Social responsibility and “COVID CleanTM“ are keys to normalcyI know in many ways, 2020 feels like an endless nightmare we are having a hard time waking up from. It feels like we’ve been stuck in some bizarre state of limbo since March, while the world waits for a vaccine, a life-saving treatment, or a miracle. But if you really think about it, we haven’t been totally stuck. Things are progressing toward “normal,” albeit maybe not at the rate we’d prefer. In just a few months, the experts have learned a lot about this “novel” coronavirus, the likes of which they’ve never seen or studied before. For one thing, they’ve figured out we don’t *really* need to suit up in gloves, booties, and hazmat suits to be safe at the grocery store. They’ve also learned that COVID-19 is most likely to be transmitted person-to-person over a 15+ minute exposure through droplets and aerosols that come out of our noses and mouths and fly through the air, ultimately landing in someone else’s nose and/or mouth. (Blech.) With that knowledge, the CDC now recommends wearing a face mask when going out in public – and frankly, thinking about the grossness of droplets flying into my mouth from someone else’s nose almost makes me want to wear a face mask for the rest of my life.
Pro tip: Think of a mask as a 2020 fashion accessory, and invest in some that you’ll actually want to wear! Those disposable blue masks are so “blah.” But talk about progress: an accessory that did not really exist anywhere in America 6 months ago is now easily found in retail stores. Check out the cute masks at Old Navy, for starters.So, wearing a face mask is one of the most basic steps toward allowing us to safely shop, work, socialize, and hopefully, get back to school. It’s just one way to be socially responsible. Social responsibility and a spirit of cooperation amongst community members are almost certainly what we are going to need to get back to normal. Social responsibility also means doing things the CDC has been calling for since day one: staying home when you’re sick; covering coughs and sneezes with your elbow; and social distancing. As we all know by now, that means staying six feet apart from people outside of your household, and avoiding large gatherings. It might bring a strange sense of comfort to know that this concept of social distancing during a pandemic is nothing new. Even back in William Shakespeare’s day, theatres – including his own Globe Theatre – were frequently closed for many months at a time during outbreaks of the bubonic plague. Somehow, he managed to become the world’s most famous playwright in spite of this. That gives me hope that before too long, we will not only get back to normal, but come back better than before. Meanwhile, though, there’s something else the CDC has been preaching since day one, and that is the importance of cleaning and disinfecting. Even though it may not be the primary way the virus is spread, the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus can certainly be transmitted via surfaces, especially if you touch it and then rub your eyes or your nose or your mouth (again: Blech). I think overall, we’ve always been a pretty clean society, but “COVID Clean” is the new standard we need to strive for if we want to stay healthy. So, what exactly is COVID Clean? Well, for one thing, it includes good hygiene. “Hygiene” is a word that always makes me feel… awkward. I guess because it reminds me of health class in junior high, when the hygiene unit covered uncomfortable topics like hormones, body odor, and acne. But from day one, “hygiene” has been a big part of experts’ advice to combat the coronavirus. That means lots and lots of handwashing, something we’ve all received a crash course in over the past few months… Wash those hands in soap and water for 20 seconds, or as long as it takes to sing the “Happy Birthday” song twice, they say. Easy peasy, except at those rest stop sinks with the press-on faucets that shut off before you can even squirt the soap onto your hands (pet peeve!). In that case, and in situations where you can’t use soap and water, hand sanitizer will do.
Pro tip: I love me some lavender-scented hand sanitizer that doesn’t make me feel like I’m just soaking my hands in vodka.Of course, “COVID Clean” goes beyond our own personal hygiene. It extends to our surroundings and the things we touch every single day. I was today-years-old when I learned that “cleaning” and “disinfecting” are distinctly different concepts; I’ve always used them interchangeably. According to the CDC, “Cleaning refers to the removal of germs, dirt, and impurities from surfaces. It does not kill germs, but by removing them, it lowers their numbers and the risk of spreading infection. Disinfecting refers to using chemicals, for example, EPA-registered disinfectants, to kill germs on surfaces, AFTER cleaning.” Immaculate Clean knows the difference, and they offer their clients a “COVID Clean” sanitizing services for high-touch surfaces. This includes cleaning and disinfecting high-touch areas like door knobs, stair railings, small appliances, TV remotes, keyboards, light switches, chair backs, and of course, counter tops. They use hospital-grade disinfectants, and they’ll do this high-touch service as either a stand-alone service, or as an add-on to your regular cleaning. To do your own disinfecting in between services, the CDC lists a ton of household disinfectants that are effective against COVID-19, including many familiar brands like Clorox and Lysol. Here’s what it all boils down to as we are slowly finding our way back to normal life: We don’t have to remain isolated to be safe. We just have to be socially responsible – and COVID Clean!
