Clearing out and the space it leaves

If you read the last post, you’ll remember that I cleared out the spare room and it’s now my space to write and ponder the universe in.

While in the middle of the changing around, my youngest daughter poked her head in the doorway and asked what I was doing and with a ‘huh’ left after I told her the answer.

A little while later, when it was all set up, she came back and this is how the conversation went.

Her: “Oh! This room is cool!”

Me: “Yep. I’m pretty happy with it.”

Her: “When I wake up early or any other time, and you’re not in here, can I come in here?”

Me: “No.”

Her: “Why not?!?!”

Me: “Because it’s my space and I set it all up.”

Her: “That is totally unfair. [and said as she walked off] When I’m an adult, I’m going to have MY own space and no-one will be allowed in!”

I chuckled to myself, thinking, ‘Well, you have a whole room to yourself right now!’

I told my husband later and he immediately saw the parallel with life.

Sometimes, we see what other people have in their lives and want what they have. What we don’t always see is the hard work, the rearranging, the sweat, the decisions, the effort of moving things around. We just see a great room and we want to move in.

And sometimes we can see it midway and not see it’s potential. It’s only after we see it complete that we think it’s worth anything.

It’s easy to look at others and be jealous of their ‘special spaces’ and wonder why they can have that and we can’t. All the while, we miss the point that if we too put in the same amount of effort, we could have what they have. It may look different, rearranged in it’s own unique pattern but it will be ours and it will be special.

And we will have the satisfaction of knowing we did it ourselves and that’s it was our hard work that gave us what we have. Isn’t that far better than walking into something already finished?


Clearing out

For the last month or so, we have been helping clear out my mother-in-law’s home, as she is now happily playing bingo and enjoying being incredibly social and busy in an aged care facility. The house has been the family home for over 50 years. So, yeah, there was a fair bit of cleaning out to do.

It has inspired me to clear out some of my own stuff. There are cupboards where, to my shame, things were stashed when we moved in seven years ago and those things have not seen daylight since.

The other reason is I wanted to makeover the ‘spare’ room. This room, since being vacated by that boy of ours, has been a guest room that doubles as the ‘quick-throw-it-in-there-before-company-arrives-and-close-the-door!!’ room and triples as the hangout zone for the clothes that come off the line, need to be folded, don’t get folded, but get worn before they get a chance to be folded and the whole process repeats itself.

So, in order to reconfigure the spare room and turn it into my space, that will still double as a guest room but THAT’S IT (family, are you reading this?? No more junk, no more laundry. Got it?), I needed to clear it out a little. Okay, a lot.

So in order to clear it out, I needed to clear out another cupboard to put the stuff I wanted to keep from the spare room.  And then I need to clear out the linen cupboard so I can fit the spare room bedlinen in, that was, up til now, on the bed that is now stored in a friends shed.

And let’s not forget the china I now have from my mother-in-law’s house. In order to fit that in, I need to clear out my buffet.

I feel like I’m on a revolving cycle of clearing out, storing, clearing out, storing. And my head is spinning with the effort.

And it’s made me think about how we can be a bit like that. We start to inwardly clear out a few areas of our character, our emotional baggage, our childhood, and we find it leads us from one issue to the next. And to fix one thing, we need to address the next thing in line and so on. And it can make us feel like we will never get anything sorted at all, just like I do with my house.

But you know what?

Today, I sit in my newly organised spare room with my little desk and laptop, the new futon delivered and in place, my recycled painting hanging on the wall.

And I know satisfaction.

Oh sure, there is still a doona and pillows on the dining room table, clothes ready for a charity disposal lining the hallway, and a box of bits and pieces I don’t know what to do with by the door. But this one room is done.

It’s worth going through the messy stage of dealing with our issues, shining light on character traits that need work, and sometimes looking backward in order to move forward.

It’s worth having our emotions and thoughts in a state of disarray in order to achieve the end result of issues understood and laid to rest; of knowing we have bettered ourselves in one area and are ready to move onto the next.

So while it seems disruptive, and feels uncomfortable or even painful, to unpack things about ourselves that we’ve kept hidden or simply just ignored, it is worth it.

What ‘rooms’ in you do you need to look at clearing out? Start with just one, and you’ll soon be enjoying the open, clear space that it brings.

And when you’re ready, you can move onto the next room, encouraged by the success of the first room, just like me and my spare room 🙂

Good intentions are actually not that good

The road to hell is paved with good intentions.

We’ve all heard this maxim I’m sure. In reality, the road to boredom, damaged relationships, disappointment, laziness…[insert your own vice]…are all paved with good intentions.

A wonderful friend and I were lamenting the lack of action after the voicing of good intentions from people we both know. And it really highlighted to me the importance of following through; it highlighted that good intentions without any subsequent action, will get you nowhere ‘good’.

Imagine saying to your kids at 6pm “Don’t be cross there’s no tea tonight, I had every intention of cooking it!” Or to your boss “No, you’re right, that work’s not done. I intended to do it though!” Or your spouse on their birthday “Yes, I can see you’re upset I didn’t buy you a present or arrange a night out but I really intended to do something special for you.”

Doesn’t cut it, does it? Good intentions don’t mean squat if they are not backed up by action.

I have been guilty many times of over-promising things to others, of intending to do many, many things for people. My time, my abilities and other resources, were all offered with good intentions but unfortunately, that’s where it would end. And I’m not going to be too hard on myself, or on you – we promise things, or our commitment to something, because we genuinely have a desire to help or participate or invest in that person. What we lack is the wisdom to know what we can feasibly follow through with.

