Monday, September 30, 2013

Pampering Yourself and Cleaning -- 2 Important Steps

Take some time today to think about how you can do something special this week--something that will make you feel pampered -- something you want to do.  It doesn't have to be expensive, but it does have to be special time you have set aside for yourself.

I am still thinking about my special time, and whether I want to share it;  or, whether I need to do something by myself.  After I decide, I am going to schedule it. However, I know I have to be flexible.  My body may not cooperate.  It has not been cooperating all weekend.  I am either having a flare or I have an ear infection.  Either way, I have not been my happiest self for the whole weekend.  In that case, just sitting outside in the sun with a book may be my best thing I can do for myself, although I am kind of itching to go somewhere besides the doctor's office.  

May you all have a blessed week.  And for those of you who are wondering about a game plan for this week, I think we should tackle Zone 5, the living room.  If you would like further directions, take a look at FlyLady's zone for this week.  She has a basic plan and a more detailed one, which you can click on.  However, you remember to do what you can do.  You do not have to work for 15 minutes at a time:  you can work at 5 or 10 minutes.  The point is to do something.

Doing something does more than help clean your house.  It is good for your self-esteem.  When you work on one room at a time, I think you will find yourself more motivated to carry on getting rid of the clutter in your house in other rooms.   My goal is developing simplicity and routine in caring for my home.  What is yours?

P.S.  For those of you who may be thinking that you are always pampering yourselves, I want to note that caring for your health needs is not always something that makes one feel pampered.  It is work!  I am thinking of something that would be out of your usual weekly routine, something that would feel special.  It might be going to a coffee shop or going out to tea.  It could be going for a massage.  Or, it might be taking a candle light bath in your clean bathroom.  For some people, who have been inside too much, it might mean sitting on a bench in the park or taking a short walk... or going to a restaurant with a friend or spouse.  It might be getting a babysitter, and spending a whole afternoon by yourself doing only things you like to do.  Enjoy!  You are special; and, you should take the time to do something that you would  particularly enjoy.

Saturday, September 28, 2013

Inspired to Clean My Refrigerator -- Finally!

Does your refrigerator get so crowded, that you forget to use leftovers before they get moldy?  Do you ever get frustrated when you are trying to locate something you're sure you have in the refrigerator?  And what about the ghastly crumbs and whatnot that seem to  mysteriously spread themselves in full sight of whomever opens the refrigerator?  After all, it's not as if anyone purposely drops crumbs and dried flakes of milk and veggies on the inside of the fridge.

The crumbs have never been much of a bother to me.  I would do a quick wipe of the refrigerator in the worst places;  and, I would clean it up later when it was low on the food that spoils most quickly.  I have always loved getting the refrigerator drawers absolutely clean.  There is satisfaction in a job well done.

However, it can be extremely fatiguing to take on the fridge.  After all, one usually wants to do it quickly to keep it from getting too warm inside.  I wonder if you are like me, knowing you are ready to rearrange the refrigerator;  however, you procrastinate until the mood hits you.

Yesterday, my DH did the grocery shopping for me, and the optimal time for cleaning the refrigerator was right there in front of me.  It was practically empty, and I decided to take the plunge.  First, I removed items, because I wanted to wipe off the shelves and change them around.

Can you see the crumbs I was talking about?
 I have seen worse, but one might as well clean them up.
It's easy to do.  A little bit of baking soda and warm water
does the trick.  And, I always dry it with a towel afterwards.

I have a mop handle holding the right door open.  The door backs into a wall when open and closes if I don't prop it open. 

My primary objective was to make things easier to see;  therefore, I raised the deli-drawer.  I kept losing things underneath it.  If I put it on the right, it is hard to pull out. However, I'm short, so it was always hard to see the deli-meats.  I like to see what I want without having to stand on my tip toes or lift everything.   

I think I solved the problem.  
Now, the drawer is high, but all it has in it is bacon and fresh meat.  The blue basket underneath may not look like the best container for luncheon meats and cheese, but it was handy.  I already had it, so I drafted it to use for those items.  Now, my husband can take that entire basket and put on the counter if he wants to make himself a sandwich.  Furthermore, I can see what kind of fresh meat I have and I don't have to worry about drips.
Before, I would leave the meat in the plastic bag, which hid what was in there.

I will try this for a while and see how I like it.
Hopefully, this will be more convenient for everyone.  

In my final picture, you might note that everything on the door shelves look pretty much the same.  I did not wipe those off, because I could feel my body winding down;  and, I still had groceries to put away.  Below, is my final picture.

P.S.  If you are wondering why I do not keep the milk and orange juice on the door shelves, it is because the manufacturer recommends keeping such things 
on the inner shelves of the refrigerator.  That part of the refrigerator is supposed to stay colder.

Have a wonderful weekend, everyone.  I'm getting hungry.  I think I will get a yogurt out of our fridge.  Let's see that is on the second shelf on the right hand side.  Yum...I love this Greek yogurt.

Monday, September 23, 2013

I moved into a smaller home. Where do I start?

