Tag Archives: mental-health

Cleanliness is Next to Godli….er, Impossible


We’ve all heard it, right? Cleanliness is next to godliness. Have nothing in your home that you do not know to be useful or believe to be beautiful. A place for everything and everything in it’s place. Following these adages I should be riding the highway to hell with nary a possession to call my own. Needless to say, keeping a clean house is an issue I struggle with.

Now don’t get me wrong. I WANT a clean house, I covet a clutter free living room, I’ve even been known to wake from sleep having dreamt of a spotless, shiny kitchen and sparkly windows and floors. I have a few barriers that keep this from becoming a reality.

First, I have pets. Loads of them. 2 dogs and 2 cats call me mom. Shedding comes in phases – the constant but manageable phase and the season changing unbearable phase. Multiply that by 4, do this to the nth power because 1 is a German Shepherd and you get…..well….I’ve never been good at math but the amount of hair equals a lot. Every single day there is a fine coating of assorted hairs on the coffee table and furry tumbleweeds skittering across the tiled floor. Every. Single. Day. During those aforementioned unbearable phases the tan carpet becomes a lovely shade of black (the Shepherd is black), that even daily vacuuming – yes I said DAILY –¬† doesn’t keep under control. I think that maybe once upon a time I was allergic to pet dander but I have since then ingested such high quantities as to inoculate myself.

I’ve considered the possibilities of how to handle this furry issue. But, I love the animals. I’m not willing to get rid of them or to confine them to a box for the rest of their natural lives. So….we have a pet hair problem.

Secondly, I have children. They no longer play with “toys” but rather have sports paraphernalia, dance gear, and an ENORMOUS amount of papers that lie in their wake. School papers, extracurricular activity papers, letters from colleges, notes from friends, art projects from 3rd grade that no one wants to part with… The paper trail is endless. And it adds up. Literally. It becomes stacks on whatever free surface can be found. Then of course there are the mountains of laundry. They do some of their own laundry but it multiplies so quickly they need backup assistance. And let’s be honest, kids in general aren’t typically stellar at always “putting everything in its place.” Now, add that thin layer of animal hair onto all of this – classy, yep.

Seriously, I’m not blaming a dirty house on having kids. It’s only one element of the issue. Because really, there’s more.

The third and biggest factor – me. I suck at constant cleaning. I am fully aware of this shortcoming. While I recognize it and I attempt to change it, I am also painfully aware that I will most likely never be a superstar cleaner. Here’s the thing: when I hardcore deep clean, it is spotless. I mean spit shined (although not literally because that’s just disgusting and not at all clean). The trouble is that I just don’t want to do that every single day. I ABHOR dusting. It’s my least favorite chore of all time. Seriously. I’ll do windows, I’ll scrub bathrooms….just please for the love of all that’s good, someone else dust. But apparently everyone in my home has the same mentality so the dusting chore….shall we say….suffers. Likewise, I don’t want to vacuum everyday. I’ll do it several times a week. But everyday? It just seems like pointless overkill to me.

And, I clearly need an organization system that is seriously effective but as of yet I do not have said system. So….papers pile up, stacks teeter to the tipping point, then they get moved to an area akin to massive stacks of newspapers from back in the day. Remember when your grandpa hoarded stacks of newspapers….if you went to the very bottom of the very first stack the papers would probably be from aught 3…..yeah it’s just like that. My oldest child is knocking on the door of 20 and I’m pretty sure there are some scribblings from when he was 2 in there. But where am I going to put them? I’m not emotionally ready (and honestly don’t know if I’ll ever be), to get rid of them….he certainly doesn’t want them….so they stay in the stacks. I’ve gotten slightly more organized by putting the stacks in plastic containers, but now the containers are stacking up too.

Here’s the kicker: I have OCD. I’m not just throwing that acronym around willy-nilly…..I’m actually diagnosed….it says so on my medical chart. There aren’t enough hours in a day nor energy reserves in my body to keep things around here as clean as I want them to be. When things don’t get cleaned my OCD tends to push me toward an anxiety/panic attack. Then when that gets sorted I have an emotional breakdown because everything isn’t “in its place.” It’s really a vicious circle – round and round we go.

