|Late winter in Central Park|
My mind has not been on writing much lately. My girls have been on spring break for a week now and there is another week to go. My eldest daughter spent her first week in New York City on a music appreciation trip with twelve other school mates during which she visited Lincoln Center, attended a concert of the London Philharmonic, toured Radio City Music Hall, Times Square and the NBC studios at Rockefeller Center, went to Central Park, the Brooklyn Bridge, the 9-11 Memorial, and The Metropolitan Museum of Art to see the musical instruments section. While she was there, my younger daughter kept track of her itinerary, and would often pipe up with, "Emma's getting ready to see Wicked at The Gershwin Theatre," or, "Emma's up the Empire State Building right now," or "Emma might be either at Staten Island or in Greenwich Village right now - they have a choice." Emma came home early Thursday morning and spent almost all that day entertaining us with stories of the group's adventures, and exhibiting signs of complete exhaustion. They had taken the red eye flights both ways, to and from Vancouver, and as might be obvious by the description above, did every touristy thing they could cram into their five day trip. She summed up her New York experience with, "It's a nice place to visit, but I wouldn't want to live there." She found she missed the general politeness of Canadians and home cooked meals after a few days.
|Times Square on a Friday night|
While Emma was away, I found that a little piece of me went with her, hoping and willing her to have a good time and praying her group would not encounter any bedbugs, which seem to have made an unfortunate comeback in the world of travel. However, the group stayed at a good hotel in Manhattan and one of their group, an experienced traveler, showed them how to inspect their beds properly for any critters. They found none and I felt better. Here at home, I was busy helping my violinist son mentally prepare for his auditions at the universities of his choice and filling my youngest daughter with vitamins and remedies to counter the cough she had again come down with; this winter has been a bit hard on her, like it has for so many of our acquaintance. With all of the above on my mind, I began the necessary task of spring cleaning our house. Spring cleaning and de-cluttering is proving to be a therapeutic exercise as I work toward my goal of having most of it done by Easter.
A long time ago, in a conversation with my always very busy sister, Monica, she told me she had developed a practice of cleaning out one area per day or two. That way, over time, she would get everything done without feeling overwhelmed with the idea of having to clean the whole house in one go. I decided to adopt her approach because, also being a busy person (who would rather do anything than clean), if I was going to get the job done well, I was going to have to do it a bit at a time. Rare is the day I can spend the entire time cleaning. Besides, my elbows get sore after a couple of hours' scrubbing and my lungs can only ingest so much dust. I also had a lot of paperwork and files to sort through and organize, so I tackled that job first. I found as I weeded out the old papers and kept only the important ones, making a folder for each new category, I began to feel my mind de-clutter, too, as if all the disparate items in my head had dropped into their proper place. I knew I would be able to easily locate what I needed now, and not have to shuffle through binders of thrown-together forms, lists, and printed out email communications, which is how a lot of my work is done. I tend to work intuitively. I am not disorganized in my mind, but even though I married a man who is hyper-
I felt the same sense of mental de-cluttering when I pulled out our office desk in the corner of our living room. I cleaned everything, including the power cords, the walls, the carpet underneath. Just knowing my files on the shelves by the desk were in order, and the desk and everything about it was clean and orderly made me feel a great sense of satisfaction. Then I tackled the entryway of our house, getting the kids to go through their shoes, cleaning the shoe shelf, the coat closet, the throw-rugs, and scrubbing walls and the floor - which some bright person before us decided should be white lino with little green diamonds. The next victim of my spring cleaning attack will be the kitchen, and my kids have been conscripted for the event. We have a big kitchen which is what builders call 'a high traffic area', and once or twice a year we clean the insides and outsides of the drawers and cupboards and reorganize their contents. Of course, the appliances need to be cleaned, too, and more regularly, but we will tackle them as well, because the time has come again. We are also in the process of going through all our books, dusting them and their shelf homes, and weeding out ones we no longer value. I suppose I would not feel quite so much satisfaction with my spring cleaning if I did not let things build up in such a way as I tend to do. I am better at keeping our lives and important papers organized than I used to be - we have a box for medical receipts and a box for anything to do with our taxes, files for bills and important papers - but I am far from where I could be. I am not hard-wired to maintain a strict ' place for everything and everything in its place,' but I do enjoy the illusion of it, and the serene effect on my psyche for about a week after my annual spring cleaning.
I have long subscribed to the idea that "to everything there is a season." Spring and fall are the seasons to get my act together once more. Spring, because the increased sunshine highlights all the dust, dirt and clutter. Fall, because I will again be much inside the house and looking at the dust, dirt and clutter accumulated over the late spring and summer, and because my holiday from my volunteer work - and its paper trail - is over. Spring, however, has a certain energy about it that emancipates the soul and makes it desire freshness and cleanliness - perhaps to reflect the renewed world outside my four walls and a desire to cast off the effects of the grey, gloomy grit of a west coast winter. Welcome Spring!