A well known southern author frequently blogs about her “Mental Health” number. The scale ranges from -100 (barely contained euphoria) through 100 (gloom, despair and agony is me). Equilibrium days are scored as zero. Certain events and factors can cause numbers higher than 10 to show up. Her highest numbers always seem to coincide with her husbands departure for business trips.
The appearance and disappearance of clutter on my desk and at my home is my mental health indicator. No clutter equals zero on my Mental Health scale. When work becomes overwhelming – too many problems and not enough hours in the day to solve them, you can find me with a bottle of 409 and paper towels at my desk. Cleaning and organizing my surroundings helps me feel more in control and more capable of dealing with life.
When my professional and personal life are on track I have a neat and clean house. I feel calm when I walk in each night or return from a business trip and it stays organized and clean. As I let things pile up professional and personally – physical junk and dirt begins to pile up too. It starts small – junk mail tossed on the dining room table instead of the trash. Bills laid on the desk instead of filed when they arrive. The more stressed and overwhelmed I become – the more things go out of kilter. You pretty much know I’ve reached crisis point when the three following things occur simultaneously.
- Dishes left unwashed after a meal
- Laundry not folded and hung up after being washed
- Dust shadows appear when items are disturbed on tables and shelves
By LAST Friday I was sleeping in the guest bedroom because piles of clean laundry had grown so large they overtook MY bed. By THIS Saturday I had no clean cereal bowls in my cabinets, no room in my sink to put one more thing to soak, and nowhere on my kitchen counter to place non-soaking dirty dish items.
Yesterday I started putting my world back to rights. The principle is if I have control over my domain I can regain control over other areas of my life.
Here are some signs house cleaning has been derelict too long and indicators of high “Mental Health” (MH) numbers.
- Finding mummified spiders when cleaning is NOT a good sign. This means it’s been so long since you’ve last cleaned the spiders have died from dusting inhalation.
- Discovering dust “tarantulas” (a dust collection slightly smaller than a dust bunny, with projections resembling legs) on the top-side of the ceiling fan blade is sign MH numbers have been steadily rising over the last several months. MH numbers dramatically increase when the dust “spiders” fall off the dusting instrument and onto the dusting person. Maintaining your balance on a bed mattress while screaming “Ahhhhggggg” and doing the snoopy dance to remove dust tarantulas from your person is also very difficult.
- Wearing fancy, dangly, earrings from church, while cleaning in sweat pants and a tee-shirt will make your neighbors guess your MH number is much higher than it is.
- There must be rampant shoe copulation going on in my house! And none of it in the shoe boxes where they belong. This only effects MH numbers when trying to find a matching pair of shoes for church or work. MH numbers also increase when stumbling over the 4th pair of copulating shoes in some random area you aren’t expecting them. Like in the middle of the bathroom floor or in the middle of the hall.
- It is NEVER a good idea to pile chairs and night tables on a bed and THEN to decide to dust under it. Precariously stacked things seem to fall when jostled.
- Apparently dusting in the dark without lights or natural sunlight is not a “best of” practice in professional cleaning circles.
- Removing “dust beards” from hanging pictures indicate it’s been a while since MH numbers were low and manageable.
- Row-cropping of dust under beds is a very, very bad sign.
- MH numbers approach the “Nomination for Village Idiot” award level when someone writing about a bad idea actually tries to MOVE the bed! (see stacking furniture on bed mentioned above.)
- Cactus that have died and turned into shriveled looking pin-cushions can still poke the shit out of you.
- Stacking “stuff” into neat piles in the guest room does not count as cleaning and will not lower your MH number
- If you really want to see how well you’ve dust mopped the floor, you can always sit on your sweatpants covered butt to reprogram the answering machine you unplugged when dusting – and then “skootch” over to the desk to retrieve your class of scotch on the rocks. If your butt is dust free when you get up you know you’ve done a good job.
- Dusting electrical cords regularly can help reduce MH numbers.
- Scrubbing tile bathroom floors on your hands and knees will lower aggression and MH numbers eventually.
- Spilling orange juice from Mojo Salsa on the kitchen floor has negligible impact on MH numbers if wiped up immediately. Walking through it and then having sticky-dirt tracks in the pattern of bedroom slippers all over your white kitchen floor will cause MH numbers to quickly sky rocket.
- Diligently spending Saturday and Sunday cleaning before a 9 day business trip and while worrying about a loved one will help decrease MH numbers to manageable levels.
- Getting to bed at reasonable hours and spending limited time on-line (so you can clean) can also decrease MH numbers!