Slowing down is driving me crazy! But in a good way.

My house is a mess. I've been a slob for all of my life save these past few weeks when the mess has been distressing me to no end. Why the change in perspective? I think it's as I said; as my mind finds order my spaces must also follow suit. My sister-friend couldn't come today to help me clean, but conversations with her, and with you all, have inspired me to industry in a way that I barely recognize.

I've started in the kitchen. How did I live with this all this time? I ask myself this over and over again, but really without much recrimination. I think that when I worked a 9-5 job, commuted 2 hours a day (1 hour there and 1 hour back), ate out of cans, boxes and drive-through windows, etc, I just didn't notice and I just didn't care. Now, with months of cooking at home, almost a year of working from home and on college campuses, the shortcomings of living in a chaotic and slovenly space are distressingly apparent.

Today, scouring the butcher block counter top, taking apart the cook top, and trying cleaning techniques (and consulting with friends and Friends) have shown me the benefit of this cure. This is not going to happen fast at all. This is going to take time. This is a process that will consume my energy, my focus and my time. How fortunate I am to have this opportunity to practice what I know is important for my mental, physical, and spiritual health. Just yesterday I commented on a blog post about beginning practices to help me slow down - such as making my bed in the morning.

I am grateful.

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Comment by Rosemary Gould on 5th mo. 16, 2010 at 10:19pm
Good wishes, Paula! Thank you for sharing your experiences. I would like to follow your example and make my house less cluttered, dirty and messy over time. It's amazing how these openings suddenly come when you've been living with something for years. I recently gave up eating sugar and flour after years of trying. Suddenly it's no struggle at all.
Comment by Paula Roberts on 5th mo. 17, 2010 at 9:19am
Rosemary, isn't it interesting that a thing you've been struggling with suddenly becomes easy? It's as if you've overcome the strongest resistance - your mind.

My life has become hearth-centered in a way that I would never have expected. I grew up in the West Indies in a tradition that dictated that girls cooked, cleaned, ironed, etc. Growing up, that seemed to me such a rip off! I was ironing clothes when I was barely into double digits. When I left home I ran screaming in the other direction. I have the skills, mind, but aside from ironing - which has amazingly meditative properties I find - I willfully ignored those other arts.

Now they feel really good, and I want to learn more of them. I've asked a friend's mother to teach me sewing beyond my rudimentary skills, and food preservation techniques like canning. I've bought a couple of aprons! Now I need them. This is very different from the indoctrination of my childhood. I take great joy in this slow way now.

I wake up in the morning and make my bed right away. It's like an act of prayer. Oh, I resisted what I was lead to for a bit - I'd make the bed eventually. But after a couple of episodes of muddy dog prints from Yoshi going out and coming back in, I do it right away, and then cover the bed with a flat sheet so my cats and dog can lounge and my bed stays clean.

I take the time to dress. I think my home demands a level of respect that I can't achieve by rolling out of bed and hanging around in pajamas or raggedy clothes. So I put on clothes - from the skin out; undergarments, camisole, and then a shirt and skirt. I tie my hair up, and I begin my day. It's interesting because it's changed my mind set. My days have more purpose. I find myself lounging less and working more -both at my housework and at my profession (I'm an adjunct instructor both online and in traditional university and college classes).

And this isn't regimented by any means. It just feels good.
Comment by Rosemary Gould on 5th mo. 17, 2010 at 10:04pm
It sounds like you're doing everything with intention and love. That's just how I would like to do housework. Instead of that feeling of resentment and weariness.
Comment by Paula Roberts on 5th mo. 17, 2010 at 10:13pm
Rosemary I wish I could tell you what changed; I'd be happy to share it. OMG my kitchen is finally cleaned. This project took days! And I've just had a wonderful fish curry with rice and beans for dinner and I'm tired. Tomorrow the den! (Gotta intersperse relatively easy with relatively hard, therefore the kitchen then the den, then the master bath, then the bedroom, then the mudroom with bath, then the living room). At some point my sister-friend is coming by to help thank, God.


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