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Sonderbooks Book Review of

Sink Reflections

by Marla Cilley—The FlyLady


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Sink Reflections

Overwhelmed? Disorganized? Living in CHAOS?
The FlyLady’s Simple FLYing Lessons Will Show You How to Get Your Home and Your Life in Order—and It All Starts With Shining Your Sink!

by Marla Cilley—the FlyLady

Reviewed June 12, 2007.
Bantam Books, New York, 2002. 223 pages.
Starred Review.
2006 Sonderbooks Stand-out: #2 Nonfiction, Personal Growth

By giving FlyLady’s book a Starred Review, I’m not claiming this is great literature. However, I AM saying that this book—and the FlyLady system—have transformed my life. Her whole system is one of the most positive things I’ve ever done.

FlyLady offers her system—methods, routines, and encouragement—completely for free on the Internet. I am a subscriber and do love those e-mails, but I am a book person (obviously), and wanted to have the whole system described all in one place.

I’d heard about FlyLady before, but didn’t think I needed her. After all, I had a decent system in place for cleaning my house and I always put on lace-up shoes in the morning. How little did I realize how much she had to offer me.

Then I had surgery last February, and my house got hopelessly messy, and I felt hopelessly behind. I needed to work on getting ready to move, too. My husband was actually filing for divorce, and my spirits weren't good. So I decided to give FlyLady a try.

I’m so glad I did!

FlyLady is hard to describe. She offers a mentoring service for getting organized, for cleaning your house and running your life—but she offers so much more.

Perhaps the acronym FLY is the most revealing part of the system. It stands for Finally Loving Yourself. And I find when I follow her methods, I really do feel more loved and more loving. And I feel better about myself. These are wonderful things for a woman whose husband left her.

What’s more, her way of thinking is transforming my life. One of the biggest areas of conflict in my marriage—and a major way I brought resentment into our relationship was my constant fussing about housework. I never seemed to be happy. I always seemed to think my husband or sons should be doing more, but then if they did something, I’d often criticize how it was done. I’d nag them and hound them. Was grumbling about housework or making the burden "fair" worth my marriage? Absolutely NOT!

Even living as a single mom, I don’t want to feel like housework is an ever-present burden, a noxious chore. I don’t want to have “Can’t Have Anyone Over Syndrome” (Living in CHAOS). I’m still astonished by how FlyLady has changed my whole attitude toward housework.

Please don’t think that I have everything together. I moved this summer, and we got our household goods in October, and I was taking graduate classes, so we still have towers of boxes in every room of our apartment. But FlyLady helps me not to get discouraged about the mess, but to get in there and take baby steps and deal with it all a little bit at a time.

I love her slogan for 2007—Progress, Not Perfection in 2007. She is the enemy of Perfectionism, which is a huge obstacle blocking us from loving ourselves. So often, I wouldn’t clean because I didn’t have time to do it "right." She counters that with the slogan, “Housework done incorrectly still blesses your family.”

She has lovely names for tasks. Her weekly cleaning is called Home Blessing. She has you do seven different tasks for ten minutes each—you are not allowed to keep working after the timer beeps. I didn’t think it would do any good at all to vacuum or mop for only ten minutes, so I was amazed at the difference it made and how good it made me feel about my home. Pretty soon I found myself singing, “Make Me a Blessing,” while Blessing my Home—believe me, this was NOT my normal attitude toward cleaning!

Her system is not a burden. In fact, her reminder e-mails conclude with “You are not behind! You do not need to catch up!” She urges you to jump in where you are and begin with baby steps.

She helps you release clutter—to let go of the things you don’t love and let them bless someone else. Because you simply can’t organize clutter.

She does send out lots of e-mails—reminders about your routines, to go to bed at a decent time, and things like that. There are also testimonials of what other Flybabies have learned. I was getting overwhelmed by it all, because my perfectionism was insisting that I read all of them. When I gave myself the freedom to delete the ones I hadn’t gotten to, I began enjoying them greatly when I did have time to read them.

If you’re wondering if your baby steps will ever get you anywhere, it’s nice to read the testimonials of people whose houses truly are now “15 minutes from clean.” No more mad scrambles when company’s coming!

FlyLady radiates love and comfort to all of her Flybabies. Even though I’m not perfect, I know that FlyLady is so proud of me! And that feels so very good.

Here are some quotations from Sink Reflections that will help give the flavor of Flylady’s love and encouragement:

We are imperfect beings and praise God for our imperfection.

Some of us won’t even start a job unless we have enough time to do the job correctly. So we do nothing! Or we are trying to do too many things at once and nothing ever gets finished so we just give up and say, ‘What’s the use?’…This is where I can help you. Having learned to be organized, I can teach you techniques to get you started and keep you from giving up. That is what we do when we are overwhelmed with the system. I will not give you too much and you can work at your own pace. The best part is that when you are ready to take the next step, you will recognize your accomplishment and give yourself a much-needed pat on the back and proceed. We are not looking for perfection any longer; this is a process. One BabyStep at a time will set you on a flight path toward the home and life you have been yearning for.

Don’t expect changes in a few days. This is not a book on how to control your messy children or your spouse; this is all about you, your attitude toward your family and yourself.

Clutter is things that do not bring you joy, you do not love, or you don’t need. Things that you use, love, and enjoy are necessary and important to have. Things that you have in your home that you don’t need or don’t like will have the opposite effect on you: they will make you feel negative and dragged down.

