Tuesday, December 8, 2009

The Great House Detective & Pebble Cleaning

Certainly I can tell you that my husband had shredded wheat (new package needed to be cut open with scissors) this morning and that he enjoyed a beer last night. I can also add one clementine to the list of foods my son has eaten, but not because he told me. No - I am the Great House Detective and my powers to discern always amaze my family, but its really not that mysterious. I simply look around.

I see the top of the package lying next to the scissors, the bottle cap of the beer and the opener, and the bowl with the peel of the clementine all strewn care-free around my kitchen. But it isn't care free for me! Seriously, I find myself struggling to be patient because I am a Domestic Goddess - not a garbage woman!

Somewhere along the line I developed the ability to toss trash out with a flick of my wrist as I turned and checked the soup on the stove. I learned that as I leave one room I anticipate where I'm going and take something that belongs in my destination and put it away. Apparently this isn't a skill that is taught in the industrialized education system, but it surely should be! With the plethora of house cleaning, house organization, and "time saver" techniques in the media (think "Clean House") it is plainly obvious that our society needs to gets its act cleaned up. Trouble is, we just don't know how!

Rather than moving things around (again!) perhaps it is time that we learn to rearrange our thoughts into patterns that support our lives rather than pull at the loose threads on the edge.

I like to think of this method as "Pebble Cleaning," based on the story of the thirsty crow and the water. The story goes that a thirsty crow spied a glass of water. It held only a little cooling liquid and the bird couldn't get his head into the glass. So - one by one he added pebbles to the glass until the water rose to the level where he could drink easily. Each action we take impacts our world and each motion we make to raise the level of our homes gives us satisfaction in the bigger picture. Tossing that trash is more than just helpful, its a pebble in the waters!

The little picture shows me a scattering of objects, but I can see these objects because I slowly moved all of the mail, kid artwork, random drill bits, newspaper, empty bag and dirty cups from that counter prior to my husband's breakfast and my son's snack. I don't remember doing this, but I know that during the day as I headed for the bathroom I'd grab the tape that belonged on my desk and drop it off on the way through the room. Pebble Cleaning at its best.

I'm no saint, so don't get me wrong here. My home's constant state of evolving clutter means I rarely think my home is "done" or "clean." I've just learned that removing cleaning from living and setting it aside as a separate and dreaded task just makes me not clean at all. I resent the time, the intrusion and the effort. I even detest the thought of "Saturday cleaning." Clean as I move around though and it seems less hateful, like I'm just living my life amid my things and this is what life takes - order and a little maintenance.

I am still not the garbage woman, and I asked my family to clean up their trash. The amazement of me spying it there in the first place is still there, but I continue to try to instill in them that there is no maid. Adjusting their thinking toward Pebble Cleaning and simply doing the job of life is what the lesson becomes. Resenting the intrusion of cleaning on our "lives" leads down some rather dingy and crowded corridors of ignoring what it takes to really live. If you don't want to clean up stuff, don't have stuff at all! (Minimalism isn't their style though! lol)

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