Start with Something Small.

Silverware Drawer

Last weekend, in a bout of misguided organizational zeal, I decide to deep clean my entire kitchen. It started when I lifted a stainless steel pot to make some soup to go along with the dropping temperatures and found a pile of gunk. Gunk that turned out to be a hair band, some bread crumbs, a post-it and a tiny Elsa figurine.

Am I really this disgusting? No I am not. So I made the decision to scrub and scour every corner of my kitchen. To wash every spoon and wipe down every appliance. To clean the spilt cinnamon and oregano and cayenne pepper out of the bottom of my spice cabinet. To wrestle the drawers out of my fridge (I think they come out….at least I think 2 of them do) and place them to soak in some hot soapy water. To restore order to the heart of my home.

Alas, I now know why there’s garbage in my cabinets. Interruptions have a mysterious way of turning my plans and goals swiftly into fantasies. Most of the time when starting a project, interruptions get in my way. If I’m honest, interruptions are much more of a reality and less of a surprise (I knew my spouse and children would want lunch…it was inevitable). At the heart of my gunk problem is a giant case of unrealistic expectations. Too often, I pretend that 15 minutes is enough time for me to get from pajamas to completely dressed with makeup on and 4 lunches and 2 backpacks packed and coffee and a smoothie made and in hand.

Life has a way of overwhelming even the most ambitious of people (or perhaps the ambitious have it worse off). Before I spiraled into the depths of despair and tore apart my entire kitchen while giving my hungry family a piece of my mind…. I leveled with myself. Is Saturday at lunchtime the best time to clean the kitchen? Do I really have time today to clean my entire kitchen top to bottom? Do I really want to do all of this work on one of our few family days?

And the final doozie of a question — What can I actually (realistically) accomplish today?

By now I’m sure you’re quivering with anxiety at my answers to myself, so I’ll tell you. I cleaned the silverware drawer. I hand washed all the silverware, wiped down the drawer, and sent the compartments that hold each piece for a nice, hot, bubbly soak. It wasn’t revolutionary, but I feel better. Instead of being paralyzed by my inability to accomplish my entire project in one “sitting”, I did 1 portion and the next day I cleaned the spice cabinet. And the next day, I cleaned the pots and pans.

So, dig on in. Pick something small. Start.


The Monotony of Life.

Fall is a season of physical and tangible change. In Colorado, the Rockies will often be covered with a light layer of crisp white snow, while the surrounding trees transition into fiery reds, oranges, and gold. It’s breathtaking and locals flock to the mountain to bask in nature’s glory and the change in scenery. The change is natural, predictable and consistent. Why were the trees given this ability, yet I struggle to make any change at all?

Recently, I heard a wonderful TED talk during which the speaker continually encouraged listeners to FORCE themselves to change. The more she said FORCE the more I cringed at the visceral sound of the word. Who wants to FORCE themselves to do or be anything? And when you think about it, what are the other options? To naturally make changes in our lives? To discover change that requires no effort?

During this talk, the speaker outlines how we work towards the stability of adulthood. Once we arrive, we find ourselves doing the same things day in and day out. Driving the same routes. Eating the same foods. Watching the same television shows. And one day, we wake up to find ourselves bored and unsatisfied. Thinking about this, I can see the patterns; whether healthy, unhealthy or just needed, of my own life and the monotony that weighs upon me. I’ve already see that show on Netflix. I don’t want to clean the bathroom. I don’t want to send another email or add another appointment to the calendar. The monotony of autopilot can easily rob a person of their joy….if we allow it.

So, tonight I will take a walk, spend time reading with my children, carve out some precious time for myself, and set my alarm just a little bit earlier. I’ll probably still clean a bathroom or kitchen or pick up some room in my house but I’m hoping that carving out just thirty minutes of enjoyable time during which I don’t revert to autopilot. A mere half hour or so of choices that will not add to the monotony.

Author’s Note: After publishing this, I realized the kids have extracurrilcar activities tonight and my husband is out of town and I’m watching my friend’s children. Maybe I’ll try for 15-20 minutes but dang it, they’ll be the most fabulous 15-20 minutes of my day.