move yourself.

Nothing is insurmountable. You don’t need to entertain trivia. Waste no more precious hours on half tomatoes. The clock is ticking…

K T Bowes is the author of 22 mystery romance novels, published with the Hakarimata Press.
You can find out more about her work HERE.

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