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!
Cleaning Up Your Act - Part 1
You mis - heard my name - I'm not Millie... I'm Minnie - Minnie Kerchevsky. When I was born they called me Miriam; but I was so puny, they didn't think I'd survive! So they gave me a new name to give me a new life... and Mum said as I was so small they'd call me Minnie instead!
I think that's what I do, in a funny kind of way, cleaning all these people's homes and offices... it's like I'm giving them a fresh identity, a new way of living. Listen to me already...! But you know something even crazier? ,
Cleaning Up Your Act - Part 2
THE MIRIAM PART OF ME
You remember I told you about being named Miriam when I was born? And then because they thought I was too weak and small to live, they gave me a new name, and that’s how I became Minnie? Well the strange thing is, although I’ve been Minnie for nearly all my sixty-eight years, my parents were right.. because Miriam didn’t die - she’s still here inside me!
I don’t know if I can explain what I mean; but it’s like sometimes, when I’m in a situation that’s getting me angry, or impatient with someone, or something, and I can hear my voice getting louder, and I can feel my temper rising to where I might say something I’ll regret later, there’s suddenly this quiet, gentle little voice in my head, saying “It’s okay Bubbela, don’t upset yourself.. life’s good, isn’t it?”
Cleaning Up Your Act - Part 3
MELANIE FROM ACCOUNTS
So okay….maybe I shouldn’t have sat in the Managing Director’s chair that night last year! But he’d left the office at six o’clock - and it was half past nine, and I’m still there. And I’m a bit tired…..I’d cleaned my lady in Fulham’s house at seven that morning, then her friend’s place in Chelsea. Then I went home and looked after my neighbour’s little girl for a few hours while she went to visit her husband in ….but that’s another story!
Then at five thirty I get into the offices to clean; and by seven I thought that I had the place to myself as usual; I quite enjoy that - it’s like the outside matches the inside of my head, which is most times the only place I can get a bit of peace, talk things over with all the different parts of me, or not, if I don’t feel like talking. And when the offices are empty, and my body is busy cleaning, I can be quiet inside and out.
Cleaning Up Your Act - Part 4
GETTING IT OFF MY CHEST!
You know something else I’ve noticed over the years I’ve spent listening to other people talking - and talking to myself? It’s this - the words people use, the way they describe things, says more than what they intend! Can you believe it!? Let me give you a for instance….my Jack’s sister, Ruby, was always upset at the world; she’d say things like
“You know what really makes me sick, Minnie? It’s the way people are full of crap, pardon my French. I can’t stomach it!”
And you know something…….she was getting worse and worse pains, she went to the doctor, and was told she had Irritable Bowel Syndrome……!
Cleaning Up Your Act - Part 5
I remember when my Sarah Jane told me she was pregnant - I didn’t know whether to laugh or cry; to me she was still only a baby herself! Just twenty years old! And she’d always been such a quiet one.. We thought she’d never have the courage to even talk to a boy, let alone, well, you know what I mean……!
But maybe, when you meet the right person, it doesn’t need courage, or even words:- a look, a smile in a special way, and you just know inside. As my mother used to tell me
“Minnie darling, when it’s the one, your hearts will say everything you need to hear!”
Cleaning Up Your Act - Part 6
The Man On The Stairs
You remember me telling you about that terrible caretaker who thank God eventually left before he was fired? Well a couple of days ago the Manager tells me we’ve got a new man starting that night. So when I went in to start the evening’s cleaning, of course I’m interested to meet him, and hoping he’s not like the other one!
Anyway, I’ve just finished the first floor reception, and I’m on my way to the lift to go up to Accounts, when I see this man walking up the stairs: he smiles at me, so I smile at him, and he stops and says
“You must be Minnie. I’m Bob, the new Caretaker.”
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
Cleaning Up Your Act - Part 8
Having A Minnie-Break!
“Right Mum”, says Sarah Jane, as soon as I open the door and see her waiting on my doorstep, carrying a huge parcel “Come on, let’s get this inside”.
And in she comes, with Sam following; he gives me a kiss, smiles, and shrugs as if to say “What can you do when she’s set her mind on something?” And he’s right of course – when my Sarah Jane gets a bee in her bonnet about anything, nothing will stop her ‘til she’s let it fly free!!.
So in she marches, puts the parcel down on the sofa, and says,
“Right, Mum, come and open it!”
Cleaning Up Your Act - Part 9
Thank You, Terry Wogan!
You know something I think is very strange? It’s how we can live so many years, doing what we do, being what we are - and maybe believing we know ourselves well.
We go through the days, the years, taking for granted that in this situation, we’ll react in this way….because we usually do! All our experiences, it seems to me, sort of give us an automatic way to behave when things happen - because, as I said, that’s how we’ve always done it.
