I just rediscovered a new fitness routine – ironing! It started with my daughter getting the wrinkles out of her new cotton Easter dress. She used the steamer, but it didn’t result in the crispness that ironing creates. So, while the iron was out, I did some cloth napkins – just playing - and decided I had a pair of pants that could use perking up and before I knew it I had finished a spring blazer, too! My upper arms are feeling pretty buff with the isometrics of ironing!
I thought of my grandmothers and mother ironing, the multitude of 4-H clothing projects I practiced my ironing skills on, the way fabrics have evolved. The industrial age gave us easy care fabrics with polyester and nylon made from extruded petroleum, greatly reducing the time, energy and effort it takes to make our clothing function well and look good. We have stronger parachutes, longer wearing, colorfast carpets, upholstery and even better medical technology as a result!
But we’ve gotten flabby in the meantime. No longer do we haul the water, crank the washing machine, beat the rugs and iron our shirts. I’m not sure I would trade my modern conveniences for all of that physical labor, but I might choose to iron more again. I found my mind shedding the worries of the day, relaxing and focusing on the steam rising, the texture of the cloth in my hands, the hem draped over the ironing board and the perfectness of the creases that emerged from my hot stainless steel weight. I felt mindful and fully conscious of the present moment. Ironing was an almost meditative if not muscle strengthening activity. Creativity flowed, problems solved themselves and I felt such a sense of accomplishment that I went looking for more items to iron.
We’ve traded chores for convenience, purposeful work for treadmills, and basic skills for more time at the office. Hmmm. I think I will put together the push reel mower I bought for a 1/3 of the price of a gym membership. It might increase my ‘icy-hot/ben-gay’ expenses, but I might get fit in the process.
What have you traded for convenience? What purposeful work could you choose this week to benefit your mind or body?