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The Minnie Stories

Cleaning Up Your Act - Part 7

Fat Chance! - My Lady In Chelsea.

One Wednesday morning last June, a bright shiny day for a change, I opened the front door of the house in Beaufort Street, in Chelsea, for my weekly cleaning job at Mrs Vernon’s. She’s such a lovely lady……quiet, and kind, never looks down her nose at me, or makes me use an old chipped mug for my cup of tea instead of the good china, just because I’m the daily (or in her case, the weekly!)

I'm not sure what Mr Vernon does - I think he works in the City. I always try to see the sunbeams in people, not the raindrops, but I have to say it - mostly Mr Vernon is like a wet week! And he doesn’t talk to her very nice, either. I’ll give you a for instance……..Mrs V’s first name is Mildred, known as Millie. And sometimes he yells out “Millie, get in here….!”, and she says to me

“Was he calling you or me, Minnie?” And I think to myself

“If he was calling me like that I wouldn’t answer anyway!”

So I get there this particular morning, and I start in the kitchen, as usual. I can hear Mrs V moving around upstairs, so I’m sure she’ll be down in a few minutes, and I get on with the rest of the downstairs. But she still hasn’t appeared by the time I need to start on the upstairs. I knock gently on her bedroom door, and she says “It’s alright, Minnie…….come in”..

Well, I’ve never seen her bedroom looking like this before! She’s always so tidy, everything in it’s place, the way I like things myself. But today it looks like a bomb has hit it….. ! The wardrobe doors a are wide open but it’s empty - her lovely clothes are thrown all over the bed, the chairs, the floor, even!

“Whatever’s happened, Mrs V? Are you alright?”

She gives a half laugh, but like she’s crying inside, and sits down on the bed, on top of all the piles of clothes, and sighs.

“Not really, to tell you the honest truth Minnie…”

“But what’s wrong…? Are you ill?”

“Oh no, not in the conventional meaning” she says. She has a lovely way with words, Mrs Vernon.

“But I am sick - sick of my body, sick of how I look……..! We have to go to a business dinner tonight, and there’s hardly anything here that fits me! And I just look so awful in the things that do!.”

Now I’m really worried; because yes, she’s a big woman, but all in proportion, if you know what I mean. And such a lovely face, and her hair always just right - maybe a little bit old-fashioned, yes…but if there’s one word that really fits her it’s ‘elegant’.

And now here she is saying things like

“I don’t want to look like this! I don’t want to be fat!”

I feel so sad for her, and I want to help her feel better; and then for some reason I suddenly remember my first lady I ever worked for - when I’d said I didn’t think I could clean her antique china vases, she said to me

“Minnie dear, if we concentrate on what we can’t do, then we won’t do it! The secret to being successful at anything is to always say what you want, not what you don’t want!”

So I hear myself saying to Mrs V.,

“So if that’s what you don’t want to look like, how do you want to look ? And if you don’t want to be fat, what do you want to be instead?”

And she looks at me like she’s really thinking about this way of talking, and she says

“I want to look slimmer….I want to be a size 14” And when she says this, her voice seems more positive as well.

“Do you know, Minnie, it actually feels different, better, inside, saying it this way! And I really believe it’s distinctly possible that it can be done, that someone like me can do it!”

Then it was like a shadow came over her face, and her shoulders slumped again.

“But Minnie….what if I don’t deserve to be as I want? Maybe I’m not worth it? Perhaps Arthur is right”.

And then very quietly, and slowly, she tells me that they’ve been married for nearly 27 years; and for most of those, every time she’s got dressed ready for them to go out somewhere, he’s said things like

“You don’t seriously intend to go out wearing that!” Or, “You really shouldn’t wear trousers, they make your bottom look even bigger than usual!”

Well, I didn’t know what to say to the poor woman, I felt so bad for her. But angry as well…

“Well it seems to me, Mrs V that we all see things how we choose, how we want, to see them. If that’s how Mr V chooses to see you, he’s not really seeing you as you are at all. So you can either believe his opinions, or your own. No wonder you didn’t think you deserved to look good - you’ve got too used to looking through his eyes!”

