Clean It Up

IMG_1203Spring has finally arrived, which means it’s time to do my annual Spring cleaning.  This week I’ll pack up the last of my winter clothes and replace them with outfits more appropriate for warmer weather.  I’ll touch up the paint on the walls and baseboards, wash the windows, vacuum the curtains and even toss my pillows in the washing machine.  I’ll also clean out the junk drawer and sort through the many boxes of stuff we have stored in our basement in an effort to get rid of anything we no longer use or love.  I am not what you would call a “saver,” but for some reason Spring is the time when I am especially motivated to get rid of excess stuff.

And this year I’ve been thinking that maybe it’s time I took my Spring cleaning one step further.  If I’m willing to get rid of the things in my house that are no longer useful to me, then maybe I should be willing to get rid of some of the things in my life that are no longer useful to me as well.  I am nothing if not a creature of habit, but that doesn’t mean that all of my habits are worthy of keeping.  In fact, I’m quite sure that some of them aren’t good for me at all.

Do I really need to start each day by turning on the morning news, knowing that all it usually does it make me me feel depressed, annoyed, or even angry?  Can’t all that negativity at least wait until after breakfast?  And do I really need to sit down at my computer several times a day, checking my emails and Facebook page?  Wouldn’t that time be better spent doing something that’s actually useful, or even relaxing?

Is the Diet Coke that I drink each time I’m walking dogs at the local animal shelter really the best way to quench my thirst, particularly on a hot and humid day?  Is it time to make the switch to water, as so many of the other volunteers do, even though I’ve always bought myself a Diet Coke as a treat when I’m walking dogs?  I could go on, but if I listed all of my habits that aren’t exactly enhancing my life, I’d end up with a blog post that was at least 5,000 words.  Which would be way too long, and way too embarrassing to share.  The point is that my house isn’t the only thing that could use a bit of “cleaning out” this Spring.

They say old habits die hard, and that’s quite true.   But I can still choose to leave some of my old habits behind, especially those that are no longer serving me and that may actually be getting in the way of the kind of life I actually want to lead.  And if I can manage to get rid of even a few of those habits this year, then that will be the best Spring cleaning I’ve ever done.

103 thoughts on “Clean It Up

  1. great way to expand the question–I like it. What don’t I want to bring forward with me into this next season? Stuff or habits or other. Good luck and I’ll be interested to hear what goes to the “dump”.

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    • Thanks, and yes, I think there will be another post on this subject in a little while! Not sure if I’ll be able to dump the bad habits as easily as the extra stuff in my house, but it’s worth a try.

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  2. Great idea! Now if I could even simply embrace the idea of Spring cleaning my house, I could possibly move on to me!!! LOL! I did clean out my clothes closet last week.. Boy did that feel good. 10 garbage bagfuls for Goodwill! Inspiration- new job – and desperately seeking what I have to wear to office since I’ve been working from home for past year or so. 🙂

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  3. If you’re going to get rid of any of the habits, maybe make it the not turning on the news first thing. The news really is depressing and there always seems to be some new chaos and gossip. Maybe try reading a book for a little while first? That’s what I do while I drink my coffee, then some yoga, then I look at the news on my phone. Baby steps are good, Ann! By the way, I’m super impressed by your spring cleaning!

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    • That’s a good idea to read a book for a few minutes instead. Because you’re right, the TV news is a terrible way to start my day. If it’s real news, it’s depressing and worrying more often than not. And if it’s the silly fluff that passes for most news shows these days, then it’s just so annoying that it gets my day off on the wrong foot. Reading instead sounds like a very good plan. Thanks!!!

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  4. I agree and donate stuff that I no longer use or need. It makes me feel more freely and it also for a good cause. However, I am not sure about the arrival of the Spring. Since, here in GTA, there is no Spring on the horizon.

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    • You were so smart to do that! I’m still trying. But at least not drinking quite so much Diet Coke is a good start, I think, especially if I replace it with water. Thanks for the comment!

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  5. Hi Ann, I love this post so much, thank you for sharing all that. I back you on the Diet Coke, I had a habit of that, so many people do, but it can be broken! And I gave up news ages ago. It doesn’t serve you, only harms you. You already do so much good in the world with the rescue dogs, your family and your blog, you don’t need to be brought down by the news, most of which just depresses us without us actually taking any action, so it doesn’t help anyone and hurts you. A happy Ann is one that can help the world around her be happy so why bring yourself down. I really think avoiding news is a great idea. It is so nice to hear your news! All the best, Rachel xxx

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    • Thank you for your kind words! And I think you are right in that I don’t need to watch the news, at least quite so much. I can learn the important stuff from other sources, and then I won’t be upset by stuff I have no control over anyhow. And thanks for the encouragement. Drinking diet soda is a hard habit to break, so it helps to hear that it can be done! Thanks, Rachel!

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  6. Still waiting for Spring … however, Saturday afternoon was reasonable so we made a start on tidying the (tiny) garden. Sadly, this mainly consisted of pulling out shrubs that this winter had completely done for 😟

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    • Yes, it does seem like a natural progression, doesn’t it? If uncluttering our homes feels good, then just think how much better it will be to unclutter our lives as well! It’s rather liberating. Thanks for the comment!

