Category Archives: clearingspaceforjoy

Giving Advice

How do I?

I find myself in the position this morning of not knowing where to begin on a project, and the project today is cleaning my house. I’ve never really had “cleaning days” or any systemic cleaning practices that have become second nature. The cleaning I do is more of the “lick and a promise” sort. I thought about asking others who are great housecleaners where I should begin, but I decided before I do that, I would write a blog post to a certain someone who wants to know how to clean their home.

Should I use the internet? 

The internet is filled to the brim with “how-to” websites. The search words “how to clean your home” yield 268,000,000 results. So, there’s no shortage out there of advice. The best advice I can possibly get, however, comes from my inner wise self. No one else has my home’s layout, my particular clutter challenges, my preferences, my tools, my temperament. Looking to my inner wise self will give me a fantastic place to start. Maybe I’ll be left with a question or two that I genuinely don’t know the answer to. Then I can find out the answer to that specific question.

In the meantime, I have actually noticed quite often that when I give advice to others (either solicited or unsolicited), it is almost always advice to applies to one or more situations in my own life as well. Like the saying, we do not see the world as it is, we see the world as we are. Same thing with advice: we give advice that we believe will be helpful to another, but we can’t help it being helpful to ourselves as well.

What do I accept about giving advice?

The acceptance piece of giving advice is that I’m really the best person to give myself advice. I think this becomes more true the healthier we are, but I believe that we each have the best solutions within us. Sometimes we just need a good coach to help us access them.

Try it. Think of something you feel stuck about. Look inside and ask your inner wise self how you might proceed. Trust yourself. It’s a process of learning to listen to ourselves, to act on our gut instinct, and to be “wise as serpents and innocent as doves.” We must also apply critical thinking to this process. Thoughts come and go, and they’re not all from our inner wisdom!

Can I see an example?

Here is my letter to my certain someone about the issue facing her today:

Dear Friend,

You’ve gotten to the place where it’s time to clean and you don’t know where to begin? Well, anywhere you start is a fine place, since it means you are actually taking the first step. However, there are a few cleaning principles that may come in handy as you go about your work.

Do clean from top to bottom. There is a reason why that is an actual phrase. As you clean the top, there are items and detritus that waft downward, so you work your way down so as to keep clean the part you have already done.

As you look at the room you are cleaning, think of it in layers. The first layer is the items that do not belong in that room, and the items that are misplaced. Get your laundry baskets and identify them with kitchen, daughter’s room, basement and son’s room. As you come across things that go in those places, put them into the correct basket. After you finish this step, empty the baskets by putting the items in their proper places.

Set the Time Timer for 15 minutes. Allow yourself to clean for just 15 minutes, but feel free to continue on for another 15 and another, as long as you want. Just get started.

Do a first layer sweep of the room first thing. Have a trash bag attached to your apron so you can throw away trash right away. Have a second trash bag where you can put recyclables.

Express gratitude for each item you pick up or clean. You are tremendously blessed in so many ways. Allow your cleaning to be a reflection of that truth.

Clean your rooms in a counter-clockwise manner by starting with your living room, then master bedroom, bathroom, hall, kepler’s room, office, kitchen, family room.

Second layer of the process is cleaning flat surfaces. You will want to have along your cleaning supplies and tools for this step. Purple cleaning cloths, Windex multi-surface spray, Miracle 2 spray, bucket of soapy water, baking soda dispenser as well as barkeeper’s friend, drying cloths, furniture oil and cloth, clorox wipes.

Flat surfaces include windowsills, tops of the lower windows, windows, tables, mirrors, hearth and mantel, the piano, countertops, tub, wooden furniture, etc. These will be evident. Having already done the first layer of putting away all the things that do not belong, this layer will go quickly.

Third layer is to clean the floors. Use the rainbow vacuum to vacuum the rooms, again in compass order, and add the basement steps in at the end. After vacuuming and putting the vacuum away and emptying the water basin, clean the ceramic floor in the bathroom and the wood floor in the kitchen.

Completing these three layers will give you a completely different feel in your home. When you think of your mother’s home, which is the standard you tend to think of, you will remember that not only is her home actually clean, but it also is beautiful. Allow yourself to focus on the cleanliness portion right now, and once it is clean and you are breathing in the freshness and enjoyment of that, you can look at how you would like to add, subtract or multiply to bring more beauty into your own home.

Next time we’ll look at the layers and steps for cleaning the basement storage, bathroom, and living areas.


What if we Still Received Report Cards?

What kind of grades did you get in school? In college? How important were grades to you?

Imagine if we still got graded as adults, receiving a report card periodically:

Here are my subjects/categories for this day:

  • Showering the people I love with love
  • Keeping Important Stuff from Becoming Urgent
  • Following the Path to Excellent Town
  • Living and Telling my Story
  • Being a Real Bunny
  • Stepping Over the Edge
  • Yowch!
  • Shipping News
  • Tiramisu for my Mind
  • Watching and Listening to Ahs for my Soul
  • Sharing like a Big Girl
  • All the Diamonds in This World
  • Be Careful, Little Hands, where you Put Your Stuff!
  • Doing the Best Version of the Job
  • Walking My Theory Feet into My Action Shoes
Maybe this is a different way to approach the values clarification discussion. I cared about my grades. They helped me see whether I was doing the work.

