Last Sunday I finally decided it was time to clean out and rearrange our family room and my home office/library. I had wanted to do it for many months but just never had found the time (read that ‘had made the time’) or had the energy to do it. Once I had gotten started though, I found myself enjoying going through the piles of papers, throwing away those not relevant anymore, putting order in those I needed to keep.
Yes, I did get tired after about five hours but it was a good feeling to be able to see the top of my desk at last. The start had been made, and once the dust cleared, I had my office back in usable form. The family room was clean, furniture rearranged for simplicity and functionality, and it looks much more comfortable, too.
What did I learn during this whirlwind cleaning experience? That perhaps the most important factor in any type of cleaning – whether room, desk, house, even and especially one’s life – is to start, to begin, to overcome the initial inertia. The process seems to generate its own energy as you progress from dirt and dust to cleanliness and order.
The second important thing I realized is that once the clutter is cleaned up and/or thrown out, I should not ever allow the accumulation to pile up again. For the last many months I had excused myself from cleaning these areas with the usual reasons: too tired, too busy at the office, too many family activities to prepare for. Never enough time! Never enough energy! I felt I needed to relax. And I was discouraged by the accumulation of stuff that seemed to mysteriously multiply in quantity.
One of my favorite authors, Sarah Ban Breathnach, who I began re-reading over the New Year, reminded me to stop engaging in “self-sabotage” and take the time, make the time, to clean up the clutter. As part of the cleaning process, she emphasizes that we need to examine our desires and our needs. Are there any old desires that we need to relinquish in order to move on? Only when we identify those things that over-occupy our thoughts, our time, and our energies, only then can we set aside the past and begin to creatively nurture ourselves, to be able to grow as a person and become a positive influence to others.
Breathnach believes that the New Year brings us many gifts – the gift of hours and farseeing moments, the gift of mornings and evenings, the gift of seasons, the gift of family, the gift of being oneself, the gift of Spirit. But to fully enjoy these God-given gifts, we need to clean up the clutter.
Praise God, I have started! Now to continue at home and at the office — as the song goes: “Little by little, every day…”