CLEAN YOUR SINK, CLEAR YOUR LIFE!
Many years ago, before Marie Kondo was a celebrity home organizer, I suggested to my bff Olivia, that she teach people how to clean and keep a home in order.
Although Olivia was a brand-new mom, she didn’t miss a beat at keeping her house immaculately clean and everything in its place, and with no cleaning fairy! “How do you do that?” I marveled, “You should teach people how to do it.” She laughed at my crazy idea, but I bet she’s wishing she would have now.
What captivated me when I walked into her home, was the wonderful feeling of order and spaciousness that seemed almost to enter me. I immediately felt calmer no matter what was swirling around in my world.
That was what I wanted to learn.
Another friend, Rita, is also a meticulously clean organizing machine. I worked for Rita for a short stint after my divorce and getting fired from my customer service job at Blue Cross & Blue Shield, when there was such a thing. Rita was brilliant at what she did, and she was brutal. She had me cleaning grout, and around the sink faucets and drains with a toothbrush and bleach.
It was Rita who turned me on to Fly Lady.
Fly Lady touted a philosophy that if you wanted your life to be in order, it all starts with a sparkling clean kitchen sink.
There have been numerous times in my life when I have looked around my home to take note - and pictures - of the disarray that surrounded me. “This is not what I want to represent me. This is not how I want to live!” I would berate myself and then set about trying to get my house in order. Again.
Starting with the kitchen sink, I noticed that there was indeed something about seeing the hearth of my home sparkling clean that motivated me to want to put the rest of the house in order.
But it didn’t last.
Years went by repeating this cycle and lamenting that I was just not able to live without clutter and messiness. My life was too complex. I had too many responsibilities and too much going on to take the time to set things in order and keep them that way.
When the pool fell into disrepair, my exasperated housemate Julie, lovingly chastised me that I was taking care of everything, except my home. "You need to put your home first, not last" she said. “But how could I?” I protested. “I’m an entrepreneur and if I don’t take care of business, I won’t have a home to keep!"
And so it went, for another decade.
Now that I have reached the third act and am taking sober stock of the condition of my life, how I treat myself and my home, my soul has run out of time and excuses to feed this cycle of self-neglect.
The truth is being illuminated.
Over the past fifteen months I’ve lived with the chaos of replacing my 1960’s bathroom with a beautiful spa suite, so I can experience - and invite guests to - enjoy the simple lavish experience of a sumptuous bath. During this transformation the purposeful disorder has brought it home to me that whatever your living environment is like sets the tone for everything else in your life.
With that reckoning, I developed a new habit.
Standing at my sink each morning, no matter how much drilling or hammering was going on, I washed my breakfast dishes and wiped my kitchen sink to a shine. It dawned on me what Fly Lady was trying to teach. You must take care of the basics in the sanctuary of your own home first, before your life can come into order.
Its’ a matter of priorities.
Until you prioritize you, and respect yourself enough to be attended to first, circumstances will continue to knock you to the bottom of the pile.
It’s the same with paying yourself first. For years I put myself at the bottom of the heap, believing that the responsible thing to do was to take care of everything else first, and myself last. That is not the way to build a healthy, successful business or life, in fact it's a recipe for disaster.
So, the next time you’re tempted to rush out to that meeting, the grocery store, dinner with friends, stop! Take the time to set the small things in order. Clean your sink and clear your life.