Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Clean Sweep

A few years ago, I watched a British television series called "Clean Sweep" about organizing your home and de-cluttering. A team went into people's homes and pretty much cleared out the excess which was put into this machine called "the Crusher!" There was always a garage sale (in Britain they call them car boot sales) too. I really didn't like the show for a couple of reasons. I remember one episode where the team made a poor guy clear out his beloved childhood collection of Beatrix Potter figures. The guy was allowed to keep a few of his figures and was just crying. For Pete's sake, I thought, let him have his collection which was nicely displayed in a cabinet!

Then I remember an episode where an older middle-aged woman had lost her husband five years before. She had a boyfriend and they were living together or moving in together or something like that. The team just blasted this poor woman for not having cleaned up the clutter in her life (including all that remained from her deceased husband). I remember the woman gave the explanation that life had just moved on too quickly after her husband died and she hadn't been able to keep up. I think my husband had been dead a few years and I totally understood this woman's predicament. Too bad the Clean Sweep crew wasn't more sympathetic or understanding.

I feel very much this woman now as I go through the house and try to move on. It is going on six years since the death of my husband and so much happened that got in the way after his death as fate would have it (aging parents, a sick child, work, remarriage, divorce, my Mom dying, solo parenting...). Just as this woman in the Clean Sweep series, life kind of overtook me. For the longest while, one of the spare bedrooms downstairs couldn't be used because during my husband's three-year illness, whenever I didn't have a place for something I just threw it in there. That continued after his death too. I would stand at the door and throw whatever I didn't want to deal with in the room! I am totally serious about this, although I am laughing as I now write. Looking back it is so sad and funny - I am sure the Clean Sweep crew would have had a hey day about that one.

It is very hot and humid today and I've concentrated on getting rid of clothes in the spare closet so I can work upstairs in the air conditioning. It is hard for me to get rid of stuff in the first place and I struggle weeding out things now, especially anything that brings back a memory of my deceased husband. Today though I have the rule going on that I have to get rid of ANY clothing item with a drawstring waist. Why I even have a fair number of clothes with drawstring waist bands is troubling to me because they are not too flattering. But I guess they date back to the days of my husband's illness when I was so busy caring for him and the kids that I didn't have time to shop for myself and would just grab stuff off the racks without even trying them on. It strikes me as very appropriate and timely to pass those items on to the Goodwill donation center - they're from a painful part of my life and should be swept out!

Today I am grateful:

1. That hot weather naturally induces my desire to eat better and less, so I'm thinner in summer.
2. That the spare bedroom I talked about has been long cleared out and my oldest uses it as a music room for his drum set.
3. That even though it is hot and sticky at least it is not cold and snowing.
4. That I have a job and it has helped me get acclimated to the work force after time off.
5. For light body spray fragrances you can spritz on all day to cool off and freshen up.


  1. It is such a long, slow process, isn't it, this deciding what is important and what isn't. But I think the slowness it what makes it a healing thing, in the end. The thought of someone marching in here and throwing stuff out because they thought it unimportant is horrible.
    But the end result is good - as the house becomes clearer, so does my head.
    Keep up the good work!

  2. I wish I had a magic wand to make the task easier of clearing everything out. But I look over every object and really have to contemplate whether it will stay or go. I know for some people it is easier to let go of old possessions.

    What an inspiring observation that as the house becomes clearer, the mind becomes more free as well! I would also call it a kind of peace that is felt when everything is clean and in order.