Cleaning up my act


It always helps me to have a fresh start.  There are items on my to do list that seem to be permanent- like cleaning my room.  Some things never change.  I was a messy kid in my room, and I am a messy adult in my room.  I often clean the rest of the house, throw all my random stuff from the living room into a rough tote, and toss is in my room.  I don’t mind washing laundry, drying it or folding it.  I do appear to be constitutionally incapable of putting it away.  I will dress out of a laundry pile for a week.  As I start a new beginning with writing every day (and it feels fabulous, by the way) I feel the stirrings of other projects as the seedlings of ideas begin to poke through the dirt and search for the sun.

I hate to clean.  I have always resented it.  I loathe dusting, and I only do it as often as absolutely required.  Like when something like a cat tail drags across the dust on the front of the TV and disrupts its evenness, thereby distorting the picture.  At that point, dusting becomes warfare.  It’s EVERYWHERE, thick as a blanket.  Vanquishing it takes a lot of effort at this point, so I schedule a major purge and then retreat until the blanket re-knits itself.  Gross?  Yes.  I try not to let it get so nasty, but I often fail.

MY LIFE IS TOO INTERESTING AND THERE IS TOO MUCH GOING ON FOR ME TO MAKE CLEANING A PRIORITY.  I often say “Life is too short to spend time cleaning.”  But I am an anal retentive Virgo, and the clutter and mess make me depressed and angry.  Procrastinating with cleaning is yet one more masterful way I sabotage my emotional health and well-being.  Now, please don’t get the wrong idea. I don’t have filth lying around, dirty dishes anywhere, or scum in the bathtub.  A girl’s gotta have her standards.  I am more messy than dirty, with the exception of the whole dusting thing.  I do refer to the side table next to my recliner as my Corner of Filth, but that’s just where I store my most important piles of stuff.

I woke up this morning in the mood to vanquish the housekeeping.  And since I have avoided things like mopping the floors, it may take a while.  As usual, there is laundry to put away.  But when I get a room picked up and everything is in its place, I do feel peace.  The only major issue is how I arrive at the peace, which I think we can all agree is the good part.

I procrastinate and put things in piles.  Then, I resent the piles.  After a couple of weeks, I wonder what the hell is in them.  They become Mystery Piles.  Soon, I am prone to fits of rage because I can’t find something that I KNOW is in a pile somewhere.  This often happens with paperwork.  Then, I berate myself for being lazy and unorganized- two things I know in my heart that I am not- and the shame sets in over not being able to find the dog’s vaccination records when I have to board her in the morning.  Sooner or later, I sweep the inner critics from my psyche, take a deep breath, and dive in.

When I accomplish getting an area not only picked up but CLEAN (and you have to do the picking up part or you can’t clean- it’s counterproductive to mop AROUND rough totes full of stuff), it feels amazing.  Really.  I love having clean space, and I vow to keep it pristine.  Never happens.  Pristine is an unreasonable expectation for me.  But my cycle of perfectionism and failure is fully ingrained in my cleaning cycle.

I woke up this morning and cleaned out the inside of the refrigerator before I even ate breakfast.  My room is still a hot mess, but the fridge is CLEAN.  Unidentified weird brown sticky goo BEGONE!!  Old expired condiments GONE!  Scary wrinkly apple GONE!  Pickled ginger from the last time I made sushi (can’t even remember how long ago) GONE!  No earthly idea how long that stuff is even good for.   Jars with Japanese characters and no discernible expiration date have no place in my kitchen   We do however have 5 jars of different kinds of mustard: cheap yellow, generic Dijon, off brand spicy brown mustard, sweet yellow (gag) and the inevitable Grey Poupon.  Why the hell do I have so much mustard when I eat it on other foods maybe three times a year?  No earthly idea.

As I strive to dance with the ebb and flow of my life, I really want to make changes in the way I keep my space.  To reduce drama, cleaning up after myself for a few minutes every day will keep me out of the overwhelmed, panicky, grossed out desperation of vanquishing the blanket of dust.  I can relinquish that need to judge myself harshly.  No one I know can pass the dreaded white glove test, and I don’t love them any less.  Maybe it’s time to give myself the same compassionate consideration.  I have the power to adjust my goals, to ease into the habit if caring for my space a little at a time.  I do want to start out with a clean slate.  As bewildering as it is, I’m in the MOOD to clean, so I’d better get started.  I have no idea how long this mood will last or when it might strike again!

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~ by dancingwiththeshadow on November 3, 2012.

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