Friday, August 10, 2012

Rush To Relax

Deb: The other day I was pushing the limits on the kitchen cleanup when a simple thought occurred. I was picking up paper with one hand, emptying the dishwasher with the other, while making eyes at the lower door window with its puppy nose imprints, glass cleaner in my paw. All of this is normal for me. I have no issue with wanting things to be tidy and clean. But it suddenly dawned on me that I was moving at the speed of light. Truly. My dogs were staring in the direction of my scent and couldn’t even see me. I was just that fast.

And I thought, Why am I rushing? And how many times a day do I do this rushing? I realized with some alarm that I am so in love with the relax that I am rushing, panicked to accomplish all my chores in an attempt to achieve the ultimate chore reward—the relax. So I thought about it and was reminded of that old classic tune ... “Whistle while you work, Hitler is a jerk, Mussolini bit his weenie, now it doesn’t work.” ... sorry, got off track there with memories of grade three recess. 

What I thought about was The Seven Dwarfs (should I have capped that?). Is that their official moniker—The Seven Dwarfs?

I thought of their peppy happy little song, sans Hitler. What I really thought of was this idea of being happy at your work. I don’t mean your artistic work, your “trained for” work, your passionate work. I mean your toilet cleaning, counter wiping work. I mean the work that never ends. Hmmm, another song comes to mind. “It just goes on and on, my friends”...

I’m talking the crap work, you know what I mean. I strived to break the Olympic record for the empty dishwasher-clean stove-sweep floor-athon. Although I missed a shot at the podium, I was chuffed at achieving my personal best. Then it hit me. I was rushing to relax. These cleanup minutes have become empty time. They hold no value to me because I am simply getting through them. Am I really truly going to throw these moments away?

No. I need to pimp my clean. I need for it not to be the lousy wasted moments of my life. So tonight as I cleaned up, I put on Annie Lennox and I danced around the kitchen as I sashayed with the clean pots and pans, worthy partners all. I am vowing to take the piss out of tidy, the crap out of clean. I am going to rock that garbage disposal till it screams for limp scallion stems. 

Although the Seven Dwarfs got second billing, they had it goin’ on.

Barbara: Ha! I do very much relate to this, Deb, as I have found myself, on many an occasion, rushing through my chores. Or worse, nursing a sense of stress that I’m not doing them quickly enough, or that I haven’t yet gotten to them, or that as soon as I’ve done it, I will have to do it all over again. Why do I (we) get so stressed about something as simple and fundamentally non-taxing as The Chore? Deb, I love your Personal Best, Seven Dwarfs initiative! In fact, it reminds me of something a yoga instructor once told me: when you do a chore (ie, like washing a dish), it’s the best time to unwind and put yourself in the moment. Take that dish and really observe it as you clean it, really, as corny as it sounds, be in that moment. With your dancing and singing, Deb, you’ve shown us how to do it. Now if only I could get you to tape yourself doing it and post it here so we can really see how you do it :)

56 comments:

  1. I do that all the time...especially when I'm at work. I just want to get things done as quickly as I can for what? A little extra "free" time? Something I will be definitely keeping in mind today :]

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    1. I know huh? Whistle while you work Kelly!

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  2. I usually listen to a list that I have named cleaning music. A bit more up beat music that will keep my cleaning tempo up. Sometimes I have the radio on, but you never know what kind of a music comes from there. It is the best way to clean! If I feel a bit stressed I might just start cleaning with music because it is such a good way to release the extra energy.

    Oh, and I agree with Barbara that we need evidence of this dancing and signing here ;)

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    1. Kasku, sounds like you have it solved. You're not just going to trust that I sing and dance? :-)

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    2. I trust you, really :) I just like the idea of evidence as well :D

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  3. I'm like that too! I can't rush around nearly as much as I used to but I still get stressed about getting everything done. Music is definitely the best way to deal with it, just like in Mary Poppins. :D I always listen to my MP3 player while I'm cleaning - that way I'm so busy singing along to the songs that the chores fly past, although it does tend to annoy the kids if they're home. :P

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  4. "Just a spoon full of sugar helps the medicine go down, the medicine go dow-own, medicine go down."

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  5. YES...YES...How can we get her to tape it???? We need to create a plan----HEY DEB! Just....normal convo...nothing much.. doesnt concern y---Oh who am I kiddin. Please we REALLY want to see you do it! Because you are so ADORABLE :) I'm making puppy dog eyes here...

    Ha..and So funny, I did the EXACT SAME THING two days ago. In my case I was playing some crappy music, had put on the 'pheta'(the hat I'm wearing in my blogger pic) started singing and dancing like I had gone crazy, scared my mom a bit and HAD FUN!!!

