Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Speed Cleaning – Making a Cleaning Apron

Speed Cleaning, by Jeff Campbell and the Clean Team, advocates the use of a cleaning apron.  OK, “advocates” is not a strong enough word.  Per Chapter 2, page 9, “Nothing makes sense in this [house cleaning] system without an apron.  It saves more time than all the other products combined.  It carries the supplies and tools that allow you to ‘walk around the room once and you’re done.’  If you’re mad at having to wear one, especially with all this stuff packed into it and dangling from it, go ahead and have your tantrum.  Then get over it.  Wear it when cleaning – start to finish.”

When I tried the method years ago, I didn't use an official cleaning apron.  I found an old apron with pockets and wore it for a while, but it didn't have the loops to carry the cleaning liquids, and it didn't have enough pockets for the tools and supplies I needed.  So even though I wore the apron, it didn't save me the time and steps to get items I needed that I didn't have pockets (or loops) for.  Eventually I quit wearing it.

Not this time.  Here’s how I made my own cleaning apron:

1.  I used a denim apron I already owned.  I chose the denim because a) I already had scrap denim to make more pockets, and b) I already had a heavy duty needle and blue thread on my sewing machine from patching a pair of my husband’s pants.

2.  I sewed the existing pocket (10 x 6.5) into three separate pockets (2.5, 2.5 and 5) for smaller tools like the scraper and the toothbrush.

3.  I cut a new pocket out of scrap denim, finished the edges and sewed it below the original pocket.  Finished measurement was 16 X 7.5, creating two 8 X 7.5 pockets.

4.  I cut a six inch length off each of the ties to make the loops for the cleaning liquid bottles.  With the apron on, I pinned the loops in the place that would be most convenient for me to carry, grab, and replace the cleaning liquids. I securely sewed them on.  

Done in about 45 minutes!  The photo shows the tools recommended in the Speed Cleaning method – in their proper places in the apron.  On to cleaning….

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Speed Cleaning

I hate housework.  Always have, always will.  I've always considered it a necessary evil that comes with living in a house.  Fortunately (or unfortunately) my tolerance for dirt is fairly low so the house does get cleaned.  Most often it coincides with the prospect of someone coming over. 

So when my friend, former co-worker and fellow blogger Adrian posted on the Speed Cleaning method, it struck a chord.  I actually own Speed Cleaning by Jeff Campbell.   I wish I could remember who I loaned it to.  I bought it while I was still working full time and my housekeeping service closed unexpectedly.  I decided to clean my own house and hoped to learn to do so efficiently.

I followed the method relatively closely while I was working.  After I retired, I rationalized that I had plenty of time and could do, say, one chore a day rather than cleaning everything all at once.  I planned to put together a schedule and follow it rigorously.  Ahhhh, the best laid plans….  I never did the schedule, and re-adopted the philosophy of “ignore it until someone is coming over and then clean like mad.”

Adrian’s post reminded me that there is a very efficient method of housekeeping.  Throughout my work life I strived to do my job in the most efficient way possible.  I joked that “laziness is the mother of efficiency.”  I could hear Adrian’s voice in the back of my mind, “OK, Cheri – why wouldn't you want to be just as efficient in cleaning the house?”

Adrian’s post at overviews the Speed Cleaning method.  Then she details how to clean a kitchen using the method.  The method advocates working in each room, left to right, top to bottom, never backtracking.  The method also advocates carrying everything you need with you, in a special cleaning apron, so you don’t stop your momentum to go get something you need to clean.  Adrian’s post tells you what goes in the apron.  Hmmmm.  I might need one of these.

I checked the book out of the library and re-read it.  My favorite quote from the book is “If it’s not dirty, don’t clean it.”  Now this is a method I can get behind.  My challenge:  to use the method next time I clean the house, time myself, and see if I can get faster.  Let’s see if I can set a personal record for housework.

You can read more of Adrian's posts at

Saturday, October 19, 2013

Emotional Intelligence - Learning to Argue

I don’t remember the exact topic of the discussion, other than it had to do with what I thought we should do about a particular problem with a particular tenant.  I gave my opinion.  My husband raised his voice and told me in no uncertain terms how wrong I was.  I shut up.

   “How come you’re not talking?” 

   “Because every time I say something that disagrees with you, you shove it down my throat,” I blurted with less emotional intelligence than I am capable of.

   “Get a backbone!  I need you to argue with me.”

I wasn't expecting that.  He went on to tell me that by debating the issues we would come to the best conclusion, and that he really did value my opinion.  Arguing, to him, wasn't personal – it was about hashing out options and coming to the best one.

