April 21, 2023

My version of spring cleaning

Lifestyle & Pop Culture


I recently told my friends: “I feel very cranky for undetermined reasons.”

I noticed myself being snappy and impatient and somehow both overstimulated and under stimulated. I decided I didn’t like people, any of them. People were out.

Obviously, my career was a catastrophic choice, and I’d clearly spent 20 years rowing in the wrong direction. I experienced active fury toward every single person who sent me a new email. Everything felt like too much and not enough which, if you are keeping score, is a tricky needle to thread.

I had a full sense of overwhelm. And why wouldn’t any of us? We have too much of too much. Too much input, too much bad news, too much noise, too much stuff, too much work, too much conflict, too much activity, too much anxiety.


I cannot tell you how often I think about the generations before us who basically lived on their little block, watched the 10:00 news, read the Sunday paper with the obits and comics, and shopped at JCPenney. Can you imagine how scrambled our brains are with social media algorithms, a 24/7 news cycle, and nonstop outrage?

At this point, creating peace is a total act of defiance. So, I started a personal drip campaign of silencing some of the chaos.

Because to be fair, no one is FORCING me to scroll on Instagram for 47 minutes. Some of the crazy lives in my head because I rolled out the red carpet and invited it inside.

This is my version of spring cleaning, and it is having a profound impact on my feeling of mania.

1. Our social feeds are too crowded. Why are we following people who make us feel ragey? Or inferior? Or too _____ because we aren’t doing it like them? Seriously. Why? No, we don’t “have” to know what they are saying. We really do not. We are giving toxic people rent-free space in our heads, and no one will change this except us. I inventoried my social feed, and while most of my follows were great, a few did nothing but distract, disturb, and disorient me. And for what? What is the ROI except more brain scramble?

So I politely unfollowed (or hid) about 50 accounts. Just a simple tidying-up of my social input. Social media is already a largely unexamined soupcon rewiring our brains and tapping into our neuroses with sophisticated technology we can’t compete with, because we aren’t autobots with a capitalistic agenda. We are humans.

Take one week, and with every account that shows up in your feed, ask yourself: “Is this serving me in any positive way?” If the answer is ‘no’ or even ‘not sure’, hide it and see if your internal canary doesn’t quiet down in the coalmine.

2. Traditional spring cleaning has always waylaid me because it felt too big. Spring-clean my whole house? In this economy?? Look, I laid awake in bed last week thinking about my expired spices; I’m pretty sure some of them go back a decade. I can’t manage the whole damn house.

Pick one space. It can be a whole room, but it could also be your junk drawer, the front closet, your bookshelves, the office nook, your laundry space, the playroom. Just one. One space that lost the war against entropy. Don’t put it at the top of a list of ten spaces. It is the only thing on the list. Tackle it. Purge with ruthlessness. Throw garbage stuff away and donate a bunch more. Whatever you do, end up with way, way, way less in there. If it makes sense, gets containers or dividers or bins and organize the rest. The WAY this tames my sense of overwhelm. I cleaned out my garage recently, and about four times a day for a week, I’d just walk in there and look around. Order! Organization! Eff you, chaos!

3. Bob Goff famously said that he quits something every Thursday. Which always led me to wonder: How much stuff are you actively involved in, my dude? But I like the notion, because DEAR BABY MOSES we are doing too much. No joke, guys, I sent my assistant an email that asked her to start blocking off 30 minutes for lunch every day so I could eat because I was a crazed starving person by late afternoon. What in the actual eff. What kind of dumb day doesn’t even have time for a sandwich?? I am not that important; I can tell you that right damn now. That is just nonsense calendaring with no intention.

Quit something. Pick anything that has lost its joy, isn’t necessary, someone else can do, has outlived its usefulness, is crowding your week, makes you resentful, you’ve started to dread, doesn’t have value anymore. Survey your calendar and pay attention to your internal responses to each line item. It can be huge (like your whole job – go off, Janice!) or teeny tiny (like cooking on weekends). Just like that. Offload it right on out because you are grown. Clear a little room. Take a little breath. Quit something.

4. It’s no big newsflash that an author thinks words are a big deal, but I didn’t invent the concept. Ancient cultures believed words of blessing created actual blessings. Neuroscience tells us that positive words rewire our pathways and biologically change the way we interpret the world. The Bible has tons to say about speaking powerful words of life and love over each other. Beautiful, life-giving language becomes an invitation for belonging and connection and hope.

ANYHOW, when we speak total garbage, it creates the opposite. It makes our worlds small and hard. What is the least blessing-oriented language you slip into? Mean-spirited gossip? Nonstop complaining? Doomsday-ing? Catastrophizing? Criticizing? Arguing? Talking shit? What if you stopped for a week? It couldn’t hurt but it might feel amazing (I guarantee it will feel amazing to the people around you).

For one week, clear out the garbage talk in your worst category. Just bite it back. Don’t say that mean thing. Don’t pick the fight. Don’t complain about that thing again, whatever it is. (Notice I left out cursing because I enjoy a well-placed swear, but if that is your garbage category, FINE.) Clean out the self-created negative energy and just see how it feels. If you hate it, go back to daily complaints about your co-worker Jerry.

This is my version of spring cleaning.

It is mostly mental which is where my clutter resides. Some of the noise can’t be helped, but a good freaking bunch of it can be silenced. We have some agency over our input, our rhythms, our language. See if you can turn the dial to “less.”

Lower the volume and create some peace despite the world’s attempt to drown us all.

What a gorgeous act of rebellion.

P.S. I also have an e-course that explores how to calm the chaos and create simplicity in your own life.


I brought in two experts for this course, Myquillyn Smith AKA The Nester (I like to call her the Home Whisperer). She is our cozy minimalist and will help us to have the most amount of style with the least amount of stuff.

Then, Emily P. Freeman — the soul minimalist — will help us clear out the mental and emotional loads that we carry and cart around that clutter our thoughts, our actions, our wellbeing, and more. This course is simply amazing!

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