    I tend to be all or nothing so when I clean...it has to be squeaky clean.. HAS TO BE. So I have my favourite song "500miles" going on in the background, I'm taking things out of my wardrobe yapping in my own very carefully constructed Scottish accent(It sounds less scottish....and more help-me-I'm-choking)
    Ha! and now that I think about it if I ever own a house. This is exactly How I would explain my cleaning regime!!

    P.S. Did I mention I'm taking T.M. lessons?? Today was my second lesson (good thing my mom's learning with me. She soooo needs it..YAY!) I LOVE YOU SOOOOOOO MUCH for telling me about it xo... Its really relaxing. Got my mantra and we have meditated four times.....AHHHH BLISS!

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    1. 500 miles is a great song for cleaning. It drives you on! T.M. Lessons!!! Wonderful!!! Did you relate to your mantra? I so did which is why I never forgot it through all the years of sparse moments of meditation.

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    2. Awww my mantra is so amazing!!!! And gosh my teacher is so impressed with me. He keeps telling me how lucky I am to have found this so early in life.

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  6. Such an awesome perspective. After each holiday dinner at my moms house, she always says, "Don't put the glasses in the dishwasher." She washes each glass by hand and takes that time to unwind from the day. I think it's brilliant, and honestly, until this post, I've never really understood it. I've always thought,she's got a dishwasher, why the hell would she want to wash them. But yeah, I get it. It's time out from the other stuff, the busy stuff. It's something we can take our time doing, to slow down, to unwind or regroup. I get it now. When I clean this weekend that's the way I'm going to think about it. Thanks for the post ladies. Enlightening as always.

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    1. Megan I think this is fantastic. Just what I am trying to fix and your Mom already has it goin' on. Good luck. We will all slow it down together.

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  7. At the risk of sounding like I have OCD, I actually love to clean and therefore enjoy the process...I'm often one with the microfiber cloth as it were. I figure it's gotta be done, so in spite of the never-ending demand that requires more to be done, I rarely rush through it and always take a few extra moments to just admire the results. Yup...I'm all too aware it'll have to all need to be tackled again sooner rather than later but since I find it to be a relaxing activity, I don't really rush it. Kinda like that with chores in general...if they have to be done, may as well find the joy, or at least the reward, in them. Don't get me wrong...if I have to dust the venetian blinds, I practically need to be hospitalized after as I find that such an onerous job, but generally speaking, I use chore time as a meditative activity. I find cleaners that leave the house smelling great, I install shelving that allows me to organize the garage such that everything fits like a jigsaw puzzle, I focus on the visual results taking comfort from everything being lined up just so!
    We didn't have much as kids, (although what we did was impeccably maintained and spotlessly clean)such that I am grateful for the home I have and the things I have collected to mark the space as ours. Caring for it/them is a small price to pay. And for the most part, I feel so blessed, after all, it's hard to bitch about unloading a dishwasher when you are aware women in other parts of the world have to haul the day's water home in a heavy jug from a source that's ten miles away.
    I think I came by my love of cleaning honestly though...As children, we weren't allowed to clean. If I asked my mom if I could vacuum, she would dismiss me with a loving, "Oh...forget about that! Go and out and play! You'll have your own house soon enough and you'll never stop cleaning!" Turns out she was right and I thank her everyday for her largesse.
    Took the same approach with my kids and hope they enjoy the process as much as I do when their time comes...

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    1. Annette this is perfect. And it works for you which is great. I love to tidy but I would rather a complete stranger clean my toilet. I love your attitude about the kids too that was passed down from you Mom. Luke always had chores but they were more things like setting and clearing the table. He never cleaned a toilet but to your very good point, when he moved out he became house proud. Maybe not as often as we would clean but he does it and is proud of the fact.

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    2. Annette, your mom's attitude about not making you clean is very wise and kind. I am taking inspiration from that, yes indeedy I am.

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  8. This reminds me how i have an EXTREMELY dirty kitchen to clean soon >_> but moving at the speed of light... dang Deb :P Maybe you're a super hero like "the flash", but they'll probably know you as "the Deb".

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    1. Oh Garrett, I would love to be The Deb! Our puppy is The Bairn so...

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  9. My grandpa always used to say "the secret to happiness lies not in doing what one likes to do, but liking what one has to do". I always try and remember that when I'm cleaning the bathroom! I try to let my mind float free when i'm cleaning/tidying/washing and enjoy the time in my own head, then enjoy the results. Than being said, my bathroom hasn't seen a spray and microfiber cloth in quite a few weeks....

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    1. Samara, I love your grandpa's maxim...I'm going to remember that when doing those venetian blinds. :)

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    2. Your Grandpa is a genius. Words to live by. And that's the key isn't it? I mean it's easy to love to do what you already love to do.

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  10. I belong to "NonCleaners Anonymous" Yes, I have the Shamwow and haven't used it in the seven years its been in my drawer. But I don't hang my head in shame, I've made friends with the cute little dust bunnies.

