i paint i write

Live boldly, laugh and make art

Leave a few dishes in the sink and laundry in the hamper and get a life.

There will always be a dirty dish in the sink.

Yesterday, Saturday, I woke up at 5:00 a.m. I walked the dog, washed, dried, folded and put away 8 loads of laundry, vacuumed, dusted the tops of all the art work, scrubbed the hard water stains out of the toilet bowl with a pumice stone, made supper and washed the dishes. At the end of the day I wrote about forgetting to smell the roses.

Before I went to bed, after a day of just cleaning, I said to my husband Nick, “Hey Nick, tomorrow I will have been alive for 20,000 days. Go to www.therobertd.com, he has a day calculator on how long you have been alive.”

Nick typed in when he was born and saw how many days he had been alive.  Then he typed in my birthdate.

“Pamela, today is your 20,000 day.”


“This isn’t how I would have spent today, if I knew it was my 20,000 day. I thought tomorrow was my 20,000 day.”

I went to bed last night sad. Sad that I had wasted a special day.

This morning when I woke up, I realized.

1.Every day is special. 

If I wouldn’t have spent an entire day cleaning on a “special day,” I shouldn’t spend an entire day cleaning on a non-special day. And, ALL days are special. You are alive.

Yesterday I thought, “I just want to get caught up.” 

2.You will never get caught up. 

Right after you wash all the dishes someone will eat and make a plate dirty. As soon as you have washed, dried, folded and put the laundry away, someone will spill milk on their shirt.

There will always be dust. There will always be dirty laundry. There will always be a dirty dish.

Today, on my 20,001 day alive I will remember to stop and smell the roses at the start of my day, not right before I go to bed.

3. Leave a few dishes in the sink and laundry in the tub and get a life.

At worst, a house unkept cannot be so distressing as a life unlived.
—Rose Macaulay

( If the only thing you do is clean, you are not living. The dust will still be there when you are dead. Go visit a friend, write a letter, paint a picture, write a story, go for a walk, read to a child, walk a dog, pet a kitty.)

And, really, dust is only dirt.

What will you do today?

P.S. Robert D. Smith wrote 20,000 Days and Counting. A Crash Course for Mastering Your Life, Right Now.

The book is an affiliate link. The pennies Amazon pays me, helps pay for kitty litter. I have four cats and seven litter boxes.


About Pamela Hodges

My name is Pamela Hodges. I am a writer and an artist. I write to encourage and to bring laughter. I paint cats, draw cartoons and write books for children and grown ups.

You are an artist. Yes, you are. Really.

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Get the FREE illustrated, sort of a comic book, “You Are An Artist.” Believe in yourself and your ability to draw. xo Pamela

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  • Oh, I should have read this before I wrote about my mountain of laundry! I didn’t even have to do the laundry, I could have just enjoyed the day not doing the laundry.

    • Ha, you could have enjoyed the day and had no clean clothes. I ignored the dirty dishes today and spend time with each child. Writing today’s story very late.

  • Jeanne Doyon

    I love this!!! So true. And happy 20,000 day to you. I hope you made it fun.

  • kathunsworth

    Happy 20000 day my children love finding out how many days they have been on this globe. I agree spend more time playing with the kids or doing something you enjoy, but as a person who needs a good clean space to survive, I get caught up in the world of domestic chores. As my wise mother says your house should look lived in, not like a hotel room before you enter. Thanks for reminding me to take the day off Pamela enjoyed the read thank you.

    • Hello Kath,
      Did you enjoy your day off?
      You live in a beautiful part of the world.
      I am going to go in the basement and draw. Maybe even paint.
      My blog is ipaint – iwrite, but lately it has just been, I write, I clean.
      Happy Special day to you and your family.

  • Sue Sutherlin

    I hope you enjoyed some sense of accomplishment at having been so productive in the way you were, yesterday.

    I can tell you the last time I was “caught up” on laundry – April 20, 1990. How do I know this, you ask. I was in mild (but increasing) labor with my fourth child, and ‘nesting’ and doing ALL the laundry there was to be done . . . when we left the house for the hospital that night, the only clothes that could be considered dirty were the ones on our backs (she was a whole hour-and-a-half late, being born at 1:30 AM the day after her due date!). I don’t think I have ever been caught up on dishes. HOWEVER, all that being said, it doesn’t mean I have always been a good steward of my time. I sometimes get overwhelmed in ‘stuff’ and miss the roses and sunsets.

    I really appreciated your article about procrastination (I copied and pasted the three quotes, put the title “Which Will You Choose?” at the top of the page, picked a fancy-ish (but readable) font, printed and framed it; now I just have to decide where it will have the most impact and hang it). The one that really hit me was “Only put off until tomorrow what you are unwilling to die having left done.” I am most definitely willing to die with dishes in the sink and laundry in the hamper.

    I passed 20,000 days almost two years ago, but I couldn’t tell you which day it was, or how I spent it. I appreciate the time you spend each day writing!

    • Dear Sue,
      Thank you for your encouragement today.

      Yes, I agree with you, I won’t mind dying with dishes in the sink and laundry in the hamper. I will be sad if my books never get written or if the paint never gets out of the jars onto the canvasses.

      Time to rethink how I spend my time. Writing daily has helped my words come out of my brain better.
      Now I wonder if I should draw every day as well?
      hmmm, have to think about that one.

  • Pamela,
    I LOVED this post. What a great quote and spent some time putting in the dates of my family to see how many days they’ve been here. Ruthie I can just count.

    The part about the cleaning/dusting was not so much about me. You could write your cat’s name in the dust. But, the part about living. That part resonated with me. I need to do more than just writing. Yes, I do some loving of my grandchildren, how could I not? But I want to incorporate more living in my days.

    Thanks my friend. And happy belated 20,000 days! You don’t look over 10040! (note, that’s 27 in years. not sure what it is in cat years).

    • Hello Anne,
      You flatter me, I haven’t been 10040 days old in years. How many days old is sweet little Ruthie?
      How fun to see how many days for family members. I will do some of my family tonight.
      Yes, Anne, lets incorporate more living in our days.
      I wonder how old we are in cat years? Good question.

  • amyyoungmiller

    Hey Pamela! Here’s a story for you: last night, I was fussing around the TV room, which was a total wreck because my daughters both have chicken pox and they’ve been toughing it out watching movies and eating in there. “oh, this room is awful, I need to clean it . . . ” said I. My daughter Amalia shook her head. “Mom, clean is NEVER as comfortable as MESSY. We need comfort, NOT clean.” haha! So I do believe we are on the same page here! Cleaning has to be done (eventually) but it need not consume us, if we are interesting people. And we are–interesting–people.

    • Hello Amy,
      Yes, clean is NEVER as comfortable as MESSY. I love your daughters attitude. Hoping both your daughters feel better soon. Interesting is a fun way to live.
      Did you take a break and watch a movie today with them? I will walk my dog soon. Hopefully smell a rose bush as well.

  • Paula Lawes

    Hey Pamela! Don’t worry about me I hardly ever clean! I’d rather be doing what I love and at the moment it’s creating my own business so I can love every day like today 🙂 Thanks though, because you reminded me again not to clean! hahaha (I am not that dirty really – it’s just not a priority for me) – have a great 20,001 day!

    • Hello Paula,
      I won’t worry about you. You know cleaning is not the most important thing. I wish you all the best with your business! And thank you for your kind wishes for my 20,001 day.