For our Spring Cleaning challenge, many of us tried to purge things that, let’s be real, are difficult to abruptly eliminate. It might seem easy to delete tens of thousands of emails or suddenly Mary Poppins the crap out of your house, but these things are really about built-in habits — and some habits are just not going to die (and maybe some habits aren’t even all that bad and should be allowed to continue living).
Either way, read on to learn what we tried to Spring Clean, successfully or otherwise, and the lessons learned. Can you relate?
Sarah Ban, Editor & Writer
Spring Cleaned Lungs, Feels Lots of Feels
I’m a huge believer that your reality is constructed inside your head, so this challenge was perfect for me. After spending 30 days detoxing my in-home air, I feel like my body is cleaner and my skin appears clearer -- and to me feeling something is the most important thing.
By adding air-purifying components to my home like burning rosemary, sage or lemongrass essential oils in a soapstone candle diffuser, a hefty, healthy peace lily plant (known for its cleaning properties) and a fresh vase of flowers on my desk, my mind decided my environment was more forest and less… urban. And that in itself made me feel healthier.
A while back, my naturopath prescribed me “forest bathing” based on a study that concluded that people who spend time in nature are happier and more productive. (This seems obvious so I don’t know why resources were spent on an entire study but OK.) She never told me what the effects were if you added bits and pieces of Mother Nature to your home, but if I feel improvements now just because of the few changes I made, my next step is to pick her up actual Rx: set up an office in the middle of Griffith Park (yes, she said that… and apparently there is Wi-Fi there... somehow.)
Katie Durko, Social Media Manager
Also Has Overloaded Inbox, Managed to Save Money
Before I sat down to write this, I had to give myself a pat on the back. I am quite impressed with how well I executed this challenge even with the outstanding circumstances I was presented with along the way. Let me explain: Week One was easy. I furiously unsubscribed and deleted emails from my inbox like a madwoman, keeping my number as close to 0 as I could.
Week Two was a little different. Why? Because I got hacked. Yup, you heard right. My personal Gmail account was hacked and therefore FLOODED with spam. Not only that, but I was locked out of my account for several days, allowing for hundreds of emails to build up.
Luckily, my friend at Google was able to recover the account and by Week Three, I was back on track. As much as it pained me to do so (like I mentioned previously, I am a compulsive online shopper), I unsubscribed to almost every online clothing boutique blast over the course of the month. This not only helped with my email count but also with my bank account. As I type this, I have 631 FEWER unread emails now than I did last month. Impressive right? I think so.
Sam Nguyen, Writer
Purged Emotional Roadblocks, Jump Started A New Relationship
Spring cleaning this year meant more than just throwing out the old and starting anew; it meant delving deep inside and purging myself of emotional debris. After I started dating “car crash guy,” he made me realize that I was more of an emotional wreck than my car.
I started the process by cleaning out my loft, which involved throwing out every item I associated with an ex or some kind of negativity. It was interesting because I would come across an item that was connected to a memory and would reflect on it. Then I would throw it in the trash -- where it belonged. It felt absolutely amazing. Everyone needs to give this a try. It’s incredibly cathartic.
For the second step, I delved a little deeper and had a session with a Reiki healer. She aligned my chakras, did some energy healing and made my cry like a baby. Let’s just say the experience was intense, but uplifting. This is absolutely not for everyone. The last part of my spring cleaning process was the hardest: I sat down with “car crash guy” and had a true, honest conversation about how I felt. As much as I was sideswiped by what happened, I realized that I wanted to be with him after all.
It was messy, it was heavy and gross, it was utterly exhausting. Yet somehow, I made it through. The spring cleaning process really made me sort through all of the roadblocks getting in the way of what I wanted. Now, “car crash guy” and I are officially in a relationship. Maybe it was no accident at all; it was totally meant to be.
Dana Poblete, Writer
Tried to Clean House, but Cleaned Something More Important Instead
Let me just say it right now: I kind of failed this challenge. Of course, it was a tall order from the start. Deep clean my whole house, from beginning to end? I think a devilish side of me chose something so Herculean so I could summon some sympathy from everyone if I didn’t get the job done. I’m only human! In all honesty, I really, really did want to do this. But I won’t make any excuses because those are futile.