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  7. Figuring out what to let go of and what to keep is sometimes a balance between what I ‘should’ do and what gives me great pleasure (or comfort). Right now I’m also trying not to check my email so regularly (some research shows that reward centres in the brain get a little boost every time we check our social media or email – that might explain why it’s so hard to break that one:-)).

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    • Exactly! Social media is actually designed to make us addicted to it, and it’s very good at that. I do enjoy certain aspects of it….I put a link to my blog on my Facebook page….but I am now making an intentional effort to check it much less often. And on very busy days, not at all! It’s amazing how much more productive and happy I am when I do that.

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  8. You echoed so many of my own thoughts in this post Ann, even though we’re heading towards winter and not spring. I’ve also been trying to change the way I start my day, exercising more and staying away from news and social media. So many habits that can really change our life for the better. Wonderfully relatable post as always. Happy springcleaning!! xo 🌸

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    • Thanks, Miriam! I’m hoping for a successful cleaning this year, both of my house and of my personal life and habits. I like your idea of starting each day with a bit of exercise. I’ve reached the age where I usually wake up feeling stiff and sore (so turning on the news just makes me even more unhappy) and I think a few minutes of gentle exercise would probably help with that a lot. I don’t know why it has taken me so long to realize that as I age, I am outgrowing the need for certain habits! Take care!

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  9. One of these days, when the foot of snow we getting tomorrow melts off, it might be time to get rid of the sitting-on-the-computer-until-midmorning habit and greet a few sunrises out on the road with Scooter.

    Changing little things, often brings big changes of perspective to our lives.

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    • You’re right, little changes sometimes make the biggest difference. And I’m hoping your neck of the woods does thaw out and warm up so that you and Scooter can resume your morning walks!

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  10. Spring cleaning takes me outside, to give the yard attention now that it’s waking up from it’s winter nap. The only thing inside that needs to be cleaned are the windows, and I don’t do windows, so there’s that.

    I used to enjoy drinking Diet Pepsi, but like some of your other comments, it’s pure poison. You can break the habit, and there are so many choices today! I replaced Pepsi with water, which is my main drink of choice, but every now and then I enjoy a chilled bottle of green tea, or Ginger Beer.

    I stay away from the news. It’s terrifying what is going on in the world today. My friends know I don’t watch it, so they call and tell me when something is happening in my area. The only thing I need to know is when Jesus comes back, and I’m pretty sure we will know!

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    • I tried my first green tea the other day, and found that I liked it a lot! And as you say, there are so many other beverage choices now for the times we feel the need to drink something other than water. Although I will say that the older I get, the more I find I actually enjoy the taste of water. So that helps. And Spring cleaning your yard sounds like a happy pursuit….much nicer than cleaning the windows.
      Love your way of avoiding the news, too! Thanks for the comment!!

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      • They are very refreshing! Yes, my daughter and I drink a ton of water. It’s what the body wants since over half is made up of water.

        I avoid all negativity. There are so many others ways to stay informed. We get to choose books, and magazines to learn and grow from. The majority of news nowadays causes fear, and if we watch and listen to it long enough we can become anxious, and fearful.

        After reading your Blog today, I washed my pillows! Does that count? Much love. xx

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        • It does count! Good for you!!!
          And seriously, thanks for your advice. I think it is very good….there is a part of me that feels guilty if I’m not following the news, as if I am living in my own little bubble. But these days, it seems as if so much of what passes for news is nothing more than fear-mongering, and who needs that? Life doesn’t really need to be so hard, or so depressing. And I would rather choose to live in joy and hope! Thank you for your comments, and for your wisdom!

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          • You are most welcome lovely. My daughter and I have not had a TV in our home in 5 years. I just saw it as a huge waste of money, and time. We watch Netflix on our laptops when we need a TV fix, but there again, we get to choose.

            To enjoy all the goodness life has to offer, we need to surround ourselves with the good things. I have friends that receive news feeds all day long on their phones. They are some of the most high strung, and emotionally exhausted people I know.

            Have a beautiful day lovely! xx

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  11. Cleaning up the physical world around us whether it is kitchen, basement, or garden is easy in comparison with our inner psychological world of entrenched habits. I would be interested how you fare with this challenge in another post in the future. Good luck with the new challenges you have set for yourself, Ann!

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    • You’re right, I’d much rather tackle cleaning the house…or even the garage….than trying to clean my life of old habits. But I think the effort will be worth it. As to how successful I am, that is definitely fodder for a future blog post. All I can say is, thanks for wishing me luck! I’m going to need it.

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  12. I started spring cleaning last autumn then realised it’s ‘Spring’ cleaning for a reason: more light! I need to get down to mine. As for the rest, that’s what I’d call ‘change’ rather than cleaning as, with cleaning, you have to return to do the same things each year. 🙂 I wish you well with the changes in habit, though – all good!

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    • Thanks Val! And yes, the cleaning metaphor only stretches so far. What I’m really talking about is making some positive changes in my daily habits, and that actually sounds better and more appealing than “cleaning.”

