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What can you learn from a kitchen sponge?


I have encountered a range of household items that are storytellers, but none as telling as the kitchen sponge. It is a simple storyteller. The story of the kitchen sponge touches on the very nature of the human condition and wellbeing. Have you given pause to think about your state of wellbeing as it relates to a kitchen sponge? Keep reading...

A new sponge straight from the package is packed with cleaning potential. The pores are open and ready to take in what lies ahead. The sponge is soft and resilient, dare I say it, spongy. The scrubber on the back is neat and tidy—a sharp rectangle of cleaning majesty. Oh, the story hasn't even begun to unfold as it emerges from the packaging. Once unbridled from the containment of a plastic prison, the new sponge begins the adventure. So many places it can travel to. There is, of course, the countertop where it will wipe up extra bits of breakfast toast crumbs or coffee grinds. Maybe the toast was gluten-free and the coffee from a quaint mountain village. Wouldn't that be something? The sink is an absolute must-see for the sponge story. Coming into contact with those pots and pans of dinnertime lore. Perhaps the remnants of an epic nacho creation graced the kitchen leaving all the signs of a good time had by all. The new sponge potential is real.

After a few trips around the kitchen, the sponge begins to tease out the scrubber a bit. The scrubber has a lot of fun doing the hard work, like getting the scorched pot back to shiny. That one time, when the pans were left greasy, that took a toll on our sponge. A darker time in the story that leaves the sponge with visible damage and decreasing cleaning capacity.

The longer the life of the sponge, the less rebound it has. The resiliency of the sponge is reduced in relation to the amount of work it has put in. But how long did it sit on the counter full of up-taken kitchen grease, salt, crumbs, cleaning product, and water? Did our sponge travel through the dry highlands or sit in the muck of the sink floor? Has the lifespan of our sponge been cut short due to negligence or misuse?

What is the current state of your kitchen sponge? What story would it offer the curious observer? Does your mind provide images of sponges of kitchens past? Dry rotted out and frazzled scrubbers. Thin, crusty, and rigid like a week-old pizza slice from the back of the fridge. Maybe you just caught a glimpse of your current sponge and were like, yes, my sponge is mid-life.

I spent the last decade traveling around the Western Hemisphere as a massage therapy educator. Bouncing from town to town, cities, communities, airports, rental cars... Conference rooms full of wonderfully talented bodyworkers, cute therapy suites, and professional spaces. Once the short-term rental (Airbnb, VRBO) option became more accessible, I found it more vital. I love having a legitimate place to rest my head and recharge my body while on the road. I have also come across the different kitchen sponge stories in its various states upon my arrival.

Sometimes, when I got to my home away from home, I felt a kinship with that new sponge. We were fresh and ready to get to work. Travel can take a lot out of me too. I remember getting to my apartment in Costa Rica after a LONG day of travel, and I looked forward to a nice glass of ice, rum, and lime. Everything was staged and ready to go, I just needed to wash my glass. Then what do I see, a kitchen sponge as beat down and worn out as I. A bummer, to be sure, but not a total deterrent. Once I got my beverage and some stillness, I was refreshed like a brand new kitchen sponge. I went and purchased a pack shortly after that.

Which kitchen sponge are you? Maybe you just came out of the package and are ready to do the thing. Perhaps you have been on the counter for a few hours sitting next to an empty pot. Some of us are the dry crusty sponge needing some spring back. Other sponges may be clogged with grease and grime, not allowing any fluid exchange.

So what can you learn from a kitchen sponge? Soap helps, as does clean water. Massage (wringing) will keep you healthier longer. Too much grease is a bad thing. A little scrubbing to get rid of what you don't want around anymore takes effort. That is what can be learned from a sponge.


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