The mundane matters. I really don’t like that! I am one who loves to think about the next adventure–those moments that leave you with a feeling of joy and a smiling heart. I tend to want to get thru the “everyday” times to the “special” times. But what I am learning is that attention to the “everyday” boring things is what creates a productive container for the “special” times.
I remember times of having to clean my house, wash my sheets, clean my car and leave notes for the pet sitter and all sort of other things before I left for a trip. I was totally stressed out and exhausted by the time I walked out the door to my adventure! What I am learning now is that if my house is already clean and the sheets changed, the car is clean (or semi!) and a magnetic note stays on the refrigerator for the pet sitter, then pretty much all I have to do is pack my bags and get ready for the trip. Rather than planning for one big day to clean the house and ending up with half of it done and my lower back hurting from vacuuming and scrubbing, I do it a little bit at a time and it pretty much stays clean. That sounds totally simple and “duh” to many organized and tidy souls. To those of us who are not in love with everyday tasks, it amounts to a revolution to begin to do it “day by day.”
I remember when I first heard the term “floorobe” (as opposed to “wardrobe”–get it?) Oh, dear that struck a cord! You see, if I am going to wear the same sweater or jacket or house robe the next day, why not just drape it over the nearest chair rather than going to the trouble of hanging it in the closet and having to search for it the next morning? But then it easily ended up on the floor–“floorobe!” So I began to make myself hang clothes up when I took them off or immediately put them in the “to wash” basket. It was amazing how clear my bedroom floor seemed to get! Then I started to leave my “1/2 water, 1/2 vinegar” bottle on the bathroom sink and just spritzed and wiped each morning. Voila! A shining sink instead of a sink gooped with toothpaste, coconut oil, lotion, etc. I then graduated to spritzing the bathroom floor about every three days and then using the towel I was going to wash anyway to mop the floor by pushing it around with my foot. Changed my life! When I walk into my tiny bathroom and it is somewhat clean and uncluttered, my inside smile reaches all the way to my toes!
Another thing that has led to a less stressful life is taking sabbaticals. They can be extended times or just a few hours. I remember when I moved to the Smoky Mountains (in my fifties!) and decided to take a sabbatical before starting my psychotherapy practice again. I worked on top of a mountain in a hundred-year-old inn for a year. My favorite thing was slowly sweeping the big veranda every day and hearing the screen door close as guests walked in and out. It restored my soul and helped me begin, once again, the work that was my life calling.
It doesn’t have to be an “official” sabbatical. Taking mini-sabbaticals when needed often returns me from a place of stress to a place of calm. In the middle of a “crazy” week, sneaking off to a movie theatre in the afternoon and settling in with my diet coke and popcorn turns me into a new woman. I had a client who had the very taxing job of being a caregiver for her chronically ill mother. When the thought hit, “I have to get out of here,” she would make her Mom comfortable, take her cell phone and go to the nearby Barnes and Noble store. She would sit in one of their big, cushy chairs (I don’t think they still have those!) and read for several hours. She would return home replenished and ready for the next day. She could have read at home, but getting into a different environment devoid of responsibility was the thing that gave her a respite.
I think of those beloved leaders who have honored the “everyday.” Jesus was sent for a mighty mission, but what did he decide to do to prepare for it? He became a carpenter. As he was preparing for the giant work ahead, he carved table legs and made shelves. He went fishing and loved to eat and walk with his friends. Everyday things. I think of Rosa Parks riding the same bus everyday. One day she decided she was just too tired and was going to stay in her seat rather than move to the back of the bus. The mundane matters.