Channelling Mr Rogers

Last week I bought myself some indoor shoes.

That’s them. The photo’s a little out of focus, but it’s the best I could do photographing my own feet.

The literature that came with the shoes said that they’d increase the oxygen levels in my body. I really don’t understand how they do that, if they do do that, but they were $30 and they’re comfy so I’m not questioning it too deeply.

The reason I’ve got indoor shoes: I’m trying once again to implement FlyLady Marla Cilley’s techniques. I’ve tried it about three times now. Each time I get overly excited and try to do too many things at once, get overwhelmed, get mired in perfectionism, and give up.

Over the past several trials, a few of her routines have stuck with me. I swish and swipe my bathroom every morning. I make my bed.

I guess that’s kind of it, now that I think of it.

It has occurred to me that perhaps the FlyLady plan just isn’t for me. It is a little bit corny. For example, “FLY” stands for “Finally Love Yourself.” The idea that we can express our love for ourselves and our families through housework is a nice one, but it’s also a little Donna Reed, a tad Tupperware-party. But it’s also the reality of my life. I’ve chosen to live this 1950’s kind of a lifestyle (actually, I guess it’s more 1850’s what with the homeschooling and breastfeeding and food preservation), and I’m certainly not going to learn how to optimize it by reading Who Moved My Cheese. Hokey or not, I need advice from someone focussed on my reality, which pretty much revolves around the laundry (and not just because the laundry piles are large enough to have their own gravitational pull).

FlyLady has this focus. She also strongly encourages her faithful followers to let go of perfection, which is something I constantly need to work on. Because I’m so perfect and it’s off-putting to others.

This time, I decided to approach the FlyLady plan a little differently; I decided to follow the directions.

FlyLady has a month of day-by-day Beginner Baby Steps through which she eases us into new routines one element at a time rather than all at once. The other times I’ve tried FlyLady, I’ve picked and chosen and kind of skipped my way through the baby steps. And there’s one step I never followed: “Get dressed to lace-up shoes.”

We don’t wear shoes in the house. We wear slippers or we go barefoot. It’s the only thing that keeps my floors remotely clean (which is about as clean as they get). But every time I’ve done FlyLady, I’ve refused to wear shoes and I’ve not been able to get through the first month. Marla suggests that we go out and get a pair of shoes just for wearing indoors if we’re all uptight about it. This time, I did just that.

The first morning I got dressed to lace-up shoes, I was surprised to find that it actually did seem to change my mindset. I felt less slovenly. I felt more motivated to straighten up around the house and to keep my sink shining.

But I persisted in thinking that the whole indoor-shoes thing was a little odd. Then one day, as I kicked off my Mary Janes after a grocery run and sat down to lace up my indoor sneakers, I started humming, “It’s a beautiful day in this neighborhood, a beautiful day for a neighbor; would you be mine?”

It occurred to me that this was not an unprecedented exercise. In fact, it was one that Mr Rogers, the hero of millions of children, engaged in every day for decades. I could have followed the initial direction of my thoughts and decided that it was just down-right strange to act like Mr Rogers (not to mention time-consuming on multiple-errand days). But instead, I chose to embrace the fact that I’m following in the non-marking soled footsteps of Fred Rogers, the gentle soul who epitomized soft-spoken optimism and a child-like sense of wonder at the world around him.

I could certainly do worse.

I’m currently on Day 6 of the Beginner Baby Steps. Today I added 2 minutes clearing a “Hot Spot.”

“Where’d all that stuff on the counter go?” my husband asked. His company is still without electricity after Sunday’s storm, so he’s been hanging around and I can’t keep all of the weird things I do during the day a secret from him like we’re used to.

Tomorrow I get to pick out my clothes before bed. What I’d really like to do is go out and buy new clothes, then de-clutter the old ones.

I don’t know why, but whenever we move, I have a desire to change the way I dress. When we moved to Salt Lake City, it was round-neck t-shirts that covered my collar bone, capris pants, and Keen sandals (and a nostril piercing). This time, I have a craving for fitted, white or solid pastel button-up shirts and khaki pants.

And maybe a cardigan.

