Cleaning and Clearing

I used to hate cleaning, because I looked at it from a  perspective of “Oh this is so much crap I have to do…ugh.”   Or I would get frustrated because it seemed like I was the only one cleaning anything.  While occasionally I still feel that “Ugh” sensation with respect to cleaning, I have found that much more often now-days I find it to be a calming, pleasant experience that I actually enjoy, not just for the results they give me, but for the way the process makes me feel.

One thing that helped to change my outlook on cleaning was thinking of it instead as “clearing” my house, or blessing it by clearing away negative, stale energies and inviting in positive uplifting energies.  When most people think of blessing their house they think of smudging it with sage and purely working from an energetic standpoint.   While I do think those practices are good,  I think since we’re living in the 3D we might as well accept that fact and work with it.

While physically clearing away the mess and clutter, you are mentally and emotionally doing the same thing.  I don’t know about you, but I feel much more chaotic when I’m in a chaotic environment.  It’s easier for me to be serene when I don’t have a stack of dishes sitting there taking up mental space along with counter space.

I enjoy not having to stub my toe on random crap floating around my house.  I also enjoy knowing where my things are and not having to frantically search for an item I may or may not have.  That’s a great money saver too, because it saves you from buying something you don’t need.  How many times have you gone to the store to get something you thought you had, but couldn’t find, only to find it shortly after making your purchase?

I also enjoy knowing that while my house isn’t always perfect, it’s clean enough that I won’t feel a horrible sense of embarrassment should we have surprise guests.  Part of what allows me to have my house stay this way is having a good system in place, we live in it, and make messes just like anybody else.  We just are more proactive about cleaning them up.

I’m sick to death of people making the assumption that if you have a clean house, you must be boring and you never do anything to mess it up.  Bullshit!  I’m just adult enough to clean up after myself instead of expecting everyone around me to do my dirty work.   I also have a system in place; a few things we do at our house that allow us to keep it in a fairly clean state most of the time.  Even when our house gets noticeably messy, it doesn’t take us too long to clean it.

For example, clean up as you go is a big one for us, the little messes we make during the day we clean up in short order.  This prevents the overall state of the house from growing too out of control to clean up quickly.  For example; often, after I’m done cooking something, I’ll rinse the pots and pans and utensils off before I even sit down to eat.  It takes only a few minutes at the most, and it gives my food a chance to cool down a bit before I eat it.  It also saves me time and energy that would be spent furiously scrubbing goo-caked pots and pans later.

We also reduced the amount of stuff we have and use drastically, we either donated it, recycled it or if we didn’t want to part with it, stored it.  Along with those things, we switched up some of the products we use in favor of items like castile soap.  This allows us to use one product for multiple tasks, freeing up valuable space.  Castile soap is also better for you and the environment.   Let me tell you, it makes cleaning a whole hell of a lot easier when you don’t have as much stuff in your house that needs to be cleaned, or taking up extra space!

We have also reduced not only our possessions but the amount of waste we make.  We make it a point to recycle as much as we can, or sometimes instead of recycling something, we’ll re-purpose it.  For example, I save old spaghetti jars for storing left-overs and other stuff.   This saves me trouble, time and money.

Something else that helps a lot is having a good system of organization for the stuff you do have.  We try to make sure that everything we use has a dedicated place, even old spaghetti jars.  This makes cleaning much easier because you don’t have to waste time figuring out where to put things.

The act of developing an organizational system also exercises your mind because you have to figure out how to work with the space you have.  In our case, space is pretty limited so we have to be creative with how we use it.  I also like to follow the guideline of working smarter, not harder.  For example, in the kitchen I’ll have the items I use most frequently in within easy reach, the items I use less often, I’ll store in the areas that are harder to reach.  Items I use together, I’ll often store together, etc.

Along with cleaning up as we go, we also devote at least one day every week to just doing a through cleaning of the house.  We normally do this on the day the garbage is collected.  I’ve found that working from the top to the bottom is the most effective way to clean.  So I start with dusting the ceiling fans and corners of rooms (actually John does the ceiling fans, he has a distinct height advantage at 6’7″ tall. ).

Next you move on to surfaces, like counter-tops, table tops, the stove, as well as the items sitting on those surfaces.  I like to have one spot cleaned off where I’ll set items down after I’ve cleaned them, so I’m not putting a clean object on a messy surface.   After that I will do the sweeping, vacuuming and mopping.  So basically top to bottom direction, this allows you to get all the dirt, and not have to worry about making something you just cleaned dirty while you’re cleaning something else.

Mindfulness is also an important part of keeping up a cleaning routine.  I like to focus on what I’m doing until it’s done.  This allows me to devote all of my attention to the project at hand, get it crossed off my list and move on to the next thing until everything on my list is completed.  I have seen people sabotage their cleaning efforts because they will try to do it all at once and feel like they are not getting anywhere , often giving up on the whole thing in the process.  They are frequently surprised at how quickly I am able to get stuff done like cleaning, but it’s only because I’m mindful about what I’m doing and not distracting myself with other things.

Finally, I’d like to share one resource that has been extremely helpful for me with regard to cleaning.  Like I said, I didn’t always have the attitude about cleaning that I do now.  This lady helped change my perspective on it a lot.   She goes by Flylady, and she gives a lot of great advice and information on developing systems and more importantly attitudes that will help you come to enjoy cleaning instead of looking at it as a monumental,  monotonous task.    The “Fly” in Flylady stands for “Finally Loving Yourself”.  I like that. 🙂

Bless and be Blessed.

