I like to look at houses on Pinterest. I like to save pins that when all pulled together would be my ideal house. From the front door to the kitchen island to the garden shed out back-all of it! I like to go deep into what aspects of a house are most important to me. What makes a home? How deeply can I excavate these ideas to create my home? And, it is certainly clean and organized!
I do a similar excavation with myself. Often, spending hours or even days thinking and re-thinking something that happened or something I want to make happen. Take writing for instance-I probably have 6-8 stories half-written, waiting to make their way out into the world. Yet-something stops me from finishing, from completing the piece. What stops me? Typically, my critical filters are screaming at me to stop writing and stop exploring that topic-it is too painful or if I need to write to definitely not push publish, do not put your work into the world. It will be judged.
Back to houses, my house in particular. My basement is disorganized and messy. In all honesty, I get overwhelmed with how messy it is and find it hard to want to go down there and yet that is where the laundry is and where I feed the cats and where my treadmill is-so I am down there every day. Occasionally, I go down there and clean and organize a section-throwing things away, making a pile for give-away and keeping what seems necessary. That definitely always feels good. I feel accomplished and energized. Ready to take on more.
While I was last cleaning an area, I realized that I am similar to my house. When you enter my house, the living area- it is clean, organized and presents very well-similar to me-the part of me that I show to the world-put together, organized, smiling. It’s what I want other people to see-it may or may not be how I am feeling at the moment. And, I have definitely scrambled to make my living area look “presentable ” if I have folks coming over to visit.
My upstairs bedroom-that’s all for me. That’s my sanctuary-the place I go to transform into me-most comfortable around my family or small groups of friends, casual and relaxed, the room is full of books and items that I am researching-that’s my favorite thing to do and my favorite place to be. It isn’t always clean and organized-but in that room, I am surrounded by my favorite things-a small altar, lots of rocks from all over the world, candles-I feel at home here. I feel aligned in my head, heart and body. I feel at peace. And, peace is something I seem to always be longing for, fighting for. And, I am not sure why I am fighting for it. It may just be available to me.
However-my basement-my personal basement is also messy, dis-organized, unexamined-just like my home’s basement. Years of pushing uncomfortable experiences, hurt, shame, regret down, down, down-possibly to never think about them again-never to learn whatever the lesson is that brought that experience into my life. I see the opportunity of cleaning and organizing my basement at home as an opportunity to learn what is there behind all those boxes or possibly most important what is in those boxes. The same with my personal basement-I need a mindset shift around why I am hanging on to those hurts. It’s those unexamined pieces that chatter at me about writing or about being a coach about being out there in life-as a whole, authentic person. I want peace in the choices.
Years ago, for a work retreat we were asked to create a poster that described our life and what we wanted people to know about us. I gathered photos and cut outs and created a picture of my life with lots of family and friends on it, some ritual items that I connected to the board, some political buttons and a small cutout scene of a campfire. This was what most folks already knew about me-maybe a couple of surprises and certainly what I felt comfortable sharing. And then I drew a door and behind that door I drew a scribbled circle and then below that wrote-“Things I am working on”. I don’t know why I did that or why I included that in my poster. Maybe it was a message to my future self-get started now. “Clean out the basement now. Whatever it is that you are working on can more than likely be brought to the light and just let go. And, if it isn’t ready to be let go-then unpack it, feel it, get messy with it. And, put it where it belongs as these are your lessons. This is your pathway to all that is you, to the peace that you seek and it is already you-the messy, the disorganized, the smiling and energized-it is already you”
As I was writing this, I was reminded of the Virginia Woolf quote, ” You cannot find peace by avoiding life.” I am wondering now if that is what I have been doing-avoiding life by trying to keep everything under wraps or under cover or in the basement and if what I feel now is a sense of impending peace and also chaos as I clean what wants to come forward.