Deep Clean

I’m sitting here in my living room on cleaning day (yes, I have a day designated to clean — don’t judge, it’s just how I roll) and wondering how the blazes did it get like this in less than a week? The curtains are askue, there are fingerprints on the door, and the screen on the window looks like it could fill a truckload up in dust. The fish tank is in desperate need of a deep clean and is becoming a haven for some unknown kind of pleasantly coloured green algae that I am sure is keeping the poor guppies alive because I haven’t feed them in days. The Risk game is still on the kitchen table from the two day marathon the kids had with their friends. There is a bowl and spoon sitting here beside me as I type. I think it is from someone’s breakfast cereal this morning, and it wasn’t me, so add “failure to instruct children in good clean up habits” to my list of mom woes.

I’m contemplating how quickly my couches would burn if I lit a match. They are second hand, once removed, and have been decimated by cat scratches and greasy, buttered bagels served at leisurely couch-as-dining-table breakfasts. No worries though, they are creature free — if you don’t count the very large dust bunnies that lurk in between the cushions. But they are comfy, and I won’t mind at all if you put your shoes up on ’em and relax.

It didn’t use to be this way. I used to be much more particular. I love neat and organized cupboards and alphabetized collections. I recently binged watched YouTube videos about hoarding vs. obsessive compulsive cleaners in the UK. And although I have never spent 20 hours a week bleaching my toilet bowl, nor have 80 pairs of random shoes piled to the ceiling in my spare bedroom, I somehow managed to find a healthy balance of cleanliness and happiness. Today, on this cleaning day, a week before school starts, and on the brink of unexpected guests, I am just not feelin’ it. I’ll probably freak out and yell (or maybe silently fester) about it because my brain wants one thing and I’m faltering at obtaining the other. Ah, crap. So be it.

If there is one thing I learned from my blatant waste of time on YouTube, it was that both the hoarders and the OCD’ers struggled with something on the inside that resulted in their outside cleaning habits. Like Jesus’ rebuke of the Pharisees in the New Testament: Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You clean the outside of the cup and dish, but inside they are full of greed and self-indulgence. Matthew 23:25. How many times do I struggle with my outward vs. my inward? A lot. Introverts struggle even more, I think. Curvy girls? Double that.

I’m patiently waiting for God to show me how to clean up. Like scrubbing pots, it seems to be a long and tedious process. My heart has nooks and crannies that haven’t been vacuumed for years, and the cobwebs hang heavy. It’s a process, and each box of clutter has to be sorted, dusted and re-evaluated. I’m tempted to throw in the towel with the rest of the dirty laundry, and sell the whole blessed house in exchange for the country retreat… chicken coops clean themselves, right? But perhaps that would just be inheriting someone else’s mess. In fact, I know it would be inheriting someone else’s mess.

I suppose I will have to plod along and somewhere find the balance between the dust bunnies and the dust bins. I’ve put in the first load of laundry. That’s a start, right?

Create in Me a Clean Heart

So how goes your January? Still working on your New Year’s resolutions? I am. One of the goals that I am hoping to accomplish this year is to: Live More Simply. To use the “stuff” that I already have, and clear out the clutter. To try and eliminate what we cannot use, and to share our wealth with others. To prepare more and be less “pre-packaged”. To be more real and whole. And from the amount of videos, posts, plugs and pod casts on the topic, I’m guessing it is a goal that many of us have. Especially after the abundance of Christmas and the indulgences of the season past, there’s just something about that clean slate that brings a sense of peace and tranquility back into our lives… at least for me it does.

As I said, there are lots of helpful hints out there on how to purge, clean and organize your life. I’ve been searching out many, and gathering helpful hints and tips as I go. Some work, and some don’t work for me. Have you seen the news about this new cult following of the “queen of clean”? After chatting about my goals for this year, someone mentioned to me that I should look up Marie Kondo and her so called konmari method of cleaning and organizing. For those of you who have not heard of this Japanese guru on zen methods for cleaning, her minimalist style encourages you to keep only the things that “spark joy” for you. Thank the rest of your stashes for their faithful years of service and say adios to the discard pile! Then learn to fold everything in some obscure space saving stand up rectangle thingie and be all neat and tidy going forward! Yeah! I’m in.

This past weekend, I enlisted the hubby to help clean up and purge the furnace room. We don’t have a proper garage at our house, so the furnace room is a big space that holds a lot of our storage-type stuff: decorations, tools, camping equipment, that kind of stuff. My workshop bins also get stored here. Now, I am pretty confident in my organization skills… it’s one of the things that gets my juices flowing, so I am all in for folding bits of tissue papers and saving tiny pieces of ribbons — just in case. But the goal is to live more simply not just more organized. So the entire contents of the left side of the room got emptied out into the hallway and family room. (The right side has tools and will take another whole day to move around). We pulled off the old shelving from the wall and considered our options. There are some exposed pipes and such, as well as the furnace and hot water heater in this room, so we wondered how best to conserve space. I wonder if the “konmari konverts” can fold Rubbermaid bins of Christmas lights to store vertically? I am pleased to say, that we decided not to spend more on new shelving, and use what we had and simply stack the bins. (Hurray for small accomplishments, right?)


I sat with the youngest crew member and sorted through gift bags and spools of ribbon and tried to be purposeful in what bits I kept. We tossed the 3 air mattresses with holes in them, and I refused to keep storing the aquarium light fixtures that might work if we need them someday. We initiated a project that has been on my to-do list for 10 years. I struggled too. I have two bins left in my family room that I still “need to deal with”. One is the kids old soccer stuff. Cleats and shin pads that won’t fit anyone we know, but are too good to just toss. I need to post them up for sale. The other bin is…yes, I admit it… my craft supplies that have been in the bin forever… but I just might use some day! (I’m one of those girls who could pass on a new pair of shoes, but a brand new pack of colourful paper — oooh…yes please!) I could say that they bring me joy, but I’d be lying to myself. The joy comes when those items get used and turned into something beautiful.


As we dusted and mopped and started to put things back, I reflected a little on how our hearts are like our furnace room. We store so much in there! Useful things, things that truly bring us joy, things that we may only use for a season, but bring renewed happiness each time we bring them out. Then there are the other things. The things we hoard and hide and hope they work… eventually. Or the things we are not willing to give up. Like the box of baby clothes I simply closed the lid on and slid back into place. (Why am I keeping baby clothes?! My youngest is almost 11!) Perhaps you have some bits of ribbon and trinkets that you want to someday make into something beautiful… but haven’t made the time for just yet. So they get stored away in that little space left in the corner of your heart. I will be the first one to say: I hear ya, friend!!

So in this first month of this new year, I am praying the prayer of David in Psalm 51: “Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me. Cast me not away from Your Presence or take your Holy Spirit from me. Restore unto me the joy of Your salvation, and grant me a willing spirit, to sustain me.” I want my outward de-cluttering to be a reflection of my heart. I want to live simply and use what has been given to me to benefit others and not let those things be quickly tossed away because I have chosen to be careless with it. I am discovering it is a very, very slow process. It takes time. It takes effort. It takes thinking ahead and making conscious choices. It may be simpler… but it is certainly not easier.

So, I am asking you to join me for the next few weeks as I blog about some changes that we are trying here at the Mitton house… to live simply. Hopefully, it will create in us some “cleaner hearts” as well.