Day 23, 732: Digging Deep to Find Order.

 I was never a neat freak. I am always attempting to straighten up and look more in control, but it’s not my nature. I blame it on growing up in a candy store, where all cleaning was focused on the store, leaving little time for cleaning in the home behind the store, except for deep cleanings as needed.

My wise mother used to say the family could either have a sane mother or a clean house. She felt the former was more important, and so we all learned to live with a little chaos as well as a little insanity.

When I got older, I observed that stay-at-home mothers of friends of mine seemed to have cleaning routines usually, oddly, on Saturdays when everyone was home. They tasked family members with chores and the family did a clean up. At our house, we were tasked with store hours, and delivery hours, so my mother felt those were chores enough.

When I had apartments of my own, I would clean whenever things got out of hand, and dedicate half days every so often to scrubbing, washing, etc. I would say it was seasonal routine. That changed when I got married and cleaning became an issue.

After much discussion, we all came to the conclusion that rather than argue about cleaning, our best resource was to get help. Since the time the kids were young, we’ve had weekly assistance in keeping the house in order. It was a great help as I was working, and occasionally in addition to house assistance needed an extra pair of hands with the kids and the pets. Each person who worked for us, did so for many years and became a third trusted adult in the house. Today, with the kids out of the house, the routine is far less than weekly but assistance is still helpful.

Related Post: 12 Black Shirts

Cleaning can mean more than just tidying up a household. In One Continuous Mistake, a one continous mistakebook about writing, Gail Sher discusses Issan Dorsey, a Zen priest from San Francisco. He says: “You don’t clean to make things clean, so much. You clean even if it’s not a mess. You just go around and make things look like somebody paid attention to them.”

At the current time, I’m cleaning in three key areas – my closet, my blogs, and my desk at work. Each is a different challenge with a different practice modality. My closet is a little bit each day. At work, I clean at least once a week when the incoming mail and piles just get to me. The blog is a daily practice with a weekly clean up routine.

My husband will be the first to tell you that cleaning is not in my DNA. My work colleagues will be the second to admit that I work best with papers scattered and tend to be the “idea” person who then also concentrates on odd details as a project enfolds. But in truth, I’m a Virgo, and order is in my genes somewhere. I’m still digging to reveal them.


Daily Focus on Gun Sanity: Bloomberg News reports there are “three ways to regulate firearms: by person, by hardware and by location.” Location means that no one, for instance, is allowed in the White House with a firearm, unless they are part of the Secret Service. Ironically, according to the article, if regulations were stricter by person and hardware, location issues would likely go away. For now, we are more strict on location regulations than any other, think TSA lines and metal detectors in various public places.