Friday, March 6, 2009

Resurrecting Jekyll & Hyde

There's nothing like spring cleaning to resurrect a little Jekyll and Hyde in me, meaning that it has raised a two-headed monster of consumerism to afflict my poor 'ole soul.

Allow me to explain.  While scouring and mopping, sorting and laundering, I've been slowly amassing a long list of things I want to buy from the store.  Things like storage boxes to keep my newly organized files looking pretty, and roman shades for my freshly sparkling windows.  Or a new quilt for my bed to liven it up for spring, and a few books to add to my library collection.  And because cleaning and decorating go hand in hand, I couldn't help but also envision some fabulous new bookshelves for my dining room while I was vacuuming the rug, or how great a new pendant light would look while I dusted the one that currently hangs.

So, on the one hand, cleaning and sorting everything stirs up all of these ideas I have for home improvements and new accessories.  Call it an occupational hazard of this spring-time chore.   Going inch by inch around the house reminds me of all the projects I want to do, and updates I want to make.  Great for creative expression, but not such a great thing for the pocket book...

On the other hand, loading up a mountain of magazines to recycle, and boxes of items to donate reminds me how much I already have that I don't even use.  Seeing the trash bin fill up with unwanted discards, and the closet emptied of unloved garments made me shamefully aware of how much I take for granted, and all the Stuff I manage to accumulate without even paying attention.  So much stuff, in fact, that it takes me days upon days to sort through it all and clean it up.

Furthermore, there is something so simple and gratifying about caring for the things I own.  "Caring" meaning that I don't let three years of dust and grime build up on my serving bowls, or a colony of crumbs settle into my sofas.  The unflattering truth is that I spend so much time thinking about what I can buy or decorate next that I often neglect the basic care and maintenance of what I already own.  I mean, can I justify purchasing shiny new things when I don't care properly for the things I have?

So, after wrestling with these two faces this week, I was pleased to stumble upon a print that seemed to put it all into perspective.  From Bold and Noble comes "Make Do and Mend," and it's just in time! After a week of pitching and scouring and dreaming up lists of things to buy, a simple phrase to remind me that spending some time enjoying and caring for what I have seems to be the life lesson worth learning.

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