Photographs by Meadow Linn

Monday, December 2, 2013

Clean Your Kitchen, Change Your Life (Create Your Own Broken Windows Campaign)

While driving to my parents’ house for a quiet family Thanksgiving, a sedan came barreling toward me, head on. Since he was on my side of the road and driving at nearly twice the safe speed for the twisty canyon road, I had to swerve into a ditch to avoid a serious collision. My heart thudded as I blared my horn at the driver who was already long gone.

Later that day my mom and I were driving on the same road, and we noticed an increased amount of trash in the canyon, including a broken recliner chair and an automobile tire, among other worn out items. The amount of abandoned refuse has been steadily increasing over the past few years, and at the same time, it seems that there have been an increased number of “near-misses” like mine on what used to be a sleepy country road.

This experience made me start to think about the Broken Windows Theory. The idea is that when a building is filled with broken windows, it’s more likely that it will continue to be vandalized and defaced. But when it’s pristine and clean, it’s more likely to be treated with respect. There are some who refute this theory, but there are others who even attribute New York City’s drop in crime in the 1990s to Mayor Rudy Giuliani’s “broken windows” campaign to clean up the subways, which led to a greater sense of control and order in the city and therefore less overall crime.

I don’t know if there’s a connection between the discarded goods and the crazy driving on our country road, but I do know that when I’m somewhere that’s well taken care of, I tend to treat it with more care than if I were somewhere neglected, dilapidated, or dirty. So, doesn’t it seem probable that the same could be true for a road?

The broken windows theory frequently applies to my home. For instance, if I’m too tired to wash the dishes after dinner, the next morning I’m much more likely to add breakfast dishes to the already accumulating pile in the sink. When the dog leaves muddy paw prints on the floor, it’s doubtful I’ll notice when the cats add their muddy prints to the mix. And, when the bed is unmade, chances are greater that I’ll leave clothes on the floor rather than folding them or putting them away. It’s human nature.

This sunflower just bloomed. What a blessing!
Earlier this week, I spent two whole days cleaning every nook and cranny in my home. I organized the cupboards, got rid of expired food, found new homes for items I no longer use, and I even scrubbed all the cabinet doors in my kitchen and laundry room. After exhausting so much time and energy bringing the sparkle back into my home, you’d better believe I was hovering over the stove, sponge in hand, the moment the cranberry sauce bubbled over. And, I’ve been following the dog and cats around like a hawk picking up the chunks of hair that they seem to leave everywhere.

Since my home is now filled with the bright, joyful energy of a space that’s well cared for, I find myself treating it with increased respect, and by extension, I notice that I’m even treating myself with more respect. After putting it off for weeks, I finally got a much-needed haircut, and I’m eating better, dressing better, and even feeling better. It’s remarkable to see how it snowballs.

I’ve noticed that the broken windows theory can even be applied to my thoughts. When I start to feel sad or blue, I tend to find even more things to be sad or blue about. However, when I’m feeling strong and joyful, I tend to find an ever-increasing list of blessings and things to be grateful for.

The more you surround yourself with beauty and the more you fill your self-talk with uplifting, kind, and loving words, the more beauty you’ll see and the more kindness and love you’ll experience. Ask yourself: In what ways can I create a broken windows campaign in my own life? What can I do today to begin to cultivate even more joy, beauty, happiness, and kindness?

This was on the wall of a gymnasium I visited a few days ago. What a great message!


Be Kind to Yourself Kale and Quinoa Salad

One of the things that I love the most about cleaning my living space and taking better care of myself is that when I’m surrounded by beauty and when I’m filled with self-love, I’m more inspired to be creative and eat healthier. Kale is all the rage right now for good reason. Not only is it nutritious, but also it’s delicious. It’s a wonderful winter vegetable and makes great seasonal salads. I’ve given a range for the olive oil and lemon juice. The smaller amount is for a delicious but very lightly dressed salad.

Serves 4

1 bunch of curly kale, torn into small pieces
1/3 – ½ cup extra virgin olive oil
1½ cup cooked quinoa
1 cup red grapes, sliced in half
1/3 cup pine nuts
½ cup shredded Parmesan cheese
2-4 Tbsp. lemon juice (from 1-2 lemons)
salt and pepper

Remove the rib from the center of each kale leaf, and then tear the kale into small pieces and place them in a large salad bowl. Drizzle the olive oil over the kale. This is the extra fun part! With clean hands, massage the oil into every piece of kale. As you do this imagine love flowing through your hands and into the salad. Toss the kale with the quinoa, grapes, pine nuts, and Parmesan. Drizzle the lemon juice over the salad and toss again. Add salt and pepper to taste. 

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