Divine secrets of a highly motivated sisterhood

By Darlene Warren

BIG SANDY, Texas--Most of us stumble and bumble through life never using the potential God created within us. Recently I made a pledge to myself that I would at least make the effort to venture further outside my comfort zone than I'd ever been before. You know, test the limits of my spirit, cross the frontier of my cognizance.

For months now I've been yearning to write a critique on Darwin's Origin of the Species, his theory of natural selection, a topic to challenge the thinking patterns of those of us whose minds may have seized up on us over the past few years. Then it dawned on me: Hey, I'm here, that's the whole essence of the theory. What more do I need to know? I want to delve into something really important.

Stephen Covey

My next idea was to review Stephen Covey's book 7 Habits of Highly Effective People. Among some church groups this book rates right up there with the other book. You know the one I'm talking about: The Greatest Potential Ever Told, or something to that effect. After two hours of trying to locate my copy of Mr. Covey's book, I finally gave up. I can't understand what could have happened to it. It had been sitting on my fireplace mantel all winter long. I know, because every time I ran out of kindling my eye gravitated in that direction.

That's when it hit me. Maybe what I really needed to do was to focus on something a little more practical, yet something that when accomplished would change my life and the lives of others forever. I would find a way to slay that dragon, conquer that old adversary; I would learn how to deal with feelings of guilt about housework.

Please don't misunderstand me. I love a clean home and personally believe that it is of utmost importance to a sane existence.

Cleanliness may not be next to godliness, but it can normally be found somewhere close by.

Embarrassment is next to uncleanliness

What I would like to focus on is the guilt and embarrassment that coexists with uncleanliness. If we could find a way to alleviate some of those feelings, we could lower the stress level of half the world's population and be well on our way to achieving peace and tranquillity between the sexes.

Between the sexes, you say? Yes. Ninety percent of the time isn't your stress caused by that one special person you've dedicated your life to? Eight percent can be credited to your kids, of course. Two percent you can accept as payback for your incessant perfectionism.

Husbands have a knack for exhibiting spontaneity at the strangest times. Such as: "Honey, I forgot to tell you that the preacher is coming by today. He could be here any minute."

Your first reaction is probably to turn on him with a vengeance. But think about it. Do you really want to miss this golden opportunity to harness that sudden surge of adrenaline?

If truth be known, most of us can handle disorganization on a daily familial level. It's only when others outside the home enter our space that it becomes an embarrassingly obvious problem. Others may not know or care what else you've accomplished that day, only that your environs are in a shambles.

Never fear guilt

"Why do you care what they think?" my husband always asks. "They didn't come here to look at your house."

That may be true, but it doesn't make me feel any better. Feelings of guilt always override. Never fear guilt; it can be a great motivator. It can be the emotion that pushes you to the great unknown. What might we accomplish? How far can we go?

So with that in mind I've decided to become more proactive. Here's what I mean.

Household basics

If you can't organize your whole house, here are a few essential guidelines for accomplishing the basics. We'll break this down into two parts:

  • No. 1, find a large (5-gallon) bucket. (If you don't have an extra one you may have to use your mop bucket or the bucket you use for carrying grain to your horses, or there's the one you store newspapers in. Who cares? Just keep looking, you'll find one.)

Next you'll need two or three old bedsheets suitable for dropcloths; an old empty 1-pound coffee can (look under the kitchen sink; you probably already have several down there); a used paintbrush; a bandanna; and an assorted package of food coloring (upper cabinet, way in the back).

Place all ingredients inside the bucket and set bucket under the kitchen sink. (Some rearrangement may be necessary to accommodate bucket.)

When unexpected guests arrive, holler cheerfully toward the door "Just a minute!" while rushing madly (sudden surge of adrenaline) to the kitchen sink to retrieve bucket.

By the time you greet your guests you've successfully hidden all your dirty dishes and piles of paperwork underneath the sheets, mixed water and food coloring for a tasteful blend of "wall paint" and can truthfully say "You'll have to excuse this mess," all the while standing there with bandanna on head, holding the paint brush. I really think it could work with a little practice.

Stitch in time

  • No. 2: This could quickly become one of your favorites. In this day and age everyone seems to have a cell phone. If you have the luxury of a warning call, it still may give you only a few short minutes to be ready to receive company.

Again, just a few minutes of prep time can save you a ton of guilt and embarrassment. To prepare, locate a large garbage can, a broom, a mop, a window-washing squeegee, rags of any size, plastic bags, really anything that would pertain to cleaning, including a bandanna.

Store all in large garbage can and keep hidden somewhere near your front door. It could be behind your shrubbery, around the side of the house or neatly tucked inside your garage.

When that unexpected call comes in, rush outdoors to retrieve the garbage can. Place on your front porch; arrange tools and equipment strategically in front of the door and wait for company to arrive.

When guests approach, pick up the broom and act like you are knocking down cobwebs while apologetically saying, "I guess I should have mentioned I'm spring-cleaning."

Upon hearing that, they will realize you couldn't possibly ask them inside. You chitchat outside for a few minutes, and they leave soon afterward.

Working for the community

If you find that one of these guidelines work for you (please feel free to come up with additional guidelines that fit your individual situation), pass it on to a friend. You're not only learning how to organize on a small scale, you're making your community a better place to live.

You hold in your hand the potential to change the world, to touch the souls of thousands who, linking arms with each other, can change the world.

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