Monday, March 7, 2011

Thoughts as a medicine cabinet.

Our house has been up for sale for quite some time now, and though we really haven't had any activity recently, we've become restless with the state of limbo we've been in. Our new house, which belonged to my husband's late grandparents, is just sitting there waiting on us. We've put some work into it here and there -- refinished the hardwood floor we discovered under the living room carpet, started painting what will be Raiden's bedroom -- and have moved some of our extra stuff over in various spurts, but we have finally grown restless with the restlessness. We're moving there. For real.

Though at times it feels like this process is really dragging out (and, let's face it, after almost-three years, it really is) we're lucky, in a way, that we get to take our time with it. There's no mad flurry of WE HAVE TO PACK RIGHT NOW OR ELSE and that allows us a little space to really go through what we have while we're packing it. Keep; yard sale or donate; trash. We've had several moments of "I forgot that even existed" and "So that's where that went! How did it get in there?!"

The most significant for me, so far, came yesterday afternoon. Raiden had become a holy terror and it was very obvious that it was because he was tired (though he refused to admit this, of course), so after getting him down for a nap, which pretty much never happens anymore, Rich and I were able to get some packing done without having to 1) stop a million times to entertain a three year old, or 2) feel guilty ignoring our three year old. Rich took to the bedroom; I stationed myself in the bathroom.

My first stop: the medicine cabinet above the washer. Storage tub in front of me and trash can to my side, I started going through all the stuff we had piled in our bulging-at-the-seams cabinet, deciding what to keep at the house we're still living in, what to go ahead and take over to the other house, and what to get rid of entirely. My being a pseudo-hippie came in two-fold in this scenario: 1) I had at least a couple dozen bottles of Standard Process supplements in the cabinet that have been there for who knows how long and for who knows what purpose, and 2) this made me think. It occurred to me, especially after a recent conversation with my fabulous coach (her website, her blog), that it was an analogy for thoughts.

I had all this stuff stored in my cabinet and though I knew vaguely that it was there and that I wasn't using it, I hadn't taken the time before then to really look at what the stuff was, how it was serving me by staying in my cabinet, when I picked it up in the first place, when it outlived its usefulness, or if I would ever use it again.

What about thoughts? What thoughts do I have sitting in the back of my mind that I know are there but don't really pay any attention to? How can these thoughts be serving me (or even "serving" me by allowing me the freedom to stay stagnant when moving forward is scary)? Where did they come from? Do I still need them? Will I ever need them again? Could someone else I care about benefit from me keeping them around?

I recently discovered the power in letting a thought go and replacing it with another, and even the power in realizing I could let it go.

What was funny to realize while cleaning out my cabinet was that if something was full, I had a hard time throwing it away. It was taking up a lot of space and I knew I would never use it again, but the thought of getting rid of something that hadn't really been utilized still bothered me. It made me wonder what big, full, useless thoughts may be occupying my mind, keeping me from replacing them with something I felt better about.


Later in the adventures of bathroom tidying, we removed a shelf we had never liked. There had been a built-in cabinet when we first bought the house, and I don't remember when we removed it or why, but the section of wall behind where it had been was painted a different color than the rest of the wall. We even color-matched the paint and picked up a quart a while back, but never painted it. Instead, we got an ugly shelf and decided that hopefully the clutter on it would cover up the ugly wall. It was functional, but it's always bugged me.

After the shelf was out, the wall was painted and the new shelf was in, I wondered aloud, "Why didn't do do this when it was for us??"

One of my favorite questions on my new-coaching-client questionnaire is, "What are you tolerating?" I was reminded again that I ought to ask it of myself occasionally, too. And then move on it. It didn't take that long to move the shelf or paint the section of wall. There was no reason to let it sit there bothering me for however many months or years it has been that way, when an afternoon took care of fixing it.

What else am I tolerating? How much energy am I giving the annoyance it's causing me, compared to how much energy it would take to do something about it and then be happier with it?


So what about you? What's hanging out in your brain's medicine cabinet? What is your unpainted bathroom wall that you're hiding with clutter on an ugly shelf? And when will you do something to change it?

1 comment:

Hippie Housewife said...

Yeesh. I don't want to think about these hard questions! Why are you asking me these hard questions??

No, actually, these are really good questions. Thanks for sharing. Really good stuff here. :)