Cleanliness is Next to Godliness
Mission Viejo resident Jenny Cochrane notes that the motto of St. Benedict was “to pray is to work, to work is to pray,” and adds that “spring cleaning is a great time to pray!”
Each time we clean, we examine each thing in our house. We have the opportunity to treasure it or to lovingly relinquish it, as organizing expert and best-selling author Marie Kondo recommends. We can use this pause to reflect and be grateful for our loved ones, our homes, and our careers.
In addition, as we clean out our closets and our homes, we can practice detachment from ‘things’ and promote our generosity to others. In speaking of detachment, St. Therese of Lisieux says, “There is no joy equal to that which is shared by the truly poor in spirit.”
Simplicity and Minimalism for Success
Simplicity, and the idea of owning less, is a key part of both good housekeeping and happiness, agrees North Carolina resident Marla Cilley, known affectionately to millions worldwide as the FLYLady.
“We all have too much stuff,” Cilley says. “I believe that clutter is the tool of the Evil One to separate us from our families. So many of us suffer from ‘can’t-have-anyone-over’ syndrome, because we have too much stuff – stuff on every flat surface and in every closet, under every bed and stuffed into every drawer.”
Cilley, whose FLYLady regimens are described on her website, flylady.net, bases her housekeeping system on baby steps that encourage families to clean ‘zones’ of their homes daily, thus avoiding huge spring and fall cleaning marathons.
FLYLady comes from the acronym for Finally Loving Yourself, Cilley explains. “What I realized was that I was beating myself up all the time. I was my own worst enemy,” she recalls. “When someone misses a day of housekeeping, I tell them to just jump right back in the next day. Don’t beat yourself up because you didn’t do things perfectly.”
Our homes function well and are welcoming when we create habitual patterns to handle the menial parts of life so that our tasks make our living space and our day more orderly. Summer provides us a breathing period in which to take a step back and ask where things have accumulated and what needs a little refreshing.
Still, Cilley notes, the first chapter in her best-selling book, “Sink Reflections,” [Amazon, $17] claims that those who follow her FLYLady system “will never have to spring-clean again.” By tackling each home zone in a systematic fashion, there’s no need to take all the furniture out of our homes and wash everything down as we bring each item in, which is what she remembers her mother doing when Cilley was a little girl.
“Mother would be yelling and screaming,” she recalls. “It wasn’t a fun thing to do. I’ve come up with ways to ensure you never have to put your children through that. Our daily routines become a ritual.”
Taming the Chaos of Clutter
Prior to developing her system, Cilley says, “you couldn’t walk in our house. It was chaos. I decided my New Year’s resolution in 1999 was to get organized,” something that was difficult since both she and her husband were packrats.
“In our Southern tradition, we had the saying, ‘whatever you do on New Year’s Day you’ll do every day for the rest of the year,’” she explains. “I tried to figure out why I was never organized. I discovered that I’d never made organizing or cleaning a habit.”
As readers know, Cilley started with her kitchen sink. “It took two hours of chiseling to get it clean, but when I was finished it shone like a new penny.” Shining one’s sink thus became a key feature of her FLYLady system. “I created an avalanche of clean: My cabinets got cleaned, my oven was clean. And when your kitchen is clean you don’t mind getting in there and cooking. Keeping things organized has a snowball effect.”
When we clean and organize, we often tackle the jobs as quickly as possible. But these humbling activities are a service to our families and an important way we show that we love them. Perhaps most important for our work and our sanity, organizing, streamlining, and minimalism can free our workplaces and our minds of clutter – allowing us to focus on our top priorities for success.