“Climbing” by tcnikki on Flickr
I wish every day was like these days right now. These days when there is nothing but major confidence coursing through my veins and I know, with every fiber in my freaking body, things are going to be ok. I just know that my kids and I—we’re going to get through this not just alright but on top of the world. These are the days when everything just seems to be click, click, clicking as one thing after another falls into place. These are the days where my climb uphill is steady, sure, and brisk. These are the days where progress doesn’t feel like a figment of my imagination, it’s obvious and clear. I’m happy and patient and able to find just a little more energy to get this done, and then that too. The thing is these days are numbered. In my case, these days are lasting about seven to ten days tops and then, it’s like the tide comes in and I’m just overwhelmed with a sea of dark thoughts, doubts, anger, impatience, frustration, ineptitude, betrayal, insecurity, and loneliness. And on those days, well it’s just an entirely different experience.
But right now? I’m making the most of it, trying to build on it in the hopes of pushing it out a bit farther, making it last a bit longer. I keep reading that one of the best things to do when depressed is to accomplish something, no matter how small. These feelings of accomplishment do a lot for us and it’s something I’ve personally felt and have even written about previously. The problem, of course, is finding the motivation to actually do something and then to believe you won’t go screw it up in a massive way. So, they suggest you do something really small. And then build on that and do something just a bit larger. And so on and so forth with the end result hopefully being you’ve dug yourself out of the rut. Sometimes it works, sometimes the dark is too deep.
Of course, just because you’re feeling good doesn’t mean you don’t have to go out of your way to accomplish things because there’s no rut to climb out of. For me, I see this as a major opportunity to really get ahead and put some major distance between me and the things that really tend to pull me down when the positivity starts evaporating from my system—like money, my parenting, and my house. So, while I am quite effective of getting rid of things when the days are dark (“All of this crap is useless. Life is useless. Moan. Whine. Etc.”), I’m more effective at actually putting a nice shine on things when I’m feeling good.
For instance, last night I was up late again clearing some more surfaces and then, why not, filing away some papers, polishing the dining table and chairs (in full view of my Abuela’s lit kitchen window because I want her to see that I actually do clean, dammit), and wiping the glass tables, and doing a quick little vacuuming of the area rug, and so on and so forth. My living room, dining room, home office, and kitchen are as glorious as they can get cleanliness-wise and it feels good. The space actually feels breathable, calm, and open. While I don’t necessarily believe, or disbelieve, in feng shui, I most definitely acknowledge there is a change in energy, feeling, ambiance, whatever you want to call it, in those spaces now. MutantDaughter walked through it this morning and then walked all around it, taking it all in without my having said a word about any of it and finally sort of swooned, “This is all so clean.” It makes my heart pang because, obviously, this is something she appreciates and I can give it to her, and her siblings, with just a little bit of work. Not just that, but there’s encouragement to be found because even though these rooms are absolutely gorgeous right now in their cleanliness, it really didn’t take much work or even time from me to get them that way. I think I probably spent a couple of hours, max, cleaning and picking up last night. And yet while a few months ago I would have told you that I could spend ten hours cleaning in my house and not have anything to show for it, this is the farthest thing from the truth right now. The reasons, I’m guessing, are because I’m eliminating and working at it a little bit every single day.
I know there are lots and lots of money analogies out there, like a healthy wallet and a healthy body, for instance. However, maintaining your house in order is much like, if not exactly like, maintaining your money in order which is probably just like maintaining your body in order because really it doesn’t matter what it is, it’s all the same—maintaining order. And this is why I think everything click, click, clicks when you start working hard at one. This is why there’s domino effect on top of domino effect. Because the habits you learn while working hard at one thing, inevitably have something at the core that transfers to something else.
I have been eliminating things from my house since Ex moved out almost two years ago. Everything unnecessary and not loved has been slowly moving out and the more stuff goes out, the more clearly I evaluate the things that remain behind making it even easier to then go and move them on out too. It works with money too. Debt is, depending on the guru you talk to, either mostly or completely unnecessary. Like clutter, it is just too easy to accumulate and it easily overwhelms you taking its toll on all kinds of unexpected things like your marriage, your career, your education, and your health. The more debt you eliminate, the better you feel, and you are able to look at the debt that remains in a clearer way—and most likely determine you don’t really need that debt either. Like clutter, what takes a long time to build up can easily take just as long, if not longer, to clear out. But if you just keep at it, and get rid of it by the handful or truckload, it’ll be gone one way or another and you’ll be feeling so much lighter, freer, and better.
That’s not all there is in common between my house and my wallet. Every day, I look at my money. Most days, it’s just a couple minutes as I open up my spreadsheet and enter any transactions from the day before and simultaneously check my ING account for any surprises. Some days, it takes a bit more time—especially on the last day of the calendar month/first day of my fiscal month. This is the day I can put in up to an hour, scheduling my bills, double-checking my budget for discretionary expenses vs. “fixed” expenses, etc. There are also the planning days where I spend some time thinking about what is coming the next month, and later this year, that I need to have money ready for and just how much I’ll need to have and all of that. The point is, every day, I dedicate some time to my money matters. Most days, it’s pretty minor and some days, it’s not.
The same approach works in my home. Every day, I do some kind of work in the house. Some days, I do more, some days I do less, and some days I do the housekeeping equivalent of full marathons. But, even those big days in both the financial and housekeeping arenas, get easier and easier as the weeks and months go by. Because every day that I put some work into either thing, I’m reducing the amount of work that needs to go in on the bigger days. And as the days and weeks go by, not only do I make the Big Days a bit smaller, I also get so good at doing the daily tasks that they take less and less time and effort. Sometimes I have found myself almost disappointed at how easy it was to schedule bills or loosely plan my budget and go back and triple-check I really, truly, definitely didn’t miss anything. It even becomes easier to delay spending and one by one, “things” start to lose their magic hold.
Last night, I had finished scrubbing up two pots from dinner that night and was halfway working through the pan when I realized I was almost done scrubbing the pots and pans from dinner that night and it hadn’t even occurred to me how unpleasant this task was. I’m not saying I was enjoying it, but I wasn’t mentally whining about it. Why? Because I’m getting used to it. And that magical scary ick factor it had on me is slowly starting to slip away because every day I do it, and they’re sitting there shiny and dry it’s like they’re softly telling me, “See? It wasn’t so bad.”