As I get older (and hopefully wiser), I’ve learnt to say no, not just for my own sanity and to avoid taking on too much in life, but also to avoid hurting others and letting them down. And what it also means is when we do say yes to something, the other party knows we are good for it. That our yes means a firm commitment that they can take to the bank.

Our intentions are only ‘good’ if they elicit a purposeful action from us.

I will never get my book finished if I only ever ‘intend’ to write.

I will never have a great marriage if I only ever ‘intend’ to put effort in.

I will never have meaningful friendships if I only ever ‘intend’ to invest time with others.

What have you been ‘intending’ to do? Why not make a decision right now to convert those good intentions into actions?

Fence sitting

Have you ever sat on a fence? Maybe in a paddock, or as a child chatting to a neighbourhood friend, or waiting for the school bus.

It’s nice sitting there, higher than everyone else, able to see what’s going on with a 360 degree view, watching what’s happening on either side. As a kid, I remember feeling cool because I was sitting on the fence.

Have you ever noticed though, how sitting on a fence for too long gives you a numb bum? So you shuffle about, trying to find a more comfortable position without much success. Eventually, you jump down, pretending, of course, that jumping down was exactly what you meant to do at that exact time, and had nothing at all to do with how uncomfortable it had become.

You can guess where I’m going with this, can’t you? 😉

All the above applies to sitting on the fence metaphorically, too.

We feel somehow better about ourselves because we’re not taking sides. We’re impartial, we like to tell ourselves. In reality, we are enjoying a small (or large!) sense of superiority when we refuse to align with one side or the other. It can be handy to sit on the fence for a bit, assess the situation going on, on either side, but really, all we can do is watch. Oh sure, we can yell out comments, pass judgement, criticise peoples actions, but we can’t actually DO anything. We are ineffectual while we are sitting on the fence.

Once we make a decision, jump down and plant our feet on the ground, we can really make a difference. We can ‘get amongst it’, as young people are wont to say at the moment :).

Are you sitting on the fence about an issue that you really need to make a decision about? Don’t wait for your proverbial bum to get numb! Jump off and start making a difference 🙂

Disappointment and perspective

As we reel with the news of the disaster in the Philipines on Friday, it’s hard not to feel lucky if you’re living anywhere else in the world. The images on our screens are too much for me to bear most of the time. The desire to help, to give, to pray is strong and once again we can feel overwhelmed with helplessness.

Tragedy on a large scale puts our lives into perspective, doesn’t it? Talking to my sister, who is off to a friends wedding this weekend with an unfavourable weather forecast, commented that the bride-to-be was not bothered by impending rain at her beach wedding, in light of what people in the Philipines are going through.

When it’s happening, most of us can see that our ‘problems’ aren’t really problems at all. Obviously, there are still very real problems we face like terminal illness, life changing, or taking, accidents, bankruptcy, relationship breakdowns. And it also doesn’t mean we aren’t allowed to be effected by the issues we do face, even if they aren’t big problems like some of the ones I listed.

Yesterday, our boy let us know that he wouldn’t be home for Christmas this year due to work commitments. This will be the first time we have not all been together for Christmas – even when he was in the army, he still made it home. But nope, not this year.

To say we are disappointed would be an understatement. You may have gathered along the way that Christmas is a big deal to me. I love our little traditions, the fun, the laughter and getting to spoil that boy who we don’t get to see that often.

Yet, how can I really stay too disappointed for long? He’s safe, he’s happy, he loves his job so even having to work either side of the holiday isn’t a chore for him. So many families in the Philipines, and all over the world of course, are mourning the loss of a loved one; or don’t know if they are alive or dead; or are trying to keep their children alive and safe. It certainly tempers my motherly desire to have all the hens in the nest on Christmas morning.

Does it mean I’m not still upset? Does it mean we won’t miss him when handing out presents round the tree and setting the table for breakfast? Does it mean it won’t be quite the same?

Of course not. But it does mean I see it through a different lens. One that before the Philipines disaster I might not have seen through.

It’s a reality check, isn’t it?

And the reality is that disaster can befall any one of us, at any time, and keeping in perspective the things that happen that aren’t calamitous will better enable us to cope when life truly does hand us real problems.

And now, I’m not so tired.

Thanks to all of you for the encouraging words and support after my last post. I felt bolstered to know that I was heard and understood and definitely in good company 🙂

Coincidentally, I just had a weekend away for a friend’s birthday (and hence, no post on Sunday 🙂 ), which was perfect timing. It was a full 24 hours of nothing but eating, chatting, laughing, drinking (a combination of tea, coffee and champagne…not all at once, that would just be silly!), and generally letting my mind and body fully relax.

It was exactly what I needed at exactly the right time. It’s amazing how often we are blessed right when we need it most.

It’s so important to have those mental breathers; to simply be and not be striving for the next goal. It’s necessary to give our minds some space, and room to move. Space to allow our thoughts to wander, untethered by time, schedules or plans. There was much contented sighing by all of us on the weekend, and I could feel my mind and my heart letting go too.

To simply ‘be’ is a wondrous thing indeed.

So, although it has taken a few days to get going again, I now feel rejuvenated and refreshed and ready to once again take up arms and battle my chosen causes, which is good timing also as I have three engagements for Destiny Rescue this week!

How about you? Do you need to take time out for a short breather?