What do you think, Neighbor?


  1. Pingback: A Victory for Imperfection! « Imperfect Happiness
  2. Lea · September 7, 2011

    This made me laugh sooo hard:

    he’s been hanging around and I can’t keep all of the weird things I do during the day a secret from him like we’re used to.

    let’s face it, entire marriages are based on things we do while our spouses are not around!!!


  3. timbra · August 31, 2011

    me and einstein baby!!!! PS, I too laughed SEVERAL times. . . . ! Otherwise, the only thing I have to say is. . . I’m not martha stewart, and hey. . . . i don’t care!


    • CJ · August 31, 2011

      If you were Martha Stewart, you’d have served jail time. And you’d have that annoying friendly-rude manner with all of your guests. You do make really awesome Halloween costumes, though…


  4. Melanie Meadors · August 30, 2011

    I have tried Fly Lady so many times…. and I always feel like a failure. She talks as if “If I can so this, ANYONE can….” Well, lady, I can’t. Her system just doesn’t work for me at all. I don’t know why. So if anyone can do this, but I can’t, what does that make me?? My major problem, I know, is that I am a perfectionist, and I can’t just do things “well enough.” Maybe I should give it another go and really try to do the baby steps. I think I go at this stuff with the wrong attitude. When I look at the baby steps, sometimes I feel like, “Well, I’m not an idiot, I can clean my sink AND swish and swipe all in the same day….” I try to do the first 30 days in a week. THen when I discover that I can’t, boom, I feel like an idiot! I should just accept that I am an idiot FIRST, and then do things step by step. (I’m just joking with that idiot thing..though really, when it comes to housekeeping, I”m no Einstein).


    • CJ · August 31, 2011

      That’s exactly what I would always do with the Baby Steps. And you don’t even want to know how I approached the Control Journal Baby Steps. I’m pretty sure I burned the results.

      I’m not positive, but I’d bet Einstein was a pretty crappy housekeeper, if it’s any consolation.


  5. Stacy · August 30, 2011

    I don’t have anything profound to say, other than this post made me genuinely laugh, and that doesn’t happen very often.

    And if I can be so bold, I think you writing, while always great to read, is really improving. I enjoy coming here.


    • CJ · August 30, 2011

      Wow, Stacy. Thank you so much for the compliment! I’m definitely feeling more confident with my writing (and I love that I have regulars. Pull up a chair, and I’ll spin you a yarn, or something to that effect). Funny how telling myself I don’t have to post every day has gotten me to post every day without it feeling like a chore.


  6. Abigail vR · August 30, 2011

    I could never bring myself to wear lace up shoes and follow FLYLady either. I keep one of her acronyms in my head though: CHAOS — Can’t Have Anyone Over Syndrome. I am trying to keep the CHAOS at bay so that I don’t feel like my children’s friends are going to make snarky comments about how messy our house is.

    I realize now that I’m kind of doing the FLYLady thing with my list, except the list stays where it is on the wall and I can choose whether or not I go and check what today’s chore is. I also somehow don’t mind checking off “clean the kitchen sink” but something about shining the sink gets under my skin. My main problem with FLYLady came from her book, though, where she says that I can’t expect my husband and children to clean up too. Also, I don’t need to “fix my face” it’s not broken.

    I feel that I’ve said all of this to you before… If so, sorry. 🙂


    • CJ · August 30, 2011

      I think the last time we talked about FLYLady was after a LLL conference. I remember you mentioning the shoes, but I didn’t know it was Marla who you were talking about until I found her website. The “fix your face” doesn’t bother me so much, perhaps because I lived in North Carolina for six years and have family down South. I do feel a little guilty now that “doing my hair” involves just pulling it out of my face whether it looks neat or not. That seemed okay when the little guy was still under a year old. Now that he’s 2+, I feel like I ought to clean up a little more. Although perhaps it’s helpful that people think I’m perpetually frazzled. Maybe they’ll be less likely to ask me to volunteer to do more things if I don’t look capable of even combing my own hair (I don’t comb my hair, but that’s by design. The less I do with it, the less frizzy it is, I’ve found).


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