4 Easy Spring Cleaning Ideas

Spring is flying by and it feels like Summer even though officially we still have a few more weeks of Spring. If you are looking for some quick and easy Spring cleaning ideas that can often be overlooked, then here are 4 ideas that I suggest.

1. Ceiling fans: Clean your ceiling fans. Dust often accumulates and the fans can be so busy circulating that dust is forgotten. I recommend a feather duster to clean all the blades and other areas of the ceiling fan.

Spring cleaning ceiling fan (photo by Julie A. Smith)

2. Medicine cabinet: If you have time (especially if it is really disorganized), then it is best to take everything out of the medicine cabinet. Do a quick check to see if anything has expired and if so, toss it out! Then organize your medicine cabinet by themes such as cold medicines and vapor rubs, pain medicine like Advil, etc.  Everything will be so much easier to find!!! Please note that the picture below is the BEFORE picture.

Easy Spring Cleaning- Medicine Cabinet Before Picture (Photo by Julie A. Smith)

3. Refrigerator: True confession- my refrigerator had so much on it that I was embarrassed to take a before picture. I don’t think I had cleaned the front of my refrigerator off for many years, and I kept adding more magnets and things on it indiscriminately.  So, I set a limit for how many items I wanted to display on my fridge which helped me get rid of clutter. I actually took everything off, cleaned the front of it, and then put selected items back on the refrigerator using the limit I set.  I thought about what I wanted to showcase for a cleaner look and feel. I also checked expiration dates on things inside my fridge like salad dressings and threw out what has expired or gone bad.

Spring Cleaning- Front of Refrigerator After Picture (Photo by Julie A. Smith)

4. Bathroom cabinet: This one took me longer than I anticipated, but it was definitely worth the time.  First, I took everything out of the bathroom cabinet.  I decided to organize by themes regarding what I put back in the cabinet. I had lots of bottles with approximately only 2% body spray in them (yes, I am a fan of Bath & BodyWorks); I decided they were taking up valuable room so I tossed them. I ended up with cabinet organizational themes such as bath soap, hand soap, shower gel, extra toothpaste, etc. This has been one of the best and most overlooked Spring cleaning tasks that I have ever done.

Spring cleaning- Bathroom Cabinet After Picture (Photo by Julie A. Smith)

I hope that these ideas have been helpful and inspiring! May your Spring Cleaning go well!!!

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Welcome 2018!!! A Fresh New Year gives Freedom and Joy!!!

Original Photography by Julie A. Smith

Welcome 2018!!!  You have been here for almost a week already, and I still find myself writing 2017 constantly when I am writing the date.  So I love how a new year gives a fresh feel to everything and there always feels like so much freedom and joy in it.  Mistakes we have all made can be left in the old year, and a new year is upon us.  On that note, I encourage everyone who reads this to give themselves freedom and license to believe and hope for great things in 2018.  Vision is important, and sometimes I can look to the past and lament (especially with “what might have been” or with my regrets), rather than look to the future with joy and hope.  Let us all  have more hope, joy, peace, faith, and happiness in 2018!!!

I love Fall! (A pictorial story)

My pumpkin outside my door 2017 (photo by Julie A. Smith)

Starbucks salted caramel mocha (my favorite!) (photo by Julie A. Smith)

My pumpkin in my staff work pumpkin contest (photo by Julie A. Smith)

Fun with friends last year at Curtis Orchard

The pretty barn where my friend Amber got married in October 2016 in Niantic, IL (photo by Julie A. Smith)

Life. Love. Poetry.

Life.

Love.

Poetry.

 

Passion waning

hopes diminishing

time passing

unrequited feelings

and being constantly overlooked

is my lament

as the years go by.

 

A blessing

for me

to recently be inspired again

and not let my writing gift go dormant

My ten day poetry class

has quickly sped to an end.

 

Future hopes

would be

poetic inspiration flourishing

love coming

boy meets girl

and actually asks girl out

(yes, such a novel concept these days)

commitment more than a passing fancy

or moving on to the next girl

but one

that promises more

and touches my heart

and his.

Love blossoming

like a beautiful cherry blossom.

Faith flourishing

and a dash

of exciting world travel, too.

In my dreams

for the future.

 

 

 

 

Love Tarries

Embed from Getty Images

Love tarries
as sunrises and sunsets,
new moons,
summer,
fall,
and winter
come and go
and another spring bashfully peaks
through the horizon.
The delay
and wait for love
weighs down my heart
with much sadness.
I feel forsaken
by love.

Men in my age range
seem to prefer model-types,
exotic foreign girls,
girls who like to flirt,
or girls who run after guys
and make things happen.
So, I’m no model,
nor do I want to be,
and beauty ultimately should come from within,
but I fault too many guys
for caring too much about appearance
and putting it on a pedestal,
and not caring enough about qualities
like compassion or intelligence or courage.
I don’t have exotic foreign appeal.
Alas, I can’t compete with that.
And I’ve never been one
much for flirting.
I appreciate genuine connection
and prefer to be monogamous
with flirting, but in dating
and not with every single guy.
I’m more traditional in nature,
and want to be pursued,
but society seems to laugh
at that these days.
I can be both traditional,
as well as for women having equal access
and opportunity in both the home and work sphere.