What I would like to share with you is an awesome book by Pierre Pradervand, entitled “The Gentle Art of Blessing”. The book follows in essence a very simple idea, treat others as you would like to be treated. However, this applies not only to our physical actions and interactions, it also applies to how we think.
Along with some great life advice, this book offers some very compelling anecdotes from people all over the world who have found great peace. On a side note, before I forget, another great thing about the book is that half of the royalties from it are donated to charity.

One thing that struck me right off the bat is how this book draws upon many different philosophies, and points to many of the similarities found within them. This excites me because I have always strongly felt that we as a whole have a tendency to focus on the differences, a divisive way of thinking that makes each of us weaker in the process. It’s refreshing to see a text which focuses on the similarities, the positives, and the good that I firmly believe is in the heart of every person, though sometimes you may have to do some digging to find it.

I’d like to share some excerpts from the book, which I found online. Here is the source page where I found a review and excerpts from the book. The book is divided into chapters which expand upon each of the items listed below.

“On awakening, bless this day, for it is already full of unseen good which your blessings will call forth, for to bless is to acknowledge the unlimited good that is embedded in the texture of the universe and awaiting each and all.”

“On passing people in the street, on the bus, in places of work and play, bless them.
The peace of your blessing will  companion them on their way, and its aura will be a light on their path.”

“On meeting people and talking to them, bless them in their health, their work, their joy, their relationship to the universe, themselves and others. Bless them in their abundance and their finances, bless them in every conceivable way, for such blessings not only sow seeds of healing but one day will spring forth as flowers in the waste places of your own life.”

“As you walk, bless the city in which you live, its government and teachers, its nurses and street sweepers, its children and bankers, its priests and prostitutes. The minute anyone expresses the least aggression or unkindness to you, respond with a blessing. Bless them totally, sincerely, joyfully—for such blessings are a shield that protects them from the ignorance of their misdeed and deflects the arrow that was aimed at you.”

“To bless means to wish, unconditionally and from the deepest chamber of your heart, unrestricted good for others and events; it means to hallow, to hold in reverence, to behold with awe that which is always a gift from the Creator. He who is hallowed by your blessing is set aside, consecrated, holy, whole. To bless is to invoke divine care upon, to speak or think gratefully for, to confer happiness upon, although we ourselves are never the bestower, but simply the joyful witnesses of life’s abundance.”

“To bless all without distinction is the ultimate form of giving, because those you bless will never know from whence came the sudden ray that burst through the clouds of their skies, and you will rarely be a witness to the sunlight in their lives. When something goes completely askew in your day, when some unexpected event upsets your plans—and you—burst into blessing. For life is teaching you a lesson, and the very event you believe to be unwanted, you yourself called forth, so as to learn the lesson you might balk against were you not to bless it. Trials are blessings in disguise, and hosts of angels follow in their path.”

“To bless is to acknowledge the omnipresent, universal beauty hidden from material eyes; it is to activate that law of attraction which, from the furthest reaches of the universe, will bring into your life exactly what you need to experience and enjoy.”

“When you pass a prison, mentally bless its inmates in their innocence and freedom, their gentleness, pure essence and unconditional forgiveness; for one can only be a prisoner of one’s self-image, and a free man can walk unshackled in jail, just as citizens of a free country may be prisoners of the fear lurking within their thoughts.”

“When you pass a hospital, bless its patients in their present wholeness, for even in their suffering, their wholeness awaits discovery within them. When your eyes behold a man in tears or seemingly broken by life, bless him in his vitality and joy, for the material senses present but the inverted image of the ultimate splendor and perfection that only the inner eye beholds.”

“It is impossible to bless and judge at the same time. So hold constantly as a deep, hallowed, intoned thought the desire to bless, for truly then shall you become a peacemaker, and one day you shall behold, everywhere, the very face of God.”

“P.S. And of course, above all, do not forget to bless the utterly beautiful person YOU are.”

A few Points.

Attitude is everything. It’s much easier to face the day if you do so with a good attitude. I don’t believe you need movies like “The Secret” to affirm this, though I’m not dissing on the film. I think it’s something that really is just a matter of common sense. If you believe you can’t do something, you’re setting yourself up for failure. Likewise if you believe you can do something, you’ll probably succeed. Blessing others helps us to maintain a positive outlook.

All talks of Karma aside, I believe there is another reason these ideas are important. If you spend your mental energy thinking positive, it’s going to register on a subconscious level, either for you or someone else. It can change our thinking, our body language, and in turn drastically change our interactions with people.

This book serves to remind us that at our core we are all connected. This connection causes us to be a part of something greater than ourselves. Call it what you want, love, god, spirit, prana, infinity, nirvana, human potential, whatever it is, I believe it’s real, and it’s powerful.

We have two choices. We can condemn and judge each other, treating our fellow brothers and sisters horribly; forgetting that in the process we’re only serving to alienate and hurt ourselves. OR, instead of just sitting around arguing, judging and feeding our obese egos; we can instead open our hearts and minds, and build up that spark of good which exists in everyone. Let’s lift each other up, instead of tearing each other down.

Thanks for reading, and may you be blessed with all the virtues, love and joy that life has to offer and be a light for others.