What I can say is that I did try. I did! Late last night, on an impending deadline for this story, I swept and mopped my entire giant kitchen floor just so I could say I did. However, I left the stove, which needed some scrubbing, untouched. Another task for another day; it never ends! But no, I didn’t totally procrastinate. Throughout the challenge, I did tackle a few things I’d been meaning to for a while, like cleaning the baseboards, walls and ceiling fan in the bathroom. I even gave the shower an aggressive scrub that same day. I was also really proud of myself for cleaning up some old cobwebs around the house. What can I say... I don’t like to kill spiders, so I usually let them and their webs be.
In the midst of it all, I got sidetracked and got into clearing out some energetic cobwebs. I picked up some palo santo, which, if you’re a noob when it comes to crystals, chakras and doshas and all that like I am, is a heavenly scented wood used for smudging in South America. WTF is smudging? Purifying the energy of a room (or a person) with smoke. Sage is most commonly used for this, but I’m not a fan of the smell, so these woodsy/minty sticks were a dream for me.
Anyway, even if smudging was a distraction from my actual mission, or a placebo, it did feel good to be intentional about something as dreadful as cleaning and practice being okay with just doing what I can rather than forcing myself to live up to my own hype. Sometimes taking baby steps is just the way I do things, and that’s cool with me.
Erika Adickman, Social Media Manager
Aimed to Clean Literally Everything, Learned A Lot About Self
As the tattoo on Rihanna reads: “Never a failure, always a lesson.” And for me, this Spring Cleaning challenge was one big, fat lesson (and I’m not even counting the amazing YouTube tutorial that showed me — FINALLY — how to properly stuff a comforter into a duvet without standing on my bed and shaking repeatedly).
This month I learned that in my life, goal-setting needs to be SUPER specific for me to get anywhere. I foolishly thought that casting a wide net of “keep everything in my eyeline neat as a pin” would push me into cleaning overdrive and transform me as a person. But instead, it became overwhelming; plus, the vagueness of the goal meant there was no way to regularly track my progress.
If I had to do it again (and maybe I will with this newfound knowledge), I would start small with one simple task: Make my bed every day and see if that has a ripple effect into the rest of my life. I’d also start with a deep clean of my entire house and work on maintenance rather than just tidying when I could.
I’m also left wondering if I just happen to be one of those people for whom eliminating a behavior comes easier than implementing a behavior. I had amazing success with detoxing from social media because it involved removing a habit instead of adding one. The only way I’ll ever know is by giving it another shot. I will say this my bed has been made for the past few days, so maybe all is not lost.
Kim Do, Chief Editor & Makeup Artist
Has Overloaded Inbox, Can’t Stop Won’t Stop
I must say I was so pleased with the New You Challenge that I was eager to jump into Spring Cleaning. For the first 10-15 days, I was unsubscribing and deleting junk mail on the daily, but THEN... it became so effing tedious!
Since Drumpf was elected, I’ve been deluged with emails because I’ve given my email address to just about any organization advancing justice on behalf of humankind. Though I’ve unsubscribed from a lot of retailers, there are spammers I’m afraid to completely unsubscribe from just in case there’s a flash sale, a fraud alert or a policy update I can’t miss. Unfortunately, these email masterminders are feeding into my FOMO.
The layered and aggravating nature of this spring purge has irritated me, reminding me that I will be re-implementing my meditation, starting yesterday.
Crystal Fenton, Writer
Product Purge, Caffeine High
True to my word, I spent a rainy April afternoon Kondo-ing my "beauty closet" (a.k.a. my NYC studio apartment bathroom), rounding up nail polish and makeup in shades that would never work for me along with hair and body lotions and potions. After stashing them in a reusable bag, I headed to my corner Starbucks to give the goods to my favorite baristas.
They were thrilled (what woman wouldn't be when gifted a bag of beauty treats) and my iced coffee order was gratis and even upgraded to a venti! Not only did it feel awesome to brighten their day, but I actually felt lighter from having purged and organized my stash of products. I hadn't realized how much the clutter was blocking both my space and creativity. Plus, who doesn't love free iced coffee?!