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    1. That is what it's all about! As long as you are happy with it, it is the best choice for you. Poor little Shamwow though. Just wants to earn it's keep! :-)

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  11. I also love to clean but not the everyday stuff. I am lucky to have a housekeeper for the last 20 years and she does the stuff I hate. Changes sheets and towels and clean the bathrooms. I love to do the other cleaning projects. I love to dust and clean grout and floorboards and moldings. I love to straighten and clean out old papers and files. I have nothing in my house that I don't use regularly except for my collections which I love to rearrange and clean.

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    1. Yes Madge that is exactly my arena too. The rest I leave to the pros. I do love at night though when the kitchen is sparkly clean. Nice to wake up to.

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  12. I forgot to say I save things for after I finish my "chores" like reading People Magazine. It is a reward for work well down. As I age, however, I relax much more and have no guilt.

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    1. Yep. That's the key to life isn't it Madge?

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  13. I sure like this post...so much that I'm printing and posting it on my fridge!

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    1. Eileen that is fantastic. Love it.

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  14. First - I have never heard that version of Whistle While You Work. Hilarious!

    My husband complains that when I do chores, I seem to be in a race. It's the reason given for why I don't get much help from him or the children. I'm too fast.

    I may just be sabotaging myself.

    Resigned to the fact that it's mostly a convenient excuse to get out of chores (it's cousin excuse is "we can never do it to meet your standards") I'd be wise to embrace your attitude. Most of the time, I don't mind doing housework. I find ironing especially relaxing and rewarding in its own right.

    What bothers me is to be doing three things at once (I love your description, Deb!) and to have the four other inhabitants of this house sitting around on their duffs. I wouldn't care if they were at the movies or out mowing the lawn. I feel more servant-like when they're an audience and that's an irritating feeling because I am so not getting paid to serve.

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    1. Funny huh Lisa! Oh the childhood songs! Yeah maybe you're right Lisa or maybe you like the way you do it so you do it! Yes could not deal with the duff sitting, I agree.

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  15. Interesting that nobody has mentioned their partner's role in the cleaning up routine!

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    1. No partner, so no extra roles in my routine ;)

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    2. That's a good point Sue. For my part, my husband certainly does his share. But we have something called boy clean and girl clean and when he cleans the kitchen it is perfect. Everything away and wiped. then...I girl clean. Spit and polish.

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  16. Don't kill me, but I actually enjoy cleaning the kitchen. My sons all love to cook, but believe in using absolutely every pot, pan, bowl, whisk, etc. So although we've enjoyed a great meal, the kitchen looks like a bomb hit it. Perhaps I'm a dork, but I like to be able to get it back to the way I like it (ready for the next creation) And I like to stand up and do it after the meal relishing everything that went along with it. The prep, the dinner conversation, and the conversation that I hear from the kitchen afterwards And just standing after a big meal with something to do while I listen.

    I love what Samara's Grandpa said.....very wise and very relaxing. But now, of course, I am "whistling while I work" :)

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    1. THIS is why I hate when my husband cooks! How he makes the exact same dish I make but ten times the mess is beyond me!

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    2. Not at all Jo, I was saying earlier that I love to clean the kitchen. Not so much with the tubs and toilets. I love your thoughts on what cleaning the kitchen means to you. Beautiful. Yeah Erin Colin used to be like that but he know cleans as he goes which is great! And of course, who am I to complain? He's cooking after all.

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  17. We have channels on our TV that play nothing but music so my mom and I blast those channels when we clean. I am pretty sure you can hear it outside we have it so loud. LOL but we sing along and it makes the time go by a little quicker : )

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  18. Souzan Rezai from Vancouver, BCAugust 10, 2012 at 1:52 PM

    Oh man. At least this shows that there is a whole clan I can belong to who do this...

    I used to feel the same turbo-anxiety-ridden mad-dash to get all the cleaning done so I could sit and drink a glass of wine and feel good about it. To the point of drinking energy drinks to get through the cleaning, cause I was so tired I just wanted to drink a damn glass of wine! But what kind of a horrible, sick, twisted person drinks wine in a messy home?

    Then I realized how much crazy that all was...

    Now? I drink wine WHILE I clean. Seriously. Or Vodka, whatever is on hand. I dance it out (and I mean mad dance it out...) while I vacuum, and I listen to everything from Shirley Bassey to Mystikal and sing along to all of it. Sometimes I wear my favourite heels while I do dishes, and- now this part is key- I do it all naked. BECAUSE what's the point of wearing clothes when it's just gonna get sweaty and dirty and just add to the laundry? Granted, my neighbours think I'm batshit crazy now, but I've never felt more sane.