Clutter also sends an subconscious message. Clutter tells the world that you are not worthy. We have all heard it. If you can’t take care of this, you can’t have anything else. We have been brainwashed by this clutter to believe that we do not deserve to have nice things, since we can’t keep our home looking presentable.

You may have picked up this book in your never-ending struggle to find the magic formula to fix your family and your home.
But, sweetie, the problem with your home has nothing to do with idleness on your part.
I hear what you hear over and over again—the reason your home is trashed is because of your laziness. Wrong! I know for a fact that I have never been lazy and I will wager the same about you. Your problem is that you don’t know what to do first and when you decide on a course of action, you are continually spinning your wheels and unable to finish anything. By the end of the day you are exhausted, the house is still trashed, and you have accomplished nothing. I just wish I could give you a great big hug.

The truth is that you are so busy taking care of everyone else’s needs that you forget that you have them, too. You are running on empty. There is nothing left for you.

You will get rid of this stress as you learn from the FlyLady system to work smarter and not make it so hard on yourself. I want you to learn HOW to be nice to yourself.

I get e-mails every day asking, ‘How do I get my family to help?’ My response to them is to set an example and quit being a martyr.

In the previous chapters you have learned about taking care of yourself. I believe that if you bless your family with taking care of yourself and your home you will see a difference in their attitude as well.

This is a major reason why this book is about so much more than simply removing clutter from your home and your life. If we do nothing else, I hope we impress upon you that if you don’t take care of yourself, you will have nothing left to nurture your family. You will be filling their cups with an empty pitcher. Everyone will be left unfulfilled. You have found this book because you were searching for something, anything, to help you get your home in order.

Your home did not get dirty in a day and it is not going to get clean overnight.

So many women have never felt peace. This is my main wish for you, to find the peace I have. I don’t want to hear that you have this disease or that, and that your clutter didn’t cause your illness. Stress is the main cause for illness in our country and the world. If we relieve the stress we will all be better off. We are not our diseases. We can learn to live with and find peace in any situation. It is a mind-set.

Your attitude has to change from ‘Why do I have to do this?!’ to ‘This is my home and I deserve to have a wonderful place to live. This blesses my home and my family and, most of all, me!’ Do you feel the difference that these two statements make in your heart? Giving up this martyred attitude and taking on the persona of doing good for yourself and your family relieves you of stress! If you understand this small reality and embrace it, I have done my job.

You also have another attitude that is going to be the death of you: ‘I have no time for myself!’ So after everyone has gone to bed you stay up later and later, until you are barely getting enough sleep to function the next day. Then, in the morning, you hit the snooze button four or five times and by the time you finally drag yourself out of bed, you are already running late. This makes for a stressed out, nasty attitude, yelling at your babies and running around like your head is cut off, not knowing where to turn or what to do next. The solution is so simple! GO TO BED AT A DECENT HOUR!

From the beginning of our little cyber-family, I have always insisted on our main rule: No Whining Allowed!! We have all caught ourselves in a whining mode.

It is only when we give ourselves the attention we need and are not searching for outside attention that our requests for help will be answered.

This is easy. Now that you can see and hear your effects on your family, you can stop yourself from doing this. Now, here is the fun part. You can blow them right out of the water by setting an example and doing what needs to be done with a cheerful attitude and out of love for your family. Even if you are not feeling very cheerful at the time, bite your lip and put a smile on your lovely face just for the fun of it. The results will reinforce this happy attitude and you will start to feel the inner change in yourself.

When you start FLYing, housework no longer is a chore, something to be dreaded. It becomes a way to bless your family, yourself, and your home. I want you to have the peace that I have. This came from my change in attitude toward everyday tasks.

Right now all I care about is how your attitude is affecting you. If you allow stress, anger, and self-pity to build up, you are not taking care of yourself. Please do this for you. When you accomplish this, you will be blessing yourself and your home.

This lack of self-love pushes everything away from us, our family and friends, and we even push God away. Still, he always loves us.

We too frequently act as a martyr. We may think that selfless acts bring us closer to God when, in fact, many times it is our egos that created these ‘selfless acts’! You shame others by saying: ‘Just look at what I do for you!’ You carry out these acts with anger: ‘No one else will do this; looks like it’s left up to me!’ And with pride: ‘No one can do it as well as I can!’ Oh, and let’s not forget greed: ‘I am going to do this because I will get points and everyone will notice what I do.’ This attitude steals from others the ability to contribute.

When you finally start to love yourself, your cup of love will be overflowing all the time. Love will be all around you. Love of self allows you to love others more fully.

The opposite of Love is not Hate; it is Fear. This is our perfectionism again. Fear we cannot do things right. Fear of what others will think of us. Fear that we are not good enough. When you love yourself, this fear goes away.

Finally Loving Yourself is the answer to being all that you can be in God’s eyes. When you can put yourself first, without guilt, you will be more able to love unconditionally. Your love will be in everything you do. You will be the reflection of the love God has for you.

I am one of you. I know your heart and I have felt your sadness at not living up to your unrealistic expectations. When I finally quit beating myself up for what I didn’t do and started doing what I could, acceptance of myself was the spark that kept me alive. If I teach you nothing else from this book, the website, and our e-mail messages. It is that Finally Loving Yourself is your ticket to FLY!

There is no ending except to say that I see this book as a beginning to a life of peace of joy.

My own ending to this review is to say, Thank you, thank you, thank you, FlyLady, for bringing peace and joy into my life at a time when I desperately needed it. I am by no means perfect, but I am progressing, and that brings me so much joy. Thank you!