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Thursday, May 23, 2013

Learn Housekeeping, De-Cluttering, Organizing and Time Management Skills to Gain Inner Strength and Stability

This morning I actually got up when I was supposed to, instead of indulging in my deep and abiding love for sleeping late.  It was nice to sip my coffee and have my breakfast without feeling like I was on countdown.  When I showered and dressed, I didn't have to watch the clock every second, leaving the house with my makeup only halfway completed and my hair not looking the way that I really wanted it to.  I had time to make my bed, spritz it with Febreze, lay out my outfit for tomorrow, swish-and-swipe my bathroom, take out the trash and load up the dishwasher with dirty dishes which were used this morning, before I had to leave the house for my college class.  You may think I'm some of organizational queen after writing this blog for about a year, but I'm not that way at all!  I have to work just as hard as anyone else to fight laziness, boredom (let's face it- routines do sometimes get stale and monotonous, no matter how helpful and important they are) and exhaustion.  I'm no stranger to the feeling of, "Why can't it all just be finished already?  I'm so tired of being the only one stuck doing these chores!  Why can't I go to bed just ONE NIGHT and feel like I got everything on my mental to-do list done?"  It's easy to feel like a loser instead of a champion in a world of endless information, opportunities, places and people pulling for our attention.  I'm no more immune from that feeling than any other person on earth, no matter how many time-management, organizing and housekeeping skills I have under my belt.  People might assume that being a single, child-free person prevents that feeling of "the housework is never done!", but it doesn't.  Everyone has responsibilities and chores that they have to do.  Even single people with small homes still have to de-clutter, clean, organize what they do own well, file, stick to their calendar's scheduled activities, go grocery-shopping and cook.  No matter how simplified, minimalist and organized you get, there will always be something left over to clean, something new to learn, someone in your life still demanding to be given help in one manner or another.

But I digress.  I had a weird thing happen to me recently.  After months years of feeling kind of low on energy, lacking a certain sense of peace continually and experiencing physical pain that drained my mental resources as well, one morning I woke up and simply felt...good.  And I kept feeling good.  My mind was also quite clear.  The guilt that had hung over my head since, well...birth...seemed to evaporate into thin air.  I didn't have some magical surgery or start taking a new drug.  No new workout plan or diet was begun.  I didn't fall in love or have any other logical reason for the new feelings.  And the crazy thing was that I didn't know what to do with my newly found energy, sense of peace or happiness!  It felt abnormal to be healthy, clear-headed and happy!  I didn't even know I really wasn't feeling healthy and happy until this strange, rather miraculous thing happened.  I had energy left over even after a day of classes and housework.  I felt good about myself.  The self-criticism just stopped, like a stereo playing a tape in my brain got unplugged.  I have no logical explanation for it.  If I could tell you how to replicate it, I would.  I stopped hating my body.  I stopped judging everything I did, said, ate, didn't do, didn't eat, didn't say.  It is a freeing thing to have gone through thirty-two years of perpetual self-criticism and all of the sudden realize that I am perfectly okay just as I am.  You could say that going back to college (which has been an overwhelmingly positive experience) is behind it all, but I believe it's deeper than that, which I'll explain. 

There have been a lot of upheavals in my life in the past four years.  I quit an old job which was no longer fruitful, got a new job, my mother (whom I live with) retired after working full-time for thirty-seven years, I got laid off unexpectedly, dealt with long-term unemployment, have moved house twice and started college full-time after sixteen years away from any type of schooling.  So to say that I've learned how to keep persevering through upheaval and maintain normalcy despite big changes in lifestyle would be an understatement.  My mother's retirement was an intense period of adjustment for me, for example.  She worked down the road and always had a long commute.  As an only child of a single parent, I was used to (and loved) having lots of time alone.  Suddenly I had to live with someone who was in my house nearly 24/7 and wanted a lot more of my attention.  I resented the disturbance in my routines and invasion into my private time.  And someone who left me more dishes to wash, wanted dinner earlier in the evening and took over our public spaces (such as the living room) incessantly.  I didn't like the changes and to be honest, it is still not easy to have so little solitude.  But, just like dealing with unemployment or moving to a new home, you learn to adjust and make do. 

No one can provide you with a real sense of inner strength that comes from knowing you can take anything life can throw at you and still survive.  If I'd known four years ago what was in store for me, I would've said I didn't have the inner resources to survive all of that.  I've gone through everything essentially alone- there was no boyfriend, no husband, no father or grandfather there for me.  I did the majority of the physical work for our moves and had to pay for a lot of the expenses.  I've had to continue paying the same old bills that I always have, relying on God alone more times than not to miraculously help me get by month after month financially (and I can say with pleasure that He invariably did just that).  I signed up for college all alone, not knowing if I could handle the workload (I've got fibromyalgia and that's an unpredictable disability at times).  I've had my mother, my aunt and my best friends to lend some emotional support, but they could not do the work for me.  

I could not have thrived or even survived these changes without having daily/weekly/monthly/quarterly/yearly household routines and a variety of practical organizational skills to ground me.  My inner tenacity didn't come from some magical, intangible quality I possess or a wonderful personality trait I was born with.  I'm not discounting the strength, guidance and knowledge that I'm certain I received from God directly (or the intellectual gifts that my genes gave me), but I also had to develop and repeatedly practice earthbound skills to keep my life on an even keel.  Only by performing those routines (organizing, cleaning, de-cluttering, studying, etc.) day and day out could I learn from them.  God could only work with me to create a new life out of old ashes when I also put forth the effort myself to change my previous disorganized ways over and over again.  I could not have dealt with undesired and long-term unemployment without my hard-earned organizational, housekeeping and time management skills, for example.  Going back to school as a teetering-on-the-edge-of-middle-age woman would have been impossible without the years of mastering those same skills behind me.  They aided me with gaining inner strength and stability, and they will do the same for you. 

Don't be fooled into thinking there's not a deeper meaning to organizing one's physical spaces, learning how to file papers or keeping a home clean.  I now know that I could be faced with anything and still have the ability to survive the event.  I can have a lot of things taken away from me, but my skills are mine to keep.  Don't gain these same abilities just to help, please or impress others.  Don't do it for them, or at least not just for them.  Keep at it for yourself.  Learn and master these de-cluttering, housekeeping, organizing and time management skills so that you can take life as it comes (tragedies included) and stand strong.  I think that a good deal of my new energy comes from knowing just how strong I really am, and that no one will ever be able to take that from me.  I know what to do now with my new sense of energy, happiness and peace- to keep adding to my legacy through hard work, giving love and learning out to our universe as I go about my business.  I can be a beacon of stability and strength even when events in our world are just the opposite.  I wish you all the same knowledge and inner fortitude.

Here's to being a happy organized minimalist,

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