These past few days I have been busy doing other things besides sitting in front of the computer. I got some energy back (in spite of darker mornings), and a good reason to clean house (electrical inspection coming up), and have actually enjoyed taking before-pictures, clipping my iPod Shuffle to my clothing and chasing the goal of clearing off all horizontal spaces not meant for storage (countertops, tabletops and floors). The after-pictures are a huge encouragement. It's also pretty amazing that what looks like an impossible pile can relatively easily be shrunk and even removed.
I give you Exhibit A, my "left" kitchen counter a week ago:
Exhibit B: Same counter, with a new turquoise candle. (When I look at the before-picture, I wonder what the heck was I thinking?)
I'll give you a hint for getting through paper clutter: Do it in the dark, or at least bad lighting. When dusk came and I couldn't make out details any more, I considered turning on a light, but discovered that not seeing well also meant not being tempted to start reading what I was handling. That made things go much faster.
I have mentioned before that I am trying to get some routines and regularity into my life. I am discovering that it really does me good, inside and out, to be less chaotic and less hampered by my own sloppiness (both in where I put stuff and in keeping time). It's a bit weird to be almost 48 and only now discovering what works, how to nurture myself, what I want in my home. I was one of those kids who'd be told "Go clean your room!" and would look at my room and simply feel overwhelmed, and never start. It's only in recent years that I have discovered what to do about that overwhelm, and that discovery was made reading FlyLady.
I mentioned her briefly on my blog five years ago. I have been trying to get routines going for that long, but I do have the kitchen sink down. :-) What I really like about FlyLady and her style of encouragement, is that it is not only practical, but also spiritual. Some people find FlyLady's voice "nagging" or her reminders too frequent or too detailed. What attracts me to FlyLady is that she is a) one of us, i.e. lousy at housekeeping and easily overwhelmed, b) understands that there is usually an emotional cause to unfortunate habits, and c) never mentions failure, but rather suggests that you are never behind so just jump in where you are (and that you can do anything for 15 minutes, which takes care of that overwhelm). All of these things put together have made me realize that the FlyLady way is actually quite spiritual, in the sense that a lot of what she says is about rising above the small stuff, removing that inner critic, and finding the joy in day-to-day living. FLY even found its own "backronym": Finally Loving Yourself.
If you knew how loathe I usually am to do housework (and that "routine" for years was a dirty word for me), you'd be laughing yourself silly at this point. Keera going on about a housekeeping system! But the thing is, it's not about the housework (or system) itself. It's about that whole self-nurturing thing: The ability and desire to make a home for oneself, simply because oneself is important enough to do that for. There is nobody else to clean house for except me. And it is so easy to just shrug and turn a blind eye to the dust bunnies multiplying in the corners (especially when facing a 24" computer screen).
It has been said that you're not truly spiritual if you can't function in the physical world. The physical world is the spiritual world; it is the spiritual world manifesting itself in matter. It is the effect of a cause is on the spiritual plane. I am not only keeping a table cleared off for me to eat off, but a space that welcomes me to my mealtime. I am not only creating a space for me to use to sort mail or groceries; I am manifesting a loving and pleasant environment for myself, a message to myself that I don't have to annoy myself or be annoyed by my physical surroundings.
And so I am enjoying getting rid of clutter, rediscovering my nice home (which I can also easily afford in spite of crazy financial times), and delighting in the freedom of having a number of horizontal spaces for my immediate use without having to shove something aside. I am finally loving myself through my home, and it's a path I want to continue on.