Zen and the Art of Refrigerator Cleaning

Her she found her "mo jo" for the new year — one wipe at a time — through cleaning her refrigerator.

by claudia stagg • More.com Member { View Profile }
Photograph: iStock

It is almost mid-January, and I’m happy to report that I am finally getting my enthusiasm — or “mo jo” back — thanks to cleaning out my refrigerator today. Let me explain. 

For me, starting a new year can often bring on the blues. While a jump start to the 2013 can be exhilarating, filled with new beginnings and opportunities, letting go of the year before sometimes makes me feel a little melancholy. I can even get a bit stressed about changes to come during the next 365 days.   

While some are sticking to resolutions made at the stroke of midnight on New Year’s Eve, I am still feeling a little overwhelmed with life and its responsibilities in 2013. Other than the usual things on my “to do” list for the year (eat less, exercise more), I have not really taken the time to truly determine my personal goals for the year and how I might attain them.        

I look around my house and see Christmas decorations that still need to be put away and find a residue of pine needles that have to be swept up (again). I know my floors should be mopped, and I make a list of other household chores I have been neglecting since I came down with the bug that people around town have been getting.     

I open the cupboards and realize I am long overdue for a trip to Shop Rite. Stocking up at the Can-Can  Sale makes me exhausted just thinking about it. So I resort to sending others for a quick shop here and there.    

I jump from project to project, room to room, email to email. As a result, I don’t feel like I have accomplished anything in an entire day. I think of my blog and realize I have not written since Christmas. I wonder whether I should change paths on my journey. 

I open the refrigerator door and have a peek. Courageously, I peer into the covered bowls to find more than one science experiment — fuzzy, petrified leftovers I don’t even recognize. There’s also the half-eaten dessert wrapped in tin foil from who knows when and the brown lettuce in the bag that has turned to mush. There are spills of unknown sticky liquids.       

I want to cry. Cleaning the fridge is long overdue, and because of that, the job seems overwhelming and  impossible.  I muster up the determination to say that if I can accomplish one thing today it is going to make my refrigerator sparkling clean.         

Slowly I tackle each shelf, each bin, one at a time. I throw out shriveled up strawberries, half bottles of salad dressings I know we’ll never use. I pay attention to the expiration dates on some of the jars lined up on my shelves. 

I use elbow grease and cleaning products on the freezer too. I decide whether I’ll ever serve those appetizers that were delicious once, but now have freezer burn. With good judgment, out they go.     

By the end of the afternoon, my refrigerator is clean, and I am proud of myself. As each family member enters the kitchen, I make them stop and open the refrigerator. I expect an “atta girl” and actually get one from my 15-year-old daughter.   

Over a celebratory diet soda, I reflect on today’s exercise. I am pleased with the results. I am ready to tackle tomorrow and my next task. Who would have thought cleaning my refrigerator would help me get my “mo jo” back — one wipe at a time? I think I’m finally ready to embrace the new year!

Life Lessons learned from cleaning my refrigerator: 

  1. Set an attainable goal(s).    
  2. Stay focused.
  3. Hard work (elbow grease) will pay off in the end.
  4. Slow and steady wins the race, said the tortoise to the hare. 
  5. Celebrate success and tell/show others.       
  6. Get rid of it if it has been around for too long and starts to stink!     





Share Your Thoughts!