When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, ‘Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.’— Fred RogersOur country, and indeed, the whole world, is certainly living through a difficult time. Many of us are isolated at home, missing our friends and family. Some of us have lost our source of income, at least temporarily. Some of us are juggling learning to work remotely and educating our kids at home. We are bombarded with scary reports about COVID-19 on tv and via social media 24/7, and we are worried about our health and about the people we love. It’s hard to escape feelings of anxiety and fear. We need to step back from our anxiety every once in awhile and look for things to be grateful for. Even amongst all the negatives, think about what is going right in your life right now. Are you healthy? Are you still employed? Are you lucky enough to be isolating with your family and your furry friends? Do you have the technology to stay in touch with loved ones in a safe, socially distant way? These are all things to be grateful for right now, and I am. But I am especially grateful for the helper—the unsung heroes who are out there on the front lines keeping the rest of us safe and healthy. Of course, the first people that come to mind are our healthcare workers. I have friends who are Emergency Room physicians and nurses. They are worried about the same things the rest of us worry about, and they also are already reporting that they are dangerously low on equipment to protect themselves. But they still show up and do the best they can. They are saving lives even as they are risking their own through exposure. We owe them a huge debt of gratitude. I’m also grateful to the people who are keeping us fed. The truck drivers who continue to deliver food to our grocery stores; the grocery store workers themselves, who are working in one of the only places that everyone is still allowed to visit freely; the restaurant workers and owners who are providing take-out and delivered meals—even though it is financially difficult for many of them to stay open without dine-in service; the delivery drivers who are taking groceries and meals to strangers’ houses every day… I’m grateful for other “essential” workers (as defined by the government, but also as defined by those of us who truly need their services), who, let’s face it, are at a greater risk than those of us who are staying home: The mail carriers and UPS/FedEx drivers. The sanitation workers. And yes—residential house cleaning services! These are just some of the helpers and the heroes that are keeping us safe and keeping our country running during this turbulent and strange time. But even those of us who are deemed “non-essential” can be heroes right now. We can donate to food banks and homeless shelters. We can sew face masks for first responders and healthcare workers. We can support local small businesses by buying gift cards or ordering take-out. And, perhaps most importantly, we can stay home and practice safe social distancing in order to stay healthy and stop the spread of the virus! To that end, Immaculate Clean can help us all stay healthy with their “High Touch Point Sanitizing Service.” As a stand-alone service or as an upgrade to regular service, they can come in and sanitize frequently touched surfaces like door knobs, faucets, remote controls, chair backs, appliance handles, stair rails, and more. Call 410-549-0727 to schedule!
Overwhelmed by life? Regain a bit of control one sock at a time.I have a dream… that every sock should have a mate. Every so often, I am haunted by the same dream. It’s an incredibly vivid dream, intense and deeply satisfying. This dream involves a real-life giant basket of unmatched socks that sits on my bedroom floor. In the dream, I manage to find the mate for every single sock in that basket—even my sons’ Nike socks, with their maddening subtle differences in shading, ribbing, and swoosh colors. I remember the first time I awoke from this dream. After the initial feelings of satisfaction and contentment wore off and reality reared its ugly head, I thought: Is this how pathetic my life has become? (You’re probably thinking the same thing about my life right now, dear reader, let’s be honest.) How on earth could I seriously be having the emotional equivalent of an erotic dream about matched up socks? Then I had the dream again. And again. When I had the dream once again last week, I figured out that maybe this dream was my subconscious mind’s way of expressing something. I think my brain is trying to tell me that I am craving order right now. And it makes sense. The beginning of 2020 has been crazier than usual in our household. After living as empty-nesters for a year, my 19-year-old son moved back into the house, turning our lower level into his own studio apartment AND getting a puppy. I’m not saying any of this is bad—it’s really not—but none of this was part of my plan, and it is taking some adjusting. On top of all of that, I’ve taken on some very big work-related projects which involve a bit of a learning curve and some tight deadlines. Add in some travel and a steady stream of weekend guests—again, none of this is bad; I swear, I am not complaining—but clearly something in my psyche is feeling like life is careening a teensy bit out of control.
