Reordering the order

I’ve been on a cleaning kick of late:

Cleaning out, sorting through, giving away and tidying up.

My cousin and I chat often and she’s well aware of the “stuff” that’s been taking up space in my head. She’s the one who picked up on my cleaning tendencies from 1,700 miles away.


In an email, she referenced the tasks she considering doing last weekend.  I wrote back … and prioritized her list for her.   Geez.

This mouse likes a clean house!

She commented, “Tidying up is one of your ‘tells’ you know” …. and she’s right.  When my world feels chaotic, there’s something in me that needs to organize what I can. It helps me make sense of the crazy.

As a girl, I remember “playing” office.  I’d straighten up papers and play with the typewriter, sit behind a desk and pretend to talk on the phone.  The desk was always clean.  The thing is, I didn’t know anyone who worked in an office so I don’t know who I was channeling. My siblings and played “School,” too, but this was different. “Office” wasn’t adventurous; “Office” could be played alone. The “Office” was also where I retreated to on wintry days when I couldn’t escape on my pony to sort out my thoughts.

To this day, my office is neat and clean.  Why?  Because job demands can change on a dime so being organized helps me deal with others … who are not. But that’s not all of it:  keeping my work space tidy …calms me.

At home, most of our space is organized and clean. There are areas that needed attention and lately, they’ve gotten it. They’re tidier, I’m feeling more at ease, and those other things picking at me? They’re still there.

* * *

What are your conscious (or not so conscious) ways of dealing with stress?

a room like this would stress me out; image from

Categories: Attitude, Faith, Family, fear, Home, Life, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 42 Comments

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42 thoughts on “Reordering the order

  1. you asked.”What are your conscious (or not so conscious) ways of dealing with stress?” make myself a really good cup of dark french roast Starbucks coffee, catch up on the blog feeds,reread a couple of my favorite psalms that talk about stress and fretting, a power nap, maybe take a walk outside. I am very intentional about guarding my time/ peace and quiet/ whatever you want to call it…I hate unhealthy stress…the low grade stress is fine. I actually function quite well under it. have a great day!

    • You sound like you are very intentional about how you cope with it, and that you know what works for you, DM. Smart man. I try to be intentional about guarding my peace and I have become much better about not giving it away, but this one snuck up on me.

      Thank you so much for your (always wise) input!

  2. That garage stresses me out! I’m also an organizer. I have a bad habit of organizing other people’s space unconsciously. I have friends that would invite me to lunch at their house because they knew I’d organize and clean and I have a daughter that hates for me to do it at her house.
    It is funny how similar you and I are 🙂

  3. Hi MJ
    Like you – stress = cleaning time
    I strap on my ipad and get going
    I always feel better when my lists is checked off and everything has a place
    God Bless

    • I am definitely a list-keeper too, and having things done and organized has always made me make sense of disorder in my life. I gutted our bedroom about a month ago; it was starting to resemble a storage closet and was no longer inviting in any way, shape or form. It’s much better now – calmer and peaceful!

  4. Oh, dear girlfriend: PLEASE don’t ever come to our shop! It would scar you for life….!
    And if I send you a list of things I need to do, would you organize it for me???? 😉

    • ha ha – that made me laugh out loud, Dianna! You can send me your list and I’ll send it back organized and alphabetized; can’t help it, that’s just who I am. People tease me for having my grocery list typed and in the order of the store … yes, I know.

      🙂 MJ

  5. My little jeep crate on wheels (with a lowercase “j”) keeps me organized at school. It was a bit of an adjustment not having my own classroom, but not having that space is a good thing. I guess it frees me up and does make me as happy as your little chipmunk. 🙂

    • I would love to see your little jeep crate; sounds perfect! And I suppose that having to function out of that crate makes you only take along what’s absolutely necessary 🙂 MJ

  6. I always get an urge to purge and organize in the fall. (I’m not one for spring cleaning. I want to be outside in the air then.) For me, September and October are the real “new year.” New things always start in the fall, and with that comes the need to clean and organize.

    • Come to think of it, Arlene, I do, too. There’s something about the crisp autumn air intermingling with clean scents of Lysol and Pledge that make me smile; I never spring clean, like you, I’d rather just get out in it. So fall+chaos= my relatively tidy house. Bonus!


  7. If there’s a problem stressing me out I try to tackle it “head on” as soon as possible; or I’ll fixate on it and worry about it until I figure out that worrying doesn’t do me any good (took 40 years to figure that out). Sometimes…the problem/issue isn’t something that I can solve or isn’t mine to solve in the first place….so I’ll walk away from it. If I’m smart…I’ll give it to the Lord and try to be patient (not my strong suit) and let Him hash it out to His will….which is for my own good.

    How did the vet visit go?

    • That’s just it .. for me, it’s the effort it takes to sort through if “it” is something I can solve or not, or belongs to me or not. Sometimes I walk away and sometimes I find I just slog through it. You are wise to turn it over to Him; sometimes I am better at doing that than others.

      PS the Vet visit went pretty well — he’s on a short term antibiotic for all his skin issues + a long term pain mgmt med. I already see a difference from the pain meds … he’s peppy without being loopy. Her words to me were, “they love us so much, and they love more than anyone and I think that’s why they age so much faster.” Awww …

      Thanks for asking about Frankie-bear.

