Let It Begin With Me

I am, by nature, a neat and tidy person.  I may not have coined the expression, “A place for everything and everything in its place,” but I live by it.  I am happiest when my house is clean and organized, and have found that too much dirt and clutter actually makes me vaguely uneasy.  As long as I’m being totally honest, I’ll also admit that when I’m anxious and unhappy, I sometimes find that cleaning my house actually makes me feel better.

I read somewhere that people who like to clean are attempting to impose order on a messy and unpredictable world, and I think that might be true.  (It would certainly explain why I find housecleaning to be  therapeutic.)  But the problem is that the world we live in is often messy, chaotic and sometimes downright dangerous, and there’s not a thing I can do to “clean it up,” at least on any significant scale.

I may be one of the few people who responds to troubles with a vacuum in one hand and dust cloth in the other, but I do think that trying to impose some kind of order on the world is common.  Many do it with social media posts, pointing out the error of other people’s ways in a vain attempt to convince them to think and behave in a way they find acceptable.  And let’s face it, politics is all about trying to elect someone who shares our values, in the hopes that the candidate will be elected and then impose our values on everyone else.  One way or another, we’re all trying to “clean up” the world, and often with the best of intentions.

But the truth is that the only person we can truly control is ourselves.   Yes, we can do our part to make the world a better place by speaking our truth, standing up to oppression, helping those who need it, and most of all, being kind and compassionate to everyone who crosses our path.  But we don’t really get to choose what other people think, say, or do.    And since none of us is perfect, that’s probably a good thing.

So the conclusion I’ve come to is this:  I need to learn to discern between the things I can control and the things I can’t, and I need to pay a whole lot more attention to the things I can.  I may not be able to make the world a peaceful place, but I can make sure I embrace peace in my own life by being as tolerant, honest, and forgiving as I can possibly be.  I can’t force others to own up to their mistakes and bad choices, but I can certainly own up to mine.  In short, all I can do is try, in my limited and flawed way, to live up to the values I really do believe in…..and then let go of all the angst, worry and stress that comes when I focus too much on the things that I can’t control.

buWO0NdZQV2vtwLyj31MrgIt’s a process for sure, and I doubt that I’ll be giving my vacuum cleaner a rest anytime soon.  But if I really want 2021 to be a better year, the very best way I can start is by cleaning up my own act.

85 thoughts on “Let It Begin With Me

  1. I am the same but not like I use to be. Prayer and surrendering to the lord, giving it up to the lord. There’s nothing better. Going to mass and praying the chaplet of the devine mercy every day @ 3 pm. Praying for the whole word. It’s on EWTN and the catholic channel. God’s in control.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Nice! We should all be having extremely clean and orderly houses after the week we’ve have in the US.

    I think it’s also good to have boundaries, and say no, or “I don’t like to hear {hate talk} about someone we care about (This has been on my mind the last several days, but have also ben scrolling past a lot of social media posts as well…)

    Liked by 1 person

    • I think the older I get, the more I realize just how valuable boundaries are. We absolutely do get to say I’d rather not have this conversation, or I don’t want to read that sort of comment. Personally, I refuse to engage in internet arguments, intentionally at least. I’ve accidentally “stepped in it” once or twice, but when that happens, I back right off. And one of the few rules I have for comments on my blog is that I don’t allow any comments that attack other people. I think the world needs more “hate-free zones!”

      Liked by 2 people

  3. So well said Ann. I must admit that like you I’ve had a propensity for cleaning and a bit of a love affair with my vacuum cleaner in the past but no more! I’ve learnt to let it all go. Both of the need to always have a clean house and a need to control. Peace comes from within. And for me I find that when I’m out walking and in nature. The cleaning can wait! 😊

    Liked by 1 person

    • Walks also help me, especially when the weather is good. If I’m a little depressed, going for a walk almost always lifts my spirits! But honestly, a clean house makes me happy, so I don’t mind cleaning it (to a point, of course.) I think it’s great the way each of us finds what works for us in terms of lowering our stress levels and helping us cope. That’s the key, I believe: find out what works for you, and then do it! And as for the need to control, I absolutely agree. The more we learn that it’s okay not to be in control of everything, the happier we are! Thanks for the comment, Miriam!

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Great post and timely reminder Ann, thanks!

