When I was a kid, I used to wake up gently and look around my beloved bedroom. Ahhh. Blue and white quilt snugly over me, the dresser with my treasured knicknacks on it, sun gilding the peaceful scene. So serene, so wholesome.
And then? I’d wake up again, for real.
Only this time my room looked like a mountain troll lived there.
The dream of a clean room was literally that– just a night-time dream. In the waking world, there were always at least three books tangled up in the tumbled covers of my bed. My nightstand was littered with cups, tissues, and god knows what. I had to pick my way across piles of toys piled so high you couldn’t even see the carpet. When I tried to put things away, the drawers wouldn’t close because they were jammed so full of stuff.
How many nine-year-olds DREAM about having a clean room???
It was so overwhelming, so awful, so shameful and hideous, that I’d just give up. I’d NEVER get it all clean, I thought. I’d NEVER get all those million Barbie accessories back in their proper homes, NEVER unsnarl the nest of craft supplies that was beginning to fossilize.
[bctt tweet=”I dove into a deep existential study of The Berenstein Bears and The Messy Room.” username=”@sitatmytable”]
I dove into a deep existential study of The Berenstein Bears and The Messy Room. It was so satisfying when they turned that mess into a tidy pile of neatly labeled boxes! Oh how I swooned!
Every few months, my parents would grow exasperated, help me do a big purge and major clean-out, and I’d be certain that THIS time I’d KEEP it clean.
But it always descended back into chaos. It was like I lacked some essential inner wiring that knew how to make everyday life WORK.
The art of keeping things tidy and orderly was a great mystery to me. It was a language I didn’t speak. It wasn’t until I became an adult that I finally cracked the code. (OH MAH GAH! I did finally crack the code!!!!! It transformed my life so beautifully that I turned it into my coaching program The Queen Sweep Master Class. More about that in a couple of weeks.)
Fast forward. If you drop by my house unannounced today, you might find dishes in the sink and a stack of papers next to my desk. You will see one or two craft projects in progress on the craft table. There will be some toddler toys strewn across the floor. But it’s very rarely in true chaos.
Most days you’ll see gleaming surfaces, neatly filed papers, and fresh flowers. The laundry is folded and put away. I know where all the important documents are. And there are a few spots that always stay beautiful even during the busiest weeks: the shelf above my desk, my grandmother’s dresser, the coffee table. They are always brimming with beauty.
I tell you this not to brag, but to demonstrate what a huge shift that was for me. I went from being a kid who quite literally dreamed about having a pretty room, to being a woman who knows how to create beauty around myself no matter what space I’m in. And incidentally, I’ve been able to create that beauty even now that I have five– count ’em– FIVE kids.
Which is lucky, because it turns out that beauty is my soul’s favorite brand of vitamins.
I need beauty. It nurtures me. And I can think and dream and work 8000% better when my space is not chaotic.
See, I’m so ADD and easily distracted that my inner monologue goes like this:
I have to remember to do the thing that…laundry! it will sour in the washer!…better charge my phone, oh ipad too, oops missed a message…meeting is at 2 not 4, better write that…oh, this is pretty, is this mine, I don’t…is this color magenta or ruby, what is the significance of red in A Scarlet Letter, remember how Nancy got to do an independent study on that, boy her mom’s walls are really red, oh, we’re out of detergent, I need to write that down or I’ll never…ack! ack! danger danger I almost forgot to write down that thing I promised I’d…okay keep saying it out loud or you’ll forget it, danger Will Robinson, is that a basketball player concentrate! you must write it down immediately or you’ll never…you almost got distracted! oh where’s a pen, say it say it or you’ll forget…buy more pens, do I have any cash in my wallet? need to hit the ATM…oh and I have to pay the, oh! dollar dollar bill y’all, I still need to charge my ipod…ooh! shiny pretty thing!…mmm, daphne smells so good…wakka wakka wakka, ding ding ding…
That’s verbatim.And if I encounter a can of beans on the kitchen counter, I will think about beans. Kidney beans, beans in literature, bean recipes. It’s kind of pathetic. So keeping random things lying around is like strewing my workday with kryptonite.
It turns out that our physical worlds and our inner worlds are fascinating mirrors of each other. To keep my space clean, I had to shift my inner monologue, my mindset, my habits.
But what also happened was that when I shifted things around in the outer world, it also shifted my inner reality.
A beautiful space says, “Someone valuable lives here.”
A clear open spot on my desk whispers, “Something new can be created here.”
Beautiful flowers urge me to let myself unfurl, live in grace, and walk in beauty.
It’s not about having expensive things; it’s about spaciousness and beauty.
So today, pick one little spot in your home and make it beautiful. Maybe you move the wad of receipts off your desk, or you clear off a little shelf and put something beautiful there. Maybe you tidy your makeup or your jewelry box or your spices.
As you do that, let that little spot of beauty inform your insides.
This is how it’s going to go. This is how we’re doing things. With beauty. With ease. One little bit at a time. Ahhh. Better.