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  13. They say it takes 21 days to break a habit. I believe that and I like the idea of a real “spring cleaning.” I think my first will be to get back into daily walking–and take a bottle of water with me. Thanks for the inspiration.

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  15. I love this post. I don’t ever turn on t.v. news, and while I used to listen to NPR all the time, sometimes I turn on an audio book during my commute instead. It is a wonderful way to “Spring clean” the day and to mindfully manage the messages we are getting that may or may not serve us. I still read headlines from my NYT daily news email summary, but then I can choose whether to click on a story rather than having it all “delivered” to me.

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    • I like the idea of having the news emailed to you in a summary, so that you can click on the stories that you want to know more about without being overwhelmed by the rest of it. I think there is just too much information coming at us all the time these days, and that makes it so hard to decide what we need to know and what we don’t need to know. I’m going to have to look into that. Thanks for the idea!

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    • Yes, my Diet Coke is my treat, but I know it’s not very good for me. Although maybe the psychological benefits outweigh the health drawbacks? But I like your idea of replacing it with another treat. I think I just need to search for another drink that I enjoy as much as Diet Coke that isn’t quite so unhealthy!

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    • I’m still trying, too. I went to the shelter today, and I bought myself a Diet Coke! (Good intentions and all that….) But when I woke up this morning I left the TV off. And that felt like a huge improvement. I think I’m going to try to replace the Diet Coke with some other drink that I also enjoy but that feels more like a treat than plain water.

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  16. What a great idea to do a little self spring cleaning. About a month ago I decided I should cut down on my coffee. Six cups a day is just excessive. Using your idea of “spring cleaning” will encourage me to keep at it. Thanks Ann!

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    • You’re welcome! For some reason, it just seemed natural this year to extend my usual Spring cleaning to my personal life this year. I guess looking at it that way seems less daunting.

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  17. For some reason I’m reminded of a recent Pickles cartoon, where the old gent takes a couple of bags of unneeded stuff down to the thrift shop.

    And then takes three new bags full back home.

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  18. Spring Cleaning for the Soul. Love it! Two weeks ago when the weather finally seemed more spring-like, I brought my winter clothes upstairs to the “seasonal” closet, and brought down spring clothes. Two days later, I raced upstairs to bring my winter clothes back down. I’d like to laugh about that, but I’m too ready for the daffodils!
    And I agree – I gave up morning news long ago. Started off the morning all wrong. My daughter gave up Diet Coke on December 29, and so far she’s not had a drop. So I joined her in the ‘no-more-Coke’ promise. It’s been three weeks. So far, so good. Good luck to you! And Happy Spring! xo

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    • Good for you! So far, I have kept my goal of no more news in the morning, but I’m struggling a bit with the Diet Coke one. I don’t drink coffee, so it has been my substitute “pick me up.” Still, I think I will get there.
      And I can relate to the way you had to go fetch a few of your winter clothes. I still have a stack of sweaters and heavy slacks waiting to go downstairs, just as soon as the warm weather arrives. Today is better, so perhaps this is the day I’ll finally make the switch!

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  19. Ann, I think this is the most important sentence in your reflective post, “I can still choose to leave some of my old habits behind, …” As we age it is so easy to forget what we are choosing versus what is habit. I think your questioning what still serves you is spot on. Instead of giving up something could you replace it with something else that provides you with more lift in your life? Bravo you for looking into spring cleaning in a deeper way. I hope the flowers will bloom all around you.

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    • Thanks, Ali! I think I have reached the age when I am beginning to realize that habits are just that: habits. And not necessarily the way I need to do things, and most certainly not always the best way to do things. You’re right, it really isn’t a matter of giving things up. It’s really just a matter of replacing what no longer works with something that works in my life today.

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  20. Another great post – I don’t know what happened, but I have not been seeing your posts. I was thinking perhaps you had stopped blogging, but today your post showed up in my Reader. Great to reconnect with you!

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    • Thanks for letting me know! I hadn’t seen you for a while, but I knew that in the blogging world, relationships aren’t always permanent and figured you had just moved on to other blogs. Thanks so much for taking the time to let me know otherwise. I always enjoy both your blog and the comments you make on mine!

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    • Strangely enough, I can’t really taste a difference between Diet Coke or Coke Zero! But they have been my poisons for a long time as well, especially since I don’t drink coffee and that’s how I get my caffeine. I know it’s not good for me, so while I don’t think I’ll give it up all together, I am trying to cut back in my consumption. But as you say, we all get to have one vice. And it could be much worse than diet sodas!!

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  21. Isn’t it wonderful how spring gives us new energy and makes us rethink? I admire your spring cleaning mine is not half as good but at least I cleaned my windows this past weekend and changed my winter boots for sneakers and sandals. 😉
    And I think that throwing out some old habits is a good thing too. I can only second the not watch the news in the morning league! I haven’t done this for years and it’s great. 😊

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    • Yes, spring just makes me want to “toss out the old” both materially and personally. And ever since I’ve given up the morning news, my mood in the morning has improved dramatically! Thanks for the comment, Sarah!

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