Simone Weil, French Philosopher, Christian Mystic, and political activist once said, “To be rooted is perhaps the most important and least recognized need of the human soul.” Our homes provide us with a place to root and ground ourselves. Regardless of how transient our lives may be, our desire to make ourselves at home runs deep in the human experience. Our bodies, house the soul, memories, emotions, imagination, mind, and our spiritual essence. How do we create a stronger sense of rootedness in our homes, daily lives, and bodies?
Spring has begun, and the light is increasing each day. We are in one of those in-between times, when the weather has not yet decided on what it’s going to be from one hour to the next. The energy of spring is a bit frenetic, and now is an excellent time for creating ways to ground ourselves and make our homes more peaceful and nourishing.
“Spring Cleaning!” is a traditional battle cry for many of us. Spring is a time when the weather is changing, and when we are moving from a more indoor, sedentary time to a more active, outdoor one. We no longer are hunkered in around warm fires and furnaces to stave off the bite of winter. We still have cold snaps and rain and snow storms, but we also enjoy longer days, warmer temperatures, and a definite change of seasons. Families whose children have been in school since mid-August or early-September, are now taking vacations, having spring break, and getting ready for the end-of-the- year school activities. Time to consider how to organize our spring cleaning to give us a lift.
Clear and Clarify. Most of us live according to the calendar of summer to summer in some respects, and now is the time we ponder what’s ahead. Spring is the time to lighten our load. Spring is a time for clearing out closets, cupboards, garages, porches, attics, refrigerators, and pantries. Take one drawer, one shelf, or one cupboard at a time, and begin to clear clutter, clean out space, and make more room in your life. Before filling spaces back up, let your spaces rest for a while, and get used to having some empty space.
Take your time to get a sense of what you want to build, create, alter, or improve. For example, clear off a counter, and avoid putting appliances and other objects on the space. Learn how to build in some room in your space. Especially for those who live in small spaces, leaving some space allows for freer flow of energy, and more room to move and work. Recently, I moved a large piece of furniture out of my living room. Normally, I would fill in the space, but I have left it free and open, and enjoy the space and flow. A large room now seem larger, and the living room space feels cozier and more conversational. Play with the spaces you have, and try arranging space and storage differently.
Go through closets, drawers, and shelves to find worn out, unused items, and begin recycling what can be recycled. It is a good time to review your wardrobe, and get rid of items you are not wearing. Get your dry cleaning and mending done. Again, leave some space in your closet, and see about living with fewer items. Keep the clothes you actually wear, and take clothing that you don’t wear to a consignment shop, thrift shop, or pass it along to friends. Let go of what no longer belongs in your closet and your life.
Nourish yourself.. As the seasons change, so too do our appetites and nutritional needs. If you have gotten away from eating seasonally, you might want to reconsider eating apples from New Zealand or tomatoes from Mexico in winter. Visit your local farmers markets, orchards, farms, or start your own garden. Notice the way your tastes and appetite have changed, and plan some weekly menus that help you get ready for warmer weather and more outdoor activities. April is when the first local strawberries start to appear in the markets, and it is also a time when there is an abundance of local fresh produce and fruit. If you have gotten out of the habit of concocting a delicious veggie or fruit smoothie, perhaps it is time to get back in the routine. Remember to drink plenty of water, and to replenish yourself after exercising or doing strenuous work.
Consider ways to stimulate your mind and imagination. Read more, meditate, learn something new. Take a cooking class, or learn to play bridge or chess. Find one new thing to dabble in. You don’t have to be an expert or get a degree in it, but learning something new stimulates your brain and expands your perspective. It keeps you sharp and in the process of growing regardless of where you are in life. Break out of the routines that have dulled your senses, and awaken yourself in small. meaningful ways. Treat yourself and your friend to coffee or tea at a new spot. Wake up earlier once in a while, and watch the sun rise. Go find a sunset, and stop and enjoy the spaces in the day where you can just enjoy being still and calm.
Move, Breathe, and Energize. Spring brings with its own energy with it. We feel more awake, stimulated, and energized. Learning how to temper our activities to keep pace with the energy of spring is vital. Some of us work extra hard in spring. More hours of daylight often equate to shoving more work, chores, and obligations into our days. Make space in your days to relax, rest, get moving, and have some fun. Take a nap or do a little meditation in the middle of the day. Head to the yoga studio on your break, and walk back to work while nibbling on your sack lunch or drinking your veggie shake once in a while. Walk more, drive less. Get out and go when there are sun breaks, and give yourself movement breaks from sedentary work and chores.
Develop a practice of focusing on your breathing. Learn some simple breathing exercises to help yourself relax and deepen your breathing throughout the day and in the evening. When agitated, slow down and focus on your breathing. Spend some time developing a meditation, prayer, or contemplation practice. Spending at least 5-10 minutes day in some type of intentional stress-relieving practice, is a valuable habit to develop.
Get enough rest, eat nourishing meals and snacks, and get plenty of fresh air and exercise.
Change of Patterns. Consider making some simple changes to adapt to the changing weather patterns. Notice how your tastes change according to the weather. Find some new ways to get exercise. Take a new trail or walk in a different direction. Visit a new coffee shop, or invite friends over for afternoon tea once in a while. Set up a special place for meditating, prayer, yoga, and inspirational reading. Develop a wind down practice in the period before going to sleep. Take some time to meditate, pray, or do some simple stretches before bedtime. Turn the lights down, slow the pace, and start winding down before it’s time to sleep. Wake up a bit earlier than usual, and develop a morning ritual (meditation, prayer, journaling, walking, inspirational reading) to get your day started off peacefully.
Freshen Up, Lift your Spirits. Take care of yourself. Spruce yourself up. Treat yourself to a massage, a hair appointment, the nail salon, or an the acupuncturist. Make an appointment for your annual dental and medical exams. Go on a weekend retreat, or plan a retreat at home. Plan for some time to refresh and nourish your body, mind, and spirit. Clean out your closets, recycle old clothes, and get yourself a new outfit. Replace your lingerie and linens. Getting a few new tea towels for the kitchen, a new set of towels for the bathroom, or a set of sheets for your bed can go a long way to freshen up your home. Replace the shower curtains and liners, and get a couple of new, colorful throw pillows for your living room. Equip your desk with some new pens and a fresh supply of writing tablets, stationery, and notecards. Get new business cards, and reorganize your desk to fit the needs of the season. Get some fresh flowers, and plants some seeds and starters for planting in your garden. If you do not have a garden, plant some potted plants and keep them by your door or on your porch.
Take yourself on a date. Take yourself out to breakfast or lunch, and visit your favorite shops to window shop. Go the the library or bookstore, and get some books to read. Try a new author, and read something just for the fun of it. Open your mind to different ideas, people and places, and interests.
See Spring as a time to shed some of the layers of winter clothes, and move more freely.