Love tarries
like a long, cold winter
when spring seems like it is forever gone,
and I sigh
and grow in patience,
albeit somewhat ungracefully,
in this wait for beautiful and lasting love.

Digital Inequality and the IRS

Inequality is “an unfair situation in which some people have more rights or better opportunities than other people.”  The definition of inequality is “the quality of being unequal or uneven” and can include social disparity and disparity of distribution or opportunity (http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/inequality).

In terms of digital inequality, this can also be referenced as a technology gap.  I understand this very personally, because I was raised in a blue-collar family that was largely against computers when I was growing up.  I think my parents either hated or were scared of computers, and my Mom as a postal carrier never had need of a computer.  Today she gets upset when coupons are e-mail only since she doesn’t do e-mail, however, now that she is retired she surprised me when she took an entry level computer class with her friend at the community college.  Personally, I never owned a computer or laptop in college.  I would sometimes borrow my friend’s or my boyfriend’s computer, but mostly I would live at the library or computer lab when I needed to write papers.  Finances were an issue, and my first real computer came once I graduated with my Bachelors and Masters degrees and bought an old computer from an acquaintance for $100.  I know my experience may not be typical, but it is important to note that not every family can afford computers and technology, which can be very expensive.  This reality does set a child behind in school and can be a learning disadvantage.  A pencil and notebook is much less expensive than a laptop and affording home internet, and for parent’s struggling to put food on the table, technology is most likely not a priority.

Tonight I was disappointed and concerned when I went to my local library that is a star library in my state (Illinois) to pick up my federal and state tax forms and booklets.  Earlier in the week I had no success picking up the tax forms at the main post office that always stocks them, so I figured that perhaps I was thinking about my taxes late this year and the post office was just out of everything.  However, the sign at my local library said that the IRS decided to not send federal tax booklets this year to places that they always send them, like post offices and libraries. An extremely helpful woman at the library reference desk pointed out that the IRS also did not send supplementary forms like years previously, and a library staff member had to repeatedly call and ask for tax instruction booklets, only to be given 10 booklets that were quickly gone.  Also, there were no IL-1040 forms or booklets at all, and it was unclear to me what the library was given regarding state forms.

People looking for tax booklets were instructed to go online to look up the information.  This is not a good option for people who want to use a tax booklet and a paper form to mail their taxes in the old-fashioned way, which many older people still do.  Also, the library had a sheet with a phone number to call to have tax forms mailed to you.  That is a decent option for people that aren’t trying to do their taxes that night or at the last minute.  However, it is a hardship and a hurdle for taxpayers to jump through when instruction tax guides are not free and easily accessible to people of all income levels.  Many people may not have access to the internet at home, and most people would not like doing confidential tax information at the local library. I think this situation is inequality since it is social disparity and a disparity of opportunity for people of lower income levels.

Libraries and post offices are hubs of their community and provide services to people regardless of socioeconomic status, race, gender, or other factors.  While I can understand the IRS wanting to save money in the costs of printing and mailing forms, which is good both economically and environmentally, it still troubles me that this move results in an inequality that epitomizes the technology gap that is a way of life for many citizens in the United States of America.  I am a fan of freedom, and my hope is that people who are comfortable with old school paper tax forms can easily find and use them, while people who are comfortable with internet tax filing can utilize the internet to file their taxes.  I do not want to see either option cease to exist.

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My Article was Published in “Empowered” (an online Magazine)!!!

Original Sunset Photography by Julie A. Smith
I submitted an article in September to the Christian online magazine, “Empowered.”  It was accepted!!!  My friend Melissa writes for them, and she recommended me.  It is a blessing, especially since I have wanted to be published in a Christian women’s magazine, but the ones that I have found don’t take unsolicited writing.  I have my blog, but it is incredibly exciting to get published on a wider scale.  I would love to have more opportunities for my writing to be published in the future.  As rain falls beautifully ending a drought, I earnestly hope that my writing both on my blog and my personal poetry will be reinvigorated and inspired again, ending a dry spell for me with both my motivation and inspiration that has been lacking.  It was extremely encouraging to have my article published, and I have received promising feedback from the small number of family and friends that I have told thus far.  It was so affirming to see my article referenced on the cover of “Empowered” with the caption “Finding your path.”  It was also empowering (yes, I am doing a play on words with the magazine title) for me as a writer to type up my credentials and biography and submit a professional picture (actually taken at a previous staff expo for my current job that has nothing to do with writing).  While there was a slight editing mistake in the article (i.e. I never actually bought a Siberian husky  when I was younger, because the dog sold at the pet shop before I could buy it), I am so thrilled with the article overall.  However. I have to fight my inner critic and own self doubts when reading my own work or thinking that I should have edited more before submission, even though I spent hours on the article.  I sincerely hope you have a moment to check out my article.  It is in the October/November/December issue of “Empowered” on the topic of careers that was published mid-end last month.  My article is on page 23-24 and is entitled, “Finding Your Path When your Career Path is Different than you Dreamed.”