Tag Archives: spring

Cleanliness is Next to Godli….er, Impossible

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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!

Leslie

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Renewing Frustrations

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What is it about spring and summer that bring about feelings of renewal? I’m aware of the fertility cycle and how all of nature seems to be having babies and all of the flowers are blooming and such…. But I wonder what causes us – or at least me – to feel like I need to conduct a thorough inventory on everything from my deepest feelings and hidden emotions to the dishes stacked perilously in the back of the cupboard and the matchless socks tossed haphazardly behind the bedroom chair. My husband says I should blame the pagans.

Mostly I really enjoy this time of year. I love spring cleaning – the fresh smell of clean baseboards and mopped floors, the windows thrown open, sunshine beaming into the house, flowers on the table, dinner on the deck, warm nights sipping wine in a porch chair…… I love having my kids home from school and all of the sounds of neighborhood laughter. I enjoy afternoons in the park, reading on a blanket by the flowing creek water. I really love rearranging our furniture – I’ve found this is the most inexpensive redecoration possible – sometimes I’ll even throw a new pillow on the bed or a new blanket on the sofa to add to the “whole new room” feel. And, I love the Saturday morning ritual of going to the Farmer’s Market and searching through the fresh vegetables and warm breads and taking little treats for my family home to enjoy. And sangria, I really love sangria.

But, in the spirit of honesty I will tell  you that the inner reflection part that I go through this time of year pretty much sucks for me. Here’s the way it usually works: I read something that triggers a reminder of “things” I want to do. These things have been known to range from finishing a painting that I’ve started to working on the novel that I know is buried in my psyche just waiting to be put on the page to even beginning some type of daily ritual that will end with me being fitter, healthier, more stylish, more charming, more outgoing……you get the picture.

I think the biggest hurdle for me is learning to accept myself just the way I am. I’m always looking at the things I don’t like – and there are many but I won’t bore you with the details – instead of focusing on the things that I do like. Admittedly I don’t really like much but I think that’s part of the accepting thing I need to learn. I’m trying.

Tell me what you do this time of year. Do you reflect? Do you throw out old clothes or dried up makeup? Do you take an hour everyday and write the novel you really want to get on paper? How do you overcome those feelings of inadequacy…or do you even have them?

I’m waiting on your answers – but until you share them I’ll be changing out the duvet, making sweet tea, washing windows…….darn those pagans.