Clean

Before we start, I have to warn you that I am feeling a bit – you know – ragged, so I am not razor sharp. (Not that I ever am) Hopefully you will stick with it. We have begun to thin possessions out a bit, partly to make the place look decent for potential viewers and partly as a reaction to the offspring leaving home. I have worked very hard on my stiff upper lip and only sobbed briefly over FOW1’s school art book. Anyway, this soon changed from a snotty nose to a snorty nose while we laughed about how his teacher had tried to let him down gently with comments like “I can see how hard you have tried here.” or “I don’t think that this comes easily to you and I appreciate the effort.” (I think there was a light layer of sarcasm there to be honest)

The more I declutter, the more I understand the appeal of minimalism or, at least, having a certain order about things. I’m not bad, I can usually find the gas bill or the dog’s lead (or indeed the dog) but I live in total admiration of those who can immediately lay their hands on the credit card payment they made in June 2008. Then there’s the cleaning. I have never poisoned anyone in the kitchen (well nothing that couldn’t be passed off as a bug that was going round if necessary) but I am not a super clean whizz. This week I was having a conversation with someone about cleaning (yep, you read that right) and she was telling me that some people never clean the pipe that connects the toilet to the wall. I went very quiet at this point and nodded sagely because I couldn’t remember the last time I had done it. (I know the  lady who I was talking to will probably be reading this. I am hanging my head in shame!) Anyway, I have just done a panicked check and all is well. Well done HOH!

I don’t know how into Instagram you are but a veritable cleaning phenomenon is happening there at the moment. The account Mrs Hinch Home has just reached 389,000 followers, in about two weeks. So what does she do? She cleans. That’s it. I mean she is a very engaging personality but we don’t see much of her. We just see her cleaning. There are lots of tips and ideas. She is very keen on pine and Zoflora and wipes. I don’t suppose she’s that popular at Friends of the Earth HQ. But people love it and there is, I think,  a pattern emerging in the followers’ stories.  Lots of people with mental health and self-esteem issues are loving this and finding something really helpful in cleaning and tidying. There is something immensely satisfying about cleaning and shining a sink, but it seems that there is more. First of all, people enjoy the exercise and just getting up and moving. Second, apparently, there is the sense of having something you can control and then achieve something with – even if it is a shiny grill-pan.

I’m not sure about it though. I mean, I’m glad it works and people who are struggling get so much out of it. But what if you are disabled, or old or don’t have the kind of set up where Shake and Vac is an option? (I’m thinking of Bed and Breakfast or a hostel I suppose) Is it a shame that people who have lost their sense of worth find it in possessing a beautifully shiny kitchen?

As usual, I would like to state loudly that I am not talking here about all mental health problems. What on earth would I know? Believe me, there is no judgement here. I’m talking about a general malaise – of epidemic proportions. I have had times, like most people, when lost and lonely, I have wondered if I was worth it. I have had people treat me in a way that has made me feel less of a person. I have felt weak and powerless when people have been aggressive (even when this may be to cover up their own insecurities) At these times, it is good to walk the dog, or bake a cake or put bicarb down the the sink. Because it takes me out of my head and because I can. But when I am too overwhelmed, I go down deeper to promises and assurances. 

For even if the mountains walk away
    and the hills fall to pieces,
My love won’t walk away from you,
    my covenant commitment of peace won’t fall apart. Isaiah 54

People don’t feel heard, they don’t feel listened to and they don’t feel secure. It seems a small thing to wash the dog basket but it gives you a sense of place. I get that. I’m not saying I have this promise malarkey sorted completely. I have to fight hard to grab this but I do fight hard because it says something more about me. It says I am worth something – no matter what – no matter how I feel. People don’t get the right to roll all over me –  I am important. No matter how underachieving or useless I am. Because it’s not about me. I don’t achieve it. I just get to have it. For a self confessed lazy apeth it is a huge relief and a rock to stand on.

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7 Comments

  1. September 17, 2018 / 11:54 am

    I suspect I am nearer your housekeeping regime than that of Mrs Hinch [of whom I had never heard until 3 minutes ago] It seems sad that so many folk with mental health issues often appear to be in one extreme or the other- trapped in their immaculate, spotlessly homes which they clean incessantly, or trapped in their filthy cluttered homes which they fill with incessant hoarding. Neither situation is good- and as you say, it is often lack of self-worth and loneliness which leads to these extreme situations. Furthermore the need to maintain the cleanliness [or the clutter ] can result in lack of proper relationships, loss of existing relationships, and the inability to form new ones. Lord help us to be non-judgmental, and loving, when our friends find themselves in this position.
    I grumpily walked away from the overflowing ironing basket and made a totally unnecessary batch of drop scones in one corner of a cluttered kitchen yesterday. And I felt much better afterwards. As you say, those little things give us time and space to get our heads a bit straighter. But other times, I just hide in the shelter of the Rock of Ages, and freely admit it is only his grace that keeps me going.
    May your Moving Machinations continue to go smoothly

    • lesleyps91
      Author
      September 17, 2018 / 9:40 pm

      Thank you. Am putting the moving to one side tonight – probably for the same reason that you left the ironing – I just cannot be bothered tonight. Back in the saddle again tomorrow!

  2. September 17, 2018 / 8:32 pm

    When I was 18 I lived for a while with some monks in Devon. I have a vivd memory of sitting on a bench in their simple whitewashed chapel reading their Rule of Life. My attention was arrested by a sentence that has never left me: “The priory should reflect the peace and order of heaven.”
    The room I sat in was full of light and empty of furniture. It did reflect the peace and order of heaven, but that was easily achieved with very little work.
    I think that moment inspired me. Because I am super-lazy and low-energy as well, I can cope with a bit of housework but not too much. Either laundry or cleaning the bathroom; not both. Hence I quickly realised the less you have, the less you have to clean — and the result still reflects the peace and order of heaven more convincingly than a house full of stuff however adorably organised. Simplicity and plainness have an innate beauty that’s impossible to beat.
    So I don’t do much but I don’t have much and that’s the way I like it — but that’s just me.
    Mrs Hinch, eh? Who knew? Well — 389,000 people obviously, but not me. I wondered if I should check it out, but I think the monks nailed it for me really. They weren’t house proud though, you know: they had mice.

    • lesleyps91
      Author
      September 17, 2018 / 9:36 pm

      I have to admit, that the spaces I have have decluttered look so much more ordered and calm and I thought that they would look bare. Whatever happens, we were saying in the moving department, we have both been really chuffed at the way a less cluttered area can still be welcoming.
      SO nice to hear you talking about monks. Would like very much to see a TV adaptation of the Hawk and the Dove series, with Jason Isaacs as Father Peregrine. (Although I accept that this is very much my personal – and somewhat cherished – view and I cannot expect everyone to agree..but I am right)

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