The Power of a Clean Room

The Power of a Clean Room

Electric Lime Green

I held the paint card in my hand, the decision firmly made after a 15-minute deliberation at Home Depot. It was not the place I wanted to be on my birthday, but it was all part of the larger plan.

It was my first big “I’m an individual and I am going to show the world my personality” move, and 12-year-old me was beyond excited.

As a birthday present, I had asked for the gift, nay the privilege, to embark on the following ‘Extreme Home Makeover’ inspired project:

  1. Paint my bedroom walls the color of my choosing
  2. Rearrange my bedroom furniture, including re-arranging posters, etc. on the wall
  3.  Choose a new comforter/sheet set for my bed

Electric. Lime. Green. Walls.

I don’t remember the rest of the project really, and I don’t remember the comforter I chose. I do remember coming to the realization that painting is NOT fun; it smells terrible, involves multiple coats and some “elbow grease”, as my dad put it.

But in the end, it came out great. It was totally worth it.

I am Woman, Hear Me Roar

That night, I admired my work from my newly adorned twin bed, complete with matching useless pillows. The white wooden headboard now nestled between two corner windows that overlooked the scrub area behind my 2-story childhood home in Austin.

I felt adult.

I felt like I had taken control of the space that was meant to be mine and mine alone. My sanctuary.

Nobody said it was easy

As a pre-teen girl (and boy too, probably), control and predictability are concepts as foreign as income tax and heartburn. Hormones are making their debut while society (read: junior high school teachers and peer) now expect you to act like highly functioning junior human. Tests, school plays, soccer teams and try-outs, sleep overs, and boyfriends (can you even call it that?) all seemed so important. Perception really is reality.

In this time of drama and chaos, whether manmade or naturally occurring, to enter my room, my temple, my little slice of this world, and lather my budding teenage brand all over its walls felt like a necessary rite of passage.

Fast-Forward to Today

Fast-forward to today, my 33rd birthday. I began the day by cleaning our room, my little slice of this world. 21 years later and the anticipation of the “fresh coat of paint” feeling is still palpable.

As a mom, though, or maybe as a perfectionist, I couldn’t stop with just one room. I continued to the rest of the house. Some putting away here, some tidying here, emptying the dishwasher. The works.

My husband is always good about watching our 10-month old son when I need a break. But imagine the delight this morning when he learned of my intentions.

“What do you want to do this morning for your birthday?” Glenn asked, emerging from the bedroom an hour or so after Z woke me up with some gentle babbles echoing from the baby monitor.

In years past, the answer had ranged from delivery of a bacon/egg/cheese bagel, to marathon trips to the mall, to free reign over the living room for home yoga practice.

“I want you to watch the baby so I can tidy and clean up the house.”

His eye locked on mine, his eyebrows lifted, then he got up, grabbed the kid and I got to it.

Define “clean up”….

It’s a funny feeling to clean up and take care of my house. I never considered myself a “domestic” woman. The Holly Homemaker skills that I DO have, however are strong:

  1. I’m a great baker, if I do say so myself. Cookies, Key Lime Pie (my specialty), cakes, puff pastry dishes, I love it all and my guests love it too.
  2. I can sew a mean button. I dare you to bust through a meg-inforced button.
  3. Tidying.

Tidying is different than cleaning. And that’s really what separates the Martha Stewarts from the early 2000’s (at the top of her table setting game) from the Martha Stewarts of today (still trying but, I mean it’s obvious she just threw all her crazy in a closet and slammed the door shut before she went on TV again. I mean, really Martha?)

Tidying is the act of taking all the crap you have in your house and putting it in organized piles, shoving it in drawers, or showcasing it on shelves. I am VERY good at this. I am not so good at mopping, sweeping, dusting, scrubbing toilets, wiping countertops, you know…cleaning.

As a new mom and a recent cancer survivor, I have a newfound appreciation for the feeling of control, order and purity that comes from a clean, organized house. I want that for my child. I want that feeling of “take your coat off, stay awhile”. Not just for my guests, but for me too.

The Toast Always Lands Butter-side Down

I had nearly finished my rounds as these words began to pop up and connect in my mind. As with most of my writing, an idea flickers in my mind and if I fan it and give it enough air, it sometimes becomes something great.

I’m going to write a post about cleaning my room. I’m going to do it, I’m going to sit down at my little desk and write.

I grabbed my glasses and my room temp coffee, opened my laptop and then the curtain…


The Rod hit the Fan (almost)

The large wooden curtain rod rests on a wooden bracket, and it is no longer anchored into the wall. It was just waiting for the next person to so much as BREATHE near the curtains and, of course, I am the next person.

Not only was it me, but I was finished! The house was clean, it was beautiful. It was a masterpiece. I was ready to sit down and begin to write. Everything was hung/folded/washed/put away.

But now there’s a curtain rod on our bed and a little spattering of drywall crumbles on the ground.

Glenn rushed upstairs to relieve my tired arms (I was able to hold the rod up and keep the whole thing from crashing down, thank goodness) and he came up with a plan.

And guess what? We are going to HOME DEPOT! Yet again, not where I want to be on my birthday.

History Repeats Itself

Do I feel the same way today, 21 years ago, just on a larger bed this time?

Yes, I do. Refreshed, renewed, resolved. It’s not just the clean room. It’s the culmination of a hard year coming to an end and my heart being ready, finally, to begin healing from it all.  

But as far as expressing myself with extreme paint colors? I’m a grown up. I can paint more than my bedroom walls. There are better, more effective, more HELPFUL ways to show the world who I am and what I have to offer.

Mom Survives is one of those things.

So You’ve Beaten Cancer, Now What?

Once I competed active treatment (surgery, chemo, radiation), I began to evaluate and really feel what I had just been through.

The rundown: diagnosed with Breast Cancer while pregnant with my first child, at age 31. Lumpectomy at 32 weeks pregnant, birth induced at 37 weeks (Zack was born happy and healthy 😊 ) a round of fertility treatment to preserve embryos, 3 months of chemo, & 19 rounds of radiation. Now, and for the next 5 years, I take a combination of hormone reducers to keep me in a state of menopause and lower my chance for recurrence. On 6/4/19 I was given the all clear. For now. I hope it’s forever.

This is a story. This is my story. Mom Survives is for you, but it’s also for me. So, thank you for letting me share.

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