The Bouquet of Flowers that Cleaned a House

Have you ever heard of the bouquet of flowers that cleaned a house?
A woman – let’s call her Irene – who had a problem with clutter and who was overwhelmed with the state of her home was given a bouquet of flowers by someone who cared about her in hopes that the spring blooms would cheer her up. I am not sure if the gift giver included a vase, but I think in such a situation that I would considering just how much anxiety it might cause someone who might not be able to put their hands on one right away.

In any case Irene looked for where she could put the flowers and could see that one place she might put them was a messy coffee table in the corner of her living room. She had to do a bit of work to clear a space for the flowers so they could sit on the table even at that.

Irene looked at the beautiful bouquet sitting on the cluttered table and decided she might clean the end of the table the flowers were sitting on so they might look a bit better.

The flowers looked just beautiful sitting on the end of the coffee table, but thought how much better they would look in the centre of the table if she would just clean the other side of the table. So Irene spent a half hour and cleared off the other half of the table. The flowers looked even better sitting in the middle of the table and Irene was pleased. But she saw how dusty and grimy the table was… or at least the spots of the table that weren’t covered by clutter. So she got out an old towel and a bottle of furniture polish/cleaner she had and she dusted the table.

Irene was very happy at how the table now shone and reflected the beauty of the flowers in the fine grain of the wood. But it also reflected the stack of boxes by the curtains and the Chesterfield covered with coats, books, and file boxes. So Irene went on and sorted through the books and file boxes on the couch returning the coats to the cloak closest and the books and file boxes to the office and bookshelves. That took the afternoon, but nearly half the living room looked so very nice and inviting! She sat on the now cleared Chesterfield and looked at her flowers… and saw how dingy the rest of the room looked. It wouldn’t take very long to straighten the rest of the room…

The next day dawned and Irene was welcomed by a beautiful clean living room. It really did not take her long into the evening. It was a bit of work but she did a bit at a time and she even considered showing it off… at least to the friend who brought the flowers. They would marvel at the change.

Irene sat for a while and considered how cluttered the entrance hall looked…

Well, one room at a time she got that house straightened up. One bit inspired her to do the next. Being able to reopen an area to use as it was intended was a great incentive to her.

Of course, many of us have more clutter than just “straightening up” and returning things to their proper places will cure. Part of our problem is that we have more pegs than holes regardless of whether they are square or round. Still the idea of a bit at a time and having that bit inspire us is important.

Another crucial element is having that initial impetus. And I think that a positive impetus is better than a negative one. Rather than a deadline before guests arrive or a landlord’s visit or a move – something like receiving something that isn’t overwhelming, but nice would be good. Or a good friend offering to help with some difficult task that you are ready to do.

It is very important that the task be one you are ready for as well, I figure.

For me… at the moment my incentive an impetus can come from rediscovery of something I need or miss in amongst my moving boxes… after a season I still have boxes I haven’t opened.

I still wish for some sort of magic genie to come down to help… I guess I have to go a box or shelf at a time until then. I still hope to at least “look” into a box a day.

~ Dusty
D Cluttermouse

I am broadly paraphrasing a story that I have heard from a number of sources. The idea though is captured with perhaps a bit of my own slant on it… oh, and “Chesterfield” is another name for a “Sofa” or “Couch” that I thought I might throw in for colour.

3 thoughts on “The Bouquet of Flowers that Cleaned a House

  1. I’m glad you’re back! Just a thought… Flylady’s book called ‘Sink Reflections’ is about her journey which started with cleaning the kitchen sink and observing the reflections therein… similar to how you saw the reflection in the shiny table.
    address is for support groups forming in Canada

  2. I am still taking baby-steps… I still can’t see my coffee table. In fact I do not know if I actually have room for it here and am afraid to give it up because I have had it so long and it is so sturdy. I might have problems replacing it at my next place. But space is so tight here and I want to keep my two chair since I already gave up my couch after a huge emotional struggle.

    I keep my sink clean… and 3/4 of my kitchen counter space if you include the stove-top. I might seem like a sop, but I cried during FlyLady’s video “What’s in a Shiny Sink?”. ( ) But perhaps that is in reality how close I am to a breakdown. I can manage the first step or two but haven’t the energy – physical, emotional, or spiritual to continue on my own with the task. I know what I have to do and want to do, but can’t do it. I am stuck. Sometimes we need a tow. I just can’t find a truck or a friendly li’l Suzuki 4×4 with a winch.

    Perhaps I just need a bit more rest.

    I added to the links here. I probably will with CLA as well. Added you to my Twitter too.

    ~ Dusty

  3. Your note motivated me to watch the video and I cried too. Our local flybabies chapter is a way to give/receive moral support. I sometimes feel I’ve been trained to function by myself on my own, yet I know that is against human nature. We are social creatures. Anyway, I met my first flybaby just through talking about my clutter problem. She told me the local group meets very informally, weekly in a local coffeeshop just sitting and talking. So it turns into a small social group of 4, 5, or so folks. and support is there to give and get. Alot of flybabies are active on the yahoo list: (I think) So it’s a list serve that also is a way to give/receive moral support. It’s associated with, so we get reminders to post todos/tadas from Flylady. Thanks for reading Dusty. A great tool I’m starting to use is a clutterbuddy (CLA mentions this) We are not alone. We help each other. When I get up my nerve I want to tell some stories of my stuff like you did.

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