Zen and the Art of Home Maintenance

by mollykl

Fact: I was such a slob as a kid that my sister and I got our own bedrooms because my parents felt it was unfair for her to have to share a room with me. That all changed when my dad died. You know how people joke “Oh, I’m so OCD”? Well, with me it wasn’t a joke, and it wasn’t some  “I like things neat” teenager phase. I came home everyday and cleaned the house. I vacuumed the edges of the carpet, up against the baseboards, with an attachment for God’s sake. EVERY DAY. Used pledge on the furniture. EVERY PIECE OF FURNITURE. That house was never so clean. As my mom said, years later, “I knew you probably needed some help…but the house was getting so clean.”

Turns out I didn’t need help or someone to talk to – I just needed something to channel my energy into. To this day when I get stressed out, what do I do? I clean. I try to meditate, but my mind won’t shut up. Ahh…but if I’m cleaning….

I can completely lose myself in a task for ten-fifteen-twenty minutes at a time. I like order. I have a messy life and very messy emotions. I’m volatile and expressive and cleaning the house is the one time I get to make everything orderly. And let’s face it: I have a six year old. My life is never going to resemble a brochure from some spa in Bali. But my towels might.

I read an article in Whole Living magazine once about taking on cleaning as a meditative experience. You know, “before enlightenment chop wood carry water, after enlightenment…chop wood carry water…”. I believe it. Husband J often will say, as he’s leaving for work on Thursday (my day off) morning, “Don’t clean! Relax!” And then he’ll come home 9 hours later to a clean house and sigh.  What he doesn’t get is that IS how I relax. I love to look at a clean house, where everything is in it’s place. I know it won’t stay there…that’s not the point. The point is that there is one thing in the universe that I can control for a moment. I’ll happily take that moment knowing it’s fleeting.

To access my Cleaning board of Pinterest click here. Oh yeah, I have an entire board dedicated to cleaning. Because that’s how I roll. (Memo to self: that’s really not a phrase I should be using.)