#JanuaryCure lessons

Last year, I didn’t get very far into the January Cure. I kept falling behind during the week, with plans to catch up during the weekend, and that never happened. Although I continued to fall behind this year, there were two differences that did allow me to catch up on the weekends — two girl friends also did the Cure, one who I ended up doing a lot of home-related errands with, and while I had planned to skip the get-together at the end of the month last year, this year I signed on to it as well (in for a penny, in for a pound), which meant I had to have my place clean by the end of the month. Additionally, I triaged the assignments and was able to recognize when I didn’t need an assignment (electrical cords are fairly well under control at my place), giving me another day of catchup where I needed it.

There were three interesting things that happened during the month, at least one of which I hope to continue throughout the rest of the year.

I thrive on routine and deadlines. Before I started swimming on Saturday mornings, it was part of my morning routine to get up, make coffee, read, tidy the house and vacuum before going out to the farmers’ market. Now, I’m still trying to adjust to the fact that my day doesn’t start before noon on Saturdays (when I get home from the pool), which throws everything off. Deadlines are good for me in the sense it’s surprising what you can get down in a couple of minutes. I would make plans with friends after work, and would give myself the time in between work and meeting people to do whatever I wanted — eat dinner, nap, read a book — but in the 20 minutes or half an hour that I would inevitably have before I would leave the house, I would hang up the clothes that had landed on my bedroom floor, dust the bathroom, and load and run the dishwasher. It makes a difference.

One of the things I struggled with during the Cure was acquiring “stuff.” Not counting the summers I moved back and forth between cities for internships (and was moving between furnished dwellings), I’ve moved three times in the past three years. Very quickly I adopted the rule that if I haven’t used something in six months, it goes back to the giver (a lot of things, especially in my first apartment, were hand-me-downs, which was perfect at the time). Consecutive moves have allowed me to cull things that I don’t need, don’t use, don’t want.

However, now that I’ve lived in the same place for a year and a half, one of the noticeable things that has exploded is my book collection. (Not surprising, but still, books are heavy.) And I’ve acquired four bottle openers, as mentioned earlier. Consciously buying things for my place, even if they did make my life easier (the light that I’ve added to my living room has made an amazing amount of difference) was still a source of anxiety, because, “the next time I move, what if I don’t need this in my next place? What then?” There were some items that just didn’t work out (my concept of space and size leaves something to be desired) and I made sure to return those pieces — as for everything else, I’m just glad I have some friends to help the next time I move.

Possibly one of the best parts of the Cure (other than having a couple of friends over in mid-February, which I don’t do very often) is what I re-discovered while cleaning. Before Christmas, a neighbour asked me to check her mail for her. As I was preparing to go home for Christmas myself, at some point as I was loading my car, her mailbox key slipped out of my hand and into the umbrella hanging on the back of my door. I spent about an hour looking for it before accepting its loss. Nearly a month later, doing the Cure, I decided the umbrella should go up into the closet, and when I picked it up, heard something clink onto the hallway tiles. Her mailbox key.

I’m not actually entirely sure how I re-discovered the second item. I wear a nametag when I do work events, but it’s been missing since last season, possibly lost in transit between my office, the outfit I was wearing last, the washing machine and any bag that I had with me at the event. At some point, I was distractedly cleaning out a bag (that I thought I had been using quite frequently, and the items would have had high turnover) and left some receipts and other odds and ends on the kitchen table, only to throw more things into the bag and leave the house. When I sorted through the items on the kitchen table, there was my nametag. And I can’t even remember which bag I had cleaned the odds and ends out of.

I have dinner party plans in the works again for the end of March, so while the January Cure was more intensive than what March will be, it also served as a good trial run and a good deep-clean exercise. And maybe a reason to continue to do it every couple of months …

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