The Bliss Blog


As I am writing this article, I am sitting at my dining room table with the ceiling fan whirring overhead, providing a calming counterpoint to the rockin’ music from WXPN that helps animate my typing fingers. There are a few items around me, including my water bottle, cell phone and charge cord, the cloth that I used to clean my smudgy glasses, and check from a client that will go to the bank this morning. When I leave the room, I will take all of these things with me, so they don’t pile up and so  (in my middle-aged mind moment) I have what I need, rather than forgetting where I put necessities.

It got me to thinking, as many things do, that there was a time when I wasn’t so organized. When I was married, (before my husband died in 1998), he used to say that I left ‘clown droppings’ around the house. The origin of that description is that among many hats I wear, I am a clown. I would start an activity and then move on to the next thing, sometimes without completing the first and leave the remnants on the table or the sofa or kitchen counter.  Little did I realize that it was unfair to him and a measure of my consciousness at the time. I joke that I am ‘functionally manic with tinges of ADHD’. I get distracted at times and need to call my attention back to the task at hand, complete it and then move on to the next item.

It occurred to me in the past few days that when I see clients in my office, I often swivel my chair side to side as we speak; with the fidgets. Fortunately, it is subtle enough that no one seems distracted.

Since I live alone, keeping up with household tasks is pretty easy. No kids, critters or partner to clean up after at the moment. Michael was far more fastidious than I ever was, organized almost to the point of compulsion. When he died, I picked up some of his habits, wanting to manage the emotional chaos that followed. Structure became my sanity.

How do you handle a relationship (romantic, housemate, parent-child) when your priorities and theirs are different when it comes to noticing when things need to be done (housekeeping as an example)? Although I am by no means white glove clean, my rules for myself are: If you take it out, put it away where you found it. If you drop it, pick it up. If you make a mess, clean it up. If you borrow it, return it. Don’t expect anyone else to clean up your literal or emotional mess. It just feels respectful, not holier than thou and to me, it reflects how I feel about myself and anyone else with whom I share space. When I am in someone else’s home, whether it is for a brief visit or overnight stay, I treat it the way they do. I take notice of how they clean up and attempt to meet that standard.

It feels good to accomplish tasks, like dishes, having a clean kitchen when I go to bed, (especially after a party:) stepping back and seeing that my lawn is mowed and weeds are whacked and that I can put away clean and folded clothes. Do you grin and bear it? Do you clean up someone else’s mess yourself? Do you nag and nudge? Do you simmer and stew over it? Do you ask for change? Have you noticed a change?

Are you willing to ‘clean house’ emotionally as well?  What dust bunny thoughts are hanging out under your bed?  What mental cobwebs hover in corners? What sticky residue coats your mental counters? Get out the broom, dustpan and spray cleaner and go to town!