Cambrian: Opinion

Spring-cleaning can pave way for new experiences

Diane Brooke
Diane Brooke

There was a time in my life when I actually moved from city to city and then, at least, house to house. But I’ve been renting the same house now for 28 years. That is absolutely a blessing in so many ways! On the other hand there is at least one blessing to moving: being forced to clear out stuff.

Granted, there are moves where you have no time but to throw the same old stuff together into boxes and run. But you can take your time doing the job of organizing (if you allow yourself the time and keep on track … ) once you land, right? Then there’s the all-the-time-you-need to pack but … golly, where did all that time go?

But, living in one place so long is still no excuse for hanging on to musty linens and serving dishes that haven’t seen an hors d’oeuvre since your son was 2. He’s now 30, by the way. Let. It. Go.

So, here is how I am going to do my best to practice what I preach: One step at a time, go through a drawer, a cupboard, a closet. Some place dark. Wait, back up … one tabletop, one countertop … is that too bold? The heck with it — jump in.

By removing everything from the surface/hidden place, you’ve given yourself a clean slate. Begin by wiping the surfaces down with a damp cloth (please, no chemicals! Vinegar and warm water work wonders and your lungs and the planet will thank you). Now, the fun part.

Most of you know the drill — piles of “Donate,” “Recycle” and “Throw it away fer cryin’ out loud.” If you’re truly industrious and practical (I try to be), add a “fix-it” box. The main trick to any of this is to be brutally honest with yourself. That and be really creative — box up said serving dishes and mail them along with a small packet of guilt to said son and his new bride with a note that says something to effect of, “We used these when you were little and thought you could now carry on the tradition.”

While you’re spring-cleaning your abode, why not give a light mopping to your head as well? You know how sentimental stuff can be. Why is that? What is it that you really need and what are you getting from that little clay figure? Don’t bother answering that — I’ve got about 11 of them in my curio cabinet.

OK, seriously, the more clutter you have (inside your head or your house) the harder it is for energy to move. I mean it. I know it sounds woo woo, but it’s true. Have you ever walked into a place (besides your own house) that was piled with books and papers and layers of furniture and old rugs and felt suddenly claustrophobic?

Did you ever think one of the reasons it feels so good to step outside is that there is an infinite amount of room for your energy to flow? Old ruts worn in amongst the ruins of your daily life get deeper, and you trudge over the same problems, the same good things, too, but you never allow yourself the room to experience new good things!

Balance. Save up and hire someone to help clean. Offer dinner to a friend or neighbor for being your conscience and sorting things — and let them! Start small. Pick a drawer or file — and jump in. Make a “dammit jar” and put your problems in it. Don’t be afraid to take that cosmic whisk broom to your brain or your kitchen table!

Dianne Brooke’s column appears weekly and is special to The Cambrian. Visit her website at Email her at