Monday, April 18, 2011

How to Spring Clean Your Soul

You know how to spring clean your home. And if you don't, Martha Stewart is happy to tell you. But do you know how to spring clean your soul?
Yes, your soul.


Consider this: If it's so important to dust your light bulbs and switch the direction of your ceiling fan, isn't it even more important to cleanse your soul of all that makes it hard to breathe? I say, yes. Yes it is!


Taking cues from Martha Stewart and Reader's Digest Spring Cleaning tips, here are my top 5 ways to Spring Clean Your Soul:


1. Clean your windows/ view of the world
Martha Stewart recommends that we clean our windows with a rubber-edged squeegee because it is quicker and more effective than cloth or newspaper. Totally valid. In the soul-cleaning business, I recommend that you squeegee your view of life. Whatever is fogging up your view of the world, life, your future... needs to go. Throughout the year, small particles of gunk clog up your "windows" which wind up limiting your view. And if you can't see all that beauty out there in the world every day, how are you going to enjoy it? Say goodbye to the gunk and wipe it away with a swift swipe of the squeegee. And enjoy the new view.


2. Stock your stain fighting kit
Martha suggests that as part of our spring cleaning ritual, we stock our stain fighting kit. Because Martha knows that even if you're Martha Stewart, stains happen. And it's how you respond that matters. Stains are also that much more devastating if not responded to immediately. This is why stocking your stain fighting kit in advance is important. So you're prepared. Life doesn't always go your way. So when a stain has got you down or curled up in the fetal position, what will you pull out of your stain fighting kit?


A walk in the park? Laughing with your baby? A phone call with a good friend who always puts you in a better mood? Baking chocolate chip cookies and then eating them with a loved one and a glass of milk or red wine? A run by the lake? A pedicure? Buying a new shade of lipstick? Rough-housing with your dog? Watching a cheesy movie?


Here's my advice:
1. Know what lifts you out of the doldrums and put that in your "Stain Fighting Kit"
2. Share that with the person closest to you
3. Ask them to remind you of your stain fighting solutions when you're in the midst of fighting a stain and unable to remember them yourself because all you want to do is curl up on the couch and feel sorry for yourself. (happens to the best of us)




3.Update your bed linens/ internal conversations
Martha also recommends that we update our bed linens. Instead of bed linens (or in addition if you're so inclined) I recommend you update your internal conversations. Or... the negative things you regularly tell yourself. Just as sleeping on the same bed sheets for too long can bring down your entire bedroom, repeating the same tired conversations to yourself over and over and over can and will bring down your entire being. Especially when those things you regularly tell yourself are of the negative variety. Such as...
"I'll never have a successful writing career."
"I can't do anything right."
"I'm a disorganized mess."
"I hate my stupid hair."
"I wish I were younger."


Blah! Just writing them makes me want to throw a bucket of cold water over my head with the hopes that it will seep in and wash these thoughts out of my nasty little brain for good.


It's time for new "bed linens" for my soul. Time to re-write that internal script.


Here's my new script:
"I have everything I could ever want or need."
"How can I be of service to others?"
"Everything is perfect the way that it is and the way that it isn't."
"I love life!"
(Feel free to steal.)


4. Make doormats welcoming/ Make YOU welcoming
Reader's Digest suggests that we make our doormats welcoming. So how does that translate to this business of Spring Cleaning Your Soul? Easily. In one word: Smile.


Make YOU Welcoming. Smile at others, smile at no one in particular. Just smile. As Buddy the Elf might say, make smiling your new favorite. And if you don't want to smile because you're afraid you'll look like an idiot, then at the very least stop frowning


Notice your face. What is it's default position? A scowl? A frown? Is it pained? Tired? Longing? Confused? We all have a default expression. Don't believe me? All you have to do is watch the sea of faces in a morning commute. Most of them do not look happy to be going to work. 


And what's the problem with that? What if you're not happy to go to work? Well, then fake it till you make it. 


And why do we always need a reason to be happy, anyway? Just be happy for happy sake. It's amazing what it will do for your soul. And the well-being of those around you! So smile, for goodness sake. Show those pearly whites. Reveal those dimples. Smile from your soul. From deep inside. Smile through your eyes and welcome life with every interaction.


5. Declutter... your brain
We all know the benefits of decluttering our homes, don't we? I'm a big believer in less is more when it comes to stuff in our homes. Especially with everything we've gone through in the last couple of years. It certainly makes moving easier. And breathing. I always sleep better at night after a solid act of decluttering.


Clutter, unfortunately, is a part of life. And it isn't limited to the physical realm. I'm talking about mind clutter. 


It's the noise in our heads. Often it seems like there is so much going on in my mind that it's impossible to find my way to a coherent thought. This has definitely been the case since I've been a mom. Mom brain. Things have gotten really loud up there and I for one could use some decluttering. Some quiet. And some room.


So, how? 


Well, I'm thinking that going on an electronic fast would help. Even if only for a day. I'm going to try that one. I could definitely spend less time on Facebook and more time journaling. 


Speaking of journaling... it's a great way to declutter the mind because you're essentially extracting those thoughts and putting them on paper where they won't take up valuable storage space in your brain. Ever read Julia Cameron's The Artist's Way? Morning pages. 

"Morning Pages are three pages of longhand, stream of consciousness writing, done first thing in the morning. There is no wrong way to do Morning Pages-- they are not high art. They are about anything and everything that crosses your mind-- and they are for your eyes only."
When I've done Morning Pages I have found that afterwards, my mind is quieter. It's more peaceful and more open to creative thought. That stream of consciousness writing leaves me focused and clear minded. It's really an amazing exercise that I get value out of every time I do it. It dramatically improves my quality of life. 
Which begs the question: Why the heck don't I do it every day?! Ah... another thought that only leads to me invalidating myself. I think I'll stop it before it spins out of control.
Leo Babuta of Zen Habits also has some really brilliant tips on how to Declutter your mind in his post "15 Can't-Miss Ways to Declutter Your Mind." Leo offers tips like: Get in touch with nature, Do Less and Let Go. Getting in touch with nature really works for me. Especially if I leave my iPhone at home. 
Though we're no longer living on a beautiful island surrounded by nature, there are plenty of opportunities to connect with the natural environment in Chicago. And luckily Malcolm likes his stroller. Because when things get too loud in my head, the best remedy is a long walk outside or run. We're both happier at the end.

So, LITTOF readers... Do you have any other tips on how to Spring Clean Your Soul? If so, please share! (Thank you)





1 Comments:

Brie Eley said...

Thank you for tips! I love that they are digestable and action orientated. I am an interior organizer in Los Angeles and I often have to remind my clients to clear out the clutter from both their heart and home office.

Another idea to spring clean your soul, is to address a broken or strained relationship by writing a letter. Even if it is not sent, the process of writing it will lighten your load!

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