I saw her drop everything and run. It wasn’t the first time I had witnessed this, but it always made me stop whatever I was doing to watch her make a fast trip down the stairs into the basement, around a corner, and into the laundry room.

Usually, this happened when we were in the kitchen, but I had also seen her sprint from a far back bedroom to get to the machine before she thought it would blow up.

She would come back up out of breath but had stopped whatever catastrophe was about to happen.

“What was I doing?” She would ask me. I had to remind her because the event gave her temporary amnesia.

Pretty much every time she washed clothes, this happened. The laundry chute in the upstairs bathroom was to save her from having to haul clothes from one level to the other.

The colossal bag hanging in the corner of the laundry room caught everything. She would unzip it and let it all fall to the floor to sort through. I recall throwing things down into it when I was little, hoping that I didn’t go with it.

I got into trouble for following the instruction of my brother, who told me to throw toy cars down into it. I thought they vanished into thin air, so it seemed somewhat frightening and magical. I was slightly afraid of sliding down with them.

She made me understand clearly that it caused her more work if I did this. I didn’t do it again.

One time, unable to correct the familiar slamming sound herself, she told me to lift the lid to get the noise to stop. I had to quickly get there like I had seen her do, and it scared me. It appeared as if a person were trapped inside, trying desperately to beat their way out. I had no idea what was happening, but I did what she had told me.

“I think I put too many pairs of jeans in here,” she said, taking them out and putting them in the sink. They were heavy with water. I watched her close the top and let it go back to work.

“If I put too much in, it causes the drum not to work right. I had it break once, so I try not to let it do that. And I never know for sure what is going to set it off.”

That explained the reason behind why she went into hyper-speed when it started to act up. There were eight people she was washing clothes for, and money was not free-flowing. My dad could fix anything, but she didn’t want to be the cause of having to tell him she damaged it with too much in it. He was already working long hours to keep it all together. If something broke by accident, that was one thing, but she was never careless to cause him extra chores.

Once the size of the family dwindled, the problem disappeared as less had to be washed.

But, as a faithful daughter, I carried on her tradition at my house. Not as frequent, but enough times that both of my children have been highly entertained as I make the run like I saw her do multiple times. Usually, it’s a comforter that’s the culprit. Not that I crammed too much in, but in a way that it needs to be rearranged to get everything back in order.

The second I hear the first banging noise, I’m down the stairs to fix it. Recently, I cleaned out a closet, forgetting I had put many things in the hallway leading to the washing machine.

I moved fast, and I knew my way there without a light, so I didn’t turn one on. While the machine was loudly sending out signs that it was in distress, so was I as I tripped and fell my way there over all the stuff I forgot about.

Sometimes you have to deal with baggage as you try to fix a problem. In my case, it was many pieces of baggage impeding my progress.

Once I fought my way in, I thought I had it all settled down. It went back to running right, so I went upstairs. Within minutes, it was at it again, but this time I jumped over the junk and cleared it like a hurdle. It pays to stay in shape just for these times when you leave a mess for later.

I took the time to research how to stop this when a person does laundry. What could save me from adding Fitbit steps to my day through a panic run? The advice I found was to weigh all your clothes in a bag before putting them in. Then, you must check the owner’s manual to see what the recommended weight is. No problem.

What a great idea not to do.

I don’t even measure the soap. I’m not totally irresponsible. I bought one that gives the exact amount I need when I squeeze it. If clothes need that much attention, talk to all the houseplants I have killed from lack of watering.

I have tried, though, much as my predecessor, not to put too much strain on the machine. It’s not good in the long run.

Just like taking on many tasks just to be nice so people will like you. I have said “yes” to many things I would have instead said no to. And I have driven myself into the ground trying to do too much while others didn’t feel obligated to offer any sort of help.

When you finally wake up to that, you might find resentment toward those so self-centered. Yet, you decided to give up your time. You have no one to blame but yourself.

A famous motivational speaker told how she became chronically sick and exhausted from such a rigorous schedule. One day while contemplating this, God spoke to her and let her know that she was the one who got to decide what she did with her days. No one was forcing her to do anything. Something she had started out loving, now was becoming a burden because of pressure being exerted on her. She made the decision to do a little less to cut the stress.

People will take advantage of a willing spirit. On the one hand, it’s great to be of service to those who have a need, but it’s not beneficial to create a monster that cannot handle the idea of not having you at their beck and call. Along the way, you learn this, and you begin to set appropriate boundaries.

I have had to remove myself from the presence of those who didn’t get it. That is never an easy decision, but when you see that the “to do” list is long and the expectation hoops keep multiplying no matter what, you make a decision to quit sacrificing all of yourself to please someone else.

That sounds horrible to say, but why should you? Is it to your advantage to take up all of your energy on that while possibly bypassing the reason why God put you here? If you are running yourself ragged doing something out of guilt or obligation, you are missing out on being a blessing to others who need you. And the joy of it.

Just like you should make sure that your washing machine isn’t beyond its capacity to handle what you put in it, your life is going to work better and feel more carefree if you operate from a balanced mindset to serve others and keep yourself from overload.

