Spring cleaning is not just about cob webs and corners, it’s about shifting energy, wisdom, discernment and your emotional wellbeing, too
An act of love that fails is just as much a part of the divine life as an act of love that succeeds, for love is measured by its own fullness, not by its reception.~ Harold Loukes
What do you do when you feel off your game…lose yourself in ‘comfort food’ (or drink) because you deserve it, binge on Netflix (I had to catch up with Game of Thrones), sabotage your self-care? Maybe it’s even a combo. Regardless, you likely have your own go-to default settings.
I clean when I’m upset or rattled.
Out comes the vacuum, the paper towels and the cleaning supplies (environmentally friendly of course) to wipe things away. I find myself tidying up, taking things apart, deep dive-cleaning and reassembling. Think about it…it’s actually a great metaphor for life.
When something is off, being able to see the situation and space around you differently — creates room for breathing, fresh air and perspective. It helps move the stuck, stale, negative energy. It also creates order in the disorder of whatever is unraveling at the moment. Besides, you end up with a refreshed environment and who can’t appreciate that? Dust bunnies begone — in both my physical and mental space!
But most of all, it takes you out of the upset…even if only momentarily.
Besides as Albert Einstein reminds us, we simply can’t solve a problem with the same mindset that created it.
When I was a kid, I cleaned a lot. On Saturday mornings my mother went to work and I would deep clean my bedroom (I’m talking taking everything off my dressers to dust and vacuuming the floors, including the woodwork)…yeah, that kind of cleaning — not exactly your typical teenage girl kind of cleaning.
I knew my mom worked hard and sacrificed greatly for us 3 kids. Her paycheck afforded the extras for us, not her: the piano lessons, dance and gymnastic classes, soccer clubs, etc. Cleaning was something I could give her. When she came home I presented a clean kitchen and family room like it was a gift wrapped in a sparkly bow. I wanted her to be happy. I also think that on some level I always knew the power of a clean space.
But of course, while the busyness of cleaning transports us somewhere else and removes us from the chaos — it doesn’t get to the root of the problem. I wish I could sit with that young girl and ask her, what’s going on here? And I wish I could take her in my arms and tell her, you can’t make anyone happy, you’re not responsible for this — but your kindness is divine. Keep taking kind action, but don’t take on the problems of the world. They are not yours to carry (or solve).
I recently tried to fix something that wasn’t mine to fix. Just because you love someone, just because you are aware of something, just because you see the possibility….still doesn’t make it yours to resolve. Have you ever tried to fix someone else? It comes in so many flavors: love relationships, family, work, friends…even our kids.
We can’t ‘fix’ people, we fix cars, appliances and broken objects…not living, breathing beings. Their fixing is their soul journey. Your fixing is yours.
On a recent morning walk, my friend Ron reminded me that we can’t work harder to fix someone’s problems than they do. Boom! That hit home. We can show up to assist and support when asked, but we can’t fix what is not ours to fix.
Yet still we somehow insist upon trying. We continue to fight, to do it our way — to muscle through and alter things according to our belief system. We missed the memo on that one and it’s a lesson often learned the hard and painful way, like banging your head on a bunch of closed doors. Once exhausted by our efforts, we eventually wave the white flag of surrender above our heads.
Thus the recent cleaning.
Don’t beat yourself up when you feel the anguish of another. That’s compassion. Don’t beat yourself up for wanting to help fix something. That’s humanity. Don’t beat yourself up when you find yourself defeated. That’s self-awareness. Don’t beat yourself up for detaching and protecting yourself. That’s wisdom. And we are all of those things.
Thus the recent cleaning.
The cleaning wasn’t just about the busyness, though as Best Selfer Erin Stutland says, Movement in your body, creates movement in your life. Physical movement (whether it’s a walk outside around the block or an exercise class) helps us get unstuck. It can also calm your nervous system as it transports you from one state of mind to another.
So after this recent disappointment that hit me hard, I knew what I needed to do to shift the energy of myself and my house. I started by opening all the windows. My sweet, quirky old farmhouse filled with windows allow for a magnificent cross breeze to rush right through. It was almost as if I witnessed the heaviness depart on the wings of spring air. As I moved from room to room, I tidied, vacuumed — I moved the energy. I lit candles, burnt palo santo and brought in new fresh cut flowers. I reclaimed my space and reinfused it with life. Sanctuary restored.
Some things help us shift energy very quickly, but others require a more gradual segue. Though my newly cleansed space soothed me, it also made me feel the disappointment of not being able to help someone I cared about in the way I wish I had been able to. I had to allow myself to feel the gravity of that as well.
I realize that there is an arrogance in that equation too. Note to self: This is not mine to fix…so stop trying to fix it. You have enough to focus on in your own life.
My house wrapped me in a soft embrace and reminded me to breathe. But it also reminded me that it was OK to feel all of the emotions. I surrendered to it and just observed it. And you know what? My sadness transformed into a bit of frustration and then anger, which was actually a good sign. The emotions were being processed. The emotions, like the energy, were moving.
There is no right or wrong method to spring cleaning your house or your life — but it is a glorious opportunity to show up for yourself — to consciously look about your physical and emotional space and ask, Where am I being called to shift? What do I need to see and feel? What’s mine to fix and what is not?
Thus the recent cleaning.
Could you use a little emotional reboot? Is it time to cleanse more than your physical space and get into the corners of your emotional one? Where are you being called to show up and to love yourself more deeply? Please share in the comments below.