Spring Clean Your Thoughts With Bertha Stuart

Doc Gurley: We want to start today’s interview by first congratulating you, Bertha, on the very successful launch of your new magazine, Bertha Stuart Livering. Could you tell us a bit about how you chose the name – there’s been so much media speculation.

Bertha Stuart: Well, Dr. Gurley – you don’t mind if I call you Doc, for short, do you? – see, Doc, we found in our focus groups that there were few words that got a bigger reaction when it came to the topic of cleaning and interior design, than the word LIVER. So that’s what we went with.

DG: Um. Did you, by any chance, ask if those strong reactions were negative?

BS: What?

DG: [cough] Never mind. Our topic today is spring cleaning, and no one knows spring cleaning like Bertha Stuart.

BS: That’s right, Doc. It’s the season for a good scrub out, and nothing gets me more excited than taking an organized approach, and putting aside the time to do the job right. By the end of this project, if you follow my approach, you’ll have, ready to toss, at least one large double-ply-bag’s worth of nasty, stinky, crusted negative thoughts.

DG: Did you say thoughts?

BS: Why of course, silly. But don’t worry – it’s not as complicated as it sounds. If it seems overwhelming, just remind yourself how much lighter and spring-fresh you’ll feel afterward – almost as though you’re twirling in white pants at the end of tampon commercial. Hold still while I get my rubber kitchen gloves on.

DG: Help!

BS: See, what you want to do is set aside a bit of time for spring thought-cleaning – not too much or it’s easy to get overwhelmed. One or two days at most. Today we’re going to focus on removing the worst of the worst first.

DG: You don’t mean…

BS: That’s right. We’re going after any infestations. You know, those verminous thoughts that scurry around and around. If you don’t notice that they’ve snuck in, before you know it, there’s a nest of them. They eat away at wholesome things you’ve got stored, like your good nourishing memories. They gnaw at you when you least expect it.

DG: Okay, now I’m starting to understand. We in medicine call this type of thinking, perseverating – a kind of endless negative worrying, thoughts that keep intruding, sometimes about something that can’t be changed, or something that might happen. Usually these rodent-like thoughts are very negative…

BS: That’s right. They can creep up on any of us, particularly in times of stress, and try to dig in.

DG: Eek. It’s like I can hear them skittering around. I didn’t even notice they were there before. What do you suggest?

BS: That’s the point of spring cleaning, now isn’t it – to take the time to check things out and get things bright, repaired and shiny. Get a grip on yourself, honey. This is nothing for a certified window-cleaner like myself to deal with. The first tip is, don’t ever try to fight these thoughts. The way you get rid of them is to not feed them.

DG: What happens if you try to force these thoughts out, you know, by grabbing them and throttling them?

BS: My, you are a violent little rubber-glove wearer, aren’t you? If you fight these thoughts, they’re just going to get stronger, and more intrusive. What you do is, first recognize them. Second, you pay them no mind. No mind at all. If one goes scampering into view, you just think to yourself, hey, there’s one of those perseverating thoughts (maybe about your meanie boss or the upcoming presidential election, or the price of gas, or that wicked little stain that absolutely will NOT come out of your Carrera marble countertop) and you just let it keep going. It’ll keep on going, and wander straight out, if you let it.

DG: But isn’t there anything you can do? To speed up the process, I mean.

BS: Sure. Personally I like to air the place out – get some light into my thoughts, deliberately place some beautiful objects around to handle and admire. A virtual nosegay of sweetpea blossoms always comes to mind at this time of year. I have so many bouquets decorating the rooms of my mansion at Gobble Hill. And don’t forget, if you’re having trouble getting rid of those negative gnawing thoughts with these simple steps, you can sap the energy right out of them by meditating. Meditating is like bringing in the exterminator to spray them and put them to sleep.

DG: But meditating feels boring. I’m always the one that dozes off. Does it really help?

BS: Why sure. Those results were described by all you, ahem, research-types. By the way, white polyester coats that are too narrow in the shoulders are sooo yesterday – and I personally wouldn’t be caught dead in anything that had my name embroidered on the left chest – it just screams gas station attendant, don’t you think?

DG: [twitching at white coat sleeve] Sorry, what were you saying about research?

BS: Meditation done regularly, for about twenty minutes a day, where you just sit quietly and let your thoughts go blank, can help get rid of a nasty infestation of circular worrying. Again, if an icky thought shows up, even at the edges of your mind, you don’t try to chase it with a mental broom, or whack it, or anything, you just let it go. If you feel you must have something to think about, say the number “one” to yourself over and over. And if these simple steps aren’t helping, it’s time to seek professional help – a psychologist or doctor.

DG: Your advice and tips are so, well, unexpectedly accurate and helpful.

BS: Honey, you don’t have to dress badly in order to convince people you’re smart.

DG: [cough] Well, on that note, join us again for our next interview where we’ll be talking about the care, keeping and storage of…what is it, Bertha?

BS: Dreams and hopes. My goodness, that’s an important topic. You don’t want to ever keep valuable heirlooms like that packed away where they can’t breathe. You have to know what you’re doing to dust one off and clean it up. Like a fine cashmere, you don’t want to poke holes in it, or get it distorted and stretched out of shape, or use something too harsh on it…

DG: [talking over Bertha Stuart] Join us next time, here at The Joy Habit series.

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