Birder. Here we are. Spring is moving under the surface of the earth. It has been raining here and the soil has that funky, potent smell. Life. And I know very soon it will bust forth with growth and freshness. I can feel it, the inhale before the bloom.
So… It strikes me as a lovely time to talk about spring cleaning! xo Courtney
I had a realization last spring which prompted a massive decluttering campaign in my house: if I had too much stuff, it would always would be “energy expensive” to maintain. Even though my house looked pretty tidy from the outside, especially when compared to the avalanche of stuff which is normal in our culture, I knew what it took to maintain behind the scenes. And I also knew what it felt like — a ton of work — to keep areas clean. No system could contain it.
It was such a simple observation but for me it was a powerful reframe. It wasn’t my fault, for example, that I couldn’t keep the kid’s art supplies under control. It was just that there were too freaking many crayons, stamps, sequins and more. I was setting myself up for failure. No one could keep that quantity of stuff organized. Or if they could, it would be a full-time job.
Similarly when I was carrying around a lot of hyper-critical attitudes toward myself and rigid expectations of life/other people it was taxing to reset each day. This interior clutter took up some serious real estate in my mind and worse, when I made space in my schedule to relax, it would all cave in on me.
Perhaps you can relate?
Thomas Moore, a monk turned writer, likens the state of our home to the state of our soul or our inner life. I find this a powerful metaphor and decluttering a potent practice. The shedding creates room for new ways of enjoying our space, which I discovered after hauling 12 or more carloads to donate. The sense of breathing room at home turned into enthusiasm and inspiration to redo my home office– creating a home studio with bamboo floors and ample space to write, coach, meditate and do yoga. (Those are my and Rosetta’s yoga mats rolled up and stored in the fairy house. One of those wholesome toys no one liked but me– so I gave it a new purpose!) And my favorite corner (showcased in the pic above) holds my edited library with books organized by color. The transformation in my office-turned-studio has mirrored a shift in my psyche as I hold my work with more of a light and playful touch. And literally feel more comfortable at home, in my own skin.
What would it feel like for you to stop fighting your natural seasons and rhythms and instead to honor them: letting rest, creativity, and nourishing conversations be a rich component of your everyday (not just vacation) life?
And to have the bandwidth to weather daily stresses and challenges (like breaking your cell phone or dealing with a car problem or surprise dental bill) in a way that doesn’t take all your energy or spiral out your day or week?
And to enjoy deep reservoirs of energy and financial surplus (the two go together).
And to feel like you have time and energy to enjoy those practices that seem indulgent: diving into a new novel, hand-writing a letter, making a pie?
And (this is the best part) knowing how to recognize when you are going off course and selecting from your custom container of mind/body tools to help yourself move through the constriction and back to center?
To enjoy a life where happiness and a sense of space and ease are not “special occasion” emotions but frequent companions. Your new normal.
Resiliency, clarity, spaciousness. These are all qualities of the soul.
And when we clean house, inside and out, there is more room for them to come through.
So you get to feel how you want to feel more of the time.
As well as know how to support yourself when you stretch.
And enjoy space in your mind and heart to receive new information, new relationships, and new insights, like a beautiful spare bookshelf, full of only your favorite books and with lots of room for new ideas.
Room to respond rather than react to life.
Now. As I hope you know by my ample sharing on this blog I am so far from perfect. But I am deep enough into this process and grateful for the guides who have helped me, that I can say I have tipped over into a new normal both on the interior and external plane.
Like recently when I found myself going through an unusually busy few weeks, a growth spurt in my work mirrored with some craziness in my home life (like a gas leak), and I swear it felt like the countertops were helping me through it.
I would walk through our house and literally drink in comfort from the smooth quilt on my daughter’s bed or our big wooden kitchen table wiped clean but for a vintage mason full of snapdragons.
I think when we declutter our house just fits us better. There is a sweet spot where it supports us, and we don’t just have to support it.
And likewise our body and our mind can be allies in our growth. We know how to honor their messages. And how to rest, run or tap to reset.
There is such freedom to be found in this space.
So if some part of you is really excited at the prospect– consider this your invitation to spring clean! And know that you don’t have to do it all yourself.
I am coached regularly myself and experience the relief and clarity which targeted support provides. It just makes whatever you are growing through easier and less lonely. I offer coaching to only a select number of clients each month. So I can listen deeply to what you say. And what you leave unsaid. And help you identify and live into the concrete steps which make your life better. I’m not a big fan of formulas. You know, 3 steps to home nirvana. But I do love coaching tools and identifying that resource which enables us to laser in on what is keeping you stuck. One of my coaching colleagues calls me a Swiss army knife. Which I take as a compliment.
Courtney Pinkerton, M.Div & M.PP, is a holistic life and leadership coach and the founder of Bird in Hand Coaching. She holds dual masters degrees from Harvard Divinity School and Harvard Kennedy School, is the host of the Summer of Meditation Challenge and publishes a weekly e-newsletter on real-world mindfulness practices. Courtney teaches regularly on the Enneagram, meditation, and conscious approaches to leadership and parenting. She lives in Oak Cliff, Texas with her husband Richard Amory where they try to keep up with their three children and remember to water their garden boxes. Courtney can be reached at email@example.com.
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This month I’m writing on the 4 key myths I had to burn through before I was ready to really own my own juiciest goals. If you have a juicy goal I hope this series might help you clear out any inner obstacles so the goal can go from “out there” to “right here + totally possible.” xo Courtney