Cleaning House

Cleaning house is something that we all do. Some more than others that's for sure! During my continued journey with Lyme, I had two significant experiences with cleaning in a mindful, mediative way. The "critters" as I call them became especially active in January of 2006. As I got sicker, Kevin and I chose to move into my father's home so my father could help care for me while Kevin was at work. Now my father, like his mother before him, had no concept of the need to have a clean house or even how to do it. He did complain about the dust but would state that the minute he dusted, it would come right back. So I decided to clean his house. A huge project because he had tons of stuff spread around. This daily dusting, washing and cleaning became a meditation and proved to be a much needed relief for my nervous system. Little by little, the symptoms that so enslaved my mind began to subside enough that I was actually able to enjoy some of the simple things in life that I could do. After the house was finished enough that it only required weekly maintenance, I moved out into his yard to weed and plant. He was so happy to have a pretty house and yard! And I, in turn, was slowly getting better.

My second journey with cleaning brought with it the emotions of appreciation and pride (I am a housewife and love every aspect of it).This happened on the upside of a near death decline in my health. When I was strong enough to sit in the wheelchair with the leg supports on it, I was so happy! I could clean (a bit). I would put a small vacuum in my lap, attach a long attachment to the end of the vacuum and do the best I could. I was so excited! I became an efficiency queen because when you are in a wheelchair, it is not so easy to run back to the other end of a very long house everytime you forget an item. To this day I say that everyone would benefit from spending a month confined to a wheelchair. Anyway, I became very creative and soon learned to be able to do the basic household chores. Then I began to cook which is an off and on passion. Now I really felt like a housewife. Within a few short months I was able to stand and walk for short periods. Kevin bought me two sets of the multipack E-clothes and little by little (and after making myself two batches of furniture polish) I ended up with a sparkling clean, chemical free house.

It has been months since I’ve had to rely on a wheelchair for any household duties and I have even got my drivers license back. So that part of Lyme is getting better. But there are times when I experience other aspects of the disease like depression. So today, I decided to go back to some of my old ways with some ideas that I learned from Kevin's mom. Whenever Kevin's mom dusts, she says a prayer for the person who gave her the object. She, like me, has very few, if any, items in her house that don't have significant meaning to them. So this morning I woke up feeling okay. But once I had bathed and dressed, I found myself too exhausted to do much of anything. Kevin and I had been discussing gratitude the day before, so I decided to practice gratitude while doing the few household chores that were a must on my to do list such as watering the plants. As I watered the plants, I took the time to reflect not only on the plant but especially on the pot it was planted in. Several of them are handmade pieces of pottery that I treasure. I took a moment to remember the happy time of purchasing the pieces of pottery. I did this with the plants in my house and then as I looked around the different rooms, I thanked the special items in that room. In the bedroom I thanked the bed for being so comfortable. In the kitchen I thanked my dad for the wonderful granite topped group of cabinets and drawers. As I moved to the other rooms, I thanked Theresa for being the best friend a person could ever hope for as I glanced at the paintings of hers that I have hanging in almost every room in my house. By the time I was finished, my depression was 80-90% gone.

That brings me to the topic of emotional house cleaning. What toxic, old, dusty emotions are we holding on to? Are they worth the price tag that they will put on both our mental and physical health? No! The best way I know to cleanse ourselves of negative emotions is to focus on gratitude. These negative emotions will simply be crowded out and often times no re-hashing of the past will be required.

The next time you clean your house, experiment doing it with mindfulness and gratitude. And the Taoist part of me encourages you to embrace the notion "do nothing and everything gets done". My interpretation of that when it comes to housecleaning has always been this. I notice that the dust is accumulating. Then I just wait to see when I will actually dust. When I do get around to dusting it is effortless because I am doing what I want to be doing and when I want it to be done.

The last thing I will say on the subject of housecleaning is clutter. There are a few people that can live in clutter and remain unaffected by it. For the rest of us, looking at clutter also clutters the mind, which can cause restlessness, confusion, procrastination, feelings of overwhelm and anger to be sure. If your house falls under the clutter category, tackling it can be a daunting task. Make it doable by picking a room and at first, how much time you are willing to devote to the task. Remember, this is not a contest. Stop when it is getting stressful. Then, start in one corner and make stacks - recycle, donate, trash. Don't try to move the things out of the room until the whole room is sorted. If you do, it will make the job seem that much longer (although different things work for different people). When the room is complete (this may take several days), move to the next room. Your whole being thanks you!

I will end this article with an easy step toward a peaceful life. Before you leave for work in the morning, get up in time so you don't have to rush. Make your bed and ideally use a linen spray while you are making it. Pick up any articles of clothing that may be laying around. They usually simply need to be tossed in the laundry basket. Don't leave any unwashed dishes around in your kitchen, not even in the sink. Wash them or put them in the dish washer. Wipe down your kitchen counter. Glance around your house and see if anything can be quickly straightened. Then leave knowing that you will be coming home to a peaceful home. Intellectually you may not think that you notice a difference, but your mind/body does. Your whole system is being invited to calm.

Items needed in order to accomplish the above:
Post-its and markers (post its, can be reused)
Dusting clothes, preferably E-clothes (my opinion since they require nothing but water to achieve a spotless house)
Boxes or bags for donations
A willing, this-is-what-I-want-to-do-right-now attitude.


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