by Daryl Hoole
Blind spots! We all have them--human flaws that we don't see in ourselves that nevertheless affect our lives to varying degrees. Some of these blind spots are just mannerisms or personality quirks that are inconsequential. Others can be amusing or even endearing to those who observe them. Some are serious weaknesses, however, that can have a detrimental effect on relationships, or they can diminish our productivity, limit our progress, or detract from our happiness. Many blind spots keep us from growing and becoming our best selves.
Being oblivious to these weaknesses is fortunate or unfortunate, depending upon our perspective and the seriousness of their nature. The question to ourselves is, are we content to just go on stubbornly muddling through life or are we interested in self-improvement and personal progress?
Oftentimes others see these characteristics clearly. I've appreciated being surrounded by people who care enough about me to point out my failings in appropriate ways and open my eyes to some of my blind spots. Parents, husband, teachers, and mentors stand out. My children, particularly, have been amazingly quick to reveal my weaknesses and bring them to light in a variety of ways.
The challenge that continually faces many of us, including me, is that as we overcome one blind spot, there's always another one in some other facet of our lives. As mortals, we're a work in progress.
Blind spots can afflict any aspect of our lives. For the purpose of this article, however, we'll discuss only those that affect our responsibilities toward our homes and yards.
Following are two “eye openers” with related checklists plus one “inspiration point” for consideration:
1. What do you see as you approach your house from the street?
I remember well my mother recommending that we should occasionally approach our houses as a stranger would, seeing them, as it were, for the first time. I find this helpful, especially when I've been away for a few days and can see with “new eyes.”
What is your impression? Is yours a “happy” house, reflecting tender loving care? What do you see looking back at you? Check it out for such eyesores as
- overgrown bushes that need to be trimmed
- unsightly weeds that need to be pulled
- chipped paint that needs re-doing
- clutter/trash on the porch or in the yard that needs to be disposed of
- broken or crooked blinds or tattered curtains at windows that need attention
- broken down fences, gates, garden furniture, etc. that need to be repaired
- exterior holiday decorations that are out of season and should be put away for another year
- potting soil, leaves, Christmas tree needles, etc. at doorways that need to be swept away
Many of us look around our city or even the world for opportunities to render service, but don't forget that the first and best thing you can do for your community is to maintain and enhance your own property. Service starts at home!
2. What do you see when you take a periodic “walk through” of your house on the lookout for blind spots?
It's easy to become so desensitized to our surroundings or get so used to things as they are that we fail to see areas or items in our homes that require attention. To overcome this, try standing in the doorway of each room and slowly look around, making a conscious effort to identify anything that needs a little help, or even a lot of help.
What do you see? Is there some “de-junking” needed? What needs to be fixed up, touched up, cleaned up, or re-done, removed, repaired, or renewed? Following is a list of possible problems:
- Cluttered kitchen and bathroom counter tops
- Piles of papers, magazines, clothing, etc.
- Closets and drawers that are bulging with too much stuff
- Overflowing wastebaskets
- Dried up or straggling plants and flowers
- Dusty plant leaves
- Toys children no longer enjoy or that have become broken or useless
- Not having a place for everything and everything in its place
- A messy, disorderly desk
- Sloppily arranged book shelves
- Dusty and finger-printed TV and computer screens
- Anything that is soiled, ripped, or broken
- Interior holiday decorations that are out of season.
These words of William Morris provide a helpful guideline: “Have nothing in your house that you do not know to be useful or believe to be beautiful.”
A common blind spot is the window over the kitchen sink that is dirty and spotted. The spots come a few at a time so that you become so used to them that you hardly notice that you're spending hours looking at the outside world through splashed milk and dishwater. Keeping that window clean can do wonders for your attitude as it gives you clearer vision and brightens your outlook on life. Often what you need is not necessarily a change of scenery, but rather a change in how you see it. .
3. As you view other homes, do you feel motivated to make your own home more orderly and attractive?
Blind spots are not just about signs of neglect. They also include what could be changed, improved, or added for enhancement. It can be inspiring and motivating to keep your eyes open for ideas wherever you go or as you flip through magazines and catalogs.
Even the most humble abode can be transformed into a charming cottage by just placing some geraniums in a pot by the door.
A drab house can easily be revitalized by merely painting the front door a carefully selected bright color or by adding shutters or window boxes.
Spending a few minutes in a well-organized laundry room has been known to send visitors scurrying home to likewise organize their rooms.
I love to visit others' homes, especially those of our married children. Ideas abound. It was in one daughter's home that I first saw a kitchen file—just an attractive container on the counter top about the size of a cereal box. It was for containing and organizing all the papers such as school and church notices, coupons, receipts, and mail that came into her home.
If you want to really see your blind spots, have a realtor walk through your home. They have lots of ideas on how to properly stage your home. Home staging websites are also a helpful resource as they show how to put your home together in a neat and orderly way.
Yogi Berra once said, “You can observe a lot just by watching.” So keep your eyes open. Doing so is the best remedy for blind spots.
(And now for a snappy summation and conclusion, please enjoy this verse by my poetess friend, Phyllis White)
I did not see the wilted flowers gasping for a drink.
I overlooked unsightly stains discoloring my sink.
Oblivious to piles of clutter growing on my stairs
I tripped and fell, concluding that my vision was impaired.
Resisting new ideas, stubborn habits held me bound.
Ignoring my surroundings, weeds were covering the ground.
Sunlight came in filtered through dirty window panes,
My view was out of focus and my home felt dull and plain.
I called a friend and asked for help, confessing my frustration.
She listened and then offered me her simple explanation,
“Your condition is quite common—but hopeless it is not;
You have selective vision or in other words, blind spots.”
“Just keep your eyes wide open—
that's the place where you begin,
Attack those blind spots one by one—
the battle's yours to win.”
I thanked her for her insight, and now that I'm aware
I'm using ‘spot remover' and I use it everywhere!
by Phyllis White