This was originally posted in April,re-posted in response to Dawn’s challenge to repost an article we wish had gotten more attention/readers at original publication. This was the perfect post for me now at the next transitional season, I always do fall cleaning too. Thanks, Dawn for the idea!
It’s that time of year again, spring cleaning. This process can be a very symbolic and healing act as many will tell you. Whenever I read an article written by someone lauding the spiritual cleansing that can be gained by spring cleaning, I cringe. I picture some well put together middle aged woman in flowing silk gown, her arms adorned with exotic bangles, floating around her perfectly feng shui house happily “cleansing” like some New Age June Cleaver. When she’s done cleaning she steeps in a bath of oils and herbs and meditates by candlelight about all the unneeded habits, thoughts and behaviors she is releasing. Maybe some of the authors of these articles and books do have this kind of lifestyle. I’m betting that not all do, but they are leaving out some important details. As they say the “Devil is in the details” and I can attest to that. Having been disillusioned by trying to compare my own process to some of these tips, and admittedly tainting them with my own skeptical imagery, I’ve decided that being true to my mission to being real, authentic and honest it would be a great idea to post about “Spring Cleansing” in my world.
Now, before I come across as bitter or cynical, I love the concept of cleaning/cleansing and utilizing the opportunity to let go of what is no longer needed, whether it’s a stack of old magazines, or a negative thought pattern. In fact, the impetus for this post was when I opened the bedroom curtains and realized the mirror over my dresser is covered in dust. I remembered one of the articles I had read that addressed this issue specifically. Your mirror reflects you; you probably look in the mirror daily. As someone who avoided mirrors for years,(except to apply eyeliner) I’m happy to say that I am finally content with the way I look and yes my mirror should “reflect” that. It’s a nice symbolic reminder of clarity and self recognition. Another word about glass, my windows seem to get very cloudy and dull over the winter. Once the sun arrives and we take down the plastic and open the curtains, it’s time to really let the sunshine in. Good news and bad news: bright sunshine comes flooding in warming us, filling us with light and hope and…..aaggh illuminating all the dust, furballs, fingerprints and scuffs that were barely noticeable in winter’s darkness. This is where we may be tempted to feel overwhelmed, discouraged and ashamed, all those feelings that may send us down the road of self criticism and perfectionism.
Let’s put a stop to that immediately! There are two beliefs about housekeeping that I live by. 1) It’s my house, I will determine my standards regarding what makes me comfortable. 2.) If it feels unmanageable, that’s only a feeling, not a reality. I break my cleaning into small tasks. Whatever bothers me the most and doesn’t make me feel comfortable is the first project. Spring lasts more than one day and so can spring cleaning. I often find that once I get a good start and allow myself some breaks to do other things, the rest no longer feels like a daunting chore. I can begin to enjoy the concept of clearing, cleansing and renewing. It can be a good time to rearrange some things to give your house a new feel. Even if it’s only a few pictures or knick knacks, I find it doesn’t take much to give my environment a fresh look.
Here’s a word about throwing things out. I’ve often heard writers speak of opening yourself to prosperity and claim that clinging to old things can restrict the flow of prosperity into your home. I can see the philosophical and “energetic” rationale behind this practice but I don’t see this as an all or nothing proposition. Personally I, like many others who didn’t have a lot growing up (or at stages in our adult lives either) have a tendency to hang onto things “in case I or someone else needs them”. On many occasions this has been beneficial to someone I knew who was in need, including me. I’m an advocate of the barter/trade economy and it has worked for many. Of course sometimes all that stuff begins to take up too much space and it becomes obvious it’s time to part. I strongly encourage anyone in that case to utilize the barter systems that are available either in your community or online. If you don’t want to involve yourself in the barter process look at what items can be donated, and find the appropriate resources. Homeless shelters, DV shelters, community agencies, even schools may need something that you have. You would be surprised at what someone else may really need or want. Many people are getting into DIY arts and crafts and I’ve seen some beautiful artwork, jewelry and clothing created out of “found” or discarded items.
Finally, to summarize what I believe are the key points of this whole spring cleaning/cleansing trend:
-It’s your house, you decide what’s comfortable. Some people need minimalist uncluttered space to feel emotionally and spiritually at home. Others like me, find great comfort and warmth in a house that looks a little lived in, I would feel spiritually rather empty in a stark orderly house…but remember that’s just me, we all have our own preferences and standards of comfort.
-when and if you do throw unwanted items away, make an effort to find a use for them, or a way they can be recycled. We owe it to our future generations to leave them something better than miles and miles of garbage dumps (“landfill’ is too polite and tidy sounding word…I try not to use it!)
-Try to find some enjoyment in the renewal process. Open the windows. Put on your favorite music, dance while you mop, take regular breaks and treat yourself to something you really enjoy (for me that’s chocolate) and as you’re cleaning give some thought to the other areas in your life, behaviors, thoughts, people or situations that it may be time to let go. And don’t forget to add up the things you do cherish and find worth keeping. Hopefully you will find yourself comfortable and content both in your home and in your own skin
-Last but not least…there is no June Cleaver, New Age or otherwise!
Happy Spring!©2010 Jennifer Hazard, Nanaoosa’s Place