Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Spring Cleaning

Spring has sprung, and with it comes the annual tradition of dusting behind the dust bunnies and rediscovering all of those things you meant to throw out last year but somehow never quite got around to it. It’s time to throw open the windows and air out the spaces that have been closed up through the winter, and maybe find some new spaces that have been clogged up with collected clutter. Spring Cleaning is the annual ritual that many of us use to get right with our local environment and personal spaces, but it’s also a good time to get right with spaces rather more personal than behind the fridge. While you’re putting some extra polish around the home, this is also a good time to let a little extra sunshine into your soul and clean out the closets of your mind. Clean out some of those cobwebs and let in some fresh air.

Let’s start with an easy one: What did you eat yesterday? What did you eat last week? When was the last time you gave serious thought to your diet, and whether or not that diet is meeting your needs? I’m the last person to give you a list of healthy things to eat and unhealthy things to avoid eating, but I will say that being aware of these things and acting in reasonable manner on this awareness can be of great help to almost every other personal goal you might have. Don’t starve yourself, and don’t deprive yourself, but do take care of yourself. The human body is one of the most complicated machines on the planet, and keeping it running in smooth operating condition over the long haul is not likely to happen by accident. You don’t have to plan everything out in the smallest details, but you will have to put some thought into it. You don’t have to make perfect choices to make good choices, but you do have to make choices. Try to pick the better choices. If cheating occasionally helps you to stick to the better choices more often then cheat sometimes. It really works.

While you’re cleaning up the menu, you may want to consider taking a look at the exercise routine as well. Diet and exercise go hand in hand, and neither can really do the trick alone. Just like with diet, you don’t have to be perfect to get good results. You just have to do something. Any bit of exercise you do is better than doing none, though do make sure that what you’re doing is good for you. Don’t try to do more than you’re ready for, and don’t try to do something complicated or potentially dangerous if you don’t know how. Don’t hurt yourself trying to help yourself. If all you can manage is to take a walk every day then take a walk every day. You’re not training for a triathlon here. You’re just being a little better today than you were yesterday. It may be necessary to find a teacher, or a group activity you can join. Group activities are also great because you can encourage each other, and mutual encouragement can be the difference between sticking with it or not when you’re new to exercise. Be encouraging, and definitely accept encouragement.

As you consider whether or not to sign up for that Beginner’s Group Course on Synchronized Swimming, it’s also a good time to consider the groups of people who are around you every day. This part can be complicated, because there are so many moving parts involved, but are you surrounding yourself with the right people. Are they helping you to be a better person, or are they dragging you down to disappointments you’d prefer were left in the past? Are you helping them to be better, or are you just coasting along thinking they make you look good? You never need an excuse to say No to toxic people, but you do need to make sure you’re not the one being toxic. There is almost never anything simple about human interactions, and the more humans interacting the less simple it gets, but the general trend should be ever upward. Expect some twists and turns, and even a pothole or two along the way, but you might want to reconsider your traveling partners if you’re not at least averaging your way toward the goal.

Have you checked your goals lately? I’m not talking about the Where Do You See Yourself In Five Years goals. Those goals are between you and your employer, usually, and I tend to find them pretty dull. (I’ve yet to convince anyone that, “Still getting paid,” is an appropriate answer, but I keep trying.) I’m talking about your goals for who you are, who you want to be, and how you want to change the world. Life is all about growth, so are you still growing? Have you learned new things that can open up new avenues of growth? Have you learned something that can help you with that one condition in your local environment that is a thorn in your side? We all have one, and they each require different skills to address. Make sure your goals are still pointing you in the direction you want to go, incorporating those new skills you have picked up along the way, and taking corrective measures regarding those thorns.

Sometimes, though, the only thing holding that thorn in your side is you, holding both hands on the thorn and keeping it gripped tightly to your side. While you’re cleaning up your inner territories, make sure that you’re letting go of things that can only cause you pain. Letting go is, surprisingly, one of the most difficult skills we can learn, and we often have to learn it in new ways for each thing that we need to let go. Just when you think you have the whole idea mastered, here comes another problem that you’re gripping tightly before you even realize that you’ve done it. Sometimes you can’t change the environment. Sometimes you have to change you, and sometimes the only way you can do that is by just letting go.

Open the windows, sweep out the corners, light a candle or two. Out with the old and … Well, maybe just out with the old. Sometimes it’s good to bring in the new, but make it because it’s actually good to bring in the new. If bringing in the new isn’t good for you, don’t do it. Maybe it’s just time to declutter, get a little more space to move around in. However you do it, whatever works best for you, while you’re airing out the house, take some time to air out you. Get in those back rooms you haven’t checked recently and toss some junk out onto the recycling heap. Give yourself room to grow, and make sure you get plenty of sunshine and fresh air for healthy growth. A little spring cleaning is good for the soul, and you might even find that you do it more often. Once you get in the habit, keeping it all clean becomes a breeze.

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