I was left  in my “how did it get this bad?” disaster of a home.  Clutter is the number one no-no if you are trying to practice feng shui or even if you are just trying to live a sane and normal life.   I had two hours to myself, nothing pressing so I told myself I would do nothing else until I had made some headway. 

Despite my devotion to feng shui, clutter continues to be the constant struggle for me.  Its a relentless uphill battle, all this stuff that piles up in our home.  It sucks my energy and stresses me out.  I get on top of it only to slip and slide back down again.

There are so many reasons, so many excuses for why and how it happens.  I am a single mom who works at a full-time job.  I have a boy who frequently impersonates a hurricane.  We have a small(ish) house.  There are a lot (too many) toys.  There are not enough hours in the day.  I am not a naturally organized person.

Back in 2005, when I was in the midst of my feng shui rescue mission, I read everything I could get my hands on about getting rid of clutter.  Perhaps, I thought, if I just studied it enough, I would know exactly how to get a handle on this, the house would just magically clean itself, a fairy godmother would come in and show me the way.  Needless to say that never happened, but I do remember a Body and Soul magazine article I read that has stuck with me. 

It said something along these lines.  When you are faced with persistent clutter, don’t just rush to clear it but rather stop and really look at it.  Then ask yourself, “What is my clutter trying to tell me?  What is it telling me about my life?  About lessons I need to learn?  About things I need to pay attention to?  About what’s going on with me?”  The idea was that persistent clutter was really just a symptom of being stuck in another way in your life and by treating clutter as a teacher we could correct the real problem.

It was a fascinating exercise.  Today, overwhelmed by the mess all around and sick of the constant batte I decided to repeat it.  Here is what my clutter said when I actually decided to listen:

–I am having a hard time  finishing things.  Lately I am feeling a bit restless and am easily distracted.  I get 90% of the way through a project then get up for just a moment–only to be sidelined for weeks on end.  I assume I will wander back after I (get a drink, make this phone call, deal with the laundry, kiss the hurt) but somehow the project seems much less interesting once I have moved on.  However, I believe with all my heart and soul that if I just leave all my tools out (whether its a journal, knitting needles and yarn, bills, screw driver, sewing kit) I will be motivated to come back and finish, any minute now, but instead I am just bored.

–When I am feeling guilty about my inability to get back out there and finish a project I start something new which I am certain will hold my attention longer and make me feel better.    Its a cyclical process as I feel guilty I create more and more activity.

–I have become rather loosey-goosey and inconsistent.  I am not enforcing rules around where toys go (or for that matter shoes and wine glasses) and am not insisting on regular pick-ups even though I know we both need these rules.  I am avoiding the struggles with my son (and my own inner child) because  I just don’t have the energy for the effort.

–I am moving way too fast and not alloting the proper amount of time for me to complete certain tasks.  Groceries aren’t getting completely put away, dishes aren’t entirely washed, folded laundry not being put away because I am not giving myself enough time.

What’s interesting to me is that this is so different from what my clutter told me back in 2005.  Back then I was drowning in the abundance of things–things I couldn’t let go of and things I bought to fill the void that Juan had left.  I was clinging to things as a way to resist the loss of my marriage and my partner, hording new things to avoid feeling empty.  I remember that day back in the spring of 2005 when I realized what was so obviously going on in my weary heart.  It was a moment of earth shattering clarity.  It enabled to me to move forward

I suppose this is another one of these moments but with new lessons, new challenges for growth. 

Thank you messy house for showing me what I needed to see today:  That I need to slow down and protect that which is sacred.  I need to restore my energy and my will to protect my own boundaries.  Thank you for giving me this new found awareness of a most uncomfortable restlessness, a searching for something, a yearning for newness.  I don’t know what is behind it yet, but it’s worth peeking underneath it to see.   To be honest, tonight as I sit in my straightened up home I am not entirely sure exactly how to tackle all of this but I believe a little compassion and gentleness is probably a good start.

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