The birds are singing, it is a beautiful sunny day!
Is that Spring on the way?
As Spring approaches the idea of “Spring Cleaning” comes to mind. Unfortunately, my home is always in need of a good cleaning, and a complete overhaul sounds daunting. The thought is somewhat stressful even. Where should I begin? I look around and everything I look at needs to be cleaned, repaired, removed or replaced. It is overwhelming. I can’t get away from it. I don’t want to be around it. I try to find a clean space to work, to read, to write, to think. Anything and everything I do is haunted by the thought, “I should clean up first,” or “I don’t deserve to spend so much time writing and doing my own things – I can’t even keep a clean house.” Even my kids know that they can’t have a friend over until the house is cleaned up. Cleaning for company is the best motivator. One of the reasons I enjoy having parties at my house is getting everything spic and span. That thought excites me. Why can’t I plan on the unexpected company? Why can’t I always be ready for a party? The guilt sets in.
I grew up in a clean and orderly home.
My childhood home was not obsessively clean or spotless, but well-kept. I do not remember there being clutter all around, or piles of clothing or dishes. My mother kept a good routine of weekly cleaning and a daily up keep. My father was what we called a “pack rat” and liked to keep things that he could use again someday. Now they call that “re-purpose.” He was ahead of his time. My mother did not hold on to things very long. She kept things that were important to her like a wedding invitation or a photograph, but she tossed out cards and letters and movie tickets and junk. She liked things clean and presentable.
Why Do We Have So Much Junk?
By today’s standards, some would say that my Dad was a hoarder. I don’t agree. He honestly kept things that he thought were still useful. He was using jelly jars to hold nails, nuts and bolts long before anyone would think it clever to do so. He nailed the lids to the bottom of a shelf above his work bench in our garage, so the jars could hang from it. He could clearly see what was inside. Mom would say, “That’s tacky!” “Get rid of that junk!” We can afford to buy something nice.”
I save things. It is a big thrill when someone says, I wish I had a string or a tiny cup or a matchbox and I can provide that thing for them. I am always prepared. Need a key chain? No problem. A magnet? Got that. Envelope? Of course! Nothing comes close to the excitement of finding that thing and being able to use it again. Thinking, “A-ha! I knew it! I am glad I held on to that.” Here in lies the problem, the worst is when I know I have it . . . somewhere. I just saw it. I can never find things when I need them. Where is that. . .? Things are getting out of control. Now it is hoarding. Now it’s junk. There is clutter everywhere. It started in the junk drawer and closet, now it has taken over the whole house and is moving outside. It’s in my car, in my purse, in my head.
The good news is, I can take care of this. It’s just a bunch of junk. It does not define me. It does not control me. Spring is approaching. I am going to declare a mutiny on clutter this month. My March Madness begins today. I am going to make this a challenge.
The mission, should you choose to accept it. . . clear the clutter, clear the mind.
Company is Coming!
I am going to take on the mindset that “Company is coming.” I want to live my best life. I aim to bring my best self in all areas of my life. I am a good mom. I am a good wife. I give my best at work. I have discovered my passion. I am writing and I am helping others. It is time to clean up the cobwebs. . . and the sorrows.
There is significance in everything.
When I was a girl, my mom would have me help her clean the sofa every Spring. We would actually bring it outside on the patio. We would take off all the cushions. She would sweep the sofa with a broom, wipe it down with a damp cloth dipped in a mixture of water and Ivory dish soap, and let it dry in the sun. Our sofa had about twenty cushions. She would take each one and beat it with the broom. Dust would fly out everywhere. I was always amazed at how much dust there was! I would think, “Why are we doing this? It looks clean to me. She cleans it every week.” Then I would see that dust and besides being grossed out (I really hate dust!) I would be amazed at how dirty the sofa had become. That dirt and dust was there the whole time. It made the sofa look dingy and dull. All the dust accumulated and was stuck below the surface, in the creases and crevices and spaces in between the cushions. This was not a slip cover couch like we have today. There was no easy way to clean it. It was a messy and tedious job. I think my mother liked cleaning it. At least she liked having it clean. She may not have thought about it in a romantic way as I do. But it was the source of comfort and a symbol of stability in our family.
The sofa was the center of our home. Literally at the center of our home, it was also the heart of our home. We used our living room. It was our family room, formal sitting room, and guest room. It was a big sectional sofa. We had a big family and it was a term of endearment for one to say, “I have slept on that couch.” Those words meant so much to my parents. They welcomed everyone. If you needed a place to stay, you could always sleep on our couch. It was big enough for three people to sleep comfortably. And many families have used it.
I believe that objects absorb thoughts and feelings as well as hold memories.
I’m Not Just Talking About the Dust
My mother cleaning off the sofa and beating the dust and dirt out of it holds a deeper meaning. During the year many times that couch was a place where tears were shed, hearts were broken, arguments were held, dreams were shattered. There were happy moments as well. But in beating out the dust and grime, we are able to recall the goodness and joyful moments with clarity. The surfaces are prepared to receive more and there is space for more things to happen.
