One big beautiful mess

Typically the words mess and beautiful are not associated. For me, they are. You are entering one of the most private places in my life. The inner room. My sanctuary. My retreat from the noisy world. My transport to creativity.

Here it is…MessDoesn’t look much like an inner sanctum, does it?

The chair that holds the mountain of laundry is my writing chair. It’s where I sit and let my mind breathe. It’s where I go for my decompression session of one. As you have already guessed it’s impossible to write in this space when it looks like this. It’s also completely overwhelming to think about where even to start.

I’ve been doing it for years. Washing clothes and piling them in a place that is out of visitor’s view, where I can return later to sort, fold and put away. With five people in the house it’s not that easy and the bigger the pile, the more the stress grows.

It reminds me of my inner turmoil. I can hide it from the outside world for a while. I can close the door to that room so you can’t see inside. But eventually it spills over into other areas and it’s not as easy to hide anymore.

This mess begins to affect my morning routine when I’m getting ready for work. My evening when I come home from a long day. Intimacy with my man as it is an eyesore in our bedroom. I can only step over it, dig through it and make excuses for so long until I’m forced to look directly at it, admit the toll it is taking on my mental, spiritual and emotional health and commit to cleaning it up. It’s the wreckage of my present and it’s ugly.

I have discovered a system for seeing it through from start to finish. It’s called the “circle of serenity.”
circleI have to get right in the middle of it, hunker down and start sorting. If I stick to it, soon I have neat piles, assigned by owner. Before attempting to put anything away, everything must be sorted and folded. Sounds simple right?

It really isn’t very different from my mind. I have to do the same thing with thoughts and emotions. They pile up as well. Often times requiring sitting down and committing to sorting things out.

There are many other things I would rather be doing, but when I reach the end result I am always grateful for the process.
CleanAh, that’s the chair I know and love. The one that envelopes me and summons the artist within. My little corner of the world where I can process, meditate and be restored to a healthy place.

What about you? Can you relate to my sabotaging one of the few places I find peace?

Mountain or Molehill?

A little more than 24 hours ago, this was my mountain.

It was overwhelming…daunting…I was exhausted by the thought of it.
I mean, I can’t even get to the washer to start a load! Ughhhhh…”I would rather donate these clothes than have to separate, wash, dry, fold and put it all away!

I can sense you judging me.
Part of what you’re thinking is accurate.
I was behaving like a spoiled brat. I mean, who looks at their dirty laundry and prefers to give it away over washing it?! (Maybe I should stop wearing my tiara randomly around the house? Nah.)

What?! You don’t wear a tiara while doing laundry, the dishes, scrubbing toilets, or anything else of importance?! I highly recommend it!

Then it happened…it happens every time I start whining about my circumstances. The girl with no shoes and a tired expression comes into my mind. She walks 6 miles a day just to get water. I imagine what her face would look like if she had a washer and dryer and if she could walk to the refrigerator and fill a cup with water that comes straight from the door. You don’t even have to open the fridge!

One may argue that this is a reaction of guilt. Maybe it’s the product of growing up in an environment where, if I didn’t finish a meal I would hear, “Children in Africa don’t have anything to eat. They would gobble that cauliflower right up and be thankful!”

However, one would be wrong. Visualizing the young girl having to walk miles to get water all while hoping she isn’t ambushed and raped along the way is a very true reality for many. I am fortunate enough to be here, in my home, in the land of plenty.

There are few things I dislike more than “housework,” none of it compares to what others endure on a daily basis for simple survival. I do enjoy vacuuming because I get to see instant progress by the tracks being made in the carpet as the vacuum removes all of the dust and dirt. However, when I think about the fact that I have an entire room dedicated to removing the stains, washing and drying my clothes… well… I am overcome with the reality that I am either spoiled beyond entitlement, immensely blessed, or a little bit of both.

Now that things were coming back into perspective and I was feeling a little more rational, I formulated a plan. Eight loads of laundry later, tiara still shining, this is the new view…

This may be a silly example to some, but for me the mess, our dirty laundry, made everything else seem bigger.

We all have our mountains. Some are daily, some weekly, others monthly. There are those that will only be part of our story once in our lifetime.

Compared to cancer, my mountain looks like a speed bump. However, for me it represents what’s going on with my insides. Does it seem a little more valid when I put it that way? When my spiritual life is in comparable condition to my laundry room before overhaul it calls for drastic measures. It is also a telltale sign that no maintenance is being done. If I would do a little bit of laundry everyday, my floor would not be covered with dirty clothes. Isn’t it the same with my spiritual life?

If you are still wondering if I am comparing my insides to my dirty laundry and the avoidance to clean it all up, the answer is a resounding, “YES!” I’m a simple gal (for today anyway), meaning I  need simple illustrations that I can wrap my brain around. Jesus is for my soul what Tide is for my clothes. Shew! I am so thankful for grace!

A man much smarter than I, by the name of Thomas Merton wrote, “Once you have grace… you are free. Without it, you cannot help doing the things you know you should not do, and that you know you don’t really want to do. But once you have grace, you are free… there is no power in existence that can force you to commit a sin–nothing that will be able to drive you to it against your own conscience. And if you merely will it, you will be free forever, because the strength will be given you, as much as you need, and as often as you ask, and as soon as you ask, and generally long before you ask for it, too.” ~The Seven Storey Mountain

Walking past my clean laundry room gives me a sense of accomplishment and pride. Is that wrong? What’s your mountain today? Is victory attainable? Are you overwhelmed?