July 5, 2022
Sunday evening my husband asked me, “What are you planning to do tomorrow?”
My answer, “Clean the first floor bathroom.”
That’s not much of a plan for the 4th of July, but the bathroom did need its weekly cleaning.
We had spent a delightful afternoon in holiday mode. We packed a picnic and picked up a couple friends and headed to a nearby lake. We settled into a quiet afternoon of easy food and conversation and enjoyment of summer breezes and views of kayakers and paddle boarders. Part of the afternoon we were each absorbed in our books. Perfect.
Monday the 4th, wet and dreary, gave me no excuse to put off cleaning the small first floor bathroom. Besides a few days earlier we had gone to a favorite antique shop, and I found a sweet and inexpensive painting. However, it was a bit too large for where I envisioned placing it. How about the recessed shelf by the bathtub?
And that’s how one thing led to another.
Normally, cleaning that small bathroom takes about 20 minutes, but first I removed what had been displayed in that shelf and dusted and washed the space. After placing the painting at the back (perfect size!), I tried a few different vignettes before landing on the one where I said, “Done.”
But then I thought as long as I had cleaned that area throughly, I might as well move the little black cupboard and scrub the tile behind it and rearrange those open shelves. And then I decided to empty the medicine cabinet and clean those shelves. I don’t always scrub all tile walls, top to bottom, but why not do that, too?
And finally, wasn’t it time to take down the curtain camouflaging the closet I use as a vanity, wash that, as well as conduct an inventory of everything stored there.
Too bad I didn’t have fresh shelf paper. Oh well!
What started as routine, doing the usual suspects of cleaning tasks, became an even fresher, cleaner and more pleasing space.
One thing led to another.
How often that happens. One idea leads to another. One project becomes something else, often something more.
One of the tricks is knowing when to stop. I could have taken down all the pictures and the gallery of mirrors hanging in there, but I chose not to do that. Enough is enough, I told myself. Doing that didn’t feel necessary, but I filed that task in the back of my head. Maybe I’ll do that on Labor Day!
Hometanding and Discernment
Taking care of our home, adding to the comfort and beauty of our home, is one way I pay attention to inner nudges. Sometimes cleaning and rearranging and sorting and tossing and simplifying actual rooms and drawers and closets is a prelude to metaphorical clearing the space, creating spaciousness in my head and my heart. And sometimes those tasks set the scene and prepare me for whatever it is I am to do next.
The past few months I have been in a period of discernment. At first I focused on whether or not to continue working on the spiritual memoir I have been writing for a LONG time, but eventually, I realized my discernment was about more than one project. Instead, I wondered how I am called to use my energy and my gifts at this stage of my life.
To examine that question I have needed to create some spaciousness in my days.
Today I feel closer, if not to an answer, at least more of a direction.
Cleaning the bathroom, doing more than the usual routine, but instead allowing one thing to lead to another, opens me to possibilities and to internal instructions.
After I finished cleaning, I fixed my lunch and read for an hour–an old Peter Whimsey mystery, The Unpleasantness at the Bellona Club by Dorothy Sayers, I sat at my desk in the garret and jotted down some fleeting thoughts. One thing seemed to lead to another.
When has one thing led to another for you? I would love to know.