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3.18.2012

Spring Cleaning

"Live simply so that others may simply live"

I have this phrase hanging in my kitchen. I placed it there to serve as a reminder for practicing a life that I value living. A life that isn't centered around consumerism and waste...a life that prioritizes quality over quantity... a life that keeps me centered, and happy, and in balance with the Universe. (Oay, that maybe sounds a little new-agey, but you know I don't give a shit). The point is, that it is definitely a major value for me to live a life, and teach a life to my children, that is simple. Not only because it is good karma, either. But because I truly feel its not only the right thing to do, but also ensures that both me and my family benefit from a healthier, less stressful life because of it. It ensures that we're not wasteful, that we're taking care of our environment, that we're giving back to those who are less fortunate, and that we're taking good care of ourselves as well.

Now, for anyone that isn't living under a rock, you also know that all of this is so much easier said than done. We're surrounded by so much fast-paced, convenience -driven, waste-laden consumerism, that its hard to even breathe. We convince ourselves that we need things, that no one actually needs, and spend money and acquire stuff at such a warp speed rate, it almost makes me dizzy when I think about it. And as a full-time working mother myself, I am in no way immune to the seductive nature of buying, and acquiring, and wasting. Most of it is a time issue. I buy things, or throw stuff out, or get lazy about environmental-friendliness because it's just easier to do so. And so as I write this, despite truly wanting to live a simpler, less stressful life, I am sitting in a home that is packed full of stuff and 90% of it is not necessary or even being used. Makes me totally sick to my stomach.

So I've decided, in the name of getting back to simple, of really living what I value, and of being a better global citizen, that the next three days of my Spring Break will be about simplifying once again. I'm totally going to be a woman on a mission. I have a bathroom cabinet of half-used shampoo bottles, and beauty products that need to be consolidated and recycled. I have a basement full of books, baby clothes, and old cassette tapes that need to find their way to the public library or Goodwill. I have cabinets that need to be cleared, closets that need to be sorted through, and whole rooms that need to be purged and organized. Nothing will be sacred... if its not currently serving a function (or won't in at least 6 months time), then its going. I mean, it really is beyond ridiculous how much stuff in here is doing nothing for us right now except sit. And once I've purged, and given away, and thrown out, then I will be setting up systems for making things like recycling, using cloth, eating cleaner (and more vegan), and cleaning healthier a lot easier. They are things that are important to me, and things that I need to prioritize. It's so easy to let life take over, and to get sucked in, but when something is important to you then you can't take just keep telling yourself that you'll eventually focus time on it.

I'm not going to pretend that this exercise in cleaning, purging, organizing and simplying isn't just about a need to act on something I value though. I have no doubt that this process will be very therapeutic for me in many ways too. My dearest friends know that there are personal issues that I am very much struggling with right now, and this little exercise is very metaphoric in a lot of ways too. For the past six years of my life, I have put a significant amount of time into growing children and creating a home for my family. I have no regrets about the time I've spent, and I'm incredibly thankful and blessed to have the little family that I have. But I think that I became so involved in being a wife and a mother for so long, that somehow my own sense of self got buried underneath. Even with my conviction in the beginning to say that would never happen, it still happened. Over the course of the last year, I've slowly begun to push out of the pile... an arm, and then a leg, breaking free. There is still stuff that needs to be moved, though. Both literally and figuratively. Boxes of baby clothes, children's toys, maternity jeans... books, and binkies, and breast pump accessories. And while this process is necessary, it's also a little painful. Because I'm learning that the person that I'm unearthing, that got buried underneath everything, is not the same person that she was when the piling started. I'm not really sure yet who this person is, and I'm not quite sure her arrival really means. It's all incredibly confusing, and well... a little scary.

In the end though I have to believe that this 'Spring Cleaning' is absolutely necessary... not only for my own well-being, but also the future well-being and happiness of my family. I know that it may be messy, and overwhelming, and exhausting at times, but in the end, its far too crucial to continue to let go for even another day. Time to put on my big girl panties, and get to work...

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