I am really uncomfortable with conflict.  Per my StrenthsFinder profile – Harmony (an opposite of conflict) is my second strongest characteristic.  Glad to know somebody considers it a strength.  In the world of emotional intelligence, however, the use of conflict is a skill I need to learn.  Specifically, I need to learn how to debate with my husband and stay focused on the issues – even when his tone becomes heated, or worse, condescending.  I need to learn that just because a concern is personal to my husband; it isn't a reflection on me.  I need to learn to allow him to be emotional without taking it personally.

Help can be found in the Emotional Intelligence Quick Book.  One of the key premises of emotional intelligence, per authors Travis Bradberry and Jean Greaves, is that unlike IQ or personality, emotional intelligence can be learned and enhanced.  Here are the key take-aways I gleaned from re-reading Chapter 6 – Building Your Skills.

1.  Lean into the discomfort.  “The biggest obstacle to increased personal competence is the tendency to avoid the discomfort that comes from increasing your self-awareness…Leaning into your discomfort is the only way to change.”

2.  Don’t be afraid to make emotional mistakes.  “They tell you what you should be doing differently…Personal development requires making many mistakes even though it is uncomfortable to recognize them when we make them.”

3.  Manage your own emotional tendencies.  Learn to recognize your own emotions in uncomfortable situations and deal with them constructively.  When all else fails – take a deep breath, slow down, and think for a moment.

Practice makes perfect, and in this imperfect world it looks like I’ll have many opportunities to practice.

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Chi Running Update - My First Half-Marathon

I trained all summer for the Mesa Falls Half-marathon.  During my training I concentrated on the Chi Running focuses that I thought would best help me through my first half-marathon in over 30 years.

1.  The mid-foot strike and the wheel in the back that keeps on turning (thanks to Journey for the song that I use to remind myself if I find myself getting sloppy.)  Why?  I have a defective right foot – more precisely, a hyper-mobile first ray.  This technique, combined with arch supports, has brought me from seven to 13.1 miles without pain.  Even with arch supports, I find that foot pain is a sure sign that my shoes are wearing out. 

2.  The lean.  I lived all summer in the caldera of an extinct volcano, so every run started out uphill.  It’s really true even if it seems counter-intuitive – leaning into the hill is more efficient.  And that goes for downhill runs as well.

3.  Swinging my arms to the back.  It really does help balance #1 and #2.

When I first started my Chi Running practice, I fought the concept of “technique first, then distance, then speed.”  I was completely wrong.  After practicing the technique, I gained distance without injury.  13.1 miles, to be precise.  I finished the half-marathon in 2 hours, 5 minutes and 39 seconds, for an average pace of 9.36.  It wasn't enough to take first place in my age division, but it was enough to take second.  So now that it’s time to work on speed, I know the time I have to beat.

And speaking of speed – I checked in with my cadence a few days ago and found I've slipped a few beats.  I’m down from 88 bpm to 84 bpm.  Yikes!  I thought I had cadence down pat and didn't practice it all summer long.  My bad.  The good news – if I gradually increase my cadence I should be able to pick up some speed in the higher gears.

A few weeks ago, Danny Dreyer posted a tip on Facebook about walking backward.   He shared that walking backward will put your body into the proper C shape and put your core muscles in the right place.  I tried it for the first time on September 24, and all I can say is “Wow.”  I've been making this SO much harder than it actually is.  I've now added a short backward walk before I start running – just to get the feel for where my core muscles should be. 

And the practice continues….

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Farewell to Warm River

We left Warm River Campground on Sunday, September 29 – a day ahead of schedule.   Our final week in camp was cold, rainy, and almost deserted.  During breaks in the weather we were able to take all the signs down, clean and lock up the restrooms, and inventory and store the supplies. We even went to a Laundromat to wash our uniforms before we turned them in.  We hadn't visited a coin-op laundry since before we were married!  They take a lot more quarters than they used to, but other than that, they are pretty much the same.

Our summer of 2013 was a classic case of “Be careful what you ask for.  You may get it.”  When we applied with AuDi Campground Services, we stated that we wanted a busy campground.  Wow – did we ever get a busy campground!  Actually, if all we were running was a campground, it would have been perfect.  But we also had the group area and lots and lots of day users.  For most of the summer we were hopping all day long. 

When we signed up it seemed like it would be great to be out for five months.  We've learned that five months is a very long time to be away from home – even when home away from home is so beautiful.

That said, there was far and away more good than bad about this summer’s camp hosting experience.  For next year we’re shooting for something in between – not quite as quiet as Hoop Lake – but not quite as busy as Warm River.  We’ll also be looking a little closer to home.  As much fun as we had touring Eastern Idaho, Yellowstone Park, and Western Wyoming on our days off, we really didn't have enough time at home – which made coming home harder work than being in camp. 

The trailer has been cleaned out, winterized, and hauled off to storage.  Time to start looking for next summer’s adventure!