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Thursday, June 28, 2012

The Peace That Comes From Being "All Done"

As I'm sitting here writing this, it's about 8:45 at night. I'm in my nightclothes, ready for bed whenever I want to go to it- my face is washed & my teeth are brushed. Both beds in the house were made hours ago. Dinner earlier was cheeseburgers & waffle fries- made at home from scratch, not from take-out or fast food. My bathroom was swished-and-swiped this morning already. I had dressed to the shoes not long after waking up today. My cell phone sound is turned off for the evening now, but it is right by my side, charged completely this afternoon- as it is every day. My outfit for tomorrow- including jewelry & shoes- was laid out right after I got dressed today, just as it always is. My water bottle is to my left. I just got done starting the dishwasher, wiping down the counters & stovetop, then using my Sh-Mop to quickly wipe down my entire kitchen floor, as I do every night after dinner. It takes me about fifteen minutes each evening to clean up from that day's kitchen work, and prep it for the next day. I did my normal Thursday [weekly] kitchen routine, which is to fill the salt shaker & sugar bowl, check the cabinets for outdated spices, herbs, medications, pantry items & old leftover food (of course tossing whatever's needed), then wiped down the inside of the fridge quickly. My cat has fresh water to drink in her bowl, plenty of food in her dish & her litter box is all cleaned out- as usual, my Queen of Kitties lives in clean splendour! I read today's chapter in a favorite book I have for daily spiritual motivation, took time to pray & spent the day doing what I love- writing. I'm just about finished reading a really good book, too. My living & dining room are neat & decluttered. Every drawer, closet, shelf, cabinet- all are organized & neat in the house. I have one load of laundry to do tomorrow, plus I will conquer my normal Friday cleaning routine- polishing the wood furniture with Pledge, cleaning mirrors & glassware with Windex, vacuuming the upholstered pieces + the floors & then mopping the bathroom's hard floors. However, if an emergency or change in plans came up, it'll be no big deal- my laundry is all caught up on otherwise, the sheets on both beds got changed already on Monday (which is a part of my normal routine) & I did Monday's Weekly Home Blessing Hour, too. My desk, because it's got a couple of big electronics on it, is a magnet for dust. But it just got polished yesterday, because I have a goal to dust the desk every other day. So if worse came to worse tomorrow & I couldn't clean my house, I still wouldn't be stuck putting out fires all weekend long. I'm not tired enough yet for going to sleep, but I've taken my evening dose of supplements & I can go to bed without guilt any time that I wish. On Tuesday, my computer got it's weekly maintenance routine- the monitor got wiped down, the hard drive "sprayed" with compressed air to loosen the dust, Disk Cleanup & Defrag got run, the keyboard was cleaned & my anti-virus's computer scan got implemented again. All of my files are backed up to disk. The computer's got the maximum memory on it that I could install. My printer is full of paper & has new ink cartridges installed. My file cabinet is cleaned out daily (one file folder per day), it's organized logically & well-labeled. My mail gets dealt with daily. All of my bills are paid & up-to-date. My next shopping list for the drugstore is at the ready. I feel a tremendous sense of peace.

What a huge change this is for me from even just a couple of years ago. Even when I was home all day, I never ended my days feeling this much peace years ago. There was always this lingering feeling of guilt- that I'd left things undone, that my home just wasn't looking good enough, that I didn't accomplish enough. I focused on the negatives & not the positives. I didn't celebrate the accomplishments, but I ruminated over the undone chores. That was before I learned that what I accomplished today really is good enough, and tomorrow I'll do what I'm scheduled to do & it'll all be okay. Tomorrow is always the chance for a fresh beginning in my home, I now know. I owe much of the knowledge on how to keep up my home to FlyLady & a few other great people- but the actual work of it all, I did myself. I made my home a priority in mind, body & spirit a long time ago. Some people take on this responsibility, and some people blow it off. I've always taken it seriously. It wasn't from a lack of concern for it that my home ever looked less-than-great. My finances are dedicated to taking care of myself & my home first, in a reasonable manner. But it took years to get my home humming along like this. My brain wasn't wired to keep house in such a methodical, step-by-step manner, so it was a huge uphill battle for me each step of the way. I never saw things in that linear way that I always wished I did- the abstract was what I excelled at. I wanted to be stable, reliable, responsible & dependable- but my creative, scatterbrained, changeable nature prevented this over & over again. The old I'm-a-square-peg-in-a-round-board-world syndrome, and everyone successful around me seemed to be shaped like a circle! That's why I'm reveling in my current life to this degree. I didn't know years ago that it was possible to keep a home so easily & yet still stay true to myself. When I got up earlier & got all of my chores done within an hour, I was actually shocked. Epiphanies happen all the time like this, even years after starting on the organizing journey. It is all-too-easy to recall the years when housework seemed a perpetual chore, as if the devil had nothing to do all day long but create more dirt for me to clean somewhere new. I don't feel dead on my feet anymore. I don't have an aching back right now. I don't exist feeling perpetually defeated. I didn't spend all day cleaning today- far from it. Actually, I haven't spent a whole day cleaning in years. I've gone over a year without having to get out the "heavy guns" of cleaning products that used to be in my regular arsenal. I didn't have any laundry to do today because I've been consistently doing a load or two a day as needed all along for years now.

