Spring Cleaning

Every year around springtime, the following scenario played out with regularity. Rugs got rolled up and sent off for cleaning, drapes came down, and in their places went up light-weight cotton or sheer curtains. Cushions from around the house were taken outside, beaten for good measure with a broom, and left to air out and freshen up with the sunshine. Porches were swept out and scrubbed down. This activity is what my grandmother’s house looked like in April as she tried to remove any latent germs from the winter while opening up windows and doors to let in the fresh air. Isn’t it funny how all of the years later, I still think of this habit by my grandmother? She had many practices that made life in our family more pleasant and predictable.

One who knows me might ask, “why didn’t your sweet grandmother’s habits rub off on you?” For far too many years, I lived by the seat of my pants! Personality, I guess, plays a significant role, but over time, I have learned to practice better “habits.” One particular bent I fought for so long is always being late; this drove my husband Richard to argue with me more than once! After his diagnosis of Alzheimer’s disease, so many things were out of my control. I realized the one thing I could do was being on time for appointments or any other outings. We never spoke about my effort to change; I just made up my mind and did it. The funny thing is that it made life easier not only for Richard but for me as well. We are approaching the sixth year since his passing, and I continue to do my best, always to be on time or even early. My peace of mind and readiness takes away so much unnecessary pressure and angst.

Recently, I read an article about procrastination. By the way, procrastination is a cousin to always being late. Ouch! Why do we put off doing the things we know will sooner or later have to be done? When we drag our feet, this is what it feels like in our personal space, like pulling an added weight behind us. Once we complete the chore, the air feels lighter; happier. Until the next time!

The list of annoyances we practice is exhaustive; another one we can add is listening. Perhaps the tendency to talk rather than listen is due to nervousness. I also find that most of us are uncomfortable with extended periods of silence. In a world bombarded with noise and technology, to “be still and quiet” is challenging.

I would like to offer a final thought and challenge to all of us. The next time we find ourselves in the company of others, let’s make an effort instead of a monologue, to ask questions, prompting someone else to speak, and then listen with our eyes as well as our ears. Becoming a good listener is a great habit to develop; right up there with spring cleaning!