I LOVE spring cleaning. You probably hate spring cleaning, so you assume we don't have that in common. But not so fast. Here's what I mean. It's like running. When people find out that I run, they always say to me "I hate running". The implication is that I enjoy it so we're different. I actually think running is kind of horrible. It's really boring, and I hate listening to my labored breathing. Also it's uncomfortable, and I hate being uncomfortable. Ask my husband, he'll confirm my distaste for discomfort. I don't enjoy the part where I'm actually running at all. The fact is, though, when I round that last corner and I'm headed for home and I've just finished my run, it's exhilarating! It feels awesome to have done that. I feel strong and in charge. It makes me want to treat my body like a temple--eat lean protein and drink a green smoothie. The harder my run the more I feel that way, it's directly proportionate. It makes me feel optimistic and hopeful and generally happy inside. Plus I feel rad. The result is so amazing that I have vision for the workout, which in turn, actually makes it fun in a twisted sort of way, see? It might make me say "I love running" even though I kind of hate running. It makes sense, doesn't it? So, if feeling on top of it and in charge is such a great feeling for me, and if organization and order are the things I love more than all other things, you can see how the thought of spring cleaning makes my heart feel light, even if I dread getting started. But I do have a "how to love spring cleaning" trick and here's what it is. I approach it in two distinct stages.
The first stage of spring cleaning happens entirely in my head. It's a planning stage. I let myself live here for awhile because I know that if I don't actually have to do any work yet, it won't be as overwhelming to start engaging with the disaster that the house has become. I start intentionally opening my eyes as I go about my life and make mental notes of all of the chaos that I would ideally like to address. I don't even make a list yet, I just start looking and noticing. Look at my mail sorter, wow, there is actually some garbage in there, and is that a cassette tape? Really? Oh, huh, look at those baskets in the laundry of "crap I don't know what to do with", those are really packed to the brim, aren't they? Interesting, I had no idea that there was an empty shoe box in the broom closet next to that $25 bottle of stinky vitamins I wasn't sure if I could return.
It actually ends up being a lifeline of hope through the last of winter. There are no expectations on me yet--I don't have to do anything--but I am starting the process and because I know now that this stuff is going to be addressed at some point, I can relax about it for now. I also like to think about some projects that I am excited about, so that some of the much needed cleaning and purging will be about making way for new life. I would way rather purge the toys in the basement if I am planning to finally put in those shelves down there and hang some stuff on the walls. It's going to be so much easier to clean out the clutter in the girls room if we're planning to paint and rearrange the furniture when we're done. Even thinking about shopping for spring clothes makes addressing my closet seem less horrible. I mean who wants to hang a pretty new spring jacket next to dusty wool slacks? So I just think and plan and dream. Those things aren't miserable, they're fun!
I actually find that eventually stage 2 happens on it's own. I'm not even joking. Instead of avoiding the thought of spring cleaning because it's sounds so overwhelming--and I'm depressed enough because it's March and the weather report is snow and rain for the rest of eternity--I just call noticing Spring Cleaning, and voila! I feel like I'm making great progress even though I'm not doing anything at all. It's a two step process and I'm halfway done. Progress always feels great and plus now I'm in charge, not my chaos. Feeling great is like a positive spiral. Eventually, I'm dying for the sun to come out because I have a head full of things to get to and I'm sick of thinking about them. I'm actually chomping at the bit to get started doing them!
In the past, when I'm bogged down in the winter blues and I have chosen to avoid engaging with the house, I wake up and suddenly it's spring. It's time to address the dirt and the clutter and it's overwhelming and I don't even know where to start. Trying to warm up the engine at the starting line is a huge job, and it's not that great for the engine either. So this is my nugget for the day. Motivation and action are different jobs, and spending some time warming up is universally a good idea. So look around, it's fine! Dream a little, have some ideas, shake your head at the mess. That wasn't so bad, was it? Congratulations, you're already well on your way!