But what happens to all the dust? Where does all the dirt and grime go? I would watch it fly around in the air. When you look at a beam of sunlight you can see it floating around. Sometimes it is quite dense. Particles of who knows what are always floating around us. Molecules of debris, pollen, tiny bits and pieces just floating in the air. We breathe it. It settles on shelves and tables and counter tops. It is everywhere, always. When we clean it up, we are just moving it around. It won’t ever go away. We can sweep it up, put it in a dust pan, and throw it in the trash. But it is now in a bigger pile in the trashcan. And more will accumulate. It will never go away.
If you think about your life as a sofa like the one in my childhood home, realize that you can clean it, dust it, wipe it down with soap and water, even beat it with a broom and there will always be some tiny particles of the crap left behind. Even if it is bleached and purified or even if a brand new one replaces it, the crap always comes back. If we let it accumulate it gets dingy and heavy with the pain, the hurt, the losses, the anger, the confusion, the guilt and all that stuff that we carry. It doesn’t have to be a deep seeded problem or issue. It can be all the little things piled up that get overwhelming. Pile a couple of the big things on top of that and it can crush you. There is a reason my mom enjoyed cleaning that sofa.
I believe I can enjoy cleaning up the clutter in my life. I need to take this final step in order to truly enjoy the good things in life. I look forward to beating the cushions. I can beat this. In fact, I imagine I will get a lot of aggression out when I do! I will beat that crap down! I know it will keep coming back, it always does. But I will accept the mission, take on the challenge, and I will be ready for company. Let the March Madness begin!
Great ideas, huh? But I come back to the question, how do I get started? Somewhere I have a book about cleaning up the clutter and getting organized. I am sure I clipped an article about it. I remember watching an episode of Oprah on the subject. What was that? Damned if I can find any of that now! I am defeated before I even begin. Okay brain. Think, think, think. Maybe I can Google it. Oh, I better not! I’ll end up looking at Facebook, Tweeting and Pinning all day! Please, Lord, let this be one of those times where I can find what I need when I actually need it. . . I’ve got this.
I will use these steps that I have filed in my brain to clean up and get my act together. I don’t need a book or a guru – I know what needs to be done. I know what works for me. If you want to take the challenge, you can use my list, or make a plan of your own. But there must be a plan.
HERE IS THE PLAN:
Step One: Survey the Damage
I am going to really look at my surroundings and decide what I want to accomplish. I know I can’t remove, repair and replace everything now. I can start small. When I look at it objectively, I will not let the shame and guilt get the best of me. I will take on the attitude that I am preparing for a very special visitor. That person is me. I will do this for myself. I will start by removing the obvious trash and put things away. There is a place for everything. I will return things to their proper place and get things in order. I will make that my focus for this week. Nothing else. This week I will straighten up. That is a good start.
Step Two: Make a Clean Sweep
Once everything is in its place and the general clutter is thrown out or put away, I will sweep off the dust and polish it all up. I will focus on that for the second week. Everyday I will concentrate on a different room. One room at a time. I have to keep up throwing out the trash and putting things away as I do this or I will have to go back to Step One. I can deploy the troops. I will delegate the trash duty to my husband and keep reminding the kids to put their stuff where it belongs. I will do the dusting myself. As I do, I will think about the layers that I am revealing. I will get myself and my surroundings spic and span. I look forward to returning to a place where I am brightly shining. I may even give myself a facial and wear a mud mask as I clean my bathroom! Even my face will glow anew.
Step Three: Beat it Down
Now for the deep cleanse. During week three, I will take the big step and really tackle the cobwebs in the corners of my life and my house. I think I will book a massage or take a yoga class at the end of this week! I will deserve it and need it. Each day, I will take on a different project. Small things that won’t overwhelm me. I will organize my closet one evening. Clean out the refrigerator the next. I will go through the pile of mail and only keep the pertinent items and actually follow through on the pressing things. If I can’t pay a bill, I will at least make an arrangement to pay it. One evening I will devote myself to cleaning my desk and organize my file drawer. I resolve to use my desk for my work, not a place to put my jewelry and nick-nacks! On the weekend, I will ask my husband to move the sofa outside and I will get the kids to help me beat those cushions. I can’t wait to beat something!
Step Four: Company is Coming
During the final week of my March Madness, I will proceed as if I am getting ready for a party. I will make everything spic and span. I will put the spit and polish on it all. I have been wanting to get rid of all the mismatched stuff and start using the good stuff I am hoarding. Why not? I will get boxes and start in the kitchen. I will donate the dishes, glasses and pots and pans that I do not need. I will keep one set of everything. My aunt once told me I wouldn’t have so much laundry to do if I had less clothes. True. We tend to use all the dishes and every pot and pan, every spoon and fork, before we do the dishes. I am sick and tired of the pile up it causes. If we had one set, we would have to wash them every night. It will take some getting used to, but we can do it. I think I will just tackle the kitchen this week. For me, it is the main source of my disgust and disdain. I will pack up the mismatched dishes and utensils one night. I will organize the pantry the next. I will replace the shelve paper another evening. I will get the kids to clean out that junk drawer. I will clean the oven, the cabinets and counter tops and really put a shine to it. Lastly, I will fill the fridge with food for the week and get back into meal planning.
I may need some encouragement to keep it up. Can I count on you? Will you take that challenge? Maybe we can learn something about ourselves. If not, at least the house will be clean!
To learn more about me and how I can help you with your life’s challenges see more posts under Everything Miz Meliz. I look forward to hearing from you!