So you have moved to a smaller house or an apartment, and you have not gotten rid of enough of your things.  You were already fatigued and in pain when you moved; therefore, you moved some things that didn't ever get unpacked last time.  Then, you packed up the rest.  Who has dealt with this kind of picture and worse?  Boxes are stacked;  and, you have this nagging feeling, it is going to take forever to find anything.  I imagine most of us have been in this situation.  Just thinking of it and seeing some of these pictures, makes my heart beat a little faster -- but not in a good way. 

These are not pretty pictures of a job finished.  I think this may have been midway in my process of unpacking.  I was finally able to go through boxes that have been with us since the first through middle years of our marriage. It wasn't that I had not gone through things before, but we also had things from school and papers galore, even old plans and things from my husband's office.  After carrying this stuff around for forty years, you know you really don't need it.   Thank goodness, he agreed. 

The nagging question for most people is "where do I start?".  When you are dealing with pain and fatigue, moving feels like the straw that will break the camel's back.  First of all, make sure you rest.  You have to be patient with yourself.  It is probably going to take longer than you want it to take to get finished, but don't give up.  You can do this! 

Secondly, if you brought too much to your new home, you are going to feel cramped in this house.  It will be harder to clean, and your things may start to feel like an albatross around your neck.  I only say that because I have been there.  I am happy to say that my load is getting lighter.  Because of my particular illnesses and circumstances, it has taken me longer to get things in shape, than it has in any other move.  When we moved in August of 2011, I became very depressed and unmotivated.  Also, I was in lots of pain.  I had a hip replacement that December.  After I got past the depression and while recovering from surgery, I still had piles of boxes.

However, I was determined to get through the piles, which got worse, because of the other items that start getting added to the mix of boxes:  things like books, magazines, pill containers, bags, and junk mail.  However, I would unload a box onto a table;  and then, I would start finding a place for the various things.  While I was unpacking, I started thinking about things I didn't want in my house.  You can use three hampers to sort as you unpack.  Have one hamper marked give away, one marked put away, and one marked trash. Boxes work too.  This helps contain the items, and you have an easy way to move things to other rooms.   Also, be open to using decorative items differently.  Just because a picture or an object was in the dining room or hallway, does not mean you can't put it in your bedroom.

I recently made a list of questions to ask yourself while getting rid of clutter. These questions also fit in with moving to a smaller home.
  1. Am I keeping this object out of obligation?  Perhaps, it was a gift, but you never use it or you don't even like it.  Or perhaps, you have just grown tired of it.
  2. Have I used it within the last year?
  3. Do I still love this object?
  4. Do I need this object for a special purpose, like a holiday, wedding, etc.? 
  5. Can I substitute something else for this item?
  6. Do I have room to store this item?
  7. Is it probable I will ever use this again?
  8. Can this be easily replaced?
  9. Do I feel guilty, because I spent quite a bit of money on this item?
  10. Does this item make me happier?          
Let's focus on #1.  Do I feel obligated to keep this item?  Is it a family heirloom, but nobody else in the family wants it?  I suggest taking some pictures of it, and put them in a safe place.  That will leave you free to give it to a grandchild, give it away, or sell it.  The reason we want to keep things we really don't want or need is often that we don't want to lose our memory of the person it belonged to.  After you have taken a picture, you can write about that memory in a journal or a scrapbook.  I know that won't work for every item, but some things are too large to keep.  

Included in #1 are items loved ones or friends have given you, of which you have grown tired.  It does not fit in with your decor, or you never liked it.  Take a picture for them (if you must).  They probably won't notice it is gone.  They may assume it broke or it doesn't fit you anymore.  Now, I understand there may be a few problem items, like that picture a near relative painted 39 years ago, and you have put it on the wall in every house for the last 39 years.  I have one of those pictures.  It happens to be one of those things that I am going to hide it in a closet, until that person visits.  Believe me, this person will notice and say something.  I had that happen when it was not hung in a prominent place in my last house.  My excuse was that it fit the colors in that room perfectly.  And, it did.  But I am so tired of it.  I'm even tired of things I picked out.  

I also want to emphasize #9.   It cost a lot of money:  I have to keep it, even though I dislike it.  It doesn't fit in this house.  It takes up too much room.  It's the wrong color. Don't  listen to that guilt-laden voice.  Sell it, give it away, paint, or reupholster it.  Don't let your things use you.  You have the right to make the choice whether you need or want something.

I realize most of us cannot afford to redo everything.  However, if you are tired of that brown furniture, you can throw some colorful pillows on it or a afghan to add some color into the room.  Be patient with yourself.  Take care of the clutter.  Get rid of the things that are unnecessary and unwanted.  The table fits, but you are sick of the color.  Go ahead and paint it.  

 If you have ever been on vacation in a small place that has a kitchen, and you have enjoyed not being surrounded by the detritus of everyday living at your own house, think of that.  Do you remember how good it felt to have just what you needed, but no more?  It was easy to clean the kitchen and cook meals, and to pick up after yourself.

Finally, William Morris sums up what I believe helps to make a comfortable home:  Have nothing in your houses that you do not know to be useful, or believe to be beautiful.  It could hardly be said more elegantly.  

When the things you have become clutter and make you feel hemmed in, they have lost their usefulness.  Think about that when you are trying to make everything fit.  I couldn't do it after forty years of marriage and having lived in three or four bedroom houses.  Can you?   

