Spring Cleaning, Mental And Physical

Kimberly Weisul & Connie Guglielmo | One Thing New

I'm not very diligent about spring cleaning, at least not literally. When the flowers bloom and the birds sing, I don't get an overwhelming urge to scrub, vaccuum, dust or paint. At best, I may wash a throw rug sometime in April. "Spring cleaning. Done."

But figuratively, I may be better at spring cleaning than I suspected. I’ve noticed that my few major breakups with my few major boyfriends have been in the spring. And the last time I updated my resume, I noticed that I seem to switch jobs in April.

So obviously it's not only the physical clutter that’s gotta go. There must be something in the air that inspires me to ditch some mental baggage, too. It’s a new year - even if the calendar doesn’t say so - so it’s time for a new attitude. Here's what I'm tossing:

Five extra pounds. I know, everyone says that. But I am far more likely to lose weight in the spring, when it's fun to be outside and walking, than I am in January, when everyone's making New Year’s Resolutions. Plus, telling people about your goals is supposed to make you more accountable, right? So there!

Some of the guys. Don't get me wrong. I am lucky to have many male friends. Really. But a study by Allison Booth, a Professor of Economics at the University of Essex and the Australian National University, has made me wonder. She found that girls are more willing to take chances when surrounded by other girls than they are if they're in mixed-sex groups. In the experiment, a group of girls could choose whether or not to place a bet on each flip of a coin. If they won, they got 11pounds. If they lost, they got 2 pounds. Or they could do nothing and get 5 pounds. Statistically, the best option is to place the bet.

Girls from co-ed schools were most likely to just take the five pounds, while those from single-sex schools were more likely to bet. Even girls who, for the purposes of the experiment, were briefly grouped with other girls, were more likely to bet than girls who were surrounded by boys.

It could be that by the time we hit adulthood, these differences vanish. Or maybe they intensify. Who knows? If I make a conscious effort to spend more time with my girlfriends, what am I more likely to take a chance on? I consider this a fun experiment. If I end up joining the circus, you’ll know what happened.

The weird clothes in my closet. Time to forget about fitting into them again 'one day.' Dress for Success will take the work clothes; the rest goes to Goodwill or the Salvation Army. When I lose the five pounds, I'll treat myself by buying some cute dresses.

Email, specifically, the email addresses of people I don't want or need to talk to anymore. A contact list purge. Just typing this idea makes me feel good.

The voice in my head. I have this irritating voice in my head that is constantly reminding me of how much I have to do. Which is ridiculous, because I do an awful lot. The best way to silence that voice, for me, is to visit a museum. That’s often too much of a time commitment, though.

Then I started thinking: What's nearby that's beautiful to look at, and that I could stare at for a few minutes each day and try to clear my head? Well, I have a really nice view from my back deck, and sometimes I can see stars at night. Plus I have two very young children-and is there anything more lovely than a baby sleeping? (I realize non-parents may answer this question differently.) I'm going to try, every day, to either stare out at my view, the stars, or my sleeping kids for 10 minutes, and see if that helps clear my frazzled brain.

A bunch of paperwork. Why have I not rolled my 97 retirement accounts into one? (See "job changes," above). Allegedly, I don't have time. Well, keeping track of all those account statements takes time, too. No more.

Some of the kids' artwork. My kids do a different art project every single day at nursery school. That is a lot. Anything with handprints or footprints can stay. Anything that incorporates dried pasta shapes has to go. Most of the rest of the backlog gets photographed and surreptitiously tossed.

"Friends." Some Facebook updates are not meant for everyone. Do I need to know who just bought a pair of bright red skinny jeans? No, I don't. Really. Blocking her will help preserve my sanity just a little longer. -KW and CG

This article was originally published on One Thing New.

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