    I hope this is what your Grandpa meant, Samara...

    p.s. I would love the tape of Barb taking a dish and REALLY observing it while you clean it! It's amazing advice, actually, I'm just a very visual learner >:)

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    1. Well, welcome, welcome, Souzan! You with your sassy, lovely sense of humour and fun are so making my day here xo (and that video? yeah, no.)

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    2. Hi Souzan. Love your name by the way! I think you have it all going on. You have graduated!!!

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    3. Souzan Rezai from Vancouver, BCAugust 11, 2012 at 11:03 PM

      Thank you, ladies, I just love your blog!

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  19. Um...so yeah, I lived this out today!

    During work my boss had to leave unexpectedly, leaving work that three ppl usually do down to two (myself and another co worker). I was scrambling around trying to finish so I could get home, and I was cleaning up dishes and I told my other co-worker that I was going to leave shortly and he said that it was his last day today.

    Holy. crap. Talk about feeling like a moron. Here I am, running around trying to get home and this guy won't be at work on Monday. Ever. He was a great guy, good kid (I only say that because he's still in school), we had a lot in common, and who knows when I'll ever see him again. Anyway...*open mouth, insert foot*

    Sometimes I think we all just need to slooooooooooooooooooowwwwwwwwwwwww down! Myself included. Big time.

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    1. Wow you are our living example today Holly! And yes we sure do need to slooooooooooooowwwwwwww down. I'm trying baby I'm trying.

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  20. "Gonna Fly Now" (Theme from Rocky) is the best clean-the-house music EVER! You can't help but work hard, dance a little and feel like jumping around with your hand raised in the air when the cleaning is done.

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    1. Perfect Molly! First for climbing stairs and now for cleaning. Love.

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  21. I used to hate cleaning our kitchen when we first bought our house but now I kind of like it. Our kitchen was AWFUL when we first moved in, mismatched appliances, half the cabinets were falling apart, there wasn't room for anything and no matter how hard I tried it looked dingy and filthy. Now I love my kitchen and so I love seeing it sparkly clean, so much of me is in that room now that it's my favorite place to be. I'll still, two years after having done the kitchen, sit at my new breakfast bar and just grin at my tile work and the results of the renovation. I think thats what makes me love being in a space even if it's just to clean it, if the space is MY space and filled with what I love I'm happy doing anything in it.
    Then again we also renovated both bathrooms and I will never ever be happy cleaning a toilet. I certainly wouldn't whistle anyways, can you imagine what would happen if the toilet brush flicked water in your face while you were whistling. Ewww I honestly just made myself gag.
    I'm all over listening to music while I clean up too, it makes a huge difference in my attitude towards whatever I'm doing. I love random dance breaks, particualrly when I find myself being spun around by my hubby.

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  22. Boy Erin you are so right. Makes it much easier to want to clean it when it is lovely. I think you need to do a random dance break tonight! I think we all need to.

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  23. Oh Gosh, i needed that laugh today. I should write that sentance down and hang it over the kitchen sink, " I am going to rock that garbage disposal till it screams for limp scallion stems. " I don't know why but it sure gets my funny bone going :) And its hard to rush and stress about something when your laughing :) Ahhh good stuff!

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    1. Thanks AR. Always glad to laugh isn't it?

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  24. I believe you have discovered a very important secret: playing music you love and singing and dancing make cleaning the kitchen a joyful time of day. It works for me too; and I need that, or the everydayness of these chores would really get me down. I used to be always hurrying to get to the future moment, when the dishes would be done and I could go on to the next thing. I resented the dishes, and the everydayness of them. Now I love putting my hands in that warm sudsy water and handling my beautiful cookware and cutlery and dishes. They keep me in the moment, if I let them.

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    1. I love that Kate. They keep me in the moment, if I let them. Lovely.

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  25. Very timely again. I'm in the middle of moving and I swear the boxes multiplied when I wasn't looking. I'm looking at boxes stacked in the living room that never seem to get emptied and can't seem to find room for things. Just found out my son is leaving to live in Vegas in like a week. I'm starting college the day after he leaves and am beyond stressed about that and just feel like there's no time to be ready for any of this. I have to breathe I have to decompress and so today dear Deb I sat on the couch (next to some boxes) and turned on my favorite radio station Kool 100 (hits from the 70s) and just chilled for a bit. I actually felt re-energized after awhile and took on the boxes with the music playing in the background. It really helps to whistle (or sing) while you work!

    XOXO

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  26. Kool hits from the 70's sounds like the perfect kitchen helper Mary.

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  27. It is Deb! I may need to cry on you gal's shoulders when my son leaves next Sunday I'm not ready for this but I have to let him go. Just gotta keep busy and not think about it too much

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  28. Oh Mary, you KNOW that I know your pain! Keep busy and fill your head with lovely memories.

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