Friday, September 20, 2013

Before and After, The Master Bedroom

My Supervisor
As promised, I have before and after pictures of the master bedroom.  As my week went downhill, I didn't think I was going to get this much done;  however, I think some prayers were up for me.  I feel better today, and I still have no idea why I felt so depressed yesterday.  Ah, the ebb and flow of Fibromyalgia and CFS hits again:  one thing I am learning to be is flexible.  

 Blessing our homes by cleaning up the clutter, dusting, and 
 making our beds adds an element of peace and order to our lives.        I truly hope I can keep it  this way.  One thing I noticed today is how  much easier it was  to dust and straighten, than it was  last  Saturday.

Just so you know that I am
 not perfect -- as if you didn't
know --here are the baskets on
our sweet dog's crate with 
 clothes ready for the drawers.

Thursday, September 19, 2013

When Depression Hits

Depression is  a word that evokes uncomfortable memories for me.  For some people, it means they feel a little off or blue.  But the depression I am thinking of is a numbing, painful, I want to get away from myself.  The kind I am talking about hits at the heart of my motivation, and I used to feel  this way for day on end.  This description only gets to the basics of how depression feels, but when it hits, I have to wait it out.

Sometimes, I can force myself to do things around the house or get outside;  and sometimes I can avoid feeling it by reading.  It is still there, but my mind is off it.  I have done visualizations if it had to do with anxiety, as well as exercises that relax muscles.  I used to go on a good run, which raises endorphins.  How I miss that solution.  I sometimes wonder if my doctor would ever believe I was a slim runner, walker, hiker, tennis player, swimmer, dancer type.  How I miss being able to do those things.

Anyhow, every once in a while, I wake up and as the morning progresses, I realize I am depressed.  It used to happen all the time.  I am thankful it has not been that way much, not since I found out I have Chronic Fatigue Syndrome and have gotten treatment for it.  I wonder why this happens out of the blue;  but now, I feel a bit suspicious;  because I have not been as careful about taking my supplements.  I've been too busy with other things, and the supplements are usually what suffer.  Why I let this happen is beyond me, when I know they make a difference.

Perhaps, the reason I easily let the supplements go is that I do not remember to take them, unless I refill the weekly container, a job I dislike.  Maybe, it goes back to my dislike of taking pills.  I really don't know.  But that is one job on which I tend to procrastinate. 

Today, I finally had to take a pill for anxiety, and I had to go back to bed.  Sometimes, that helps me wait it out.  I also prayed for release from this, and asked God to surround me with His hedge of protection.  Hopefully, I will be back on track tomorrow.  I feel better tonight.

One supplement I will be taking everyday, which I have been leaving off is my fish oil.  I have heard it spoken of as soothing to the brain.  Whether it is or not, I seem to feel better when I take it everyday.  I know there has been research done on fish oil and depression with positive outcomes.  It certainly cannot hurt to take it.

Finally, I know this too shall pass, as it has in the past.  Tomorrow, I am hoping I will be able to feel more normal and I will be able to do things that need to be done, or even get out of the house on a jaunt somewhere, a mini-holiday.  The plethora of things, people have to deal with who have Fibromyalgia and ME/CFS seems to be never-ending.  Sometimes, we feel more normal, sometimes not.  It is literally a matter of flowing as the tide flows--our own seemingly crazy, dismal, prolonged illnesses. 

How I thank God for His joy that returns to me, and the realization this depression will not last.  It has hit before and gone.  I will wait it out like I have done so many times before.  Working through will be something I can do, now that I have gotten over the surprise of it blanketing me in gloom. There is joy in the morning.

It is of the Lord's mercies that we are not consumed, because his compassions fail not.  They are new every morning: great is thy faithfulness  (KJV, Lamentations 3:22-23).

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Cleaning the Master Bedroom: Part 2

In part 2 of Cleaning the Master Bedroom, you will have two lists, one for those of you that need a basic list and a second list that is for a deeper cleaning.

Don't panic.  You only need to work from one of these lists, and these are suggestions. They are not laws or rules.  The cleaning lists are meant to be a guide, so relax and work at your own pace.  This is not a race, nor it is a time to push yourself beyond what your body is able to handle.  I have inserted hints along the way.  Before jumping in, read the hints.  They are important.

Number 1 Hint:  A timer is a great tool to use for cleaning.  If you have been very sedentary or you are coming back from a flare or relapse, you may need to work in short spurts, then rest.  I suggest setting your timer for five to fifteen minutes for each job;  however, when recovering from a flare, I have worked in short spurts of one minute to 3 minutes.  You know your body better than anyone else.  Sit down when you need to.  Moreover, do not forget to stay hydrated.

Hint:  Nearby, have boxes, baskets or hampers marked throw awaygive awayput away.   

Simple List:  Cleaning 101

  • Day 1  Pick up any clothes lying on the furniture or floors, that includes shoes. Put clean clothes away, put dirty clothes in the clothes basket or washing machine, and put your shoes where they belong.
  • Day 2  Clean trash off the dressers and bedside tables.  Use your marked hampers, baskets, or boxes.  Then, take care of the items in them.   
  • Day 3  Now, you can dust.  If it has been a while you may need more than one cloth or Swiffer Duster refill.  Microfiber dusters and cloths work well too, because they are washable, as well as holding a good amount of dust.  A vacuum cleaning wand or an ostrich feather duster works well on lampshades.  
  • Day 4  If you did not wash your sheets after raising all that dust, it is time to change your sheets.  Get some help shaking out your bedspread if you are not going to wash it.   And of course, make the bed.
  • Day 5  Vacuum and enjoy your clean, beautiful room.

