Climbing the stairs from my basement sewing studio for about the 20th time, the angel food cake pan I left soaking from yesterday greets me. Rarely do I leave dishes for the next day - not because I'm such an amazing cleaner, but because I hate waking up to any kind of mess. I'm not a morning person, and it doesn't take much to get me crabby in the morning - at least until I've had a few cups of coffee!
Looking at that pan, wishing it was already clean, I decided to use psychology on myself. Speaking right out loud (don't worry, nobody was home but the dog) I said: "Julie, quit being such a whiner and be thankful you have a pan to wash, a stove to bake a cake in, and a comfortable home to live in".
It seemed like it was working - a little, so I kept talking . . .
"Before I can wash dishes I need to scrub out the dish pan". Note: My husband has a habit of throwing things in there to "soak" which means they are left there for me to clean, and the pan is always dirty. :) Bless his heart.
I scrubbed out the sink and the pan. As I filled it with hot water and dish soap, the billowing bubbles exploded with a lovely, somewhat familiar smell. I grabbed a clean washcloth, deciding on one I knitted while watching tv. Admiring the pretty shade of peach as I dipped it into the bubbles, I got to work washing the counters, the stove top, and the microwave.
As I thought about how I am always rushing, worrying, and planning in my head, I realized I'm never really in the moment. Instead of "thinking" about everything and anything, I should just "be" - be in the present, with my hands in the lovely bubbles, enjoying the warmth and smell. As I washed each glass, plate, and coffee cup, I tried to feel gratitude for each item. Then I broke my favorite coffee cup I've had for about 20 years. "Rats. Oh well. It had some cracks in it anyhow, probably not safe."
Being super sensitive to chemicals, I try to use homemade cleansers made from nontoxic ingredients whenever possible. Last month I brought home what was left of the Dawn dish soap while cleaning out Mom's house and figured I'd try it. "Guess I might as well use it - not be wasteful. " Yep, me talking to myself again. I must say it smelled really nice.
It was kind of an amazing moment, realizing how enjoyable washing dishes by hand was. Ok, not like going to a quilt shop, but still. It seems like the dishwasher never gets them clean anyhow. Then I really got carried away washing every thing in the dishwasher - which was completely full. I put on an I Love Lucy rerun and laughed at her antics. Imagining being back in the 50's, I wished I had put on an apron.
After Lucy was over I decided to turn off the tv and work in silence, trying to stay in the moment. From start to finish it ended up taking over an hour. My feet, legs, and back hurt. I must be getting old because being on my feet for a while gets me tired. Still, I felt happy. It was relaxing, and I think it brought me happy memories. It took me back to when I was raising kids and my role was clearly defined - being a stay-at-home mom, cleaning, cooking, taking care of the family. The realization hit me that not only do I need to do more of the simple things in life - I need to actually be present to enjoy them.
As my sister and I chatted about my little epiphany she said she had just washed out some coffee cups at work using Palmolive and was taken back to childhood. She wondered if Mom used that brand, and we assumed she did because the smell seemed so familiar. We talked about the old Palmolive commercials and she reminded me of Madge, the "beautician" doing a manicure. Do you remember "It's Palmolive - you're soaking in it"? Funny. I seem to remember Mom using Ivory, but I can't say for sure. You can bet your life when I go to the store the next time I will buy a small bottle of each and an old fashioned dish drainer.