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April 2010

If you’re going to stop and smell a flower, make it a gardenia

And 21 other things in life that are really, truly worth your time, according to authors, experts, and everyday people who understand that to-do lists exist only to help you get from point A to point Be.


Making the Bed
By Isabel Gillies

The simplest, most satisfying activity I do all day is make my bed. In seven minutes or less, I accomplish something small but worthwhile. I give myself a new beginning.

            On a morning of chaos, children hollering, misplaced homework, and a husband looking for clean socks, it’s the calm in the storm. I love the physical, methodical act of tugging sheets and plumping pillows. I sense my jumbled thoughts being sorted as I exact the length of the blanket along the horizon of the bed. If I am anxious, stretching my arms wide and lifting the sheets high in the air releases some of the unease into the universe along with the eyelashes and the lint. It’s organizing in the most gentle of ways.

           Life is hard sometimes- hard for everyone differently, but hard. For me, there are intricate blended-family calisthenics, concerns about overcrowding in my kid’s school, money worries, children worries, parent worries, and wrinkles in weird places. It can be overwhelming, but I find making the bed is a good first step to getting a handle on it all. Being a mother and a wife, a writer and an actress, is wonderful, really wonderful, but I don’t know that I do it right all the time. I make mistakes, feel in search of out-of-reach answers; but I can assemble something that has been dismantled, straighten what has been undone. When I make the bed, I am caring for something important to me and my husband (and sometimes, in the middle of the night, a child). A made bed is good to come home to. It says to the world and, more important, to you, “I am not unhinged”.

            It’s never too late to make the bed. If it doesn’t get done at 7:45 A.M. because I had to start over with the eggs or I slept a little too long, it will still be there later that afternoon. Sometimes I make the bed 15 minutes before I get in it again.

            And, inevitably, while I consider if the sheet is on the correct side or pull out a down feather that has poked through the case, there is a moment when it strikes me how lucky I am to have a bed.


Isabel Gillies is the author of Happens Every Day: An All-Too-True Story (Scribner)

Source: Real Simple