A life lesson from cleaning

Clearing out my cupboards this New Year took up some valuable time.  Those places we try to forget, well they were glaring at me pointedly. The airing cupboard, that dark place under the sink; a small shelf area I use for my art junk, and another hellhole- in the forgotten recesses of the laundry.


Cleaning - Starts at sixty


What did I find? Lots of plastic boxes, with miss-matching lids, dusters, a footbath, watercolour paint, glue stuck to scissors, paper, and some good books I had mislaid. Empty containers of fly spray, three bottles of shampoo, a small amount of gin left in a bottle, (no idea why that was there) jam jars I intended to fill with marmalade, the  jars are still waiting and have hundreds of lemons;  battered cake tins, an electric fry pan… why don’t I use it? Tins of rice pudding, tomatoes, and tuna, guest soaps… Brasso, Silvo, and oven cleaner (hardly ever use them!).  Lots of lids belonging to saucepans I have thrown out, and a bag of ribbons for flower arranging. I wonder what this jumble of items says about me?  Does it signify the character I am? Well except for the gin, which I have no memory of!

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Life is diverse sometimes. To soothe myself last night I coloured a Mandela in a swirly middle eastern pattern. There is something therapeutic about just using felt pens and following the intricate pattern. I was using some of the pencils I had found and forgotten. It was a gentle pleasure to use them again.

Life is a bit like my cupboard, full of parts of the past, discarded memories and useless bits of debris. The art is learning how to tidy the cupboards of our mind. Learning what we need to let go of. So I shall keep the paints and the colours use the paper, and fill the jars with produce. We need to put back things to make life worth living. We need to participate to contribute, or we might as well be like my cupboards, full of junk and never looked at.

I also gave some of the food to a friend who is having a difficult time. The pasta and the pasta sauce will make a meal on a bad day. We are struggling too, but still we can share what we have.  I inherited from my mother a strong desire to feed anything that looks hungry! It has got me into trouble many times, especially as I feed animals that come my way. We end up with a motley collection of hopeful furry friends at the back door. I even put a snail I found into the bin with a lettuce leaf to keep it munching until it went to the garbage. This shows I am completely mad!

I continually ‘recycle’ clothing. Buy some from charity shops, then re-give it to someone else. Or take my own unloved articles in for them to sell. I hate to throw it away unless it is beyond hope.  Books are becoming less loved due to eBooks, but in a community of older people there are still those not into technology, so books passed on are appreciated. Or the library will take them.

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So I am starting the year with a few cleaner areas, which is now another challenge, keeping them clear!

The other thing I am doing is to record a ‘Happy Memory’, every month of the year, something special that has given pleasure, so there will be twelve photographs of happy days, or objects that give me pleasure.

Last year I wrote little notes and kept them in a happy box, that worked well and seeing them all on New Year’s Day was fantastic.

Have you had a good start to the year, have you done anything to start your new year in the right way?