Naw, I ain’t trying to write potty talk. I’ve come to the conclusion that there is nothing valuable in things unused. What to do with all that unused stuff John and I have collected over 31 years of life? Flush it out. Get rid of it. Send it to new homes.
I wrote briefly here about how I am developing a yoga practice for myself. I’m not taking up yoga simply for physical exercise and health, but I’m looking at all the Eight Limbs of yoga. It is challenging me to change, and giving me a blueprint for finding a spiritual peace. To surrender to God – as the second limb Niyama calls for in terms of treating oneself in an ethical way. I am already seeing the benefits of yoga in my mothering and the way I am approaching my priorities and goals. It has helped me to see that I am living a cluttered life both inwardly and outwardly. I need to flush out the junk in both the literal and figurative sense.
I’m also thinking of the needs of my girls in this decision. Right now, Deladis tries sometimes to clean up after herself, but is rarely successful. Both girls are overwhelmed by the amount of stuff in there room as I am. Ivy is a very energetic child who needs activity and freedom to explore. I’ve called her “wildcat’s kitten” here before and rowdy. I stand corrected, however, having been told by another mother that she is “spirited”. (Though I still prefer “wildcat’s kitten” and “rowdy” to describe her behavior. Every child is “spirited” just gifted differently. 😉 ) The amount of clutter in the cabin makes it hard for her to safely explore and be active in family life, and it makes it hard for me to constantly watch her and keep her safe. I’ve never been good at anticipating my girls’ needs and catering the home environment to meet them because I’m too focused on the behavior I want to nurture in them instead of the process of nurturing.
I have to find a way to accomplish my top priorities of day to day living, which are providing an environment in which my girls can learn respect and thrive in peace and beauty and creating a literal place of cleanliness, order and serenity in our home. I want a home where the girls are actively a part of the keeping of it, and where they can take pride in responsibility and see their work as meaningful. At this time, play and imitation are their most important jobs. They need a place where they are free. I need a place where I am free and my housework is meaningful in order to have more moments of true creativity.
I have made several attempts in the last year to purge us of junk. The first being in the move to our cabin. We threw away and donated oodles of stuff. More recently, I’ve worked on the girls’ room, trying to organize it. I’ve taken many boxes and bags to Goodwill.
John and I are both collectors and have been since childhood. We collect books, music, movies, rocks, knick-knacks, wick-wacks, art, quilts, etc… I have come to the realization that many of these things are not necessary and most wouldn’t even be missed if I got rid of them completely. It is taking up space in our lives and stifling true growth. Growth that goes beyond accumulated possessions. I’m not here to pass junk onto my girls. They will have plenty of meaningful things to keep as mementos of me when I pass on – my iron skillets, my Appalachian book collection, my quilts, my dishes and cookbooks. Those are useful things. Unlike CDs that are rarely listened too, shelves of movies that collect dust, and clothes that I’ve had for a coon’s age but never wear. It is hard to rid myself of these things because I’ve been putting some sort of monetary value to them. I keep old clothes that don’t fit thinking at some point I might need them again and won’t be able to buy more. I keep movies we no longer watch thinking I might someday have time to list them on ebay. It’s silly, and I am ready to stop.
When I toured the old homesteads of the Cherokee on my recent trip researching my novel, I was so inspired by the simplicity. My goal is to bring that to my home. Everything taking up space will be useful and/or truly meaningful. It is going to take some time and it won’t be easy for me, but I’m going to get there. It’s not just cleaning… it’s a spiritual exercise.
In working toward a life of self-reliance and sustainability, I’m quickly learning that material goods… the stuff of consumer culture can get in the way. We have to lose the mindset of work and buy… work and buy. John and I live without a lot that most people in our society would consider necessary because we don’t place a high emphasis on money and therefore we don’t buy much of anything, but that doesn’t mean that we have put aside the thoughts of needing “things”. You have probably noticed that I haven’t posted pictures of the inside of the cabin very often, but I have plenty of the outside. It is because I’ve been embarrassed and have found little beauty inside our dwelling. That is about to change. It’s my responsibility. I’m not embarrassed anymore. In the coming weeks, I’m going to write about how I approach this project both on a spiritual level and the physical. I will also post before and after pictures. I’m ready to free my family.