Support

‘Good Housekeeping Magazine’ has been floating through my thoughts all week long.  Why? I’m not a subscriber, nor have I any sense of nostalgia for it.

Although I do have fond memories of my Mom perusing homemaking magazines, she leaned more toward ‘Ladies Home Journal’ or ‘Country Living.’

Yet, there it is.  “What?” I ask. “What are you trying to tell me, whoever you are?”

Picking up groceries and personal care items in nearby towns this week, I checked the ever-shrinking periodicals racks for a copy of the magazine to see if I could jog a memory or gain some clarity about this recurring impulse.

There was none to lay hands on and a quick search online was edifying. Good Housekeeping is one of the ‘Seven Sisters’ of ‘women’s magazines’ aimed at wives and homemakers, and though it is still in print and available by subscription, with a larger online presence, the other sister magazines have been shrinking in circulation over the last thirty years or so. Though I did go down that rabbit hole and I do know what other magazines comprise the seven sisters and how they’ve fared and theories about why that is,  I won’t foist my research findings upon you. 

Also, the research didn’t stop the magazine from whirling across my thoughts several times a day.

Okay.

I’m dying to write a missive to you about the joy of office supplies and I feel the magazine impulse must be a component of this topic; it simply hasn’t jelled yet. I just made a trip to the basement to check the contents of that old soft-sided black briefcase I referenced last week…the one filled with office supplies that I touted as one of my favorite childhood toys.  It’s contents, although a bit yellowed, still quicken my heart.

Office supplies.

As a youngster, I was less tempted by Newberry’s toy department than the office supply section. Mom would always know where to collect me when it was time to check out.

“Look,” I’d say, holding up a receipt book or hole punch or date stamp or account ledger. 

Though Mom didn’t always reply with an enthusiastic, “Wow! Can I buy that for you?”, neither did she question my need for the supplies.  

My cousin Lois and I would play office for hours when I visited her. After a brief squabble about who got to be boss last time, we would settle into our roles as boss and secretary and commence taking phone calls and issuing memos. 

My passion for all things desk has only intensified in the interim. 

Several years ago, a friend gave me a copy of David Allen’s “Getting Things Done: The Art of Stress-Free Productivity” and half way through I went into paroxysms of organizational rapture. Allen informed me that I deserved a new file cabinet with hanging files and fresh folders with crisp professional printed labels. And he was right! The program elevated my work experience and more importantly, my homemaking life.  To this day, I’m addicted to my P-touch label maker, which is labeled, ‘viv happy’.

“So the ‘This Month/Last Month’ bill paying/paperwork system is a fail,” I said to Greg one evening recently.

“Oh?” He replied, trying to sound as interested as I needed him to be.

“The ‘Last Month’ file kept getting thicker, cause I really want to file paid bills, not shred them, so now there’s only going to be a ‘This Month’ file and I’m going to file the paid bills.”

As much as I enjoy writing and have dreams of making a foray into playwriting for local thespians, I love home-making even more. I want to bring all my organizational tools and system design skills and myriad colorful office supplies to bear on getting this place whipped into shape. Work “out there” is a necessary but wrench of a distraction from the thing I’d rather be doing.  

Is our household budget on an Excel spreadsheet? Yes, indeed. Do I have a magnetic, dry-erase chore board on the fridge which I excitedly populate with bright little magnets as I complete my ‘to do list’ items? Oh yeah!  Do I print out cleaning checklists for my [weekly] housework? You know it! I mean, not every week cause they do fly by don’t they? But, yeah! Do I put a gold star sticker on Greg’s forehead when he outdoes himself? Well, who wouldn’t? Is my house a paragon of good housekeeping?

No. I only recently completed spring cleaning 2018.

But there is the dream of the perfect house, the perfect moment. I am rested, showered, dressed in those jeans that haven’t fit for four years. My home is in pristine order. All my systems are working. Every birthday card has been mailed in a timely fashion. Christmas shopping is completed by Thanksgiving and I roll out a quaint Christmas season that is a veritable parade of memory-making activities. Sipping cocoa and writing notes on home-made Christmas cards, meeting friends at a cafe for leisurely present exchanges, making Greg a beautiful Christmas ornament, taking time to wrap presents beautifully. Seasonal chores are on the calendar, and coordinated with suitable meals. (Like…stack firewood/ beef stew with biscuits) You know what I’m talking about. Just like on those divine glossy pages of those ‘women’s magazines’ our moms looked at. 

Is it achievable? I don’t care. I want it. And I don’t want any help. I want to be superhuman. 

But I was reminded last night, by a lively chat with my sister Beck, that sharing those successes and failures and goals is the secret ingredient. It really isn’t fun to design an Excel spreadsheet that is a thing of beauty…unless you can share it with someone who shares your enthusiasm. Support! Why do I keep forgetting how lovely it feels? Why do I forget to go get that for myself? 

And that is what Good Housekeeping Magazine was doing in my subconscious last week. Magazines create community, after all. It was a little reminder from my higher self to seek community, share my passions.  I mean, I’m an introvert, not an island. 

Click the PLAY button to hear “Support”.

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