Spring Cleaning

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The weather has started to get nice, flowers are blooming, and it is the perfect time for a nice spring clean. My mom jokes that she only has two cleaning modes: spring clean and nothing. I’m somewhere on the other end of the scale – weekly baby steps. Spring cleaning may be overwhelming for some of us, but it genuinely makes me so happy to have a cleaner space and it can truly make a difference on your mental health. (Plus I’m always finding things tucked away in weird places to distract and entertain myself).

My first stop for the seasonal clean was my closet. The first days of warm weather had me shedding the heavy sweaters and reaching for much more spring- and summer-appropriate clothing. I rotate my closet with the seasons – it allows for my clothes to get loved more when appropriate and it keeps my studio apartment closet from bursting at the seams. I spent a few hours looking through my closet and my dresser, picking out what I would deem “winter clothes”. I pulled them all out (confirmed that nothing needed a loving wash) and piled them to the side. I also pulled out things that could be worn year-round but that I needed a break from (the idea being that upon seeing them again in six months, I’d be more excited and less likely to buy more clothing).

After my winter wardrobe was pulled out, I packed half away in a spare gym bag and left the rest on some spare selves. I could immediately switch over to my summer clothes, but it wasn’t quite time yet. So I’ve waited about a month and worn what was there. I have yet to be desperate for a piece of clothing that I’ve had to run out and buy something, but I also have reached for dresses or shirts that were hidden behind other clothes.

Now that it is warm here, I’ll be pulling down my summer clothes, hanging them, and using the bag they’re currently stored in to finally put away my winter clothes for good. I might spend a few weeks with my summer clothes completely separate to continue enjoying my transitional closet or I might mix it all together. We shall see how I’m feeling.

After my closet, I moved to a very easy step for me: shoes. I tucked away my winter boots (just the thought of them make my feet sweat right now) and pulled out my sandals and flats that don’t get as much love in the winter. Winter jackets and scarfs were tucked away as well. With all of this complete, I can genuinely look at my closet and answer the question of whether anything is missing. (For the sake of my wallet, the answer is going to have to be a “no”.)

Next up, I’m looking at the piles of paper that I’ve somehow accumulated. Some of it is mail that never got sorted or magazines that I meant to read. Either way, it’s getting tackled. I pulled my recycling bin over, put on some good tunes, and got to work. Most of it could be tossed once I gave myself permission to not read that thing or that I wasn’t going to shop at that store. Unfortunately, no forgotten money in an old birthday card this time around, but I’m sure the pile will start again and I’ll have to take on the challenge in a few months.

I’m also adding my kitchen cabinets to my list this year. I looked through my food when I moved a few months ago, but I just want to double check nothing has gone bad while I wasn’t looking. As a picky eater, I know what I will and won’t use, so anything that won’t be consumed by me will be donated to either my parents’ pantry or a local food pantry, and anything gross gets tossed out.

Once I’ve got the organizational stuff out of the way, it’s time for the classic clean. I sweep regularly and wipe down my horizontal surfaces on a regular basis, but it’s never a deep clean. So out comes the broom and the Lysol wipes and the dust rag. Kitchen, bathroom, closets, and the “bedroom” and “living space” I have in my studio all get cleaned with their specific cleaning lists.

I start in a corner and work my way out and around, telling myself to finish one task at a time. I give myself dance breaks and breathers as I go. But once a task is started, it can’t be left for another day – not allowed. Pulling the couch out from the wall or really dusting the bookshelf are part of the satisfying parts and when I’m done, I’m always very grateful that I only do big cleans once a season – it’s exhausting work!

I’ve got other little tasks on my to-do list each season. This list includes repotting and propagating some of my plant babies, finally hanging some decorations that I haven’t gotten around to since moving in, and clearing out duplicate photos on my phone. I’m sure while I do my tidying something else will come up and when I’m finally finished with this list, it’ll be time to start another one for summer. But I’ll worry about that it’s too humid to do anything else.

Starting Fresh

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It’s almost the new year and it’s almost a new decade. So it’s time to leave some baggage behind. I know everyone loves spring cleaning, but I find the end of the year to be an incredibly satisfying time of the year to kick anything that isn’t sparking joy to the curb.

First things first: emails. I hate having notifications for emails. So I’m clearing my inbox. Anything that needs responding to, gets a response. Any ads or coupon codes are get marked as read – if I need them, I can always search for the brand or store later. Anything that sends me hourly emails, unsubscribe. I will not start the year with a little red bubble next to my email app.

Then on to social media. Almost yearly, I go through my social media (Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn) and clear out the people I just don’t care about. Maybe it’s someone who I was friendly with years and years ago or a comedian I followed and have regretted following ever since or a friend’s ex. Whoever it is, if I don’t love seeing their posts, they’re gone. If they aren’t sparking joy with their content, unfollowed. No more hate-liking or skipping through three hours worth of concert video posted to their stories. If I don’t know them, they’re gone. (And anyone I can’t avoid – i.e. coworkers, family members – gets muted. They don’t have to know.)

Next up, moving on to more physical things. My car becomes a dumping ground for bits and bobs. I’ll be starting the year off with no receipts waded up in my cup holders. Nothing in my trunk. And a full tank of gas. Because I’ll be moving in January, I’ll also be stealing my parents’ shop vac to clean up the evidence of many a fast food stop.

My apartment stays relatively uncluttered and will end up being cleaned and organized when I start packing, but I’ve got a couple of things that need sorting.

It’s so easy to fill a kitchen with half-eaten bits and bobs and then still have nothing to eat. So the last few meals of 2019 will be sourced from what I already have. That bag of chips from that party two months ago will be eaten (or tossed once I realize they’re stale). Anything in the fridge that’s past expiration date will be dealt with. The freezer will be explored and it will reveal whatever I’ve stuffed in there. Basically, I’ll have to come to terms with all my impulse Safeway purchases.

Like most proper adults, I receive mail. This mail usually relates to bills, information about my work benefits, catalogs I’ll never read, and cards from my mother that I never dealt with. Fortunately, I’ve only been adulting for about a year, so it hasn’t accumulated to an unreasonable pile. Yet. So I will be sitting down to sort through what can be recycled, what can be shredded, and what should be nicely filed. Because most of this paper lives on my bedside table, once it’s clear, I’ll actually be able to keep important things next to my bedside like my phone, my glasses, and a candle (or three!).

Speaking of candles, I’ve been burning candles for about a year now and I’ve gone through quite a few. At some point, I considered dealing with the empty candles, getting all the wax out, and reusing the containers. But I’m lazy and they’re in the way. So I will instead just be recycling the containers and moving on. Once those have been cleared of my shelf, I can justify my purchases of more candles!

If you’re like me, you went a little crazy during the Black Friday/Cyber Monday sales and you bought new clothes. Unfortunately, my closet isn’t big enough (and currently has a hole in the ceiling from my upstairs neighbors’ water leak! Yay adulting!). So I’ll be downsizing. I’ve done this many times before but I’m excited to clear out the things that don’t fit or that I haven’t worn in a year or that just aren’t my faves anymore. Don’t worry – they’ll be donated (first to friends and then to a local charity shop).

Lastly, I’ll be clearing my head. (Yes, I went there.) It’s one thing to get rid of physical clutter (the piles of unread mail) or the electronic clutter (the unfriendly “friends”), but emotional clutter is draining too. Especially in the middle of the most exhausting time of the year. An hour or two of journaling. A yoga class or a run in nature. A mediation session surrounded by candles. A hike in the wilderness. A mental reminder to let it go.

It’s a new year, a new decade. Why carry shit with you that you can leave behind?