So now that my sock-matching dream has revealed my sense of losing a bit of control to my conscious self, what am I going to do about it?? One of the first things I did was to purge that giant basket of socks.I threw out a huge pile of “hold-out” socks—the singles I’ve been holding onto since my young adult children were in middle school, holding out some slim hope that someday, somehow, a mate was going to magically appear. So, my basket of single socks has now been reduced to about 1/3 of what it used to be — still too many, but it’s a start… I’m also trying to take control of whatever small aspects of life that I can. I am trying to be consistent about exercising—which, in addition to the physical benefits, seems to help me calm my mind. I am making detailed to-do lists every day for both my work and personal life to help me stay on task when my mind is going in 10 directions at once. And I’m trying to keep my surroundings neat and tidy. I am definitely one of those people who thinks more clearly and performs better if my environment is uncluttered and clean. If there are dust bunnies on my floor or dirty dishes piling up in the sink, I have a hard time concentrating, and I feel even more stressed out than normal. So I am extremely grateful for and dependent on the twice-monthly cleaning crew that keeps my floors, bathrooms and countertops clean. When you consider the way it positively affects my productivity as well as my sense of serenity, the cost of a professional cleaner is more than worth it! If, like me, you’re feeling overwhelmed by the chaotic pace and messiness of life, there is an easy way to grab back a little sense of control. Give Immaculate Clean a call! And in the meantime, purge your unmatched socks, before they start haunting your dreams! [/fusion_text][/fusion_builder_column][/fusion_builder_row][/fusion_builder_container]
Break Out of That Seasonal RutGroundhog Day, the movie starring Bill Murray, has always been one of my favorite movies of all time. In the film, Bill Murray’s character, Phil Connors, is a bit of a self-centered jerk in the beginning, to say the least. The TV weatherman inexplicably finds himself reliving the same day over and over again—Groundhog Day in Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania. It’s only when he starts to use the day to better himself—learning to play the piano and reading poetry, getting close to all of the local people he used to look upon with disdain (“They’re hicks, Rita!”), unselfishly trying to help a sick homeless man—that he is able to free himself from the repetitive rut he is in, find true love, and move on with his life. When the movie came out in 1993, it spoke to me in a surprisingly deep way. At the time, I was a young newlywed working in a dead-end job that made me feel as though I was indeed stuck in a rut like Phil Connors was. It sounds crazy, but that movie truly inspired me to want to better myself. I got more involved with my community, joining a local civics organization and volunteering my time as a literacy tutor, and I started an earnest search for a new, more fulfilling job. And just the act of taking action helped me to break out of that rut. Don’t we all find ourselves in a rut sometimes? No matter what we have going on in our lives, at this time of year, when cold, dreary days can seem to be never ending, it is easy to feel like we are like Phil Connors, reliving the same day over and over again. It can help to be reminded that when we do feel stuck, it is usually within our power to find a way to break free of that rut. To this day, whenever I find myself in a rut, I think about Phil. Sometimes focusing on something new, like Phil’s piano lessons, is what I need: How can I push myself out of my comfort zone and try something new? Or, maybe what I really need is the energy that comes from other people: Who can I reach out to or try to get to know better? Sometimes just focusing on someone besides myself is helpful: How can I brighten someone else’s day or help someone with a problem? Sometimes all it takes is a fresh start of some kind to break free. If you’re bored with your work, sometimes it helps to change up your routine and come up with a new way of doing things. Sometimes something as simple as cleaning out a desk or a filing cabinet can be a boost. At home, the monotonous nature of housework can wear us down. Laundry and toilets are always needing to be cleaned; dust and dirt are always reappearing on our floors; clutter is always accumulating. Day after day, week after week, it’s the same thing all over again. The never-ending cleaning tasks can feel like a burden, distracting us from the potentially more enriching parts of life. For me, periodically coming home to a clean house can be the fresh start I need to help me break free of a rut and to allow me to start to thinking creatively and positively again. If you are stuck in a rut this winter, give Immaculate Clean a call! You might just find yourself breaking free from the monotony as you see your home, and your life, in a whole new light!
- Leaving up the Christmas lights. Inside the house, we are back to normal: the Christmas tree is down, and the decorations are all boxed up for next year. But as we were packing things away this year, I asked my husband to leave our outdoor lights up for just a little bit longer. They just seem to brighten up the dreary gray evenings. And heck, if Hallmark can start showing Christmas movies two months before Christmas, why can’t I extend this little part of it for few weeks AFTER the holidays?
- Light therapy. Lights aren’t just for decoration… For people who suffer from SAD, there are actual lamps that are therapeutic in the way they mimic the natural daylight that is often in short supply during the winter months in our area of the country. I bought myself a relatively inexpensive one on Amazon this year, and I just keep it at my desk and turn it on while I am working during the day. It’s too soon to tell if it helps, but it can’t hurt, right?
- Brightening my wardrobe. My winter clothing reflects my usual winter mood. In other words, just about everything in my closet is either black or gray. In the summer, I mix it up a lot, but in the winter, I basically am deciding which black top to wear on any given day. So this season, I’ve been slowly adding in a few items to brighten both my winter wardrobe and my mood: a pink scarf; a red sweater; animal-print shoes… Again—it can’t hurt!
