Page Eleven: Maintenance

I’m just now realizing that this life requires maintenance. Which should probably not come as a complete shock but it does. I mean, life will happen on its own whether you take care of it or not, but if I want to enjoy it, I’m just going to have to work a little bit harder at looking a little bit ahead. Or at least, that’s how my heart feels right now.

The more stuff that I have in my life, the more I have to manage and maintain. If I have less crap in my life, there’s a lot more open space for creativity and for good times and good things to come in, instead. I think what I’m saying is that I’ve gotten bitten by the spring cleaning bug. But I don’t want it to be seasonal and I don’t want it to be a bug. I want it to be my forever mindset. That’s asking a lot, I know, but a girl can try. I’m growing. I’m nearly 30 and I’m still growing and I really like that a lot.

To say that I’m not a natural planner is an understatement. Left to my own whims and feels, I’ll lay on the couch for an entire day with a bag of Ruffle’s potato chips and a tub of cottage cheese. I mean, I won’t feel good about it but that’s not going to stop it from happening. I mean until recently. That not feeling good about it is starting to stop it from happening. But that’s because I’ve started seeing into the not-so-distant future and wondered how what I’m about to do/ say/ eat is going to affect me in the short term (and eventually in the long term).
For example, me at 10 am says, “Yes, go forth and have that cup of coffee but it might make you feel a little gassy.” Me at 3:00 pm says, “Fine, go forth and have that cup of coffee… if you want to crash in an hour, drudge through the rest of your work day in a bad mood, have to pee every twenty minutes, and feel a little gassy.” (Note: sometimes I still go for that 3:00 pm cup of coffee and it always plays out the way I’d imagined it.)
I have to tell myself (oftentimes out loud), “part of having a latte is cleaning the milk residue off of the end of the steamer wand as soon as we’re done using it, okay?” Because have you ever had to clean the business end of a milk steamer a few days after its last use? Yuk. And also, it’s nearly impossible to clean. Just clean it! It literally takes four seconds out of your whole day. Also, my mental voice is so condescending, is she not? She probably even says, “if you have time to lean, you have time to clean!” What a bother.

Have I told you about the way that I clean my house? This is how it plays out on days when I’m not paying attention and having constant interventions:
When I start to straighten up my living room, I’ll pick up a bottle of nail polish and take it to the bathroom, in the bathroom I’ll see something that needs to be wiped up, go to the kitchen for a paper towel, start a load of dishes… I can work all day and my house doesn’t have anything to show for it! So I’ve started speaking to myself out loud, “we’re only tidying up the living room, right now!” I make myself overlook whatever needs to be wiped up in the bathroom and the dishes that need to be done because I know that if at the end of the day, I don’t have an obviously cleaner room, I’m not going to feel any better about myself and that’s going to make it that much harder to talk myself into cleaning the house next time.

Another trick I have–you know how Congress gave themselves a time limit to figure out the budget or else the whole country would fall over the “fiscal cliff”? I try to instate a domestic version of that theory. For example, the other day I was listening to the Joy The Baker podcast and Joy mentioned that she felt energized one night and just went through all of her drawers and closets and started tossing anything that didn’t work. Like, “I used to like this shirt but then I shrunk it in the laundry and it doesn’t work anymore but I still like it but I’ll never wear it…” I would say that 60% of my wardrobe falls under that category.
So what I did is this: I took all of my laundry (seriously, all of it except for socks and underwear) and dumped it all over my guest bed. I know it doesn’t sound like much but starting tomorrow, I am going to have house guests (non-consecutively) until the end of May. So I HAVE TO get that guest bed cleaned off. I just have to, there’s no question. And if I don’t, the country will fall into a pit of financial despair
You may be saying to yourself, “I’ll bet she hasn’t even touched that enormous pile of laundry.” And I have to tell you, you’re absolutely right about that. Look at it! My plan is to work on it tonight. I’ll put in my ear buds and listen to old issues of RadioLab or The Joy the Baker Podcast (my favorite), or This American Life. For some reason, even though I’m home alone, I still feel a lot better when I’m listening with my ear buds in. It keeps me centered and helps me focus.

Truth is, ultimately, I feel very calm and happy and just plain good at this point in my life. But I’m looking around at all of this clutter and it stresses me out. That’s unnecessary.  Clutter in my house and clutter in my mind and clutter in my fridge and metaphorical clutter in my relationships with other people and with myself. And I want to get all of that cleaned out so that everything that surrounds me matches what I want inside of me. I want to simplify, simplify, simplify. And I believe that involves a great purge and that starts with the clothes on the guest bed.

Do you have any go-to tricks to make you get big projects accomplished?
How do you keep yourself focused?

What do you think?

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