As I posted last week on Monday and Tuesday, I have started a regimen of serious, sustained happy-making to pull myself out of a serious depression, and really also to help keep me more stable and on track mentally.
In case you missed the definition of “Happy-making”:
Happy-making: n. the act of making oneself happy, or at least less depressed, by engaging in simple, subtle, or extreme activities that lift one’s spirits. v. the action of performing these tasks, which may include a variety of diverse and often unrelated things that is different for every person in most cases.
The third activity I want to talk about is a little bit different from the first two, but no less serious of an undertaking. In fact, this is a much bigger, ongoing process…
Cleaning my house.
I know that sounds a bit odd as a happy-making activity, but really, in my case, it makes a lot of sense.
I’ve always been a bit of a messy person. I tend to accumulate far more things than I have shelves or drawers, and piles of stuff, most often books and papers, usually ensue. However, when I am depressed, I also have a tendency to stop throwing away trash.
I don’t know why. I just don’t throw things away. Like it is too much effort to put things in a trash can. Old food stays in the fridge, stacks of papers deepen on my desk, then tumble to the floor, where they remain with food wrappers, cardboard boxes, old newspapers, cat toys, and every other little bit of junk you can think of.
I’ve already mentioned the three year’s worth of recycling on my porch (I’ve added a few things to each trash pick-up). Then there is about a month and a half of old newspapers stacked in my kitchen and living room that I actually need to read and clip things out of before I toss, not to mention the daily paper that shows up on my porch. I also have several bags full of books and boxes full of childhood items (my favorite little dresses, my matchbox collection, etc.) sitting on my kitchen floor alarmingly close to my gas oven. And then there are three boxes of the contents of my college offices from the two places I’ve worked in the past, full of office supplies, graded student work, and old syllabi. Old magazines, books, book, and more books, clothes that don’t fit or have more holes or strings than coverage, those bolts of fabric I bought when I thought I would make my own curtains, more knitting projects than I can count, and just this week I found the cardboard wrapper for the plunger I bought over six months ago.
I’ve broken my whole house up into zones, prioritizing some areas over others (like the kitchen and bathroom), and breaking rooms up into projects (like clearing off the kitchen table, or picking up all the trash off the floor in a specific room).
In the past two weeks, I have taken out 12 full bags of trash.
Mind you, my apartment only consists of three rooms plus the bathroom. I only have one closet. There is not that much space.
But since clearing all that crap out, even though I am a long way from being done, I can’t get over how much bigger it looks in here. How much more room to walk. How the light seems to reach farther into the room.
All this de-junking as also given me a chance to tackle the other two dirt factors I have in my apartment: cat hair/litter and coal dust.
Both the cats and I seem to shed a great deal. All of the hair seems to combine to form tumble weeds that colonize nooks and crannies. Since I have actually unearthed the vacuum, I am trying to use it at least twice a week. This is up from an average of once every four or five months. I also not longer feel like I am walking on the beach from the bits of litter that invariably get scattered around. I am actually scooping it every day, with happy results for everyone.
Coal dust is another problem that gets even worse in the summer. I have gas heat, so the dust is not internal. In the summer when the windows are all open, the dust from the passing coal trains, the smoke belching scenic railroad, and the trucking route pour into my house, coating every surface.
I’ve invested in Swiffer products and the air quality alone in my house is a great factor in being happier.
I also find a dirty, cluttered environment is harder for me to function in. But it is a horrible Catch 22: one or two down days and the house goes to pot, which makes me more down. And when I am manic, I usually fixate on something creative. Apparently laundry and sorting papers don’t fit the bill.
While I still have about 17 more projects to tackle, and really trying to keep up with the daily dirt, my house is cleaner than it’s been in months. And with some areas, years!
This also has the happy side-effect of me being less embarrassed to invite people over. My sister actually has a place to sit when she visits. M’ James can actually crash on my couch when she invariably gets herself drunk during her visit. If I was less of a chicken, I would actually love to have more visits from people over the age of 12 (the neighborhood kids do stop by). Low stress hang-outs at my house make me feel much better.
This makes me very happy!