Saturday, August 25, 2007

"Count My Blessings" Housecleaning



Our homes, and everything we have in them, are mirrors of who we are and how we see ourselves within our inner worlds. They reflect our interests, our passions, our beliefs and they tell stories about how we feel about ourselves and the world around us.

When we are in good and positive spaces and places within ourselves, our homes are places or renewal and hope. When we are in negative spaces and places, we tend to build up dust and clutter, just as our own hearts, minds and souls build up inside with all of the hardships and trials of living.

In times of stress or distress, I truly need my own home to be a sanctuary, a place of renewal and of hope, filled with things that I love and projects in progress that I love to do. The busier I am, and the harder I find it to simply keep up, the more I realize I need it to be a positive reflection of my inner self and not a clogged down, dark one.

As I began to overlap my home in Oregon, with traveling to and being in my childhood home in Alaska, I am processing this change by preparing this home for my absence. Some people might call this house cleaning. But to me, it is a crossing place of preparation.

It is not always easy to make house cleaning fun. It's not easy, at all to even clean. So to do so, I change how I see cleaning and how I feel as I do it. I count my blessings that I am even physically able to clean and I anticipate the good energies that cleaning will transmit to my own spirit.

Tanya, over at Taniwa, posted a while back about how the Japanese make their own 'quilted' rags from pieces of absorbent toweling or the decorative, advertising cloths that different businesses give out. I loved reading about that and viewing the simple quilted X in a box that turns a little towel into a nice padded duster or mopping cloth.

It immediately reminded me of one of the most unusual mops that I've ever seen...and one that I've been fortunate ? ;) to inherit from my dear mother-in-law. She has beeen home from the nursing home for several months now, after fracturing her pelvis, and is doing very well. But, cleaning and doing the ordinary tasks that all of us take for granted is almost impossible for her. She has to use a walker full time, or a wheel chair when going out, and her hip pain is so intense that things like dusting or vacuuming are all but impossible. So, it has become part of our own lives, to visit and help out, as each of us can, every time we visit her. This kind of help, cleaning another's home becomes its own gift, a giving of time and self in the doing of things for another.

Knowing that there are those who cannot clean, even if they want or need to, I realize that I must actually count my blessings that I am even able to clean my house! .As I prepare to head north to Alaska to help my own mom and dad with their household tasks, as well as to celebrate my mother's birthday, I know that I will be doing a lot more cleaning in the weeks ahead and so it is even more important that I clear dread from my heart, and hate to's from my mind.

Finding a way to make cleaning 'fun' can be easy or it can be very, very hard. I took inspiration from Tanya's post on making rags, and I went on a search for my own strange little vintage 'rag' mop. I assume this mop must come from the depression era on, maybe the forties or fifties. My mother-in-law only knew that she's had it 'forever'. I took an old plaid dishcloth, filled with holes, and cut and trimmed it into a rectangle, added the stiches all around the sides with an X in the middle to 'quilt' it...and I had something to not only mop with...but think about, as I mopped!

The way that you use this little rag mop, is that you insert and clamp down a rag into its closing bars. You mop just as you would with any rag mop. One nice option, however, is that you can remove the rag for drying or replacement.

So, today, as I clean my own house and use my little vintage mop, I am grateful. I am blessed to be able to clean, to be able to walk and to bend and to lift :) And I suspect, that when I get my house clean, I will soon be visiting my family in Alaska, doing a lot more of the same!

5 comments:

  1. Ah, your post hit a nerve here. While I enjoyed cleaning at one time, I don't look on it favorably any more. And part of that is because of my age/arthritic limitations. However, after having had a serious back problem several years ago, I often find myself marveling that I can bend enough to unload the DW, that I can carefully vacuum my whole house now, etc. ---once I get myself motivated to do it! That motivation is the problem. One I am not pleased about. I would rather do other things. I like the sound of your antique mop. It sounds very useful. And practical in being able to wash the mop rags.
    Blessings on you as you go to bless your folks.

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  2. Thank you for the mention. Your observations on cleaning really resounded in my heart. I too believe that clutter reflects on your feelings and how you see yourself (but I could never get my kids to see my point of view.) My house is far from clutter free, but I know when it is clean I feel proud of it and happy. Yes, it is a blessing to have a house (and a blessing that it isn't very big) and a blessing to be healthy enough to clean it at all.

    That little mop looks wonderful! Of course the rag alone means we have to get down on our hands and knees but the mop is great! I could really use one of those! (My knees are not when they used to be. Don't I sound like a granny!)

    I'm glad you enjoyed my "rag making" post. Really tickles my heart!

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  3. I go back and forth with my feelings about cleaning too. I loved it as a child. My father had to tell me that it was unlucky to sweep after 9 just to get me to go to bed. Then I hated it as I got older - because I could never please my mother. If I washed the dishes, she would ask why I didn't clean the counter too. If I did that, she would ask why I didn't mop the floor. She may have been kidding, but it really hurt.
    As an adult, I've hated it too, because that same perfectionism rears its head, and I never know when I am really done. But I have joined flylady and have accepted that any cleaning I do is showing my daughter and myself that I love us. And I can enjoy the parts I have cleaned. Even though I know that I am never really "done" with the whole house, I am done with my list of things to do that day. I like cleaning again!

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  4. Hope your cleaning went well and that your trip to Alaska is joyous (even with the additional cleaning). And thanks for reminding me that I REALLY need to clean my own spaces!

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  5. ahtraM1:14 PM

    ahtraM,

    I may be backwards for asking about this BUT the mop those were talking about is what everyone is interested in. I have ONE that I inherited from my Mom and she passed away 30 yrs. ago at mid 90's. The rag gets clamped down with a thick wire with a spring mechanism. It cleans a floor like nothing they have on the racks now with sponges and flimsy wisps. I wonder if there is ANYONE that still makes them??

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Michele Bilyeu blogs "With Heart and Hands" as she journeys between Douglas, Alaska and Salem, Oregon.