    Never had the need to clean or control, meditation and nature are my solace 🙂 Like things tidy and clean regularly but there is no passion or need there … if a better offer comes up it can wait.

    Been trying to ‘clean’ my act up for years and another blogger worded it well the other day … she mentioned keeping the peace within. Meaning that anything discordant with our values is best avoided otherwise it will disturb the peace within. It’s about finding our balance and living in harmony with ourselves and our surrounds!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yes, the peace within is absolutely the goal. I’m not passionate about cleaning, but I do enjoy a clean house and turning a messy room into a clean room is satisfying for me. I think I like being able to see the change…probably why I also like painting, because it makes a dramatic, visual change for the better. But control is something I’ve had to work at letting go of. Life is so much easier when we do!

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Pingback: Let It Begin With Me………….. Total opposite to me. You clean, and then have to do it again next week. When I get anxious, or stressed, boxing or weightlifting does the trick. I feel amazing after. – susiesopinions

  6. All well and good, and I’m sure your home will shine with the effort. But what about us who, confronted with chaos, want to cook, or bake? Given the state of the world, I think there may be danger in that path.

    Liked by 2 people

  7. Again, Ann, you’ve gone where not many would have ventured in these soul-searching days and you’ve done it with your characteristic clear-sightedness, honesty and humility. Often, in our responses to what life throws at us and others, we forget the old wisdom – Do unto others what you wish others to do unto us. So, we might respond in ways that might give us release but also hurt others. At the end of the day, that hurt will inevitably come home to roost, and the world is worse off for our thoughtless reactions.

    We have terrible problems in my country and decades after independence, we don’t seem to be any closer to the light. There was a stage when I believed that I had to be loud and vocal in pushing back against repression and injustices. Sadly, in my case, that hardly advanced my cause in positive ways. If anything, it hardened hearts and I came away more pained than ever.

    It has taken me many, many years to realise that it is our conscience that wins battles. If I just paused and leaned in a little to discern that still, silent voice of God, I found that I didn’t rush to go off somewhere and start a fire; instead, I ended up reacting so differently and much more wisely, I must say. Likewise, if someone wasn’t listening to his conscience, my haranguing and badgering never made them see the light of day. Instead, as I resorted to living my life in concordance with my beliefs, in a firm yet peaceful manner, I found more success in making people pause to consider their beliefs and actions.

    The events of the past week tell us that there is much cleaning and healing to be done by each one of us, the world over. Like you, my recourse is also to the vacuum and the broom. As I wield it, you can be sure that I will examine my own actions and responses to the state of our world. Hopefully, as the house becomes cleaner, I will have a clearer sight of what I can do to be part of the solution – but in a kinder and more merciful way.

    Liked by 1 person

    • You are so right, Caitlynne! When we respond out of our pain, we almost always hurt other people and don’t further our cause one little bit. The recent events in our country have revealed what happens when people accept violence (as long as it is for a cause they believe in) and encourage one another to hate anyone who is different and disregard them entirely. Personally, I believe all violence is wrong, for whatever reason, but I’m definitely in the minority in that view.
      But as you say, nothing good come when our only real response is to find a release for our anger and hurt. It’s when we live according our own best values…and “do unto others as you would have them do unto you” represents my best values…that we stand the best chance of not only making ourselves happy, but also helping those who are around us. It’s certainly not as satisfying as pointing the finger of blame at others, but it is much more effective.
      And yes, cleaning does help calm some of us down. At least we can make our immediate surroundings into what we desire..and if that makes our hearts glad, our minds open, and our attitude a bit more peaceful and tolerant, then it also helps others! Kindness and mercy are the answer to the world’s problems, in my opinion. They make us all better people.

      Liked by 1 person

  8. Peace starts at home, self-control must come first. Let us practice what we preach, then we all live in the end in a better world. These are some of the thoughts that came to my mind when I was reading your post today, Ann.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I couldn’t agree more, Peter! If we each try to be our own best selves, then we all benefit. And that’s what really matters…not being right, not being better, just being the best person we can and leading by example.

      Liked by 1 person

    • Here’s hoping we can indeed be kinder and wiser! And I believe it’s up to each of us to make that happen, bearing in mind the huge diversity that is our country and world. We don’t have to agree with people in order to treat them the way we want to be treated, as hard as that sometimes is. But if we don’t do it, it won’t happen.