I wondered if I’d gone too far…….but Mrs V didn’t look angry at all! In fact, she wasn’t even looking at me: she seemed to be staring across the bedroom, in such a funny way, I just had to ask her what she was looking at. And you could have knocked me down with my own feather duster when she says

“I’m looking at me, Minnie”

“But the mirror’s this side of the bedroom!” I said, really worried now.

“No, not in the mirror, Minnie”, she says, still staring at something I can’t see. ”I’m seeing myself as I’m going to be in three months time. I can see what I’m wearing - and it’s a size 14 trouser suit! I can see the shoes I’ll have on, how my hair looks in its new style I’m going to have, even the earrings I’m wearing then!”

She made it sound so real, and believable, I heard myself saying

“So what does it feel like, to be the you you are going to be?”

And you know what she says….?

“Good question, Minnie…….I’ll go and try it on and find out!” And she walks across the bedroom towards where she’s been staring, stops, and then steps forward like she’s actually ‘stepping into whatever she’s seeing!

It was very funny…not funny haha, I mean almost funny peculiar! Her whole body suddenly looked different - she was standing straighter, moving her arms, body, legs, like she was trying it on for size - which I suppose she was, in a way, wasn’t she!?

Then she says firmly,

“Yes, Minnie, this feels right. This is how I’m meant to be. The more I’m in this body, the more I feel I’ve come home; I’m who I’m going to be from now on.”

“Well in that case, Mrs V., maybe you should have this new you………...” She interrupted me.

“Not just the new me, Minnie - the true me…..!”

“……right,” I went on, “have this true you, ready to step into before you eat any meal! Maybe even have her by the bed in the morning when you get up, so you can step straight into her even to go down to the kitchen - I’m sure she’ll choose something really healthy for breakfast, won’t she?”

“What a good idea!” she says. “ because I’m sure that even if I go to the fridge and start to reach in there for something that’s not good for me, she will just know it isn’t - she’ll imagine what it will feel like inside my stomach in the middle of the night…...and she’ll take out something else instead! This is so exciting!”

And she gives me a big smile, and we start putting the clothes back into her wardrobe.

“You know, Minnie, “she says, “this feels completely unlike any diet or similar thing I’ve ever done. Because they were always about what it would be like to be how I wanted to be, but they never seemed real. But now I’ve actually been to my future, and lived it! So I know it’s real!”

I felt so happy for her; but there was still something I needed to ask ….

So I said

“Mrs V., I’m not being nosey, honestly, but one thing I don’t understand. Why did you choose to see yourself as you’re going to be in three months from now? Why not maybe one month, or six, or whatever? Why three?”

“Oh that’s easy to explain”, she says. “In three months from now it will be my twenty-seventh wedding anniversary - and that’s when I’m going to apply for a divorce.........!”

And she starts to go into the bathroom, then turns, gives me an even bigger smile, and says

“………because I’m worth it!”

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Cleaning Up Your Act

Introduction To The Story Collection

The Minnie Kerchevsky Stories

Real wisdom can often be found in the most unlikely places....not from teachers, coaches, professors and so on, but from ordinary people who have their own life experiences to draw on to help others.

Cleaning Up Your Act is a collection of the stories of one of these very special people.........

Minnie Kerchevsky is a so-called ‘ordinary woman’, a cleaner, a 'daily', with no pretensions, no super-ego... just a desire to make things better in any way she can; helping those around her to “clean up their acts” in her own unique and heart-warming way!

Minnie believes that what stops us being happy is thinking we don’t have choices - and that feel-good is a state of mind we can always choose to be in!

So in ‘Cleaning Up Your Act’, we gradually learn about Minnie’s own life and events - and how she dealt with challenges and learned how to see raindrops as sunbeams in disguise! - interwoven through the stories she shares about the people she impacts with the homespun wisdom that is the essence of who and how she is, because of who and how she has been.

Each of us has met Minnie, or someone like her, in our lives... and if we haven’t, we’re the poorer for it - so here’s our chance to put that right!



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