At some point in during the wee hours, I surfaced sufficiently from a sound sleep to notice how incredibly peculiarly strangely quiet the world seemed, and then returned to sleep. When I woke fully, some hours later, I noticed the apartment was chillier than usual and went to check the thermostat and whether I had closed the flue the night before. The faint glow of morning slipped past the vertical blinds of the patio door near me, and I opened them to see the dawn unfold (we’ve had a couple sunny days back to back) – but there is no sunshine this morning; it’s snowing! I smile – to myself, at the snow, at the thought of coffee, at how good it is to be warm and safe instead of out there, in the cold and the snow, and head to the kitchen to make coffee.

Some snow. (Don't laugh, it's still snowing.)

Some snow. (Don’t laugh, it’s still snowing.)

I put all the Giftmas decor into storage yesterday. Waking up this morning to neither a lavishly decorated tree covered in tiny lights nor a tower of boxes needing to be put away was strange; my wee apartment feels quite spacious for the moment. Today I will take time to put the household entirely in order, an easier commitment with the weather outside likely to encourage me to stay indoors. The small details matter, and one thing I learned when I moved into my own place and a solitary lifestyle is that those small details matter most (for me) when I wake, and when I arrive home from elsewhere. That ‘first impression’ in the moment, when I step into my apartment, or into my living room first thing in the morning, set the tone of my experience and how well-cared for I feel by the woman in the mirror.

An example of how much the small details matter; I generally leave the house having tidied up such that when I return home, it is to a well-cared-for tidy living space that supports my emotional need for order, and my desire to relax at the end of the day – I do much of my housework in the mornings, for that reason (after coffee, but before I leave for wherever). Yesterday, I rushed off on my morning errand, having gotten a tad behind schedule, and did so without starting the dishwasher (or frankly, loading it) – and when I returned home, it was to dirty dishes in the sink. Holy cow I was irked with myself! The dishes don’t get less gross, or in any way more appealing, sitting there longer – so of course, I immediately put away the groceries I had arrived with, and did the dishes straight away. The result? My return home did not feel relaxed and easy – it felt a bit rushed and busy. (Since this isn’t my preference, I don’t generally do things this way. 🙂 )

It’s rare to see dishes in my sink at all. Of course, the one day over the holidays that there are dishes in my sink is a day when my traveling partner and I arrive at my place at about the same time. Yep. I found myself feeling mildly ashamed of the state of my apartment, which contributed to the speed with which I made things right upon my arrival. He offered no criticism. I make a reflex apology nonetheless, although my apartment stays generally quite tidy, and I am obligated only to myself regardless. This morning, I smile when I step into the very tidy little kitchen. I totally made things right with the woman in the mirror yesterday, and today I find myself content with things as they are.

Maintaining a state of ongoing contentment requires the generous (and skillful) use of verbs, and a good measure of self-awareness. Maybe it’s not the dishes that bug you – maybe it’s the trash? Or unmade beds? Or a dirty toilet or shower? Or carpets that need to be vacuumed?  Me, personally, I enjoy a certain overall state of ‘order’ – so all those things matter. Being easily distracted, impulsive, and a tad disinclined to perform manual labor during leisure hours, it’s easy for me to lose track and suddenly my place is a mess, which definitely correlates to my state of mind becoming disordered, too. It’s a mental health connection that is a known thing – there’s science on that. Taking care of me definitely involves some verbs quite specifically related to general housekeeping, and while it’s not my preferred way to pass time, I so love the way it feels to live in an orderly well-kept space it is both in my best interests and very much worth the investment in will, energy, and time to do the verbs.  I’ve been very pleased with how well I have managed this area of my life, generally, living alone. “Being messy” just hasn’t been an issue, although I had had concerns that it might be when I moved into my apartment. 🙂 I take a moment to appreciate how far I’ve come – making time to savor successes is another ‘small detail’ that is a very big deal.

Something to look forward on the other side of the work to be done.

Something to look forward on the other side of the work to be done.

The snow continues to fall. Later there will be a fire in the fireplace…sometime after chores are finished. In the meantime, I will enjoy my second coffee and a bite of breakfast, plan my day, and enjoy the falling snow. 🙂