Things move too fast in my life. I constantly feel like I am running a race… and losing. It seems to me that I can only stop and smell the roses if I have a bouquet in my hand as I race along. It’s physically and emotionally exhausting.
So what to do about it?? SPRING CLEANING!
That’s right. It’s not just my home that needs spring cleaning – it’s my LIFE. As surely as I have closets that have to be emptied and sorted, so too I have feelings that I have to sort through as well. My basement needs an overhaul and so do my emotions. I have clothing to sort by season, still wearable, donation, and trash. I have to do the same things with my memories, and the stressors of my life.
How to go about this Spring Cleaning?
Well in the case of my home, I am trying to take it one room at a time. Of course I get sidetracked when the room contents overlap, and I end up having to clean part of another area to relocate something from room one. But for the most part, the plan is to take each room and work my way through it.
Take the kitchen: a really good cleaning here requires the cabinets and refrigerator to be emptied. Unusable or expired things have to be disposed of. The empty spaces have to be cleaned – shelf liners, refrigerator drawers, freezer. The contents have to be replaced with an eye towards putting the most frequently used items where they can be easily accessed.
As I’m cleaning, I can apply these same techniques to my life. I am sorting through my emotions and my memories. As each memory pops to the surface, I test it out to see into which category it falls; happy, nostalgic, painful, toxic. From there I compartmentalize them. The happy compartment I keep in the forefront, so I can sort through it frequently. This is filled with my children at all stages of their lives. My pets also occupy this compartment. My parents are here, my sisters, happy holidays, happy memories, filled with laughter and love. All my hopes and dreams for the future are here.
Nostalgia has the next compartment – these are the memories and feelings that are linked to happiness, but have a wistful, sometimes melancholy overtone. This compartment is one that I will open from time to time when I take a trip down “memory lane” and remember loving moments I’ve enjoyed, and loved ones that I’ve lost. These memories overlap that first compartment; memories of holding my babies, bedtime stories told, first steps, first words, Christmases past. Memories of my own Mom and Dad, and being a little girl again – safe and loved. Happy thoughts that bring an ache to my heart because they were over too soon – times and events that I would love to revisit.
That third compartment is where I tuck the painful memories – and there is a small overlap here as well. In here are the memories of sitting with my Dad in the cardiac care unit – how dear he was – how his face lit up when we arrived to spend time with him, how funny he was sitting in his bed watching Dancing With The Stars and applauding. The times I left him at the end of visiting hours with assurances that he should buzz the nurses and I would come immediately if he needed me, and how I stopped at the nurse’s desk to say goodnight and watched his call light come on as he tested the buzzer “just to make sure I’d really come back”. In here is the last conversation I had with my Mom; the last time I told her I loved her, the last cup of tea we had together, the last time we watched “All My Children”. In this compartment are also the memories of the beloved pets that I’ve lost – memories of holding them in my arms at the end of their lives. Those memories all overlap because of the love behind them. Other painful memories exist here too wedged in the furthest corner; memories of hard times and harsh words – terrible things that can’t be unsaid or undone, but they need to be remembered because they have shaped who I am, and to remind me never to let this happen to me again. There is no love behind those.
That last compartment is for the toxic emotions. This is the compartment that needs the most Spring Cleaning. In here are the things that are excruciatingly painful, frightening, filled with stress, the gut-wrenching tears, bitterness, sometimes even hate. Emotions that I need to clean out of my life – or at least downsize. All the real effort goes into this area – and this compartment should only be opened when I am emotionally strong enough to handle sorting through it. I am not a big enough person as yet to forgive the pain in here, but I need to make this compartment as small as possible, and not let it take over my life.
As I work my way through my home, I make room for sunshine, flowers, fresh air, free space.
As I work my way through my life, I open the doors for more happiness and love, an appreciation of who I am and how far I’ve come, and a peaceful and contented future.