Why You Should Clean Up Your House Before You Go On Vacation

It’s the day before our annual family vacation at the New Jersey shore and my wife is buzzing around the house doing chores.

Vacuuming and cleaning out closets and dusting and hanging pictures we meant to hang last summer.

Amidst this whirlwind of Windex, I’m on the couch watching Predator 2.

Bill Paxson just met his fate on a Los Angeles subway car when Cindy asks me to come upstairs and help her move some boxes into the attic.

I hold my spot on the couch just long enough to see Gary Busey (who offers an honest portrayal of a bat-shit crazy scientist) get sawed in half by the Predator’s razor Frisbee when I hear my name called again.

Reluctantly, I trudge up the stairs and into our bedroom to find Cindy smiling.

“Look how clean our room is!”

“Yeah, it looks great.”

Cindy proudly looks around, “I think so.”

I nod and smile and wonder how Danny Glover is doing.

“Can you help me put some boxes in the attic?”

“Why are you cleaning? We’re going a vacation tomorrow.”

Cindy moves her hands to her hips and holds the look of a feisty double-handled teacup, “Because if I leave the house a mess, the whole time on vacation, I’ll be thinking about how how messy this house is.”

I help Cindy with the boxes, then hang a few pictures in the boys’ room, then dissemble and put away Dylan’s crib that he hasn’t used in two years.

Sadly, when I get back to the couch, Predator 2 is over.

As for you, pour your time and passion into what brings you the most joy, your mission in life. I am convinced that putting your house in order will help you find the mission that speaks to your heart. Life truly begins after you have put your house in order.”
Marie Kondō, The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing

The past few days have been a little rough.

Physically, the summer humidity has been fueling my sarcoidosis symptoms. Joint pain. Muscle fatigue. A slightly off-balance feeling. And plus 12 weeks later, my broken foot is still not fully healed.

Mentally, I’ve been thinking a lot about my career.

I love teaching. I love helping students become critical thinkers and better writers. And I’m grateful for the opportunities and experiences I’ve had. For the friendships and connections I have made.

But the house of education is in disorder.

Transient policies. Administrative hypocrisy. Commercially produced standardized tests. A one-size fits all teacher evaluation system. Lack of governmental funding. The piles of paperwork no one ever reads. Grade grubbing. Participation awards. Helicopter parents. Stale contracts. Capricious copy machines. No child left behind.

It’s all starting to wear on me.

Trust your change –is what I proudly announced to a stadium full of students and parents and teachers and administrators and school stakeholders a few weeks ago.

And now, I’m fixed at the always awkward intersection of taking my own advice or becoming a hypocrite myself.

It’s Saturday night.

We leave for vacation early tomorrow morning.

With a mound a duffel bags, coolers and sleeping bags by the front door I’m writing this post, setting it to auto-publish for Friday morning, and I’m going to spend the next six unplugged.

My body, my mind need this.

However, I needed to write this post before I left. If I didn’t, I would have been worrying about what to write all week instead of giving myself permission to organize my life, to enjoy the moment.

I guess now, I know how my wife feels.

Be well,


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