It takes a village to raise a child and since I have no village (that is, extended family within three hundred miles) per se, there are certain things I’ve had to do to get creative. In the early days when we first arrived to Germany where I spent the first ten weeks without a car, friends or furniture with two children ages 3 and 1, I spent every moment I could leading or participating in a toddler’s playgroup above the firehouse. It was my saving grace because the kids got to play with toys for a few hours. And I got to see, well, people.

Then they went to preschool, then school and now high school. And in the interim I have gotten creative about delegating certain family care chores because that village is still needed, especially now.

After months of delibration, consideration and desperation, I finally hired a cleaning lady. And although she has yet to clean a single thing, I like her already. During her interview, she was unphased by my teen’s, shall we say, behavior? She gave me a hug and said, “I know. Mine’s five and it’s the same.”

As I showed her about the house, we engaged in some small talk. Suddenly we looked at each other and said, “You look awfully familiar.” It turns out she waitresses at a local place where I went for the first time recently. Who know that the extension of my village was so near?

So you see, dear friends, sometimes help is closer than you think. Reach out and touch someone today. It takes a village to raise a child.

It takes a village to live.

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The Cleanliness Code

July 18, 2012

Filth is something I’m very familiar with. I grew up, after all, on a horse farm with barnyard cats, half-feral dogs and enough land to scamper gleefully without seeing another person for miles (or so it seemed). But as I have gotten older with a home of my own, I have grown to appreciate the serenity of spotless surfaces gleaming reverently in the sunlight.

While they say cleanliness is next to godliness, it is not the divinity I seek in order, but more an expression of the love of place. When we care for our things, we extend a warmth and respect for our surroundings and ourselves. It is as if our environment mirrors what is going on within us (I am fully aware of the level of chaos a teenage mind must experience. Daughter’s room says that so nicely!).

At a trade show recently I found the funniest doormat that read: “If you’re not God, take your shoes off!” I can hear myself saying that to my kids. Can you?

For years I battled a disorderly desk, but lately I have found even here a sense of calm. It is as though my Universe has rightly aligned itself. All tops are spinning on their axes. All is well.

If your life is overtaken by clutter, take a closer look at what you need to release. Everything holds energy. Do you want that kind of energy around you? The Cleanliness Code dictates that you let go of the baggage. If you do, your world will find a new order. And you, my friend, will have the smoothest surfaces to prove it!