I try to find comfort in wise words of other folks who suffer in this manner and remember that really my house isn’t nearly as bad as it seems in my own mind. And, that it doesn’t matter if things are spotless when the kids are happy and memories are being made. I really do try to remember all of that. Somewhere deep down I believe it – but oh my goodness there’s so much clutter!

But, it’s Spring. Time for renewal. Time for planting flowers and vegetables, time for singing birds and baby lambs. And…time for cleaning. Cleaning out the fur and the dust and the cobwebs…not just on your floors and windows and tables but the ones in your head and heart as well. While you’re mopping the floor, let go of a past hurt that’s been gnawing at you. When you clean out the overstuffed closet, forgive yourself for that thing that keeps you from moving forward. While you clean your windows, formulate a plan to achieve that next thing you want to accomplish in life. Cleaning isn’t just about physical dust and dirt – we all have emotional cobwebs to knock down too. It’s Spring – time to take care of you. When you do, taking care of everyone you love is even better, and they will notice the change in you. Love yourself so you can love others.¬† Try being a little OCD about it….even if you aren’t diagnosed.

Happy Spring!








Have you ever been pregnant? Have you ever given birth? For those of you who have you may connect to my sensibilities a little closer. But, for those of you who haven’t – male OR female – just for a moment try to imagine:

You have been carrying a child inside of you for roughly 9 months – give or take some days. You’ve changed your eating habits in an effort to be healthy for this child. You’ve felt this child kick and move, you’ve heard their heartbeat, you’ve seen their image…..

Now, let’s imagine that you’ve done something naughty; something that lands you in prison. Maybe you wrote a boatload of bad checks, maybe you shoplifted for the 3rd time, maybe you drove the getaway car when your boyfriend held up a bank, maybe you killed your abusive husband…. Do you deserve to serve time? Yes, of course. We all must be held accountable for our actions. Do I think some acts are more justified than others…yes I do…but that’s for another post.

So…you’re very pregnant and incarcerated. You give up some personal liberties just by virtue of being naughty. That’s normal and expected.

BUT – Do you give up the right to experience a humane childbirth? I think not.

Many studies have been conducted on the safety of the mother and baby during the birthing process. It should come as no great surprise that a woman’s body will naturally move into positions that are conducive to successful birthing with minimal¬† difficulties. (I say this a bit tongue-in-cheek because birthing is difficult by definition). In addition to the aforementioned studies, many studies have been done on the effect of mother/baby bonding or lack thereof initially following childbirth. It is crucial. Not only for the mother but for the baby as well. Feel free to look it up if you don’t believe me. It’s of utmost importance.

Shackling a woman to the birthing bed/table via ankle and/or wrist restraints is cruel and inhumane. Your range of motion is relinquished, restricting the ability of your body to adjust to birthing in a natural way. Your arms are restrained keeping you from creating leverage from which to push. You are unable to hold and swaddle your baby immediately following birth. All of the things doctors and psychologists and child behavior experts and decent human beings in general realize are absolutely necessary are stripped from incarcerated women.

The main argument seems to be that these women are a flight risk. REALLY?? For those of you who have given birth – can you imagine even harboring the thought that you would get up and flee while in the midst of pushing? Not to mention the fact that the birthing rooms are guarded by armed guards. But seriously – you can barely stand (if that is your preferred method of pushing), much less walk or possibly run. It would be impossible. The idea is preposterous. For those of you who are trying to imagine this scenario – you’ve seen movies – do you think it’s a reasonable concern?

I do not take offense at pregnant women being incarcerated. Sometimes we’re naughty. When we are, we get in trouble and we have to face the consequences. But, being naughty does not mean we should no longer be treated humanely. She’s not going anywhere. This practice is archaic and dangerous. Stop it.

Come on humanity….be humane.