Self-love: Cleaning & Organizing

Kind of a weird title, I know, but I just read Dominee’s post about beginning to love herself and one of the things she talks about is how messy her home was before.

My apartment looked like something out of Hoarders.
Maybe not as bad but it was pretty close. Dirty dishes in the sink that had been there for months and months. Used paper plates thrown haphazardly on the floor. Stains on the carpet and furniture because when something spilled I didn’t care enough to clean it up. Clothes everywhere, piles of empty pizza boxes, and bags of trash that I didn’t care enough to take out to the dumpster. Anyone looking at that scene would just think how lazy and sloppy I was.

I can completely relate.

At some times, my home was that bad.

It’s not now, but it’s not an organized, serene haven, either.

There’s too much stuff in not enough space, and things shoved into open boxes and shelves with little organization.

It’s not for lack of trying.

C and I are both good at organizing small bits at a time.

But we are also both bad at maintaining the organization.

Last week, we went through one day where we pulled stuff out of the bathroom cabinets and linen closet to organize the bathroom.

We finally purged a lot of stuff we’ve been meaning to go through for ages. We ended up getting rid of more than 2 large garbage bags of stuff, plus have a pile to go to storage.

After that, for the last three days, I’ve been starting at my living room, hating the arrangement.

I’ve always hated the arrangement here.

But there’s so much stuff on the shelves that it’s really a pain to move anything.

Tonight, the frustration peaked and I’ve started moving stuff.

I think it’s going to take a few days to go through the whole thing.

I mentioned before that I have been able to keep a clean, organized home at times in the past:

When I look back on my past, the times my home has been cleanest and I’ve done better at routine things are the times I’ve lived completely alone, or for a brief period when C was tiny after I kicked Deadbeat Roommate out.

Considering that C is rarely home now and will be off to college soon enough, I should be able to do this again, now. Right now, things are clean. There’s only today’s dishes in the sink, and C just emptied the dishwasher of clean stuff so I’ll be getting them done tonight. The garbage is taken out regularly. There’s no food laying around.

But it is messy/cluttered.

Part of my frustration is that when I live alone, all the mess is mine, and things remain where I leave them. And now, while C is rarely home, her messes still are.

She’s capable of cleaning and organizing. In fact, she does a fabulous job when she does it. But getting her to do it is difficult.

I WANT a more serene home.

But I also want my things close at hand all the time.

Those two things seem to be at odds with each other.

A larger place, once I can afford it, will help.

But there’s still a lot of stuff that needs to be gotten rid of completely.

And that is overwhelming.

My storage unit is 10x10x10 and filled to the rafters.

I know a lot of the stuff that’s in there, but I can never find it when I go looking.

So, for the next few days, I’ll be seriously looking at stuff and hopefully purging as I move things around, because dammit, I deserve a comfortable place to live in.

I thought about taking some “before” pictures, but I’m just not that brave.

Establishing routines

Last year I read David Allen’s Getting Things Done in an effort to try to be more organized.

I started to try to keep at least some of the lists he says to keep.

It didn’t last long.

I know keeping lists can be good for people with ADD and other such attention problems. (While I have not been diagnosed as ADD, it often goes hand-in-hand with bipolar and when you look at some of my patterns of behavior, it’s really similar to ADD people.)

But I just can’t seem to keep up with it for more than a week or two.

I can see how, once the routine is established, it can make things easier. But establishing it as a routine seems to be beyond my capabilities.

Yesterday and today, I started to go through a big stack of paperwork, shredding and throwing stuff away that needed to be gone and filing what needed to be kept (I found my DD-214 and disability award letter from the VA, but still can’t find either one of our birth certificates or my driver’s license.)

Yesterday, I started on the most recent stuff. It was mostly from this year, a little from December last year. It was all still in my inbox.

I thought I was done.

Then I found another whole paper grocery bag’s worth of stuff that was mostly from last year and I went through that today.

I’m pretty sure that I have piles shoved in boxes and bags from the time we lost our last apartment in 2006, because I don’t remember doing a really big purge in all this time.

An established routine of dealing with stuff as it comes in would be very beneficial. If I could handle this stuff once a week or even once a month, it would only take a few minutes, instead of hours over a few days.

And I always tell myself I’m going to.

But then I don’t actually follow through and do it.

This is all wrapped up in that self-discipline thing, the same way housework is.

And I have the same problem with housework.

While C was in FL, I did a lot of deeper cleaning than normal, and I was even pretty good about getting dishes done most days.

Now she’s back, and she’s still never home, and everything is going to shit again.

I mean, really. She’s home to sleep, shower and get dressed and then she’s off either being social or working or at tae kwon do.

It’s not much different than when she was gone.

And yet, I find myself abandoning things that had almost become routine while she was gone.


When I look back on my past, the times my home has been cleanest and I’ve done better at routine things are the times I’ve lived completely alone, or for a brief period when C was tiny after I kicked Deadbeat Roommate out.

My bedroom was mostly a mess, but the rest of the place was just fine.

Why is that?

I’ve lived with roommates, friends and lovers. I’ve noticed that whenever I first move in with someone, I get depressed almost immediately. Which, you know, can’t be good.

But why can’t I keep the place clean when I live with someone else when I obviously CAN when I live alone?

I know part of it is because when I’m alone, any mess is mine. I made it, I gotta clean it up. And things are always where I left them. Now that C is home, she’s leaving stuff laying all over the place, says she’ll pick it up , but doesn’t, etc. And I think that’s part of it.

But it can’t be all of it.

Now, I *did* grow up with routines. My stepfather made sure of that. Dishes done every day, other stuff done once a week or once a month, and I was the one responsible for pretty much everything except his laundry. Mop the kitchen floor once a week, once a month, scrub it and wax it. Bathroom cleaned every week. Vacuuming and dusting at least once a week. I probably only cleaned my room about every other month, though. And I always did the best job on that when it was something I wanted to do instead of being forced to do it.

I know the benefits of having that routine. If it never gets really bad, then it’s not that much work.

So, why do I let it get bad before I do anything about it?

I was talking to Pale today and I pointed out that I always SAY I don’t have time. But if you add up all the time I spend online and/or in front of the TV, I’ve got plenty of time.

So, why can’t I make myself Just Do It?

I am making myself go to the gym, and that’s going well, even though I don’t have an established routine. I don’t go at the same time of day when I work out. I always mean to go in the morning, but then I don’t. I don’t want to go during the busy hours of the day (especially the 4pm-9pm crowd), so sometimes I go at 10 p.m. or later. Or maybe I’ll go around 10 a.m. or even 8 a.m.

But the point is, I’m going. I did take 10 days off recently, but I’m still going. So, I can be somewhat disciplined.

I had tracked every meal for about 15 weeks. Seriously. And now I’m starting to slack off on that.

Why am I slacking? After 15 weeks, that should certainly be routine, no?