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Posts tagged ‘spring cleaning’

Just Get Busy!

Well, it has officially been Spring for 10 days now, even if some areas are still feeling the cold of winter.  In Bakersfield, California, bees are enjoying the new flowers on all the bushes and trees.  I even saw a lady bug the other day.  We had a bit of rain last night, which is greatly needed, but today is sunny once again.

Even with the joy of spring weather to cheer me on, I am still rather lethargic.  I should be gearing up for travels, heck even just spring cleaning.  But I am still mired in some legal matters that are draining.  But the probate lawyer I hired is clarifying the legal demands I need to meet and will be taking over communicating with others about the matter.  So I am telling myself to “Stop It!”  To just get back on track with a fun, productive, beautiful spring.

If you too, have been in the doldrums for whatever reason, just get busy.  If you have not gotten busy on some project or another, just get busy.  If you still have to master those resolutions made a few months ago or if you tried them and have told yourself you have failed, when in reality you just need to start over again, just get busy.  Me?  I am going to start enjoying spring.  I am even taking a trek into Nature over the next several days.

I hope you will have a happy, productive, glorious spring!  Just get busy!

If you need a bit of encouragement, here’s some wise advice from Bob Newhart:


DISCLAIMER:  In no way is my posting of this video to be seen as a comment on psychology or even psychologists or psychiatrists.  Heck, some of my best friends are shrinks!  ; )


I do realize that it is officially autumn for about a week now, and the holidays are storming down on us.  But for the last several weeks, I have been engaged in a mega-spring-cleaning session.  Go figure.

What prompted my activity was that my sister has moved.  Thus, the glass-doored bookcase that she was storing for me since Mom died finally needed to get transported up to me.  Now, to make room for the bookcase I had to move out an existing bookcase.  Oh, I have enough books stacked on floors and shelves to warrant just accommodating a new bookcase or two—or three or four.  But I have no more wall space to accommodate any additional bookcases.

Thus I started sorting, and sorting, and sorting.  I finally adjusted to my decision to give away books from my first stint in graduate school—that’s over 30 years ago.  Then I started looking at all the other books.  Even though they were my books, did I need to store them if I were not reading them or even remembering they were there after so long?  When I emptied one book case with deep shelves I was surprised to find a second row of books skulking behind the visible first row.  Enough. I do not need to keep all my books.  So now my Riverside edition of the complete works of Shakespeare is in a box waiting to go to a new owner! As are old composition texts and many, many novels and copies of classics.  I just hope that in this world of Kindles and Nooks that some folks out there will welcome taking home some actual books.

Since I was boxing up the books and getting over the guilt about moving those friends on to other potential owners, I decided I would expand my review and sort through everything: jewelry, clothes, kitchen supplies, bedding, knick-knacks, more books of course, and even do-dads and what-nots.  Thank goodness the Salvation Army will come pick up whatever I finally pull together.  There are also a couple local shelters where I will share some of my things.

Mary Engelbreit Attitude PrintI am comforted through this process because I know my memories will stay just as clear and fresh as they are now (for a little while anyway), even if the items are not tucked away in a closet somewhere.  I hope someone else will enjoy the many framed pictures and posters of windows that adorned every inch of the drab wall space of a former cubicle of an office that had no windows at all.  I trust someone new will actually use the various serving trays and platters and three-tiered stands that graced my table years ago when I had crowds over for parties. There’s a huge dolly that used to cart my folding tables, chairs and displays around when I worked street fairs selling my photo-art cards and prints.  It can help someone else lug things around now.  But all those memories are still in place.

Of course, I am still keeping many items even if I do not use them regularly.  About 20 years ago, an aunt gave me a plate she had received from her husband’s mother.  I still have Grandma Mau’s plate, safely packed away.  It holds good memories.  So does some jewelry, like Mom’s charm bracelet even though some charms are missing, the shalom pendant I received from Pastor Clark on my confirmation, and a nice peace symbol necklace that I might even start wearing again. I will even hang onto a small batch of card stock and supplies in case I want to make some photo-art cards again.  Of course, I cannot really get rid of very many of my elephant figurines.  I will give away the VHS tapes of the old TV show The Avengers, but I will keep the wooden spin top, the Lost in Space robot figurine, and the energy chime that used to adorn my desk to help keep students (and faculty) amused.

Of course, the best thing I am hanging onto are the memories that are tied to everything, whether I am keeping the treasured item or not.  There are the big memories of graduations and weddings and anniversaries and holidays and such.  But the best memories are the everyday ones of just a typical day.  Laughing with Mom over a charm she bought me for my charm bracelet or the good times taking pictures with Dad tied to my first 35 mm camera.  Playing baby dolls with my sister when we were little, and Mom’s love and patience that were stitched into the handmade overcoat for that Tiny Tears doll.  We lived in Chicago back then, so my baby doll really needed a warm coat!