Hint:  If you tend to be obsessive or a perfectionist, let it go.  You will only exhaust yourself, and most likely you will end up procrastinating.  Set your timer, and know your house is going to look better.  It doesn't have to be perfect. 

Deep Cleaning List (For bedrooms that are reasonably neat, because you       have been hanging up your clothes and you usually put away your shoes. )                      

  • Day 1  Pick up any clothes lying on the furniture or floors, that includes shoes. Put clean clothes away, put dirty clothes in the clothes basket or washing machine, and put your shoes where they belong.  Walk starting at the door, and go to each area of your room.  Remove items that do not belong on your dressers and bedside tables.  Rest.  Dust.
  • Day 2  Use the long handled cleaning wand on your vacuum cleaner and vacuum around the baseboards.  Rest.  If you have enough energy, vacuum the center of the room too.  (If there is someone in your house who will help you, ask for assistance vacuuming under the bed. Otherwise, do this another day.)
  • Day 3  If you like your furniture to be polished and you can tolerate the scent, you might want to polish your furniture.  This an optional item, but sometimes I like to do this because it helps clean off rings or anything that is missed with a duster.  Rest.  
  • Day 4  Wash and Change your sheets.  If you feel well, check your mirror an window for finger prints or doggy nose prints.   
  • Day 5  This might be the time to put up a new picture or change around your pillows, or maybe you should just enjoy a cup of tea in your beautiful bedroom.  A nap might be nice too.  Follow your heart and pace yourself.     

Hint:  We are trying to make our houses reasonably clean.  This should be a            process you enjoy, especially the results.  Perfection is not an option              here.  You need to care for your body, otherwise, you may have a flare            that keeps you from doing what you care about.

A Final Word

When we deal with illness that causes chronic fatigue, it is important to be patient with yourself.  Sometimes, a one week plan becomes a two, three, or four week plan.  The important thing to remember is everything you clean or declutter, no matter how small it seems, adds up.  Eventually, you will see a difference in your house.  

Moreover, you learn that even if you have a setback, you can take baby steps back to reasonably clean.  I have had to do this many times.  I would be nice to be able to say that my home is always clean and I am always neat. However, that is not the case.  When I have a relapse, I don't get much done. Things tend to pile beside my recliner.  However, I have seen an overall improvement in my attitude.  Instead of feeling frozen and being disgusted with myself, I know I can take those five minute baby steps back to reasonably clean.  

Finally, if you have not already developed the habit of cleaning up behind yourself, you will probably become more conscious of putting items away immediately.  And remember the old adage, "If you get it out, you  have to put it away."

I hope you have a fruitful week.  May you have a week filled with blessings.


Monday, September 16, 2013

Cleaning the Master Bedroom - Part 1

Image Courtesy of ponsulak] /

This is a slightly revised version of my previous article in September, 2013.

When you are recovering from a flare or additional illness, give yourself a break.  You have to have a recuperation period.  Trying to do too much in one day will slow down your recovery,  therefore, I expect you to use common sense.  Pay more attention to pacing yourself and resting.  This does not have to be a perfectly thorough cleaning.  We will be coming back to our rooms again.  Do what you can do, and let it rest.  Be happy you were able to make a dent in the house work.

Your main goal and my main goal are to make improvements in our master bedroom this week.  Of course, you always have the choice to devote your time and energy somewhere else, and I applaud that choice, because we are not all messy in the same places.  However, if you always leave your bedroom for last, try to spend some special time on it this week.

Before I list the suggestions for working in your room, I want to tell you what happened to me as I worked in my room.  Even though I had my room on my list several times in the last few weeks, I had only managed to make tiny little inroads.  I had dusting on my list.  It was not getting dusted, until this Saturday.  I also planned to wash the bedspread, change the sheets, and wash the dog, all in the same day.  Then, I added using furniture polish after I got off the dust.  The dust was thick:  I do not remember the last time I dusted the bedroom.  Yep!  It is said confession is good for the soul:  there it is.  

I used my timer.  I rested in between, and I still managed to overdo.  Last night the Fibro pain was all over my body.  Even my sternum hurt.  I could not go to sleep, and when my body finally told me it was ready to sleep, I threw up my medicine.  I had to get a basin and sit in my recliner with a towel over it, because I was too tired to stand up. I know this is icky, but I don't know any better way to remind you to take care of yourself.  Therefore, I slept in my recliner last night.

This is a warning and a suggestion, because you are only one that can manage your own body.  And even then, your body probably doesn't always cooperate.  However, when you pace yourself and do not try to get everything done in one day, things happen in the house.  And you can have energy left for tomorrow.  I have been doing well in that regard, until yesterday, when I became over-enthusiastic and got in a hurry.