These days, teachers and professors clearly define what it takes to achieve a certain grade. I’m my own professor now. What would it take for me to get an A in my subjects? Here is my grading scale.

10 self-defined Standards per Category/Subject

Number Met
Yeah, BABY
Getting There
Let’s Try Hella Harder

Could this work? Would it be too cumbersome? Is it worth a try? [yes] The act of defining the standards in itself creates a more intentional lifestyle for me.

I decided to go ahead and create my lists for these categories. So, I’m trying to distract you in case you would rather not read them. They are probably not all that interesting to anyone besides me. You are welcome to read them for edification, education, erudition, exclamatory expressions, etc. But feel free to skip them as well.

What categories/subjects would you like to receive grades in?

Showering the people I love with love
Telling those I love that I love them, every day. 
Sending monthly letters and packages to my away loved ones.
Getting gifts and cards shipped and mailed in time to arrive on or before the special date.
Being on the lookout for small tokens/gifts to show my love and appreciation
Taking good care of myself; speaking well of myself
Receiving compliments graciously
Being affectionate with the ones I love; touching them
Keeping the pantry stocked with their favorite foods
Making sure the bathroom is clean
Getting up at a reasonable time and being productive
Keeping Important Stuff from Becoming Urgent
Bills are paid on or before their due date 100% of the time.
Online payments are initiated in time to process by the due date.
All tax payments and estimated taxes are paid by the due date.
Gifts and cards for special occasions are mailed/bought in plenty of time.
I complete jobs by the date I commit to
Arriving at appointments on time without speeding like a maniac
Allowing myself extra time to accomplish anything
Using the library without incurring fines.
Paying off credit cards every month
Grocery shopping on a set day every week.
Following the Path to Excellent Town
Doing the most I can in a situation
Making and keeping regular checkups
Making my bed every day
Taking pride in my appearance
Taking pride in my home
Eschewing all fast food, but especially Wendy’s, Boston Market, Kroger fried chicken
Finding out how to clean my house efficiently and regularly, and doing it.
Overcoming set-down disease. 
Cleaning as I go.
Embracing the messiness of being human.
Living and Telling my Story
Blogging daily
Reading The Message of Me as committed
Setting goals for sharing my story in at least one speech
Connecting with a person face-to-face every week
Looking for opportunities to share my story
Finding a way to observe or practice improv
Act on impulses which urge me to action
Be willing to fail
Complete the storyline exercises
Write for a set time every day with butt in chair
Being a Real Bunny
Looking people in the eyes
Asking about their lives
Giving the person I am with my full attention
Keeping my phone away when I am with someone.
Saying yes when I mean yes.
Saying no when I mean no.
Acknowledging my feelings, aloud where appropriate.
Asking for what I need.
Being willing to receive help even if not at death’s door.
Not engaging in activities I think I “should” do
Stepping Over the Edge
Saying yes when I mean yes
Saying no when I mean no
Acknowledging my feelings, aloud where appropriate
Asking for something I want without assurance of getting it
Shipping/blogging about things I am not completely comfortable with
Stepping boldly into bigger things as they arise
Finding times when I can do something other than play it safe
Trusting people I have been afraid to trust
Trying a new activity/group/way of thinking
Doing the most I can
Limiting or eliminating my cat naps
Making healthy choices about food
Going to bed and getting up at a set time
Fighting through negative thoughts to get to the positive ones
Saying no to what I need to say no to
Experimenting with outgoing behavior in group settings
Limiting or eliminating credit card use
When tempted to Fight or Flight, STAY and ENGAGE
Learning to delay gratification 100x better than I do it now, or
even 1/1000th better
Going outside and walking no matter the weather
Shipping News
Blogging every day
Getting the blanket supplies by March 1
Making a weighted blanket by March 15
Surveying moms of boys with Down syndrome about special clothing needs by March 1
Attend the Lifestream of SisterGiant (3/28-29/15)
Create list of 20 for ScaryClose group by March 8
37 Fling Boogie 3x week Feb 20-26, 2015
Revive profiles on elance and odesk by March 4
Create outline for Down syndrome presentation by April 1, 2015
Continue discussion with TL about creating Improv group
Tiramisu for my Mind
bloom, a memoir
The Message of You
What to Do When It’s Your Turn
Infinite Jest
Blog posts by fellow UTYC members
Blog posts by Martha Beck, Geneen Roth,
Reading good stuff every day
Responding in writing to some of what I read
Do more creating than consuming
Read book club book and interact with it
Watching and Listening to Ahs for my Soul
Define what it means to feed my soul
Drunk Ex-Pastors every week
Marc Maron WTF podcast once a week
Limit episodes of Netflix shows to no more than two per day
Reflect on what I am listening and watching
Create a list of shows and movies worth watching for this purpose
Create a list of questions to ask about a show or movie
Write about my musings
Listen to ebooks and write reviews of them on Goodreads
Walking at the park and looking around me
Sharing like a Big Girl
Volunteering in Kepler’s classroom
Spending quality time with Kepler doing the 3 r’s
Help people throughout my day as I meet them
Do more creating than consuming
Celebrate others on social media
Ask my sisters and mom how I can support them
Reach out to JE on a daily basis
Continue discussion with TL about improv class
Blog daily
Contribute in the schools in the ways that nourish me as well
All the Diamonds in This World
Print out texts and comments that are meaningful and supportive
Freely ask for help even if not at death’s door
Say yes to generosity from others
Drink in compliments
Receiving with gratitude the lessons the School of Life presents me with every day
Trust that others can be responsible for their own feelings
Focus on the joy that DB gets out of clearing our driveway
Keep the good energy moving — take it in, give it out
Asking for what I need or want
Stepping boldly into bigger things as they arise
Be Careful, Little Hands, where you Put Your Stuff!
Manage clerty clothes by hanging, laundering, or folding
Keeping track of charging cords, lip balm, glasses, purse
Regular joyful clearing space for joy by decluttering
Processing email every day for [20] minutes (OHIO)
Pick up living room every day — have Kepler help
Share my extra things with others
Create to-go lists/bags for each outing, esp for Kepler
Fix house stuff within one month of noticing, or have plan by then
Clean: K-Mon, LD-Tues, FStrs-Wed, OK-Thurs, MBR-Fri, Ba-Sat
Laundry start to finish one day per week
Doing the Best Version of the Job
Putting folded clothes away where they belong
Washing up the broiler and griddle same day
Create and use OHIO system for my paperwork
Practice making decisions NOW
Schedule my day a little more
Do the work (It’s always my turn)
Persevere and finish what I start
Put my stuff away when I come in the house, first thing
A place for [every]thing and [every]thing in its place
Spend time thinking about what result I want
Walking My Theory Feet into My Action Shoes
Actually do the things on my list of things that make me feel better
Fulfill what I commit myself to
Take care of myself by scheduling appts for myself and kids
Have a spending plan and carefully adhere to it
Find my yes in the uncomfortable no’s
Do what it takes to stay in a good brain space
Commit to paper the results that I want
Let go of something every Friday
Practice Making Decisions NOW
Join the Mobius of Giving/Receiving

