Cleaning House – Inside and Out

What is it about spring that motivates humans to clean? Is it the brightly colored daffodils emerging from the once snow-covered lawn? The increase in daylight or temperature (well, maybe not this year!) or hearing a bird’s sweet melody in the early hours of the morning? Without having ever read a single line of research on the origins of spring cleaning, I’m assuming that this exercise is somehow primitive in nature (pun totally intended). As winter’s icy fingers beckoned us to curl up on the couch to conserve energy, spring catapults us up from beneath the covers and outdoors with just enough gusto to work off those extra pounds fueled by holiday overindulgence.

For me, spring cleaning isn’t just about finally reorganizing those overflowing kitchen drawers (no thanks to my Pampered Chef obsession) and finding ways to “pretty-up” odds and ends by sticking them in Ball canning jars (this does work, BTW). Each spring, I make a mental “To Do” list of everything, both externally, as well as internally, that needs tending to. So, as my external list grows with each passing day (did I really need to put the grill tools upright in a cute crock for easy access?), my internal list follows suit. By the end of this year, my goal is to work through some of my mental clutter by keeping up with my writing, running and relaxing. So, even though it’s been a long day filled with clutter-busting around the house, I am taking a few minutes to reorganize my thoughts as another week draws to a close. Internal Clean-Up Item #1: Self-Confidence.

This week marked another step along the journey to reclaiming myself, as I was able to escape the confines of home for a few hours yesterday (many thanks to my super-stellar sister-in-law Sara — say that three times fast! — for watching the girls while I was away) to speak on behalf of the Rhode Island Blood Center. Since last year, I’ve been volunteering with the Blood Center by going out to various venues and sharing our NAIT story to help raise awareness of the importance of blood and platelet donation. This week, I spoke during two lunch sessions at AMICA. Standing up behind the podium in a room with stadium-style seating and clicking throughImage my PowerPoint presentation instantly transported me back to my teaching days. I didn’t realize how much I’ve missed teaching (as well as how much my life has changed) until I got up in front of that room. For a few seconds, I was able to withdraw from the ponytail and yoga-pants clad mom that I’ve become and emerge as the confident, enthusiastic educator of my former years. After the presentations were over, I felt a huge sense of pride and accomplishment. Not only was it important to me to help the Blood Center by encouraging donation, but it was also an enlightening experience.

As a full-time mom, the fulfillment of my needs is not a priority. Each day, I have a duty to ensure that my girls are fed, bathed, clothed and cared for. And the fulfillment of the girls’ needs comes at a price — cold food, quick showers and sleep deprivation. After a while, one starts to feel defeated after days/weeks/months of bad meals, bad hair days and bad nights of sleep. Volunteering at the Blood Center, getting out in the world and speaking to adults about an issue so near and dear to me gives me enough of a charge to help me through the next clutter-busting day. Yesterday, I smiled when the audience applauded at the conclusion of my slideshow. And today, I smiled when Clara complimented the chicken nuggets I’d made her for dinner. Same smile, different hats. And I wore them all with poise and pride.

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