      Liked by 1 person

  9. It’s interesting Ann, when I first became an empty nester, I struggled with the quietness in our home. When my kids would come home for a weekend visit, I often found myself delving into cleaning mode when they left on Sunday. I realized it was a coping mechanism for me, making myself busy while I reset once again. It sounds like you & I have that in common.💕🤗

    Liked by 1 person

    • It is a coping mechanism! I first realized it when my children were very young, and something worrying happened (I don’t even remember what) and I started cleaning my house with one hand, holding my baby with the other. It sounds hard, but the more I worked, the better I felt. And then I read the line about cleaning as an attempt to impose order on a chaotic world, and I thought, “Yes! That’s exactly it!”

      Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you! Sometimes I think the world would be a better place if we could all just remember that we really can’t control others, and that it’s really not our place to do so (within certain limits of course, as every society has to have laws that we all live by.) But you know what I mean…. We waste so much energy and ultimately alienate so many people just by trying to get them to come around to our way of thinking and being.

      Liked by 1 person

  10. Never a truer word said! I can definitely identify with the cleaning thing. I can live with a certain amount of mess, but it then gets to the point that it makes me feel chaotic if it’s in too much disarray. And if I am feeling on edge, then the state of my surroundings can make me feel worse or better.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Exactly! We’re all different (I know some people are most comfortable in clutter) but I truly feel happiest when I walk into my home and it looks clean and well-cared for. I like a house that looks as if someone really loves it, you know?

      Liked by 1 person

      • I agree completely! My partner and I have very different ideas of ‘tidy’ so it’s a balancing act but we get there in the end. But I find it really quite calming to sit down at the end of the day in a very tidy living room!

        Like

  11. Interesting how we gravitate to certain learned and familiar ways to handle our world’s stress, isn’t it, Ann? I recognize a part of me in your lovely post — tackling housecleaning is one of my go-tos, though I’ve got so many others that I’ve called upon during these difficult, challenging days. I grew up with the Southern idiom, “If you can’t say something nice, don’t say anything at all,” and it’s served me well! Being cantankerous and poking at people just to get a reaction and incite emotions isn’t a way I want to live. You know, we’ve been given two commandments — love God and love neighbor — and if we truly tried to follow them, this world would be a better place. (Sorry, I’ll slink off my soapbox now!)

    Liked by 1 person

    • Housecleaning really does help me, and so does taking long walks outside when the weather permits. Spending time with my grandchildren is a quick and effective attitude adjustment as well, so I’m so thankful they live nearby and that I’ve been able to see them even through the lock downs (I provided childcare for both temporarily when they couldn’t go to daycare.)
      And please don’t apologize for getting on the soap box. Those are the two commandments that are the most important, and you’re absolutely right, if we could all just obey those two, the world would be a much better place for all of us. They make so much sense that you don’t have to be a Christian to follow them, either. Thank you for this comment!

      Liked by 1 person

  12. I agree. I have learned to look within myself first before I say a word about anything to anyone. I’ve never thought I could change people so that’s good, but the desire to do so still occasionally tugs at my ego.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yeah, I think we all have that desire, because all of us persistently, if vaguely, believe that our way is the best way and that the world would be better off if others thought as we do! It’s just human. The key is not to let that belief color our actions and thoughts, I think. Easier said that done for sure, but so worth the effort!

      Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you! And yes, when I watch the news I really do wish I could just go clean up a few national and global messes, but of course I can’t. All I can to is make sure my words and actions don’t throw gasoline on the fire….and clean my house, of course! So good to hear from you again!

      Like

    • I like the idea of New Year’s Eve cleaning: out with the old, in with the new! And I think it’s natural to get some satisfaction out of cleaning, because you can see the difference that your work makes. At least that’s what I like. Glad to know there are others who feel that way too….it makes me feel a little less odd.
      Happy New Year to you and yours!

      Liked by 1 person

  13. this post was so relatable! I think I clean to create the illusion that I have my shit together… so more often than not, the urge to tidy up comes to me strongest when I have an exam or deadline the next day 😬 oh well

    Liked by 1 person

    • You’re right, cleaning does create the illusion not just of control, but of our own efficiency too. And you’re not the only one who gets the urge to tidy up when we really ought to be doing something else. I’ve done that too, more than once. Thanks for your comment!

      Liked by 1 person

  14. I also hate the state the world is in right now, but I do my best to keep myself calm, so I guess I am doing something similar to you. Very good post, Ann, thank you for writing it.

