I have a little story for you today; I want to take you back into my history and tell you about the time I was a broke actor in Tokyo. It was twenty years ago, I was living in a tiny studio apartment, and to put it kindly… I was a hot mess.
I had fled a disastrous young marriage and divorce, left the church community I’d grown up with, and basically burned up my entire life in one flaming swoop.
I had almost no money. My apartment walls were as bleak as my prospects, so one night I hung my prettiest dresses up like art. It felt like an act of defiance against the utter wasteland of my life.
I couldn’t believe how good it made me feel; how their colors swirled into my emotions and made me feel lighter. It was a revelation.
In a joyful trance, I then took my beautiful purses– the ones I’d had no business buying, by the way– and the high heels that were so aerodynamic they looked like they would leap into flight– and I set them out on my meagre shelves like sculptures.
They glimmered at me: green silk, gold buckles, blue suede courage.
I was in trouble back then. I had almost no money, was living off a scant theater salary, drinking too much, using credit cards irresponsibly, but also?
I was showing myself who I was trying to become.
I was saying,
Self, we might be a bit of a mess but I believe that there is a beautiful life to be lived here. Self, the world might shake its head at you but I am going to take you dancing. Self, you might have credit card debt and be divorced and be the shame of your community, but gosh honey I love the pretty flowers that are trying to bloom out of your heart.
That’s when it began.
If I had to pinpoint the moment when the Queen Sweep began, I’d point to that one.
Which is funny because it was the absolute chaos of that life– the unpaid bills, the debt, the scribbled notes I lost, the appointments I was late to– that finally drove me, in utter desperation, to do something about it.
I began to begin to get my shit together.
And so I read books and I tried things and bought a planner and paid down debt and made lists and then I had a baby and then WHOAH I needed bigger systems and then WHOAH there was an earthquake and I made a whole new life out of scratch as a single mom in a new city across an ocean and created a career out of sheer nerve and bought a couch with pink roses on it and I grew that life– one tiny shift, system, list, dream, peony, and symbol at a time– into something big. And beautiful.
I started shyly teaching other people some of the things that had helped me, and we called it the Queen Sweep.
Well mama, the Queen Sweep has grown up now; she’s big and confident and organized and sleek and gorgeous.
My life has grown up too, kept unfolding surprising petals– from being a single mom of one kid to a married mom of five, from a tidy house in the suburbs to a wild chaotic ride to the forest, from a tiny unlikely dream tacked onto a wall into a beautiful world growing lush and big and bloomy.
My life is so much bigger now than that scared, messy, hopeful young woman could have ever imagined.
(Or wanted. I think if she could see life right now she’d turn and run in terror– so I’m so glad she didn’t, because I wouldn’t have missed it for anything.)
But I’d like to go back and thank her.
For taking the humble ingredients she had and using them to try to create a better future. For insisting on beauty even when she didn’t think she deserved it. For making a tiny room filled with symbols of a rich, bold, bounteous life– even though that seemed like an audacious thing to hope for.
She made a little bit of magic in that room.
She stirred up some energy and warmth where there hadn’t been any.
And gosh, she was just getting started.
Maybe you are ready to get started too.