I spent yesterday helping my daughter clean her room. We spent over eight hours cleaning, clearing, decluttering, putting things in boxes for storage, in boxes to send to a friend, in bags to give to a local thrift store. Her room is clean and organized and currently my favorite space in the house.
We are spending today cleaning the rest of the upstairs and then moving down to our middle floor. More clearing and decluttering will happen and I know we will fill more boxes and bags with stuff to leave our home, leaving open spaces, spaces for our home and family to breathe.
I find a special kind of satisfaction and relief when we do these deep clearings of our home. It becomes a sort of game to see just how much stuff I can release and let out of the house, recognizing it no longer serves us (if it ever did). My brain seems to function better when our home is less cluttered and I feel myself breathing easier; I’m able to write and paint and play more freely. I feel lighter and more joyful.
The frustration also sets in, of course, when the first messes and clutter start to reappear, none of us taking the five or less minutes to clear it up in the moment because of other distractions or simply feeling too tired and so I tell myself that I’ll get to it later. And then the clutter and piles build and grow because there is Never Enough Time until I finally can’t take it and end up spending an entire week at once cleaning and clearing and decluttering.
It’s my process. My own ebb and flow. Needing the time to focus on my home and having it just so and then needing the time to do other things and ignore our home.
As I write this our son is screaming with a tummy ache (we think) as my husband tries to calm him. I stopped writing to nurse him, text with a one of my best friends and then read Anne Lamott’s latest Facebook post. I now sit in our office typing and seeing the clutter of the room out of the corner of my eye, knowing I won’t be able to get to this space until Thursday or Friday. Wanting the rest of our home clean and cleared first so we can all breathe a bit better.
And to be honest I want to get these words down and out. In this moment it’s more important for me to write than to clean up the piles of paper on the floor or to sort through the pile of my daughter’s art that is on the shelf and needs to be either recycled or put into the box of saved art.
I feel as though there is something that is trying to push through me and perhaps this is why I need to clean and clear—to create the space for the next iteration of my own being and becoming. As I let go of the physical things I no longer want or need I feel the internal bits of myself that no longer serve me also disappearing. I can’t quite articulate what those internal bits are, only know that I’m finding myself able to breathe more, feeling more generous and understanding with each small bit of space that gets cleaned, each bag of stuff that is filled and ready to leave our home.
Yesterday I was questioning if this call to clean and clear is a symptom of my resistance to write. Today I see that it is part of my process. I find a certain meditative calm in folding laundry and putting it away; a peace is having a clean and clear floor; a joy in having our shelves and counters organized and neat. The act of cleaning and clearing for me is a both a meditation and a shedding process—while I am physically busy my mind is able to wander and ponder and I’m finding myself needing to have a notebook next to me so I can jot down my thoughts to explore or expand upon later. Ideas for blog posts and ideas for my fall offering are starting to bubble up all as I decide whether to keep this thing or that and while thinking of the coming weeks filled with busyness and fun and living.
The cleaning and clearing is living too, but in a different way. It is quiet for me, solitary even when my daughter is helping me and we talk. We now take breaks while I stop to feed or change her brother. Yesterday while he was sleeping we took a break to sneak downstairs for some ice cream.
Life is made of these simple moments. Folding laundry. Packing away extra lovies. Cleaning toilets and bathtubs and dishes and countertops. Of conversations about the Barbie Dreamhouse my daughter desperately wants for Christmas this year and her telling me how her dolls will live in it. Of cooing and giggling with our little guy. Of stopping to hug and kiss my husband as we are passing each other in the hall. Of sitting down and writing about how cleaning and loving my home is part of my own creative process, part of my own being and becoming.
I often hear or read a person stating that their life will begin when this or that big thing happens. That they will finally find happiness in the future. That they will truly begin to enjoy life when X and Y come into alignment. And I wonder, what do they think they are doing right now, as they wish and dream of the future? Do they truly think they aren’t living? Aren’t breathing? Aren’t being?
I understand how in hard times seeing the beauty of our lives can be more than challenging. I admit that I have said in the past how if only this or that THEN life would be truly beautiful. I’m grateful for my own growth and change through various practices that has led me to see how amazing and beautiful my life is right now. Right now even though we struggle. Right now even with sleep deprivation. Right now even with a messy house. Right now as I write about folding laundry and cleaning and the simple moments.
So these layers continue to shed. A new way of being in my home, my world; a new way of connecting with my family and friends. I find myself stepping out of my shell a bit more and into the loving arms of those who matter to me, realizing they have been here all along. And through my process of cleaning and clearing I am able to process my thoughts and feelings and eventually write them down or release them or both. I am learning about taking the first steps, reaching out, asking for what I need, allowing myself to be more deeply vulnerable.
All of this from cleaning a small space in my home. I look forward to what the clearing of the next few rooms will bring.