Friday, January 25, 2013

The Beauty Box

In 2010, while on maternity leave with my son, I read the book Sidetracked Home Executives: From Pigpen to Paradise by Pam Young and Peggy Jones.  It is an amazing book. The ideas are simple and clear, almost seeming too obvious to actually work.  It is a very quick and easy read.

I was on maternity leave, so I had some quiet time.  After reading the book, I implemented their card system.   It is color coded, labeled as Daily, Weekly, Monthly or Seasonal, and each task that needs to be done is written on its own card.  The cards are then filed by the date.  I can pull out today's cards and know exactly what I will get done today.

This book and box were powerful tools that enabled me to get things in order.  It was great:  if there were fingerprints on the windows, I could indulge myself and ignore them, knowing there was a card to clean the windows coming up later.  The feeling of successfully having a clean home was amazing.  I was walking on air because I finally had the home that my guilt was telling me I was supposed to have.

Then the day came that I had to go back to work.  I was no longer home all day.  The cards were being crammed into the few hours between when the kids went to bed and when I went to bed.  I started postponing my chores, until I had a massive pile-up on the weekends.  It all spiraled out of control until the feeling of failure was too much and I hid the box under the junk pile by the phone.  A few times since then, the box has made an appearance when my shame became great enough for me to want to do something about it.  But it lasted a day or so before I failed again.  The box has sat on the counter for years, and every time I looked at it I felt resentment and the shame of failure.

With the momentum I now feel towards the BEAUTY I deserve, I decided to resurrect my chore cards.  I renamed my box "The Beauty Box", and in the lid I wrote, "I deserve the beauty this box will bring to me."  I wanted to reclaim the energy of this box as my own.  This box has symbolized resentment and failure for a long time.  I did some intensely focused meditation, and removed as much of the resentment and shame from the box as I could, while infusing it with pride and the energy of beauty.

I am reclaiming this box as mine, and the beauty it will enable me to maintain.  They were my "chore cards".  That name sounds too much like a "should" or like I'm maintaining my home for reasons outside of myself.  These cards are no longer chores, they are now my daily tasks.  I have also changed the wording on some of the cards to be more positive, as well.  The card that said "Clean junk table" has been replaced with one that says "Tidy surfaces".

For some reason, it is not innately obvious to me what should be done each day, or at what frequency.  This gives me the checklist I need to feel like I am successfully maintaining, and allows me to focus on just a few tasks every day.  When my cards are done for the day, I am done.  I can leave the dusting or vacuuming for another day, without shame or guilt, because I am trusting myself that they will be done then.

Now that I work from home, I can spread my tasks out throughout the day as work breaks.  My Beauty Box gives me a very nice middle ground between feeling anxiety over having to keep it all clean, and feeling empowered to maintain the home I deserve.

I deserve BEAUTY in my life!

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