Every once in a blue moon, it is good for us to reassess our lives. My life has been under fire the last few years as I tucked in for the good fight to finish grad school. With grad school now packaged up all neat and tidy, I turn to clearing out the chaos of a life lived under pressure. I am naming my project The Great Clean Sweep.
I have been chronicling the journey here by applying the Art of Collecting Yourself to the life lived in my home. What does that mean? When I started this blog, I thought about the role creativity plays in my life. It seems mostly to be a way for me to balance the push and the pull of living with the desire to be the most authentic person I can be. So there is this cycle of diving into the world around me and then checking in to assure I am intact or to assess how I might grow into an even more genuine version of myself. Making sure also that I haven’t lost my bearings. I use creativity to keep myself true. I journal, draw, write, sculpt, celebrate, move, and create relationships so that I can stay in my groove when things push me off course.
As I begin the work of simplifying my home, I realize the project is two-fold. First, it is simply time for a deep cleaning. Elbow grease ready, I steady myself for the task. Secondly, and this is probably more important, I realize I am changing. Where once I needed to hold on to things because of the meaning they brought to my life, now, I am finding that less stuff and more space reflects who I am and who I want to become.
I have felt myself moving in a more simplistic direction for a few months. Returning from our trip to Portland and Seattle, something kicked in. Both my husband and I knew we wanted to dig in and let go. I started with making lists of the direction I wanted to take to tackle such a monumental task. And more importantly, I have spent time visualizing the changes so that I don’t just jump in a waste energy. But, I have been surprised by my emotional response to the work.
Day one, I dove in, ready to transform one of the dumpy areas of the house, my desk. But as I got into the bulk of the work, I got slowed down by the grumps. My mood shifted. Hidden in the stack of papers were the not-so-fun parts of life: business, pressures from things advertised, and all the collateral damage of a just-more-than-mild tendency to procrastinate. The Great Clean Sweep took my first day of tidying and turned it into a day of learning. The project claimed its rightful place in my life. No, it was not showing up to help me get my house in order. Clean Sweep – The Great is my teacher. She has come to help me get my life and my living in order.
Now, ideally, I could tell you the lesson learned, but I feel like the reward isn’t something, like a bird, I can hold in my hand and point to. Just as this project is about moving things around in space literally, so is the lesson about inner shifts which feel subtle yet profound.
It may just be mere coincidence that I began the epic journey to make a Clean Sweep by beginning at my desk. But I find it powerful that the desk is the symbolic mind of our home. It is here where we become master minds over the interactions we take with the world beyond our home. Bills are paid, letters written, and emails crafted. What better place to start! The desk.
And so the mind center of our home is now simplified. I have added a reclaimed military filing cabinet we discovered at a thrift store to the desk area. Currently a drab green, it dreams of someday being altered (oh the possibilities) so that it can be both functional and funky. Its empty drawers beckon the tucked and piled pieces of paper gathered in various corners of the cubby-hole we call home to join it there. Before long, it will live up to its former life by helping me order mine into shape.
Sitting back with a wider perspective of the day’s progress, I am grateful for the dream which propels me forward. I have cultivated a vision of what my home will be like, look like, and feel like. Not only do I enjoying seeing it manifest as small corners give up their clutter for a taste of tranquility, but the promise of seeing the journey through to completion is a key to unlocking peace in my own spirit. As I face what is hidden beneath the chaos of my home, so am I gifted with being able to understand the chaos within because I have kept the promise of a more simple home and life in front of me. That is what I consider the Art of Collecting Yourself…one paper clip, one altered filing cabinet, one lesson learned…at a time.