Monthly Archives: September 2016
Whether it’s the in-laws coming or a special occasion or meeting the future son-in-law, cleaning house for company is guaranteed to send modern 21st century women into a tailspin of anxiety and depression.
It reminds me of those Internet memes….This is what I think I do, this is what my friends think I do, this is what… You get the picture. Maintaining a clean or even an orderly house with technology or help is definitely a challenge in the 21st century. And thanks to the feminist movement and its “enforcers” most women are left without help amidst the guilt of trying to be both homemaker and career woman.
So what’s a girl to do?
Several months back while search the Kindle book store I ran across a little book by Marie Kondo called The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing.
It definitely is life changing. I’ve spent my entire life (half a century) under the burden and guilt of trying to maintain an orderly house when I’m NOT an orderly or organized person. Let’s face it…housework is mind-numbingly boring, not to mention backbreaking hard. It’s also mundane and repetitive, NOT the way I want to spend my days or weekends.
So imagine the sheer delight of finding a way to have my cake and eat it, too. This little book changes the way women think about cleaning and organizing, dismissing all the so-called “rules” as unworkable myths and moving on to give an easy, workable solution to the age old problem of juggling life and housework.
What ‘s also remarkable is the “extra” time I’ve found as I work through the process which has become noticeable to all my friends. Not how clean my house is, but how free the rest of my life is. Now they’re reading the book. My daughters-in-law and I enjoy (yes, I said enjoy) sharing with each other what we’ve done. Imagine showing off closets and drawers that have stayed neat for months with little or no effort!
I know…I would have laughed in your face if you’d told me this time last year I would be an “organized homemaker and proud of it.” But I am and if I can do it, so can you.
The best thing about this life style change? It’s super easy. Let me give you a small example.
We had company coming – the kind where you wish you could afford to hire a maid because you really want everything sparking—and I was in a panic trying to get everything cleaned while still teaching school during Homecoming week. Then I remembered: what is the purpose of my home? To be squeaky clean? No! The purpose of my home is a refuge, a place where people could relax and escape the pressures of the world.
Instantly, all the things I felt “needed” to be cleaned melted away, along with the stress and guilt. I focused on making the place a refuge, finished cleaning without becoming exhausted, and we had a wonderful weekend and no one noticed the baseboards or cobwebs. (smirk)
The problem with being a niche writer is that often niche writers are niche people. We don’t fit into any preconceived or “normal” category. We are neither fish nor good red herring and that in itself presents a problem. How do we find a comfortable place in both the world and our writing?
For instance, growing up I was neither city nor rural, although I lived in a small town. I disliked the limited scope of small town life; however, I desired the quieter pace. I disliked the noise and confusion and hurry of the big city, but I craved the accessibility of culture and variety. I was also neither city girl nor country girl. I loved being in the country, but lacked the skills necessary for country living. Even though I considered myself country, five minutes in the presence of a country girl made it crystal clear that wasn’t me. The same applied to the city—the social life and status necessary to thrive didn’t interest or appeal to me.
My true habitat was the library. I spent a lot of time growing up at the library, browsing shelves, picking out a book, and reading it at one of the tables. I loved the smell of ink and paper, the quiet that permeated the place, the solitude of being surrounded by worlds that accepted me for who I was. In college, I would often escape to the stacks of government documents just to find a quiet place to study or read without interruption.
Sports was another arena I just didn’t fit in. Oh, I could go to the game and scream with the rest for a touchdown, but I just didn’t get the intense need. I could take it or leave it, and most of the time I left it.
Maybe it had to do with growing up poor. We never missed a meal, but we didn’t have the “extra” life took to fit in. Events like Homecoming where the girls wore mums that dragged the ground and cost a week’s salary starkly pointed out I didn’t fit in.
In a way, I’ve never overcome that sensation of not fitting in. I teach, but I’m not “a teacher.” In my mind there is a difference and I am acutely aware of it every time I step into a classroom. I am a Christian, but I don’t fit in with most Christians’ ideas of what constitutes a “good Christian” – in other words, I’m not caught up in the rituals and traditions. The “doing” isn’t as important as the “being.”
When it comes to writing, I wince every time someone asks me to categorize my novels. Science fiction is a broad term and trying to pin it down to subcategory isn’t easy. Is it a western on Mars? A space opera? Space fantasy? A slice of life set in a futuristic setting? Not a fan of romance novels, I shuddered when I realized my stories sell better under the romance category than sci fi.
Then there’s the whole “what age group is it written for?” I don’t write age groups. I write stories. If a story is good, all ages will like it. I still read the Hardy Boys and Trixie Belden. I still read Rick Brant and Tom Corbett. I also like The Ranger’s Apprentice series. It doesn’t mean my tastes are juvenile (although a case could be made that I prefer juvie lit over adult lit); I enjoy a well-written story. I read classic literature like the Scarlet Pimpernel and the Prisoner of Zenda, but can’t stand the “classics” required in English lit classes. (Is it just me or is the educational definition of “classical” limited to dark, occult, and perverse?)
My niche may be defined by books and quiet places, but it’s my niche and I’m comfortable with it. Just don’t ask me to define it or limit it…it’s as vast and diverse as the universe.