This is a repeatable method of cleaning.  Remember, you are only to spend 15 minutes or less, depending on your strength to do these jobs.  If it takes you the whole week to do Days 1 and 2, that is acceptable.  If you want to make the master bedroom your chore for the day and your 15 minutes of decluttering, while you only tend to basics elsewhere, that is OK.  However, if you tend to this job as listed, you will end up with a reasonably clean bedroom. 

Cleaning the Master Bedroom  

(Nearby, have boxes, baskets or hampers marked throw away, give away, put away.)   

  • Day 1  Pick up any clothes lying on the furniture or floors, that includes shoes. Put clean clothes away, put dirty clothes in the clothes basket or washing machine, and put your shoes where they belong.
  • Day 2  Clean trash off the dressers and bedside tables.  Use your marked hampers, baskets, or boxes.   
  • Day 3  Now, you can dust.  If it has been a while you may need more than one cloth or Swiffer.  Microfiber dusters and cloths work well too, because they are washable, as well as holding a good amount of dust.  A vacuum cleaning wand or an ostrich feather duster works well on lampshades.  If you tend to be obsessive, let it go.  You will only exhaust yourself, and most likely end up procrastinating.  Set your timer, and let the perfectionism go. 
  • Day 4  If you did not wash your sheets after raising all that dust, it is time to change your sheets.  Get some help shaking out your bedspread if you are not going to wash it.  Sunlight will kill mites, so the old fashioned clothes line can be a plus.  I found a spray that will kill dust mites and not harm you.  I also read that vinegar and baking soda will kill dust mites, but I cannot find the proper solution.  If you are not allergic to dust mites or you have lots of static electricity in your home, I would not worry about the little critters. However, they definitely die when you wash those sheets and dry them in the dryer.
Pace yourself.  

You are making an improvement, not going for perfection.  When I put pictures of done rooms on here, you are seeing what the photographer wants you to see.  Can you see the basket of clean clothes sitting in a corner waiting to be put away?  No! Can you see the dog hair that is sitting at the baseboard where it was missed?  No.  

I plan to post Part 2 on Tuesday.
Have a good week!

Sunday, September 15, 2013

The Master Bedroom, The Start and End To Your Day

Image Courtesy of  [luigi diamanti] /
Last week, I finished writing about the heart of the home.  However, would you be surprised that some people consider the master bedroom the heart of their home?  After all, it is a place where we should be able to retreat when we need some peace and quiet;  moreover, this is where we rest our heads at night, so our bodies can repair and be ready for the morrow.  Even though, many people with chronic illnesses do not get optimal rest at night, we still need to have a place where we can get the best possible rest for our bodies.  

A neat, well-tended bedroom is a blessing.  Have you ever walked into a bed and breakfast, a hotel room, or a comfortable guest room, and felt the almost instantaneous relaxing of your body?  Ah, what a pleasant place, my place to let down my hair, to put up my feet, and to find comfort and relaxation.  Compare this to walking in a room that has clothes tossed over various chairs, clothes baskets waiting to be emptied, boxes tossed in a corner to be out of the way, shoes lying in various places where they were taken off, weeks of dust on the furniture, and an unmade bed.  I can say this, because I have been there.  How about you?  Does any of this sound familiar?  

Image Courtesy of [winnond]/
A bedroom does not have to be sumptuous to be delightful.  I have admired bedrooms that had stacked crates beside the bed for nightstands and unmatched tables for setting down items one needs.   The creativity of making a bedroom a comfortable place does not depend on a fat pocketbook.  However, there are some basics that make a difference in how a person feels when walking into his or her own room.  Here is a list of what I consider basic:  

  1. A chair with arms, so you can assist yourself in standing up.
  2. A dresser or chest of drawers for your clothes.  Even crates or inexpensive rolling carts will work.  If you want to dress them up, you could paint them or throw a scarf of some sort over the top.
  3. Tables beside the bed;  however, I have seen lovely design settings where stacked books were used.
  4. Lamps beside the beds and possibly a small book light for those that have spouses who are annoyed by light when he/she is trying to sleep.
  5. Closets are nice, but people used hooks and wardrobes long before there were closets.  Also, shoes can be neatly lined up under the side of the bed.  Some people even buy rolling carts.  I have a hanging shoe bag in my closet.

These are some of the essentials.  If you think of some more, please write a comment.  And I might add:  if you have CFS/ME or Fibromyalgia, you should consider a comfortable bed.  This is where I would put my money.  If you cannot afford a new mattress, at least top it with some sort of padding to cushion your body in the right places.  

Image Courtesy of [Maggie Smith]/
Moreover, let me talk about sheets.  I am sure we all have our preferences.  Sometime in the middle of my bouts with Fibromyalgia, I discovered that thread counts do count.  It seems the sheets with a thread count of 600 or higher feel better when they touch my skin.  It is pitiful when even the sheets hurt your skin;  however, they have:  and, I felt desperate.  I could not stand to be touched for a time.  Just the brush of my husband's elbow against me at night made me stay awake for hours.  I hurt everywhere.  That is when we got a king size bed and I got a higher thread count in our sheets.  Let me add:  it was not my husband's fault:  it was the miserable illness.  How, anyone does not believe a person with Fibromyalgia is sick, is beyond me.  Thank goodness there is data now to back up what we feel in our bodies.

