I have a friend who is the opposite of me. I mean in terms of her non-negotiables. I care deeply about mess and clutter. I will go to the ends of the earth to find solutions for mess and clutter while turning a blind eye to grime around the shower head. And frankly, unless it's a major cleaning day, I only care that the "company path" gets dusted (my basement collects dust like crazy--poor kids!). I really just need it to be pretty, and organized. She, however, cannot abide in a house that feels gross. I have personally witnessed her get out the mop--not the broom--after our kids have had lunch when we are at her house. She thinks I'm crazy and has on more than one occasion laughed at me for things like this:
But I swear I've seen her take a potty break during coffee and then emerge from the bathroom with yellow rubber gloves on and the 409. She would be horrified to se this in her house:
That is the space underneath the very same pantry closet. Or how about this (Heather make sure you've had breakfast):
And these are things I found today while cleaning house that I am not even planning to do anything about. I'm actually not kidding. If I get to them, I will, but you should have seen the examples I could have come up with this morning before I got out the cleaning supplies. I'm actually sad that I already vacuumed out my coat closet. It hadn't been done since last spring, I think. Eew. It's what made me think of this post. Well that, and my husband posting something funny on Facebook this morning about moms blogging instead of raising their kids. Okay, the shower grime I probably will do, but only because you guys have seen it now and I feel ashamed.
This same friend is famous for her permanent collections of things like tax return documents, playmobiles, phone batteries, coins and general randomness on her beautiful, granite, handcrafted kitchen island (it's actually where these things go I think. It is there home), but I personally would lick soup off of her floor without a second thought. I swear I've never seen a smudge on her windows and that's saying a lot because her house is literally made of glass. She actually bought a glass dining table when she has three young children--on purpose! I was flabbergasted. I thought certainly she hadn't thought it through, but I was grossly mistaken. She said that if it's glass she will know exactly when it gets dirty (precisely the same argument I use for not having a glass table).
Ultimately, her non-negotiables are all about knowing it's clean. She knows who she is and she's setting herself up for success. You can find glass cleaner and a roll of paper towels any time you need them right within reach. Her mop is handy, her electric sweeper is always plugged in and ready to go. The cleaning supplies are already next to the toilet and the sink--fully stocked with clean rags. She will likely trip over all kinds of wayward items on her way to the bathroom, and if you look inside her closets it's the most hilarious collection of goods. She used to keep vitamins and the ziplock sandwich bags on the top shelf of one of her kitchen cabinets, and I remember in the hall closet there were some guest bath towels, extra blankets and cartons of Costco soup. But I'll be darned if there were any dust bunnies in the corners of said closet and those towels may not be stacked and folded according to color and size, but I bet they got washed with dryer sheets and spritzed with lavender linen spray that very afternoon.
My point is simple. "Know who you are and be that" is really about understanding your non-negotiables and letting go of stuff. And it's really different for everyone. I've spent a bit of time talking about this through my own eyes, but we all have different vision. I thought Heather's eyesight was an interesting change of pace. I'm sure many of you can relate to this! She is someone who does things really different from me, she makes entirely different choices, but she knows what she has to have in order to be at peace, and what she can let go of just a little. We just can't live forever determining that everything is a non-negotiable. The goal for me is to be able to sit down periodically and enjoy some peace, some fellowship, (some tv). Or to be at home with my family and feel like it's under control. That I'm running the place not the other way around. To be truly honest about what drives me mad and find realistic solutions that keep the Inspector Dreyfus twitch at bay, but allow me time and energy to invest in the things that I really care about.