Snow and cold weather may be outside, but spring is actually right around the corner. We often turn to our far east neighbors for tips on cleaning, from Marie Kondo to Feng Shui, but tidying the home is a universal compulsion found in almost every religion and culture. Americans have always taken the beginning of spring as a call to action for cleaning closets and tidying our homes. After huddling through the depths of winter, we emerge from our dank abodes into the warmer air with a desire to rid our lives of all the junk that we have been staring at for the past year or more. We peer around our homes, arms crossed, thinking:

“How on earth did all this even get in here?”

“I definitely do not remember buying any of this.”

“That was a very nice gift, but I am never going to wear that hideous shade of orange.”

Well, grab a mop, broom and trash bag and have at it! A cleansing is in order every now and then, especially in our modern era when there is simply so much stuff entering our lives. Getting started is often the hardest part, but just imagine how you will feel when your house is organized and spotless and you should receive a burst of energy.

First of all, tackle small chunks at a time, not the entire house. Pick a closet, or a room, and focus on getting that clean. Empty drawers, shelves, and look over everything. Chances are you have not used any of it in years. If the thought of throwing something out fills you with dread, toss it out anyway to prove to yourself you are actually are able to put that thing in the trash. Just do it! If it is something personal like a card or photograph or memento, maybe you can keep it, but find a place for it.  Do not just stuff it back in a drawer.

When reorganizing a space, try to ensure that everything is accessible and looks appealing. Having a ton of junk amassed all over the place or jammed in drawers are equally useless, so organize things in a way that makes sense, even for other members of the household. If you really do need to pack something away, such as holiday decorations, at least label everything and store it in something that stacks easily. Once you have pared down the items you have, determine where they should be placed and how they should be arranged. Having a house or space that looks appealing is simply a way to make a space inviting, and you can augment that feeling with fresh scents or candles. Every time you enter that spruced up room, a part of you will feel relieved and others will feel welcome.

Tidying the home, office, or car does not have to be a herculean task. Pick a place and don’t worry about the idea that it all has to get done right away.  Do what you can, feel good about what has been accomplished, and take a break every once in a while.  After all, what good is cleaning the home if you can’t sit down and enjoy it for a few minutes. Don’t forget to also look around Misawa Air Base for help! There are free cleaning supplies left behind by those who PCSed in building 977, and the Thrift Shop is available on North Base. Plus, later this month the Community Commons will be hosting the Misawa Flea Market for an extra opportunity to sell some of those items you don’t need anymore, or to purchase gently used items at a huge discount. Now is the perfect time to get started on sprucing your spaces!

Cleaning words in English and Japanese:
clean (soji) 掃除
scrub (goshi goshi) ゴシゴシ
wash (sentaku) 洗濯
throw out (danshari) 断捨離
tidy (kogirei) こぎれい
sort (bunbetsu) 分別
organize (seiri-seiton) 整理整頓
relax (kutsurogeru) くつろげる
breathe (hiroiki-tsukeru)  一息つける
fresh (shinsen) 新鮮

by Steven Slater