The word I chose for 2021 was CLEAN. Here’s my reflection on how it went. I chose the word “CLEAN” because at that point in my journey I had been home for practically all of 2020 and I didn’t like all the negative feelings I had toward myself when I looked around my home. My training with Laura Doyle had given me the impression that if just talked about how I wanted a clean house (without any expectations) then my husband would pick up the slack and be my hero.
As you can imagine, I experienced limited success with this model. But sticking to my guns, I went forth and continued to neglect my gendered ancestral duties of housekeeping so that I would have time to reconnect with my feminine spirit. I troubleshot ways to tap into energetic resources that had been previously unavailable to me before because of my tendency to run all of my emotional energy into the ground. I had made so much progress on my personal goals of staying sane, being kind in as many situations as possible, and resting, but I lacked discipline as my indulgence in the Yin cradled me for the first time. I got nearly nothing done in the physical world.
One thing I noticed through the year of home nourishment was that I kind of hated my house. I had negative feelings everywhere I went. I had tried to reorganize my living room three times that year. I hated how the dust reminded me of all the things I hadn’t done yet. I hated how I felt lonely sitting with my abandoned goals. I didn’t like how I was constantly disappointing myself and indulging in feelings of abandonment.
As the months progressed it became increasingly obvious that my husband factually would not be having time to help (or sleep or be home really at all) and that if I wanted anything to make any progress on feeling better it was now fully my responsibility. So with more pandemic time on my hands, I invested in CLEAN in both my indoor and outdoor spaces.
I reorganized my living room for the final time and actually liked it. I repainted the window sill over the kitchen sink because I look at it so much. I hauled trash. I established routines. I kept plants alive. I cleared the area for the play structure. I kept the yard weeded (which takes countless hours) and burnt all the stray sticks. I did countless loads of laundry and dishes and felt a new appreciation for my machines that help me do the cleaning work. I tried to eliminate my internal shame around not having things already done, which seems to be one of the cruelest scripts we run. I invited in a pretty antique dustpan and made my cleaning containers nicer.
I pledged to not allow anyone else’s negative comments to take up any more real estate in my brain than absolutely necessary. I let things go. I prayed. I loved. I reset. I kept going. I talked to myself nicely and took lots of breaks.
I wanted to feel good about serving me and my family instead the toxic soup of anger, frustration, loneliness and those sinking feelings of being never enough. Happiness is a collection of feelings on its simplest level so identifying and modifying my mental and emotional spaces to be CLEAN was an essential step for me.
I found that doing laundry more often was more enjoyable and I had less resistance to it. I spent a lot of time legitimizing my struggles with executive functioning, depression, anxiety, and negative thought spirals. I coach myself like I do my children and my clients. I wanted a clean garden in my mind space too.
You are not your mess. You can clean it if and when you want to because you enjoy clean spaces. It is not inherently wrong for things to be messy. Make the space yours when you want to and how you want to. I can’t tell you how many nice things I’ve told myself now. It’s immeasurable.
I love clean spaces. I benefit from clean spaces. I am willing to voluntarily work for clean spaces. I have agency when I walk around my home. You are doing your best, rest is important too. I love you. You make things beautiful on a regular basis and that’s a really Good thing.
So I did little things cleaning jobs that pleased me. Spot cleaning and lots of patting on the back. I didn’t want to hate my house anymore, and I wanted to take care of it. I’m so proud of this funny little place. I never want to leave. And that’s exactly how I wanted to feel.
I noticed where my eyes went and the feelings that those pictures gave me and decided to do what needed to be done for me to feel better, which meant a lot of dump runs, so I got good at that. I drove our truck that was born the same year I was, got free unsolicited advice from random men about that truck (at least a $300 value), and lost about 500 lbs of self-hatred. I’ve still got two more runs to go but it’s not daunting anymore. In the time I did all this physical work, I didn’t injure myself which is a feat all on its own.
I didn’t get all the things accomplished that I wanted to. The garage is still an inoperable mess, the playground still isn’t assembled. Our bedroom still needs the revamp I promised it and planned. But honestly, it’s just continuing work. Sometimes we think that there will be a discrete end to things but that’s not how endings always are. Things fade away. And new things come in their place. Sometimes we just need the breathing room to be gentle with ourselves.
My biggest accomplishment of the year was feeling mentally healthy for the first time in my life (including my childhood.) I am a naturally anxious person, I’ve come to discover, and overcoming that has been an incredible gift that I’ve made for myself. I felt a lot of fear my whole life that I don’t feel anymore.
I trust the slow unfolding of the requirements that I’ll be faced with. What I am doing right now is the right thing. I am not in control of time. I will be led to good things if I surrender. I trust that now more than ever. I’ve made a big effort to silence the critic in myself. She’s still there, but she’s not the dominant force now. I hear her, but I don’t listen.
I also silenced the critical judgments of my partner. It wasn’t as gracious as I would recommend for others, but it got the job done. It’s been an act of bravery, intolerance, and selective acceptance which has led to the development of certain critical coaching tools so that I can help others to reclaim their own mental space and establish respect standards for what they allow into that space.
**I am no longer accepting negative comments about the content of my character from people who claim to love me. We apologize for this abrupt change, we are experiencing unprecedented levels of dignity and self-love. We are confident that you will ultimately benefit from this healthy boundary as well. Thank you for your understanding and we recommend that you follow this protocol as well for everyone’s health and safety.**
Today I write this on my cleanish back porch with my cat, dog, and new favorite chicken and the sun shining in my eyes. Squinting highlights the lines that don’t fade so easily now between my eyebrows in the reflection of my screen. I’m okay with that. I’m excited about what I’ll look like with the gentle touch of age. I turned 35 this year. I think that’s officially middle age. Maybe I’ll stop getting carded someday.
I always look for the gold in every situation or thought now. I can’t live my life indulging in negative feelings and thoughts about myself. That’s the energy I could be using to heal people. To help people. To comfort and to care. That’s my mission and I have to be completely clean to do it and I also feel amazing. Healthy, functional, empowered. Wow. I’m pretty proud of me (no one else really says that, so we say it to ourselves!)
Things are so much simpler now. My life is a gradual unfolding of a plan that I can’t see all the margins and steps of, but I trust that the path I’m on will lead me to happiness and prosperity. I walk heaven on Earth most days. I feel like I really got somewhere this year.
If you are craving peace and agency in your life, I’m offering relationship/life coaching in nine-session packages for individuals and couples with free text support. Unlock the potential for peace, love, and connection in your home and in your mind. Send me a message for details.