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My Philosophy on House Cleaning just got Swept out the Door.

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OH NO, it seems that, as of today, I might have to entirely change my philosophy on housework. You see, up until this morning, this is what I believed:

I couldn’t read ’12 secrets of highly creative women” because one of the first women spewed that it is important that our homes be clean and tidy before we begin to create.  Okay, she’s rich, famous, and I’m sure someone is cleaning up before and after her constantly.  An outrageous comment, I felt, because it gives power to one of the biggest blocks that creative women have:  They feel their home must be cleaned before they can create, or before they can even take any next step in planning their lives.

It is true that we can feel clearer when our homes are clean and uncluttered.  In the early 90’s, though, I worked very hard to give up the concept of ‘clean house, then create.”  A mom, working full time, a pottery business on the side;  insisting my  home be clean before creating, or even creating our adventures,  would be a very big fat block to ever having much fun.

And now I help people all the time to gently get past that barrier  – which is not ‘just’ about cleaning and clutter.. there’s so much more to why people have a hard time showing up to their creativity:  The ‘clean house’ syndrome is really just a symptom of the “I can’t get to it” malady. Another part of that ‘clean house’ syndrome is that the person is simply trying to prevent the guilt they know will come, because they’ll feel like they should be cleaning, or attending to family, or ‘doing something productive’,  rather than creating.

We’ve all been there, right?

(Oh please please.. if all of these things are playing havoc with you, let me coach you!)

Once you look at it logically, though, our homes are never fully clean. And if they are, they aren’t going to stay that way. (Especially if you’re a crazy brush -throwing, food-dropping kind of creative that I can be when in the zone.)  Waiting til your home is clean is basically saying “I am not going to get to my creative projects.”

There’s another factor in this clean house syndrome that plays havoc with many a creative being.  When things are not in our view, we forget about them. Our minds say, “oh good, it’s done!”   This explains the stereotypical image of the messy desk of a creative, and the clean desk of the ..other people.  Let me tell you, if I completely tuck away bills, idea files, or a new project in the making, it’s finished. (Yes, my mind will even decide those bills are paid.) I will never remember, or get to those things again.  (There are ways to keep things visible and look less messy.. but not going there in this post.)

(Note to anyone who isn’t ‘getting’ what I’m talking about… please be compassionate to those around you who do have the messy desks. And please try not to be jealous when you realize they are highly creative beings, too, kay?)

So, I help people not clean.  I give myself permission not to need to have a clean house before I get to creating, or adventures, or writing or inspiration or life.  I do like to have a clean house, but the key is, it’s not a prerequisite to getting to other things.


My home has been pretty neglected the last few months. Any time I was feeling well enough between two surgeries and now chemo, I wasn’t going to spend doing a serious clean on the house.  I spent that time doing soul feeding things like hikes, road trips, paddleboarding, playing with grandkids, family, friends, events, painting, potting.

Yesterday my family all came over to clean my house for me. The humiliation of them really seeing all the dust was worth every second. While I laid in the hammock with the grandkids, they not only cleaned, but they decluttered and organized.  When I came in, it felt so great.

By evening, I was feeling extremely well.. this, on the days that I ‘should’ be feeling my worst after chemo.  I even stayed up and wrote a whole children’s book which I think has great potential.

This morning I woke up, feeling awesome.  I had almost my full energy, no tummy troubles, and by 9 am I’d answered long overdue emails, cleaned some areas that the family hadn’t gotten to, AND came up with some wicked outlines for new courses in the Fall. And today I playfully created my new blog header!

I called my brother and daughters and said, “Hallelulah, I’m healed! It’s a miracle! All I needed was my home cleaned!!”   None of us failed to mention: “Why didn’t we do this 4 months ago??”

So. I don’t know what to do about this!  Whatever will I do with my philosophy now?

And I think they may have put the bills away.  Oh well!

{Thanks, Sue, for putting the clean machine of you and fthe rest of amily together!}


About Janet

Artist/writer with a tall ship and mystical twist, Certified Professional Life Coach (ICA), Master Creativity Coach (KMCC), Curator/owner of Writerly Kits, workshop leader and creativity group facilitator trainer. Outdoor enthusiast and Tall Ship sailor. Been through breast cancer and found her own tools of play, lightness, creativity, nature, thinking differently and visualization assisted healing through and after treatments. Ever ever so grateful for all the wondrous people she is surrounded by.

5 responses »

  1. Janet, Oh I needed this one today! What I’m going to take from all this is that I am going to ask for help to do it. Yep, I deserve that. Thanks and xo!

  2. Oh help me. Why can’t I work with a messy desk. The feeling of satisfaction once every thing is removed and dealt with is something I can’t get away from. My sewing room however; it doesn’t work very well unless it is a mess. The rest of the house leaves me feeling very quilty when it is not somewhat clean. Oh the pressures we put on ourselves. I must learn to say to heck with everything. If you don’t like the looks of it, don’t come over. Just know that you will be the ones missing out……….I’ll be having fun in my mess.

  3. Great blog 🙂

  4. Oh, this made me sigh heavily because I have had the same philosophy and I think we have had a conversation about this. In this tiny one bedroom apartment, my paperwork fights with my buttons and beads for space on my counters and table. I do clean it up but as soon as a project takes over my brain things spill out and before I know it there’s no room to eat at my table and the polymer clay is lying next to my dinner on the counter. Its a constant battle and the internal fight can’t be healthy. I have been trying hard to tackle one area per weekend. I would just like to set fire to all the paperwork and get some designer storage boxes to make everything look pretty. That could work don’t you think? Hide everything in pretty boxes. Hmm there’s some symbolism there me thinks.

  5. How about looking at it this way:

    Just because your place is messy, doesn’t mean you can’t make time to create.
    Just because you can create in a messy space, doesn’t mean you can’t also clean it to derive MORE satisfaction from your creative activity.


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