It’s like we don’t even have to think what to do - we just do it!
Cleaning Up Your Act - Part 10
When I was a kid, growing up in north east London in the 1950s, my world wasn’t very big - well at least not the world around me. In those days we didn’t travel much…..my dad never learned to drive ‘til he was in his late 30s, and even then, he never had a car! We didn’t really need one - we went on buses and trains everywhere we needed to go: and as I said, that wasn’t very far anyway.
All the family - well all Mum’s side of the family - lived fairly locally. Dad’s were a real adventure train ride away, in Liverpool, and that’s where we went once a year, on holiday! Otherwise, we learned young which number trolley bus to get to which auntie’s house………..i bet you’re much too young to even know what a trolley bus was, aren’t you!?
Cleaning Up Your Act - Part 11
A Position Of Responsibility
I think I must be one of the luckiest women in the world. Well actually, having said that, I think that being a woman is lucky in the first place. Now I know that’s not how a lot of women see it - some of them think it’s a man’s world, because of the jobs they can do, the money they can earn even doing the same job as a woman, and so on.
But I’m not talking about things like that…. sure, in a lot of ways they’re right - life can be unfair. What I mean when I say I’m lucky is that I really believe we make our own luck. Oh, I can almost hear you shouting me down for saying that…..! But give me a minute, let me explain……..
I’m not saying that I believe we can control what life throws at us, however much we would like to; all I’m saying is that I really think what we can control – no, more than control, choose, is how we react to it.
Cleaning Up Your Act - Part 12
I think I mentioned once before, about my neighbour, the one whose little girl I baby-sit for sometimes? Well, I say neighbour, but she’s more than that now…we’ve become real friends. Funny - we just seemed to click from the first day they moved in. They say opposites attract don’t they? (whoever ‘they’ are!)
Well that’s what happened with me and Maha……..a sixty-something Jewish woman from Clapton, and a twenty four year old Muslim from Amman! But somehow we just really got on from day one. Even though we came from such different cultures, we seemed to have so much in common…..the way we felt about a lot of things, about our children, how important family was, you know the sort of thing.
And we laughed so much……like when Maha invited me in to hers for “a little lunch” one day, and the table was covered with so many different dishes and bowls and plates of food, just for the two of us!
Cleaning Up Your Act - Part 13
Dain And Toby - A Different Point Of View
I collected Dain from reception class today, while Maha was visiting Laith again. Anyway, she held my hand as usual, but seemed a bit quiet.
“Are you alright, Bubbelah?”, I asked her.
She just nodded, but didn’t say anything. So I waited, as we walked along.
“Would you like to go to the park today? Some of your friends might be there.”
Cleaning Up Your Act - Part 14
Not To Be Sneezed At
It’s my once – a – fortnight in Fulham this morning…..Mrs Webb’s. You know who I mean? One of the first ladies I ever cleaned for: the one who’s friends with Mrs Vernon?
She lives in one of those modern houses on a - what do you call them?, oh yes, a gated development; and she’s one of these people who doesn’t have bits and pieces around the place; it’s all very, you know, minimalist - very smart: though some people could think it’s a bit cold looking. And Mrs Webb is a bit like her house……very attractive, very modern, but she doesn’t really show her feelings.
When I get there, she buzzes me in through the security gate, and when she opens the front door, she’s sneezing, and her eyes are all red.
Cleaning Up Your Act - Part 15
You know those times when you have to make a decision…..but you just can’t? I’m not talking so much about obvious things, like between which pair of shoes to buy, or what to make for dinner: I mean something that’s more complicated - like what to do when how you feel is pulling you apart…..when your head is saying one thing, but your heart is saying the opposite.
Okay, I know our heads and our hearts can’t actually talk, but you get my meaning, don’t you?
Well that’s what I’m going through now - but I can’t talk to anyone about it:- because the only people I’d usually be able to turn to, are the ones who are involved in it……….
From ‘CAN DO’ to ‘CAN DID’……..!
In today’s economic climate, we all have to do more with less, and so we’re told that there’s a real and imperative need for a ‘can do’ attitude. Yet one of the most powerful secrets of business success is not just a ‘can do’ attitude, but an ability to ‘live’ your goals backwards. – in other words, to have a ‘can did!’ attitude instead…… and the ability to action it!
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In my Primary school it was George Breeze, the music teacher. The first time I had a lesson with him I sat reluctantly at the piano, waiting for instructions, Instruction! But he simply asked me what I wanted from music, and what it would be like when I got it. Sharing that with Mr Breeze crystallised it in my own head, and also made me feel comfortable…..in rapport with myself as well as with him.
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