After spending an afternoon organizing closets, cleaning with Clorox wipes, and disposing of junk, I’ve finally settled in with a cup of Scottish Breakfast and “My Fair Lady.” In fact, it’s been the crooning of Eliza Doolittle and Professor Higgins that gave me the booster I needed to keep going until the job was done.
I came to that moment today where enough was enough. Have you been there before, ladies and gents? When the mess around you that you conveniently ignored for weeks, suddenly rears its head like a sneering monster? It’s a tick at the back of your mind, something that doesn’t go away and only grows until its sucked tiny bits of your sanity away. I don’t like thinking I’m prone to neurotic bouts of obsessive compulsive behavior. But on days like today, when I drive myself and the boyfriend crazy, it’s obvious. The question was presented to me at one point, what a difference it would make; for example, to move shoes from one cluttered spot into neat rows elsewhere. I was stumped when I couldn’t think of an answer other than, “Because it makes me feel better.”
Silly that something so simple can give me such peace of mind. But it goes deeper than that. Much like Eliza, in “My Fair Lady,” when she realizes her life is going nowhere, I realized my mess was keeping me from moving forward. For months my mess grew into piles of unmanaged papers and ignored envelopes, while I tried to escape by writing. I couldn’t understand why no inspiration took hold of me. And it’s embarrassing to admit that much of my troubles boil down to bad habits and a lack of discipline. It’s not entirely pleasant, admitting my shortcomings to an audience, even if we’ve all had bad days or months. But I hope that by admitting it, I can avoid repeating my mess.
With the New Year I felt that same urge we all feel, to clean up my act. I recently wrote on my website, “Instead of waiting a year to start again, let’s wake up each day with more ambition, more happiness and joy for living. That’s how we get out of a rut. By remembering what this life is all about. Instead of wasting our potential away, let’s live.”
New Year’s resolutions don’t add up to much when you don’t take little steps to make them happen, however. It’s one thing to say, “I’m going to get in shape this year,” or, “I’m going to write a novel this year.” It’s quite another matter to take those end goals and break them down, day by day. It starts with the small choices you make, like eating some fruit instead of that chocolate sprinkle donut in the morning. Or maybe, if you can’t write a thousand words every day, try writing a paragraph to make that book happen. Instead of making excuses for poor living, I want to take action.
I read on a business card recently, “If it is important to you, you will find a way. If not, you’ll find an excuse.” I need to blow that phrase up and make a poster, or convince owner to patent and sell tee shirts. Even though she’s talking about fitness, I took those words to heart. I don’t know about you, but I’d rather be the kind of person who finds ways instead of excuses in life. And it may sound silly to claim recovered empowerment, just from cleaning my room. In another month, we’ll see how well I keep things organized, how fit I am or how many words I’ve written. But I can tell you this much. In the process of rubbing away the dirt and grime and emptying the clutter of my life, I felt much more at ease, like really I can clean up my act.
A part of me might remain a “sniveling guttersnipe” like Eliza Doolittle, but the rest is aiming to “grow accustomed” to living better. It’s time to take your first baby steps now. Don’t ignore the waste and wasted time in your life. Let’s make the most of it.