So there it is:  my introduction to a week of cleaning the master bedroom.  My goal is to walk in, to see and smell the freshness, and be rid of most of the dust mites in my room.  How many of you wake up with stuffy, swollen sinuses or with post-nasal drip?  I want my bedroom to be a launching point for my day, my own personal bed and breakfast room, and a place that oozes restfulness and peace to me and my husband.  

Finally, it doesn't matter whether you have children at home or you are the only one that lives there --your bedroom can help set the tone for your day.  I know it is your attitude that should set the tone for the day, but having a clean, neat room can make a difference.  I think order in our lives is an innate need, even a God-given need.  Therefore, I am looking forward to this week of working on our bedrooms.  Maybe, some of you will be able to do the advanced version.  LOL.  However, some of us have some heavy dusting to do.

Gentle hugs,

P.S.  Later on tonight, I will post the proposed cleaning schedule for our bedrooms.  I know there will probably be differences, depending on the state of your room;  so, please don't be frustrated if my suggestions do not exactly fit your situation.  If you have any questions, you can comment here or at Chronic Fatigue and Creative Decluttering.

Saturday, September 14, 2013

A Saturday Meltdown

Unfinished Life, D. Bolton

A writer is usually not supposed to start a piece with I;  
however, one sometimes can only begin with I."
more than
one chronic illness.
One of these is spondylitis.
Since I felt pretty good today, 
I thought I would take the dog outside
and get some sun.  I would say hello to my husband,
and I would even cut a few overgrown bean and tomato vines.
                                                            I managed to step in a hole hidden by the grass, and I
                                                            knew my knee would pay later;  however, in a few minutes,
                                                            I could feel my lower back breaking in half -- at least, that is what
                                                            it felt like -- excruciating pain!  In misery and tears, I climbed the 
                                                            stairs going into the house, hot rail burning my hand.  I had to hold 
                                                            it or I could not climb.  I was mad the rail was black and hot,
                                                            that my back hurt again.  Every step felt like agony.

Mini-meltdown time.
Tears and why me time.

Am I allowed to feel this is unfair, 
because there is so much more I want to do?
I get tired of sitting in my chair, old before my time.
It has been too long, and how can I expect others to understand
when it is so hard for me?  My body does not cooperate with my mind and spirit.
"I'm supposed to be active," I say.  But, the most active parts of me sometimes seem to be
My heart, my mind, my spirit, and my fingers typing away on this keyboard, flying and pecking away
through tingling, numbness, and swelling.  

Thank you God, for heart, mind, spirit, soul, fingers, eyes, and every part of me that works -- even those parts that don't work so well.  You have reminded me,  I can be free and new every day, with hope in my heart, because you, dear Father God, are here with me.  

So, tears aside, I have the best.  I have Joy!  Joy!  Joy!  
And I have hope, because I know I have what is most important in my life:

I have a Savior, Jesus:  I have love. 

Therefore, she quickly broke away from the self-pity, and  she remembered she had purpose still.  What good would it bring to imagine life differently?  This is the life she had.  It was a good one, despite all she had suffered.  If she had never experienced life's pains and victory, she would never have had the richness of finding herself.  

~Deborah Bolton~

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Using The Principle of Three

The Principle of Three is one way I have of listing particular things I need to get done in a day.  If you don't have a regular list of things you do on certain days, this is very helpful.  You can break one job into three timed sessions or do three different things.  Nobody knows what needs to be done at your house better than you.

Moreover, I have noticed that some days just don't work out the way I plan.  Having a Weekly Cleaning List is nice, but being flexible is a must.  This week I need to be flexible, because I have been dragging the last couple of days.

On the Chronic Fatigue and Decluttering Facebook page,  I am going to list three things on which I am working:  I am asking you to do the same.  This Principle of Three List is for Friday through Monday.  If you have done your three, we would love to congratulate you.  If you were able to do part of your list but could not finish, we still want to hear from you.  Also, I want you to remember there is No Judging here.  I like to aim for 5 to 15 minutes working on each thing;  however, some people are not strong enough for that.  I wasn't when I started.  If you are trying to gain back strength, your three might be to spend one minute three times working on one job; or it could be putting away three items.

Don't forget to rest in between.  Also, you need to hydrate:  drink your water.  And, don't forget to rest!

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

The Heart of the Home: Finishing for the Present and Moving On

It seems that the more I get reorganized in my kitchen, the easier it gets.  Last week, I didn't get every single job done I wanted to do, because I ran out of energy.  The neat thing is I was able to maintain what I did. Moreover, I have continued to do small jobs in the kitchen that lead toward better organization.

I have to admit that I sometimes think when I start taking pictures of this old kitchen in the house I rent, the thought will occasionally come to me that there are probably people looking at these pictures, who have modern, gorgeous kitchens. I have had very nice kitchens, one with granite counter tops and tiled walls, but when it got messy and unorganized, it became hard to clean and unpleasant to work in.  However, the point is not that you have a fancy kitchen with the walls freshly painted or beautifully tiled, but that you have a kitchen you can have ready to work in every day, whether you cook that day or not.  