Eau De Oxiclean

When a bag of ice is in the trunk on a hot summer day and the trip from Walmart to home isn’t short, there is a sort of panic that ensues. No one wants to arrive home with a gigantic bag of water. In my haste last Sunday to unearth my ice from the thousands of Walmart bags I had carelessly piled on top of it, I grabbed my industrial sized jug of laundry soap and was holding it in one hand while attempting to grasp onto the bag that housed the ice. The large soap container slipped from my hold which I attempted to stop with my right foot. The bottle bounced and landed on its cap smacking the gargage floor sending a beautiful blue shower of fluid onto my new shoes, my ankles and both knee caps. It’s at times like this when a person loses all sense of speech and just keeps on repeating,

“Oh no. Oh no. Oh no,” while trying to reach down to stop the madness of the river forming around the feet.

The dilemma really was to try and get out of the blue puddle and race my fast melting purchase a few steps into the outside freezer without tracking detergent all over. At the same time, I was very aware of the sticky feeling that was beginning to happen between my toes. The ice took precedence as I skipped unhappily over to the refrigeratior to solve problem number one.

When I returned to the scene of the mess, my daughter came outside to help carry in more groceries. Because the liquid was right behind the trunk of my car, she had to keep her feet way back, reach in to grab more groceries and edge her way out without touching the glob. While she did this, I carefully picked up the container to attempt to clean it off and get it to the laundry room.

“I purposely picked out the bigger one with Oxiclean it. Now it’s all over the floor!” I said as I whisked into the house irritated at the circumstances.

While I was downstairs attending to the task, I heard the door to the kitchen open, and I heard her say,

“Trouble. Trouble Trouble.” Followed by a bit of running over ahead and then the sound of the faucet running.

It turned out, she had her run in with the soap as well. As she was trying to get more groceries out of the back, a large wrapped loaf of Italian bread took a dive into the puddle. I found the bread in the sink.

My hands and entire body reeked of detergent.

“Here. You hold the bag. I will use these tongs to slide the bread out without touching the bag, and I think we can save it.”

“My hands smell like laundry soap. I don’t think I can do it. I don’t want to ruin the bread.”

With the skills of a kitchen Ninja I carefully extracted the bread from the bag with the tongs without touching the afflicted bag. And, then it hit me.

Laughter. I was laughing so hard thinking about the two of us nearly running into each other in the garage and walking with my feet spread wide apart as if that would help anything. And it doesn’t. It never does, but I do it anyway to make myself feel better in those types of situations.

This then led me to recalling another time of chaos.

“Mom, I don’t feel good,” she had said just before bed. “I have a headache and my stomach feels weird.” I was exahusted from a full day of chores around the house, and I wanted to get to bed.

“Why don’t you sleep on my floor?” I made up a bed for her with pillows, extra bedding and a basin in case of an emergency.

“Just try to go to sleep. I will be back in a minute. I have dishes to clean up.”

Within moments of being in the kitchen, I heard my bedroom door open. I knew instinctively that something was amiss. Our black lab, Shady, thought my daughter was coming out to play. While I attempted to get to my daughter, the dog lept in my way.

Dog and daughter collided in the hallway and suddenly there was vomit all over the back end of that dog! My daughter scampered into the bathroom while the dog ran crazily into my other daughter’s bedroom, jumped on her BRAND NEW comforter and began rolling around on it. I stood in the hallway not knowing which way to go first. Do I get the dog off of my upset teenager’s bed, or do I go rescue the one in the bathroom?

I opted to check on the one who threw up while hearing the other one yell,

“What is happening?!?!”

The next step was to get the dog calmed down which wasn’t easy. Once in insane play mode at over 80 pounds, she was difficult to harness. I finally grabbed her by the collar and dragged her into the tub. She abhored baths and thought of them as punishment, so to make her feel better, I got in with her and turned on the water. She sat down looking defeated and dumbstruck. How had playtime turned into bath time? As I began scrubbing her down, I began to laugh so hard I was crying. Her face looked so dejected.

It had been months since I had really had a genuine good laugh. I had just come through a horrible divorce where grief and pain greeted me each day as a reminder that my life seemed like a failure. There was no room for joy as I went through the motions of trying to get to everyone and everything. The more I laughed, the more depressed the dog looked which made me laugh more.

Once the dog was dry and escaped the bathroom happily, the ill child was sleeping peacefully, and I had loaded the dirty bedding into the washer, I felt relaxed. It was nearly 2 am before I got to bed, but I went to sleep that night feeling that some of the sadness had departed from my spirit. I was on my way to healing.

I believe it is in the moments of what we would call ‘insanity’ that many of us come to realize we need to find our sense of humor. If we don’t find it, it may just come calling for us. Joy snaps us out of a place of despair and connects us again to the One who wants to see us happy.

I decided not to wash off the smell of the laundry soap. It’s my new scent.  Eau De Oxiclean. (That may be French.  I am not sure)