The Grace of Reaching Out

created by Kepler, February 2015

When I awoke yesterday, I was completely dismayed to discover that my wicked bad sore throat was back in spades. The idea that I was getting better was completely decimated. In desperation, I reached out and asked for help.

I let three lovely someones know that I was in pain, struggling, and in need. All three immediately responded. Throughout the day, I was blessed by my angels putting Kepler on the bus, rubbing my feet, making me smoothies, soothing me with a warm cloth, picking up the slack for all the driving I was supposed to do, washing my damn dishes, getting Kepler off the bus, and speaking words of support and love. 
Even writing that paragraph is difficult if I focus on the fact that I was in such a low position, one where I could do little more than receive. 
On the other hand, I love it when I have the opportunity to do something for someone who truly needs me. I know the women I reached out to; they all have giving hearts, and I believe they treasured the opportunity to give. 
So, I accept it. When the critical voice scrapes across my consciousness, I remind myself that I believe in interdependence; that we all need a little help from our friends and family; that the presence of need means I am human, not defective. 
With the space provided by my mom and sisters, I could finally think about turning down the intensity and volume of my everyday existence. Remember I mentioned being overwhelmed. I noticed that every nook of my bedside table was full to overflowing. Before bed, I decided to calm that space down. The drawer is slightly larger than an iPad box. It’s pretty tiny. Here’s what I pulled out of the drawer: mail, 3 pocket knives, a shot glass, jewelry, nail clipper, lip balm, unopened medicine spoon, earbuds, 27 vials of prescription eye drops that i do not use, replacement earbud pads, lightbulbs, trash, glasses cleaning cloth, a key, ink pens, wristwatch, lifesavers, a 2 oz bottle, mouthguard, a little black mysterious thing, and a scrunchy. That is a ridiculous amount of stuff to have jammed into that tiny drawer. 
Now that I’ve solidified my reputation as a packrat extraordinaire, let’s just focus on the fact that the sheer volume of what I had stuffed in that drawer is kind of a perfect little picture of what I’ve been doing with all my “too much.” Stuffing it here and there. And there. Here’s more. And under there. 
Everyone needs the space to clear their space, and I’m sure that means different things for different people. This illness has been a time for me to slow down long enough to notice the pot I’m boiling in. 
For someone with as strong a Meyer’s Briggs “J” as I have, I LOVE the journey. I love the opportunities that arise to learn. I love sharing my journey with others.

What are your tried and true methods for clearing YOUR space?