I wish I could promise my kitchen will not ever get out of hand again, but the truth is that I am on a journey.  And there are those times, I have a relapse or flare-up.  I would like to say this will never happen again, but it has happened too many times in the past few years for any guarantees.  But maybe--just maybe, this time will be different.  I have learned I don't have to give up.  I might be down for a while, but every time I start getting my house back in order it seems a little simpler.  It is true I hit bumps in the road, but that's to be expected.  The point is not giving up.  Moreover, I believe that as long as I keep getting rid of the clutter and organizing better, I will see great improvement in my ability to keep the house reasonably clean.  I want our home to be our own personal bed and breakfast.  When we walk in, it will not only be home, it will be a delight, a place to rest, work, and play.

Lastly, just a word is due about my kitchen cart.  When I had my hip replacement, the literature I was given suggested getting a kitchen cart so I could gather together the things I needed for food preparation and push them to the area I wanted to work.  This was an absolute lifesaver, and it has given me more work space in a much smaller kitchen than which I am accustomed.  Last week, my cart was full of unnecessary clutter.  Here it is now.

Everyday, for a week, I have done small jobs to get the kitchen in shape.  It's not exactly where I want to be.  I want to do some inexpensive home improvement jobs.  However, it is time to talk about other subjects and other rooms.  Later, I can come back to the "extra special" work in the kitchen.  God bless you all as you continue making your house a home.

Love and Prayers going up, 

Deborah Bolton

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Cleaning the Heart of the Home -- Part 4

Image courtesy of [Iamnee]/

How does it feel to cook in a clean kitchen?  Does seeing the counter and sink cleaned off encourage you to continue the process?  Do you feel a little more energized when you go in your kitchen?  I do.  However, I have also felt the pain from the work I did.  That goes with the territory when you have Fibromyalgia.  In fact, I have not done as many things as I would like to do in the house, but that goes with the territory of being ill.

Despite all that, I feel encouraged.  Just seeing the progress in the kitchen tells me I can do this somewhere else.

There are a few areas I have not mentioned in the last few days' cleaning hints.  However, if you are like me, you are going to have to make choices concerning what is most important to do in your kitchen and other areas of your home.  There are times we have to draw a line and stop, so we can go on to another area of the house.

For the purposes of finishing your cleaning of the kitchen I am going to give you a list of things that can be done in one, two, or three days.  What you do depends on the condition of your kitchen, your time, your pain levels, and your energy levels.  The key to pacing your self is knowing when to rest and when to be physically active.  

Cleaning Hints for Today:  The Kitchen

  1. Continue the daily process of unloading your dishwasher and dish drainer. (I admit to not always putting away the few dishes in the dish drainer after they have air dried.  Then, I am forced to do so when I don't have any place to put something I have just washed.)  
  2. If you have a table, cutting block, or kitchen cart -- it is time to throw away, give away, and put away everything that doesn't belong there.
  3. Don't forget to wipe your counter tops and wipe out your sink. 
  4. Omit cleaning the oven, even if it is a self clean oven.  This should be done in cold weather, rather than overheating your house.  Cleaning the oven, no matter what kind you have takes a great deal bending, reaching, and sometimes getting on your hands and knees.  This is a one thing a day job or a shared job (get someone to  help you).  If you do the oven, spread it over several hours.  Who said you have to wipe every surface of the oven out all at once?  That might be what you prefer, but you are less likely to end up with pulled muscles and misery if you spread out the extended movement of your body.  This has to be met according to personal preference and physical ability. 
  5. Cleaning the top of your refrigerator can be dicey if you have trouble with balance or arthritis.  However, something that helps keep the top of the refrigerator clean is using a duster with a long handle.  I am particularly fond of Swiffer long handled dusters.  Please be cautious about climbing on step stools, but if you still do that:  dust the top of the refrigerator first.  Then, use a spray cleaner and wipe it off.  If you cannot reach the very back of the fridge, you might consider wrapping a rag around something with a long handle.  This is a good job to do when someone else is home.  (Hint:  put your cleaner on top of the fridge before you climb on the stool--if that is how you plan to clean your refrigerator.)  Caution:  if you get shaky or dizzy, just dust the top of the refrigerator and leave the spray cleaner to someone else.  You should not be climbing on step stools or chairs.
  6. Sweep or vacuum the floor.  
  7. Mop the floor.
The last two jobs (#6 and #7) can be divided up into two days.  However, it is logical to sweep then mop.  Don't worry about baseboards or wiping cabinets. You can do that next week.  You have been working hard.  You deserve a break! 

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Cleaning the Heart of the Home - Part 3

Rubbermaid Expandable Organizer

Today, I started working in the kitchen drawers, because I got an idea for rearranging them from a magazine.  Also, I had visited my sister, and she had utilized a plastic receptacle like one of mine a little differently.  My cooking utensil drawer also needed straightening, so I decided to make some changes.  I pulled the old switcheroo:  my husband just loves tolerates that.   Cheerfully, he said, "I know you're feeling better when you start reorganizing."  I'm not suggesting you switch items in your drawers;  but every once in a while, it is nice to take the utensils out and wipe out the organizers and the drawers.  I am always amazed at how a drawer that is usually closed gets crumbs, hair, and drips, but it happens.