Lots of travel memories have surfaced tied not only to photos from the various trips but also to the shells and rocks and other little pieces I picked up as I waded in the Colorado River, walked over the lava fields in Utah, or collected fossils on a biology field trip in Texas.  Even though I no longer have my own rose bushes, I still remember how Mom would cut roses to display in a vase on the coffee table.  I have not put up a full Christmas tree for years, but I still remember helping Dad pick out a tree and get the lights on it just so before we all started helping with placing the ornaments.  The old dented blackened pot Mom always used to make popcorn for Dad has been gone for years, but it comes to mind every time I make popcorn, even in a microwave.  There are some items I will keep no matter what.  But I do not really need the mementoes. I have the memories regardless of what I keep and what I give away.

One item I uncovered captures the sense of nostalgia and memory that is surfacing for me since I have been tackling this project.  It helps me remember that little everyday things are the best.  It reminds me to cherish the ordinary, to look for connections to others, to pause and enjoy nature, and to give time to people no matter what.  What I uncovered was a wall plague I vaguely remember really, really wanting when I was a teen.  It hung on my wall for years, so Mom and Dad must have gotten it for me.  It has been in a box for years—and will probably go back there, to be disposed of later. I like its message. What I unpacked is the poem “Normal Day” by Mary Jean Irion on a wooden plague.  It is a message I hope to keep close to my heart as I continue making memories—and collecting stuff to sort and give away later.

In conclusion, I simply wish each of you the treasure of a normal day!

normal day

Spring Cleaning

You won’t believe what I have been doing this weekend. Housework! Vacuuming. Dusting. Polishing. Boxing. Sorting. Giving Away. All that stuff. If you knew me well, you would know how unlike me such activities are, even though I was named Betty Crocker Homemaker of the Year in high school. That was a fluke that involved getting out of class and taking a test—nothing remotely associated with being domestic. I keep my usual motto regarding housework framed and hanging in the kitchen: “I picked up the house today. It was heavy.”

But it is spring, making it time to dust things off, sweep away the cobwebs, start over. It does not really have anything to do with housework. The activities just sometimes overlap. The heart of spring cleaning is being conscious about assessing what has become routine and shaking things up. It is about looking at things with new eyes and being deliberate in our actions. It is about being brave and courageous enough to try something new or to let go of something old. It’s just that the spiritual spring cleaning is harder to do than cleaning out the cupboards and dusting the top of the refrigerator. I do have three suggestions to help kick start some personal spring cleaning.

Keep an eye out for Nature. Stop and listen to the birds as they welcome each new day, rain or shine. Watch for the glimmer of color breaking out on the hillsides. Work in the garden. Take a walk in the park. On your wanderings, pick up a stone, a feather, maybe some daisies. Bring home a bouquet or two. Notice a butterfly or ladybug. It’s the marvel and wonder over what you discover that brings reminders about what is important in life, about ways to connect with others.

The other day as I was driving to see my mom and dad, I noticed a great sign: Lilacs are in bloom—bouquets for sale! I stopped and bought one. The interruption in my day was fun and brought back great memories of stumbling onto lilac bushes in bloom on various travels. And the glorious fragrance filled my car! Mom was delighted too—lilacs were more abundant in Chicago when she was a girl than they are in Temple City. And the bouquet is lasting a good week or so—and bringing her good memories and love along with it.

Read a good little book. Not the murder mysteries, romances or best sellers you usually read. Not textbooks or news articles. Not even great literature such as War & Peace or Pride & Prejudice. All those pursuits are laudable, but they do not qualify as spring cleaning. It needs to be short enough to finish in an afternoon on the beach, on a park bench or even curled up in a comfy chair with a cup of tea. Volumes of poetry work well. I would suggest some e.e. cummings! Try to find one that will give reminders on being kind, generous, forgiving—lessons we all could stand to practice more.

There are two books I return to over the years. The Little Prince preaches the importance of seeing things anew with the eyes of a child. The Holy Man cautions that treating all with honor and respect is the foundation for spiritual awareness. The messages help me set aside the silly pesky annoyances that can too often upset a day. And the act of indulging in reading for the fun of it, for the luxury of taking time for myself ensures a fresher perspective on whatever comes next in the day.

Take time to play. It does not have to be a literal game such as Monopoly or Scrabble, but it could be. Even Solitaire or Angry Birds would work. So would flying a kite, kicking a can, blowing bubbles. The activity itself is not as crucial as taking the time to play. Indulge in an afternoon of playing hooky. Maybe your break from the tediousness of daily routines and responsibilities is working in the garden, inviting a gorilla to someone’s birthday party, or eating a hot fudge sundae for lunch. Staying up late to watch Ferris Bueller’s Day Off. The point is to take time, to break the routine and just have fun. To do the unexpected. To be conscious and deliberate about what you do with your time and energy. To live in the moment, and hopefully to laugh a bit.

If you follow these tips, your spring cleaning will rejuvenate you, and then maybe your spontaneity will infect others with hope and a sense of adventure. It can be that simple. Tomorrow I intend to play hooky: I might wander into the Lancaster hills in search of some poppies or just poke around outside looking for the hummingbird that has been visiting my patio.

What will you do? Just remember: It’s not about the housework!

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