Let’s get happy*

Spring has never been my strong point.

I’m not one for change — give me sameness any day of the week, and preferably every day of the week — and this includes the seasons. Spring in Oregon is a mixed bag, and that’s hard to plan for: Do I need a rain jacket today or can I get by with a light sweater? Do I dare wear my pretty new mary janes or should I opt for my ankle boots AGAIN? It’s also a busy time at the newspaper because we put out a four-section special insert to coincide with blossoms on the fruit trees … as well as a home and garden insert, a review of business stories and, you know, our regular biweekly editions.

Spring break passes and everything I want is in the future: Abby will be home from school around Mother’s Day and I’m counting the days until the Walker Four is all under one roof again. I’m looking forward to the long, hot, lazy days of summer.

I strive for contentedness each spring — hey, winter is past! The hard part is over! The sun is coming! — but mostly I feel out of sorts, anxious, overwhelmed and detached.

I’m never going to be happy in the spring — I feel like I need to grit my teeth and just get through it — but this year, I am trying something different: Tackling a spring cleaning project.

I’m looking at this as a way to give myself something to focus on that produces tangible results but doesn’t take up a lot of time.

One thing that DOES make me happy is how my house looks when it’s freshly cleaned. We don’t have a lot in our house (thanks, minimalism!), but we live with three cats (hair and dust) and a kid (art projects). We have a woodstove (ash). We live here (a stack of my journals is currently taking up half of the dining room table)!

Which is how I decided on the spring cleaning project: A clean house makes me happy. I am feeling out of sorts. Plans and schemes help me feel more in control. Crossing items off my list makes me feel productive. And I don’t even have to think too hard about it, because the FlyLady already has.**

She has the entire house broken up into sections; each section is the focus of a particular week. The order of the sections never changes. You set a timer for 15 minutes and focus on one task in that one area each day. What you don’t get this time around, you’ll get next time.

I don’t know, I find that very comforting.

I found myself looking forward to setting my timer and tackling a job in the front entrance or dining room (week one zone). I detail-cleaned our main light switch. I cleaned out five drawers in our hutch and polished the (bottom) front. I dusted underneath the thing (and found a couple of cat toys, which Bean and Goose thoroughly enjoyed for 10 minutes before losing them again). I wiped down moldings and doors and knobs. I got rid of a couple of candles and a wobbly platter that I’ve been hanging onto out of guilt (I spent A LOT of money on that thing and have always regretted the purchase).

This week is the kitchen, and I already know which areas I’m going to focus on for some serious cleaning and decluttering: Two catch-all cupboards, one by the fridge, the other by the stove.

I may not be happy this spring. But I feel like I’ve at least got a plan to get through it until summer hits and I can breathe again.

*My title today comes from a song by The Cure: “Doing the Unstuck” from the 1992 “Wish” album. I like the manic hopefulness of it. Sometimes you have to talk yourself into being happy.

**When the girls were little, I found FlyLady — which is also what led me to minimalism. I haven’t followed her system in years, but I remember how helpful it was and am grateful to have it as a resource. I also like how it’s not about perfection, but about getting shit done. I can get behind that.

7 thoughts on “Let’s get happy*

  1. sarahn says:

    Well done you – I’m at the library on the internet, looking for jobs, over the decluttering errands I could have done. I have three insulated bags I want to return to the cafe that used them. A lamp without a shade. A burp cloth to a friend/baby. Some soft plastics to the supermarket. But… alas, another day.

    Virus-free. http://www.avast.com


    • Trisha Walker says:

      Ha ha, well, keep in mind it’s like 15 minutes of productivity and then, like, another three hours of Wordscapes on my phone … Another day, indeed!

      P.S. About a quarter of the way into “The Immortalists” and trying to decide if I want to continue.


  2. Roberta says:

    I’m also not a huge fan of spring. It gets *hot* here in the summer, and each hot day seems like the heat is already here. It makes me feel anxious every time the sun comes out. (sigh)

    I like your plan. Refocusing and reframing are good! And at the end of the day, you’ll have dealt with some regular irritations, and that’s good. I think I’ll take a page from your book. I’ll write down the list of things that need doing (scrub the accumulated fingerprint grime on my son’s door that bothers me every night when I walk down the hall, etc) to focus on clean and beautiful for spring.


    • Trisha Walker says:

      Hot weather is just as draining as snowy and cold, I think. It can be exhausting.

      Oh geez, I look at our bathroom door and the grime that’s there — definitely on the list. Even if all I do is 15 or 20 minutes of some chore, I still feel like I’ve accomplished something. And it definitely helps mix up the narrative in my head, which is most of the battle.


  3. Chris N says:

    I still use Flylady zones every week.Initially I did ALL her stuff even the journals you can print out. I guess I need the structure. Good for you for re doing it!!
    I love spring here in Northern California. Everything is popping!!! Plus I am so glad not to be having fires ALL day long. Hey, I have a book giveaway on my blog some of your readers may want to check out. It’s Francine Jay’s new book. I liked it but don’t need to keep it.


    • Trisha Walker says:

      You talking about FlyLady zones on your blog is what inspired me to hop back in, actually. Structure is a lovely thing.

      Fires, gross. Air quality is definitely an issue in the summer. I fear that’s the new reality.

      And also, Chris is legit so if you’re reading this and are interested in her giveaway, definitely check it out!

      Liked by 1 person

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