This past Sunday I forwent my usual fellowshipping after church service. Instead, I gave two-second hugs, quick cheek kisses and gave a sincere princess wave as I made a mad dash to my car. While racing to my vehicle in my heels I could hear my personal, epic, superhero,“ At Home Girl” music in my head. It sounds like the theme song to Batman, but just a little more girly. Why was I suddenly hearing the music? After all, it had been a busy week and I wasn’t endeavoring to do any major home improvement projects, just simply going home to clean. Nevertheless, I stopped short at the car, slid in the seat like a baseball player slides into home base and quickly began my journey toward home. I was a woman on a mission, racing through traffic, whizzing by anything and everything with wheels. I careened around corners, downside streets dodging pedestrians at crosswalks (okay, maybe not pedestrians), but my little silver Toyota was transformed into my At Home mobile to get me home quickly so I could commence to clean my house and prepare for the week ahead.
Let me remind you, as I have confessed in previous articles, cleaning is not my favorite pastime, but there are few things more frustrating than a cluttered, unkempt house. For you ladies who have difficulty keeping your house clean for any number of reasons, there may be some quick fixes that we can discuss in a subsequent article, so don’t feel left out. Help is on the way.
Back to my story… On this particular day, my cleaning focus was my bathroom. As many of you because of the busyness of life, I must designate time to thoroughly clean the bathrooms, the refrigerator, and the stove and oh yes, windows (yuck!). Those tasks are not the typical “clean as you go”, they take time, concentrated effort and specialized cleaning tools and cleaners.
Prior to reaching my destination, I stopped at my local neighborhood everything store to search for cleansers that would help me to win my battle against my At Home villains, dirt and grime and ultimately make the cleaning endeavor less foreboding. My eyes scanned the shelf and I proceeded to reach for the more abrasive cleanser when my glance caught a new product. I vacillated back and forth between my old standby Ajax and this new Bathroom & Kitchen Soft Scrub Gel Cleanser. It was almost like the Soft Scrub Gel grew feet, leaped into my grocery cart and begged me to take it home…so, with very little opposition I complied and off we went to the place I call At Home. Within minutes I arrived home, disrobed from my church clothes and replaced them with a tee-shirt, shorts, and grungy sneakers. No need for my At Home Girl cape, spandex one-piece or my Wonder-Woman go-go boots, I could tackle this dirty adventure on my own.
Motivated only by grime, a lack of time and feeling that my energy level was beginning to wane from a full and fruitful day at church, I promptly grabbed the neck of the Soft Scrub Gel bottle and began to saturate the shower floor. I got on my knees and proceeded to wash the shower with a sponge using a swirling motion. To my surprise, without much effort or “elbow grease,” as Mom used to say, the exertion I naturally encountered with the more abrasive cleaners was not necessary. The dirt began to dissipate and my shower sparkled; it came alive! Feeling excited and suddenly refreshed I began hunting for other surfaces to try my new found soft cleanser on. This new product was amazing! It accomplished every grubby task without harming my surfaces or causing the stress and hard labor that other products demanded of me. I was done in no time. I skipped happily from the bathroom to the kitchen as if on a treasure hunt seeking other appropriate areas to clean… and just at that moment, I understood why I heard epic music at the beginning of my escapade and… I thought of YOU.
“Okay Shellie, so what could you have possibly learned from a bathroom cleaner?” you say skeptically; I am glad you asked. This very simple cleaning product taught me a valuable, but unlikely life parallel. It wasn’t about the ease of cleaning my shower, although I was grateful for that, my lesson really involved the difference in the two cleansers.
When I was a girl, Mommy would always say “You’ll catch more flies with honey than with vinegar.” I wondered what she meant, but as I matured into a young women, her words become clear; and those words fit right into my cleaning story. This episode with the Soft Scrub and Ajax made me think of how we interact with the people we work with, live with and love. When we speak to our children, do they get the harsh, gritty residue like the Ajax cleaner from the drama of our workday? When we make a request do we yell and scream or do they hear a soft word? When communicating with our spouse, are we demanding, inconsiderate and critical or are we like the soft cleanser? By choosing a less abrasive tone and selecting our words and actions carefully it’s possible to get positive results with less stress and in half the time.
Just as with cleaning solutions and cleansers, we may not be able to use the same product on every surface, neither can we treat everyone the same and expect to get positive results. You can certainly try the Soft Scrub, but by all means, try a soft word. In both cases, a more gentle approach may be able to get the job done.