Is my house "perfect"? Yeah, right. Of course it isn't. Do I care anymore if it's not? No, I honestly don't. But it looks good. It functions well. It smells nice. Do I still have dark minutes, hours & days? Absolutely. I have fibromyalgia & the pain that it creates is mind-boggling at times. Do I still experience setbacks & failures, even with all of my knowledge? Yes, quite frequently. But I pick myself back up every day & go for the gold again. My Southern ancestors, with all of their warm hospitality, superb cooking skills & immense housekeeping knowledge would be proud. When it's time to cook dinner, the kitchen has enough counter space free for me to work, even though it's a small room. Clean pans & pots wait for me to easily cook anything within them that I wish. When someone comes in & needs to use the restroom, I gladly point the way, knowing my bathroom's always sanitized & fresh. Quickly taking a clean white hand towel to my shower tile & bathtub each night after my shower or bath means that I never get stuck scrubbing a mildewed nightmare anymore on a Saturday. You know, a day that I should have been out having fun each week all along, but that I used to spend angrily, sweating it out as I cleaned like a madwoman! I went out last Friday evening with my best friend for a birthday celebration & for the first time ever as an adult, I felt not a twinge of guilt that I left something undone at home. How could I? Just about everything was caught up. It was yet another epiphany. I knew that I put so much effort into my home all of that previous week that one day off wouldn't break my good habits anyway. There are no lurking disasters anymore. I know now that any chore I have doesn't take all that long to complete- no more overestimating the workload anymore. I'd given my home my all. Because of my planning, I knew what needed to be done & when- no nagging feeling can remain that you left something undone when you've been following an established list. This is important- it's the "maybe I didn't do what I should have" thought which tends to haunt people more than a specific chore jumping out in your mind to do. When you start writing down your routines & sticking to them, this vague feeling of unease lets up. I'd simplified my house down to only what I used & loved. I spent a few hours leading up to going out last week listening to fun music, cranking it up as I got all dolled up to go out, just like a teenager again. It had been years since I'd felt so carefree- I couldn't remember the last time that I'd turned on the stereo & got pumped for my night out to great tunes. I felt ten years younger. And what a blast I had going out! The night was filled with laughter & great conversation, good food & wine. I didn't think about my house once while I was out. That doesn't sound impressive to some people, but if you've been a perfectionist about your house like I was for years, you'll know exactly what I talking about. I didn't even know when I started this journey that living without guilt was possible. My only goal when I joined FlyLady & started simplifying my life was to get my house in order- gaining peace was the last thing on my agenda. Heck, it wasn't even on the radar. If I managed to get myself to work every day, stuck to an exercise routine & lost a little weight while keeping my house looking clean enough all the time, I would've considered that a triumph. I thought that feeling peace for any length of time while still on earth was an impossible dream. I was wrong. It's not only possible, but I'm now living it all the time!

My closet is filled with clean clothes that fit me well, are comfortable, appropriate for the season we're in & organized by rainbow to locate easily. Shoes are neatly laid out in a similar manner. My jewelry sits in my jewelry box, organized, clean & untangled. Clean underclothes fill my dresser drawers, along with workout wear & handkerchiefs. Emergency candles, matches, flashlights, a radio, food, plastic cutlery, water, paper plates, a cooler for filling with ice & plastic cups are at the ready in the event of a blackout. A fully-stocked first-aid kit is underneath my bathroom vanity, easy to reach & use if someone got hurt. On the other side of my bathroom vanity are a small set of backup supplies for commonly-used toiletries- extra shampoo, Q-Tips, facial cleanser, body soap, sunscreen, etc. I have an evacuation plan, a portable survival kit, an address & phone list for my friends & family, plus a list of safe places to go in the event of an emergency. My Office in a Bag is filled with thank-you notes/envelopes, postage stamps, address labels for myself, business envelopes & a few larger mailing envelopes. I've got a Control Journal which details all of my daily, weekly, monthly, quarterly & yearly to-do's in it. I've also detailed my final wishes, how someone would need to take care of my kitty if I'm not home & have my medical & surgical history detailed in this binder. I can put my hands on any important paper- my Social Security Card, my proof of life insurance, my birth certificate & more- in five seconds or less. I'm thirty-two, fully aware that I could live another fifty years, or I could die tomorrow. Either way, I'm prepared for the outcome, and I've tried to prepare others in the event of my passing. But I don't obsess about this- I got done what I needed to in order to experience peace surrounding the subject, and then went on to the events of living a full life. My email is cleaned out. Old photos, music & other media no longer needed are deleted from my computer. I know what my needs are for solitude & quiet. I'm able to be there for others when needed. I'm ready for just about anything thrown my way, and I can recover quickly from blows.

The peace that comes from being "all done" doesn't happen in that magical but mythical moment when you've hit your perfect weight, your home is without a speck of dust to it's name & your bank account in in the seven-digit range. It comes from having a simple set of routines written down, personalized for your life, knowing that you've done them to the best of your ability & then going out to enjoy your day fully. It comes from knowing that you ate wholesome food for fuel, drank clean water for hydration, got a little exercise & took good care of yourself, not from wearing a particular dress size or attaining a certain weight on a scale. Peace is intangible, but boy will you know it when you finally feel it. It's attainable, I promise. Work until you get that peace, because it can & will be yours.

Here's to being a peaceful organized minimalist,

Liz

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