Cleaning Hints for Today: The Kitchen 
  1. If you have not finished cleaning off counters,  you need to work on that today.  Use the directions from yesterday for that. 
  2. Unload the dishwasher.  
  3. Load the dishwasher and hand-wash the things that cannot go in the dishwasher.
  4. Wipe out your sink and wipe the counters.
  5. Remember, you should work in 15 minute increments or less.  
  6. Rest.
  7. Look at your kitchen and decide if anything needs to be reorganized.  Aim for one drawer or cabinet a day.  I did three drawers today with breaks in between, because I was switching items into different drawers.  I ended up with some things sitting on a counter without having decided where to put them.  If I have enough energy, I will finish after dinner.  If not, I will finish tomorrow. 
This is a Rubbermaid Organizer with
a sliding section on top.  You can
also lift the top off the bottom section.

*Note:  This is a good time to get rid of the clutter.  Utilize the principle of throw away, give away, put away.  If you have not used an item in a year, it is likely you won't use it.  However, I know there are items you only use a few times a year.  You might want to put these things in their own drawer or shelf, rather  than with your everyday utensils.

It's easy to see your cutlery, even
with a "second story."

Top section.
Bottom Section:  I still have room.
Room for a few items on the side,
 outside the organizer.

Monday, September 2, 2013

Cleaning the Heart of the Home - Part 2, The Kitchen

Right now, I am considering the physical heart of my home to be the kitchen.   Since this is where three meals a day are prepared, it is easier and more enjoyable to do so in a clean, well-organized kitchen, it can set the pace for other things that happen in the home.  When my kitchen has clear, clean counters, I am more inclined to cook a fresh, healthy meal rather than put a frozen, store-bought meal in the microwave.  And those days that I am too fatigued to do anything other than put that meal in the microwave oven, there is very little clean-up to do, so it is a win-win situation.

Cleaning Hints for Today: The Kitchen 

Set your timer for 15 minutes (Do not go over 15 minutes, Rest if needed or work on another task.  I usually use this as a time to do something sitting or rest, depending on how I feel that day.):

  1. Start with putting things away on your counters.  Work on one area or counter at a time (cans to pantry, dirty dishes to sink or dishwasher, trash to trash can, papers and directions in a basket--until you decide where  they belong.)  Basically, you can use the 3 rule method:  throw away, put away, give away.
  2. Wipe off your counters and the splash board, as well as wiping under the small appliances, and wipe off the small appliances too.  Follow the directions for your counter surface.  My counter surface is old and light-colored, so I used bleach to get stains.  Bar keepers friend is also a good product to use for some stains, and it does not have the odor of bleach.  
  3. If you have cleaned off one counter, you may want to go ahead and wash your dishes that have to be washed by hand.  If you have already wiped down your counter, you don't worry about setting a few dirty dishes or pots on them, so you have room to wash.  It will be easier to wipe the counter off after it has been wiped off once.  Note:  FlyLady likes to start with the sink, but I chose to start differently this time, because I had actually run out of room to comfortably prepare food.  I knew I could heat up the oven while I was cleaning the items that had been left unwashed.  Also, I wanted soapy water to wash some of the items that belong on my counters.
  4. If you deal with post-exertional fatigue, do not get too enthusiastic and overdo.  Baby steps will get the job done, if you don't keep adding clutter to the area you cleaned. 
There is another psychological factor about having a clean, organized kitchen that is well worth mentioning.  It seems to set the tone for the rest of the house.  Even when the rest of the house could use some attention, a  clean kitchen says, "I care."  Does this ring true with you?  Have you tried working on the kitchen first, before other areas in the house are cleaned and organized?

These are pictures of areas that are bothering me.  Take into account that my kitchen is no modern show kitchen.  I have had a variety of kitchens in my life, and this kitchen is an old kitchen in an old house.  Also, we no longer own a home--we rent.  So, I am not going to spend money on anything other than cosmetic changes.   However, the one thing that rings true in any kitchen is the messy factor.  I don't care whether you have the fanciest kitchen or the most modest kitchen:  no kitchen is a pleasant, productive area when cluttered.  However, even the most modest kitchen can work when cared for.

 The area on the right side of the stove does not give me much room for food preparation.  Organization is needed here.  For those of you who feel like your kitchen is hopeless, the picture to your left, which also is on the left side of the stove, was much worse than this.  However, I wasn't going back to where it was before I got to it on Sunday afternoon.  It had scattered coffee grounds and stains that I knew I could get off if I  applied myself.  I had wiped the whole counter on this side, and I had put things away, but I confess to a little staging here to give you an idea of what it looked like before.  However, I could not bring myself to dirty the counter again.  

By the way, I am planning on some kitchen reorganization, according to how I use items in my kitchen.  I will post more on this later.  I wish I could say my kitchen always looked perfect, but often fatigue gets the best of me, and I have to stop midway in cleaning.  I try to come back, but sometimes that doesn't happen until the next day.  Also, I have to admit that once I leave that area and my mind starts focusing elsewhere, it is easy to conveniently forget. 

Sometimes, it seems I have to get to the point the kitchen is really irritating before I take action.  See, I told you I am not perfect;  and, I know there are probably hundreds of books that have been written to encourage keepers of the home in this area, but I still find this challenging.  The thing is I think it helps the rest of the family become more cognizant of keeping the area neat when we can jump in and get the area organized--no matter how long it takes us.