Spring Cleaning Inside and Out
A couple of weeks ago I put the kettle on to boil some water for tea. I went to the sink to wash the dishes and was lost in my thoughts, when all of a sudden I smelled something burning. I turned around and saw the kettle engulfed in a huge flame. It took me a moment to register what was happening. I have a basket on top of my refrigerator filled with kitchen linens and an apron had fallen onto the stove and was on fire. I’m not proud of how poorly I reacted. I grabbed the section of the apron that wasn’t on fire and attempted to throw it in the sink. Not a good idea. Part of the flaming apron hit the cupboard which quickly caught on fire. I doused the apron in the sink with water, hit the cupboard with a wet cloth and breathed a sigh of relief. But wait! There was another little fire on the floor needing my attention. This all transpired in a matter of seconds and when it was over, surprisingly, I started to laugh.
Looking at the charred mess in the sink, I realized what had burned. It was my Aunt Lottie’s apron. It was really old. It was a precious memory of my mother’s sister, Lottie, who died at least 40 years ago. No telling how old that apron was. Ten years ago (maybe even five) I would have collapsed on the floor in tears. I loved my “things”, no matter how tattered and worn they were. I was so attached to them that I would mull over in my head what I would grab if there was ever a fire or other disaster (Are any of you relating to this?) But when I caught myself laughing instead of crying, it was a lightbulb moment. Or as Oprah would say, an ah–ha moment. It was okay.
In the last few years (and I’m going to give my meditation practice full credit) I have reached a level of detachment, and no longer fall apart when something breaks, gets lost, or burns in a fire.
While writing this post on spring cleaning-inside and out, the symbolism of the fire wasn’t lost on me. Fire is often symbolic of letting go of what is no longer needed; that which no longer serves us. My (thankfully) little fire reminded me that spring is a great time to clear out the “stuff”, both in my home and in my head that is no longer serving me. I got right down to business, filling up bags of clothes, books and various things, and sending them off to someone who really needs them. And the stuff in my head bogging me down? A pen and my journal are all I need to release the emotional clutter that’s holding me back.
I know you’ve probably read dozens of articles on spring cleaning. I certainly have. But I’m hoping that what motivated me will do the same for you. I guarantee you will feel lighter and more joyful. Here are a few easy tips on self-care spring cleaning:
- Start with your living space. You will be amazed at how clearing out old, unneeded stuff will make you physically and emotionally feel better. There are all kinds of books or articles on the Internet to help you get started. Clutter Busting by Brooks Palmer is a great resource.
- Journal your thoughts and feelings on why you’re feeling stuck and unable to move forward. Don’t censor. If you live in fear of someone finding your journal, there are free journaling programs for your computer that are password protected. So, no excuses here. Trash them!
- Have your own fire ceremony. Write down whatever it is you want to release and burn it safely. (I have stories to tell here, as well!) Even better is to do it with a group of like-minded individuals outside with a safe fire pit.
- Start cleansing your body by introducing seasonal foods (especially bitter greens) that will naturally detoxify and clear out the channels that may be clogged from a winter of eating heavier, fatty foods. If you can afford it, treat yourself to some spa services, especially those that help drain the lymph and get rid of old dead skin. If money is tight, there are all kinds of self-care treatments you can make right in your own kitchen. Check out The Ultimate Natural Beauty Book by Josephine Fairley or Absolute Beauty by Pratima Raichur.
- And last but not least (this is a tough one), if there are people in your life who are bringing you down and no longer serving your higher self, let them go gracefully. First and foremost, be true to yourself.
Some people can change their life with one fell swoop. A big move or other life changes don’t seem to phase them. Others need to take baby steps. That’s okay. We’re all different, born under different stars with unique qualities and abilities. But one thing’s for sure–change is inevitable and necessary, or we become stagnate, just as a pond does without the wind to move it around and shift things. What if everything in nature was stationary–can you imagine how awful that would be? Nothing would grow and frankly, we wouldn’t be here anymore. Letting go of fear of change and the unknown can be life-changing and exhilarating, once you take the leap.
Full disclosure: I had already tossed the charred apron into the trash when my friend, Madhavi, suggested that it might be nice to save just a piece of the apron and frame it. So I dug it out of the trash, cut out a small piece, washed it and put it in a frame. Now it hangs above my stove as a reminder to me that letting go is okay. The important thing is that I didn’t NEED it anymore.