      • I’ve never heard a vet say something like that. How insightful and thoughtful. I’m glad for you and Frankie, it had to be on your mind as it approached. Have fun and spoil him some. 🙂

      • I hadn’t heard anything like that, either. She’s a really lovey Vet, she kisses and cuddles Frank the whole time he’s there; he laps it up. Truly this is a person doing the job they were born to do!

  8. I am with you on the clear, clean and calm. I do not get a great charge out of cleaning but I do get peace when things are ordered. If you figure out how to manage all the other “stuff,” let me know.

    • Yep, don’t really enjoy the cleaning process so much but I do enjoy the results. Although I have been known “get after it” like a whirling dirvish .. on the other stuff … yeah, I’m still a novice, too.

      Bests to you sweet Bella!

  9. I have to admit when I am first dealing with a problem, I hide from it. But when the shit hits the wall, and I am done crying, I do massive cleaning.

    • There’s something about the process that is cathartic. Not the bending, digging and pulling, but maybe it’s seeing the results of our efforts? I think it’s a cause & effect kind of thing. Like baking bread. At least when I’m done there’s something to show for it – a clean closet, a tidy bookshelf, a counter covered in baked delights? Great to hear from you Karyn,

  10. Clean and organize..oh ya, that’s exactly what I do….then I go ride and ride…”poor” horse. 😉

  11. What a healthy way to deal with the untidy events around us. I have been known to do this too. I suppose it is the one thing we can control when all else is beyond our ability to straighten out. Hopefully things will calm down before long.

    • Yes, I think you nailed it, Renee — it’s the “one thing we CAN control” when all else is beyond our ability to control. I’m hoping things settle down soon, too. Bests to you! MJ

  12. Cleaning up is about the last way I deal with stress. I usually do the most cleaning out and cleaning up after I’ve been away from home and see everything with different eyes. Not exactly sure why it’s easiest for me to deal with it at those times.

    I deal with stress I’ll write, call a girlfriend, bitch to my husband, zone out watching TV (avoidance), or surf the web. If there is something that I need to do, that has nothing to do with cleaning the house, I’ll get on it. If it seems overwhelming, (being told my mom really needs to move into assisted living- when she lives 3000 miles away and not one of us kids lives anywhere near her- and we can’t just drop our lives and move her right now- and she doesn’t even want to move out of her house last I knew) I break it down into bite sized pieces that I can deal with right now.

    Oh, that, and chocolate.

    Glad Frankie-bear is still with you. For our family pooch, we had him on motrin for arthritis his last several months.

    • Understand — I think I vacillate between complete avoidance (oh, where did that pile of paper come from?? ) to maniacal like fervor as I organize and compartmentalize it. It’s a swing and sometimes the swing is rather large.

      You have a lot to deal with given your Mom’s situation and recent change – yikes. I hope you are all able to manage things ok and that she can get the care she needs. Being far from someone vulnerable is very, very difficult.

      Frankie-bear is doing pretty well, all things considered. Much better than he was Sunday so that’s something.
      Thanks for weighing in, bests to you as you handle all that life is dealing you right now!

  13. Oh, I can’t stand a mess or any clutter. It drives me batty. I have to organize. If I am stressed though, I would rather talk a long walk, or listen to music or meditate. I don’t actually like cleaning, but I’ll do it if I have to.

    • All of the ways you cope sound healthy and rather soothing … and I do those, too, but I think I turn to the cleaning as almost “busy work” – it gives me instant gratification! Just looking at that garage picture gave me agita!

      Cheers! MJ

  14. I can live with some clutter — up to a point. And I find that when I’m stressed that point is pretty close to zero. Though straightening isn’t really one of my stress busters — I think when I get completely stressed I sort of check out and shut down until i level out again.

  15. Thanks for your concern about the storm, MJ. I’m REALLY hoping it will veer off the coast – we always have water damage in our house when there’s a bad nor’easter, as well as trash from the high tides. We’ll just have to prepare for the worst and hope for the best. We rode out Isabelle, so hopefully we won’t have to do that again….! Thanks again! I’ll be sure the laptop battery is charged so I can remain in touch with everyone, should we lose electricity.

    • You’re welcome; I hope it turns and heads to sea but it doesn’t look that way… I’ll be monitoring and thinking of you; please keep us posted. Hugs! MJ

  16. Hmm…yes, I like tidy too. I’m a list maker, and a wiper-downer…always wiping down my countertops and bathroom spaces. I like to leave the house with everything “done” if at all possible…I can go out and focus on the rest of life if my chores are checked off:) ~ Sheila

    • I hear you on that; Your “wiper-downer” reference made me think of my sister. The last time she visited she kept doing the same and one time left the counter rather wet. Hubbs went to lean on it and flew across the surface. We still laugh about that and she sheepishly grinned – she was only trying to be helpful but it actually drove him a little crazy!! Bests! MJ

  17. PS, hope the other things that are troubling you are resolved soon. I’m guessing the externals were not really the problem? If only all of life’s issues could be cleared out like clutter! ~ Sheila

    • Thank you; that is very kind of you … there are many things swirling around, some resolving and others not as much, but I’m learning to let them go and to excuse myself from trying to fix it all. 🙂 MJ

      • Yes, we have that too. Particularly watching our son’s life from afar (he’s in Denver now) is giving me some wakeful time in the middle of the night. Blessings to you and yours! ~ Sheila

      • I read this quote yesterday; I know you’ll get it, “A Mother is as happy as Her Unhappiest Child.” Hugs

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