It's been my theme in the last year or so, where this urge to clean the house and have a pretty minimal home has been on my mind. I've taken baby steps here and there, and the process has seemed never ending. With kids, that's probably par for the course. But did it have to be that way? In early May, this book, The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up, came to me, almost magically. I say it came to me because I wasn't seeking it out at all. I don't read books on cleaning. I grab my AJAX and get to work. First I heard a lady at the gym raving about it, then I saw it mentioned on a blog, followed by seeing someone reading it at a coffee shop. It got me curious enough to check the reviews and try to locate a copy at the library. There were 200 holds on it. I bought it immediately and read it in two days. Friends, it WAS life changing. I have had three friends come to me and tell me that they picked it up because of me, and also swear it is indeed magic. I know I know, everyone is reading this book right now. I'm quite behind.
There are number of things that I've learned, going much deeper than my house being clean. A couple chapters in, and I was already getting itchy to begin tossing items. The whole concept is basically asking yourself of the item "sparks joy,' and if it doesn't, it's gone. For some reason, the way she explains it in the book made perfect sense to me, and it was like I was suddenly thinking quite clearly. I was on a mission. Clean our home, clean our minds and hearts. I was on fire from this book!
Once I started discarding I couldn't stop. I am not a hoarder by any means, but when I starting wading through my things I discovered I'd been holding onto items that had simply served their purpose to me, and needed to move on. An old concert t-shirt, a book from an ex, an old house key, a dress I paid too much for and wore only once. Way too many beauty products. I removed whatever guilt I had for holding the item and donated it. I donated four car loads to the Goodwill and I am not even done with this process. Each item discarded, leaving me feeling lighter, physically and mentally. I realized in that cleaning that my stuff was clouding my mind from feeling the things that mattered, from dealing with feelings that needed to be addressed, from being the best wife and mother I could be, from finishing the grieving process I had put on the back burner. I spent too much of my life cleaning up.
Tidying up became a cathartic and important exercise in the grieving I process. I have mentioned previously that I lost three people in 2014. My dear friend, beloved grandmother, and estranged father. When each of those people passed, that grief was fresh, and raw. There was physical pain, constant burning tears, anger, and some really dark moments. The day I watched my grandma take her last breath is one of the saddest days I have ever known. I felt a hole in my heart that day that I could never describe. But I was pregnant and had Bennett to think about, so the grief came in private moments. I cried in the shower, and every time I drove, and in the day to day tried to function. Having Bennett's wonderful soul and the birth of my sweet daughter did save me in a way. But there is still some processing that needs to happen, and I will probably always miss those people.
My grandma said shortly before she died that her legacy was good personal hygiene and a clean house.
" I hate a lot of shit in every corner," she'd say. She took joy in throwing stuff away. I used to hate that, As I was discarding all my stuff I felt a joy in getting rid of things that I was surprised by. It felt like a new connection to my grandmother. I finally understood her in another way. And this was a part of my grieving process. I think I buried my heart right there in that stuff. Holding onto material things certainly isn't gonna bring anybody back.. and things certainly pale in comparison to the bright and beautiful memories I have of these individuals in their finest moments. Getting rid of my stuff and making room for what I really want in my life allowed me to get to the surface of what really matters to me, address what pain there is, and cherish the good. All the feelings are there. Real, painful, joyous, vivid. Get rid of what doesn't spark joy.
I spent so much time always cleaning before that it really ate into my quality time with my kids. I went out with friends less. exercised less often, and didn't spoil my husband like he deserves. Now I feel like I have more time for that. I no longer have to spend time looking for things, I know where they are. I spend less money because I know what I have and I know what I need. (Need a white tee. Have a surplus of striped tees. Not to self: Get rid of most of them) So since my house is clean most of the time. I am catching more special moments looking into Bennett's eyes, playing at his level, laying on the couch chatting with Colette, finding alone time, and getting out of the house a whole lot more. This house is filled with only things that are loved, well cared for, and nothing that isn't. Everything has a place. Go ahead and look in my drawers.
Things are going to come and go. I want to stay fluid, not get stuck on anything, and be in the moment. This book isn't for everyone. Some might call it extreme. But if the winds of change are calling, and you don't know where to point your sails, check out this book. You might find it at the perfect moment.