Clean For A Cause: Creative Homebodies
I am really lucky, because I get to spend my days writing or making things. My jobs as an editor, author and crafter mean that my life is chock full of creative days. I get to spend lots of time looking at beautiful things, or tacking made-up words together or making things from other things. It’s my day job. How great is that?!
One of the good things about being a professional creative is that you get to be a bit of an enfant terrible. People expect you to be eccentric, rattling around in a messy cottage wearing a kaftan and strings of pearls. And they totally WANT you to do the unexpected. If you pause for a very long time after they ask you a question, they assume you are creatively cobbling together a really interesting answer. If you write a proposal for someone consisting of the word BINGO written 12 times, they nod encouragingly. If you turn up to a meeting wearing a peacock called Steve as a hat, they giggle and mention how creative you are. You are to spend your days sipping fancy drinks whilst quoting EE Cummings and the idea of doing normal things like cleaning the shower or drying the dishes are deemed to be off your radar altogether. It’s a win-win (unless you are Steve or you quite fancy shiny dishes and sparkly bathrooms, like me.)
Not only do you get to be a bit terrible and wear funny hats, but you get swept up under the label ‘creative’ amidst a whole lot of other wonderful creative people. All kinds of people WAY more fabulous than you are deemed to be your brothers and sisters. You are all part of the family called Interesting, and people expect nothing less than surprises, eccentricity and kooky chaos from you.
But do chaos and kooky go hand in hand? I know for a fact that those who don’t consider themselves creative LOVE a field trip to the home of someone Interesting. Sometimes they even field trip to my house. They have seen documentaries about Interesting types. They are sure you will open the door revealing a hallway lined with taxidermy and a chandelier made from found teaspoons. They are convinced that they will have to tip toe over paints and easels and vintage typewriters to reach your chaise longue. They are certain that when you bring out the tea that you’ll plonk some sugar cubes in with gusto and stir the cup with a nearby knitting needle or salvaged porcupine quill or some other creative objet. They are seeking chaos. They are coveting kook.
They’ve heard the saying ‘A clean house is the sign of a misspent life’ and they are fully expecting your house to be a loving interpretation of Grey Gardens (sans raccoons.) They are dead set wanting things to be both messy and well spent. True.
This is where I’m sure to disappoint. My house is not like that. Granted it’s a bit cluttery and it’s certainly chock full of objet. But I do not fancy raccoons at tea time and I can’t abide mess at all. I need to be a bit neat to be a lot happy. Creativity does not mean chaos. Clutter can be curated. Flourish can be freshened. I might be a bit frilly at times, but I like a clean floors, smudge-free screens and tidy benches with my pearls, thank you very much. Sometimes I wear rubber gloves with my kaftan.
Let’s be honest though, Martha Stewart I am not. Neat does not come naturally. I’m pristine’s problem child. I need to incentivize my cleaning. I have to make it Interesting. I set rewards for extended periods of neatening up (one hour = one new book, right?!) I promise myself nice dinner parties with friends if I tidy things regularly. I take myself out for coffee if I manage to make the bed AND sort the laundry. I create playlists so I can robot as I de-spot. (Here’s a playlist I made for your next whip about!) I pour an extra glass of wine if I get things done in time. Cheers!
As much as I enjoy the vision of the cluttery junk and disorderly creative, that’s not the kind I choose to be. I need to have beauty and some semblance of order around me to be happy. I need a clear canvas to have a clear vision. I get my best ideas when things are sorted and uncluttered, because my brain feels sorted and uncluttered too. Clearing little bits of chaos leaves lots of room for bright ideas. I think EVERYONE, whether they consider themselves creative or not, needs a bit of neatness to foster happiness. A little bit of order goes a long way towards making us feel accomplished, cheery and successful. I think when things are neat, we feel neat too!
I like the sound of a clean room and I like the calm that a little bit of a tidy creates. It makes me happy. When the practical to-dos are done and I can move on to the Interesting want-to-dos with peacock hatted abandon. This is when I get to write or design or sew or make. And this is when I am happiest of all. This is when I feel Interesting.
Does cleaning help you to clear the decks and clear your brain? Are you more Interesting when you’ve dealt with your share of the domestic load? (I have a very smart, Interesting, feminist friend who once questioned me DEEPLY about fighting black mold.) Is it okay to talk about cleaning?! Do you clean?! Is a clean house the sign of a misspent life?
PS: Would you like to share the bits of YOUR home that you love the most? Tweet or Instagram a photo with the #homebodies hashtag to share or join in. We’ve got lots of wonderful bloggers posting their thoughts on home and #homebodies over the coming weeks.
This post was written for Harpic’s Clean For A Cause Campaign. Harpic will donate $10 to Save The Children for every hour that you clean. Win! And speaking of winning, you could win a $100 gift voucher here, thanks to Harpic.
Image Credits : These photos of my house were taken by my friend Kirsty Macafee (Except for the one with all the cute soaps in the wooden shelf, I took that one!)