- Getting outside. Regardless of whether the sun is shining or not, it always helps my mood to get a little fresh air. And unless the temperature has reached dangerous wind chill levels, I try not to use it as an excuse. As my Hungarian grandmother would say: “There is no such thing as bad weather, only improper clothing.” So I make a point to bundle up, put a sweater on my little dog, and head outside for at least a 20 minute walk almost every single day during the winter. I never regret it.
- Keeping the house clean. Seriously, who doesn’t feel calmer and more content when their house is clean? If ever there is a time of year that it is worthwhile to have Immaculate Clean come in and give your home a good once-over, January is it! It’s such a mood-lifter on those dreary January days to come home to a clean house—not to mention that this is a great way to combat those cold and flu germs that are so prevalent right now.
Once your car is smelling and looking good, here are three easy tips you can use to keep it that way:
- Keep a little trash bag or plastic grocery bag in or on the center console— a place to toss your tissues, receipts, straw wrappers, etc.
- Make a pact with yourself to empty everything out your car every time you arrive home. Pro tip: Never, ever leave your purse and/or key in the car, even when it’s inside your own driveway or garage. (Remember when I said I had to “borrow” “my son’s car” because we were down a vehicle? That was because *someone* in my family left the key fob in a car—and it was stolen in broad day light.)
- Schedule one day every month to vacuum out and wipe down the interior of your car (more frequently would be even better, but I’m realistic: if you’re reading these tips, you probably are not a clean freak.)
Since I first wrote this blog post last year, I’ve had a dear friend get diagnosed with cancer. Thanks to what I learned by writing this blog, I was able to set her up with a cleaning session from Immaculate Clean, which she appreciated so much. I think it is worth reminding people of this amazing service offered by Immaculate Clean, so please share this info!
It’s Pinktober®, aka Breast Cancer Awareness Month. Founded in 1985, this campaign to raise awareness about breast cancer has been tremendously successful, at least from the standpoint of making the color pink synonymous with breast cancer. Think about it— these days, we all immediately recognize the meaning behind a pink ribbon, a pink 5K t-shirt, and even pink football cleats worn by an NFL player. Well-played, Pinktober marketing people, well-played. Hopefully, all the awareness spread over the past 34 years has saved many lives by encouraging women to get mammograms and leading folks to donate money toward finding a cure. All of that is important, truly good stuff.
But, having known some amazing women who have battled breast cancer and other kinds of cancer, I think I can safely say this: Awareness is cool—but action is cooler. A woman in the midst of undergoing cancer treatment is already WELL aware of it, thank-you-very-much. All of the pink balloons and pink socks in the world are not going to solve her immediate concerns that come from being thrust into an unfamiliar world full of doctors and pharmacists and life-or-death decisions, overwhelming fears about the future, and stresses about day-to-day issues that healthy people take for granted. Her thoughts at this time may look something like this:
What is going to happen to me? How is this treatment going to affect me? Is my insurance going to cover all of this? What if treatment doesn’t work?? What if the cancer comes back? I’m sick and the treatment is making me feel even worse; how am I going to continue to work and take care of my kids? How am I going to find the energy to cook meals for my family? How am I going to clean my house?
That is a lot to deal with, but, honestly, some of it should not fall onto the cancer patient’s shoulders at all. These women have to focus so hard on kicking cancer’s a$$ that they shouldn’t be burdened by concerns about things like cooking meals for their families or cleaning their house. My personal view is, if you really want to support a friend or family member who is facing a cancer battle, you should think about ways you can ease the burdens of daily life so they can concentrate completely on the one thing that matters: getting well.
This may mean offering to bring them a meal, buy groceries for them, walk their dog, or drive their kids to soccer. Anything that seems “routine” to you is probably something that they could really use some help with. Another thing you can do—and this won’t cost you a thing—is tell them about a fabulous program called “Cleaning for a Reason.”
The Cleaning for a Reason Foundation provides free house cleaning for women who are going through cancer treatments. Immaculate Clean is a proud and active partner of the Cleaning for a Reason Foundation, committed to helping women in the local community during their time of need by providing free cleaning services. The way it works is rather simple: A patient who is undergoing cancer treatments can register via the website at cleaningforareason.org. Based on a participating cleaning company’s availability, they will receive a total of two free general cleanings.
It may sound like such a simple thing, but in reality, to be able to give a cancer patient the gift of a clean home does much more than just ease a little of her workload. The peace that comes with a clean, uncluttered, fresh-smelling environment can do wonders for a patient’s spirit! It’s better for her health, too!
So, whether or not you’re wearing pink, I’m going to encourage you to spread some awareness about this important free service this Pinktober®, and take some action to help a cancer patient you may know in a meaningful way!