    Liked by 1 person

  15. I can relate so much to the post, the resolution you have arrived at the end is therapeutic. And since there is so much dreariness and filth strewn about that we cannot control, may I add let us not penalise ourselves for that by slipping into a simmering resentment.

    Liked by 1 person

    • That is a great point…it is so easy to become resentful these days, but if we give in to that, we’re just making ourselves unhappy. We may only be able to control ourselves, but we can control ourselves and that’s a huge thing. Thanks for you comment!

      Liked by 1 person

  16. Such a beautiful post, Ann! This is a perfect antidote for the division going on. I can’t change some of my friends’ beliefs. This has let me to feel disappointed with them. But the truth is, that I can be the change for my own life. More tolerance and compassion sound like the best idea yet. Judgement is not helpful for me and you said it in such a beautiful way!
    I want to clean more, but I feel sometimes like it is never-ending!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yes, it’s so easy to be disappointed when people we like and respect believe things that make absolutely no sense to us. But then I just remember that if someone who is actually a good person can believe differently from me, then that means that others who believe differently from me are probably good people as well. We just have to be as tolerant as we can, and act and speak in the ways that we believe are right. Attacking others is never helpful, I think. As for cleaning, yes, that is the downside: it is never ending!! And that can be discouraging for sure. Thanks for the comment!

      Liked by 1 person

    • I know! When I find myself thinking, “how can anyone with half a brain believe that?” I realize that that is exactly what people who don’t understand my viewpoint are thinking about me! So then I remember that I need to be as tolerant of their beliefs as I want them to be of mine, and that sometimes it’s okay to agree to disagree. I have good friends and family all over the political and religious spectrum, and you know what? They are all good people!

      Liked by 1 person

  17. Hi Ann, Sorry I have been such a stranger. I have missed our correspondence and the practical wisdom in your regular posts. We are doing well, and also hoping for a neat and tidy 2021. Happy New Year!

    Liked by 1 person

    • It’s so good to hear from you, Joe! I hope you and your family are well. And I look forward to reading more of your great travel posts as soon as you begin traveling again. Meanwhile, yes, let’s hope that 2021 becomes a very and tidy year!!

      Liked by 1 person

  18. You’re certainly not alone. Every time a hurricane is stirring up in the Gulf, I get an odd desire to wash woodwork. Of all the chores that might be useful in the face of a hurricane, that ought to be at the very bottom of the list, but there it is. I’ve never actually washed woodwork at such a time, but I always feel as though I’d like to.

    I wrote a whole post once about my shoelaces. They’re always untied, and my mother constantly nagged me about them. Finally, the revelation came: some things are problems to be solved, and some things are facts of life. Once I defined my untied laces as a fact of life, there was no need to continually fuss with them! I could stop watching TED talks on how to tie shoelaces, and get on with life. It’s amazing how much can be sorted out if we get better at distinguishing problems and facts of life.

    Liked by 1 person

    • That’s a very good point! We waste so much time and energy trying to change things that can’t be changed. Once we learn the difference between what we can (and want) to change and what we can’t, life is so much easier and make so much more sense.

      Like

  19. What an amazing, positive post, Ann, full of wisdom, acceptance, and grace. I plan to reread this a few times over the next few weeks/months as the world seems so out of control. It’s a good reminder that peace, kindness, and compassion begins with each of us. And for me, that means me.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you! And I think it means all of us. It’s so easy to think, “the world will be a better place when THEY clean up their act.” But we can’t control others, we can only control ourselves. And when we’re hateful to anyone, we hurt everyone. Being kind to those we don’t understand is hard, but it’s also essential, I think. So many people are hurting right now, and so many are worried. It’s up to us to begin the healing!

      Liked by 1 person

  20. Ann, Wonderful post! Someday I will write like you. I put together a new website at soldierchriost.com and transferred my other stuff to this site. Could you visit it and tell me what you think of the layout and articles. If you like it could you spread the love to others. Thank you very much. Jim

    On Sat, Jan 9, 2021 at 4:58 PM Muddling Through My Middle Age wrote:

    > Ann Coleman posted: “I am, by nature, a neat and tidy person. I may not > have coined the expression, “A place for everything and everything in its > place,” but I live by it. I am happiest when my house is clean and > organized, and have found that too much dirt and clutter actu” >

    Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.