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Thoughts on Spring Cleaning

My big project last night was to swap out my closets. Hey, the temps outside may be hovering at only 50 degrees, but it’s mid-April, so it’s about time. I swear I can see itty bitty buds on the tree branches. Right? Please?

Perhaps if we carry on, brazenly asserting that spring is sprung, we might force Mother Nature’s hand. A girl can dream.

photo-81Is there anything better than packing up puffy down coats (those of the variety that bear an unfortunate resemblance to sleeping bags) and snow boots to make room for sundresses and flip-flops? After our Chicago winters, I don’t think so. I feel like that moment just comes with a great big exhale.

So I got the baby down to sleep and I began. The days are longer now, and as I sorted the drawers and closets I appreciated the fact that, outside, the sun was still shining. It had been a full, productive day of writing and errands and crossing things off my to-do list. I’m finally tackling some of the longest-running chores on my to-do list, and boy, does that feel good.

Packing and unpacking, I got into  a good groove, and my mission sort of evolved. I realized, in addition to just swapping, I also needed to do some clearing.  So that’s what I began doing. I clicked on the Hamilton soundtrack, I cracked the windows wider, and I began going from room to room looking for places where I could clear out and de-clutter. Nothing was safe or off limits. In the process, I actually found a lot of clothing that, realistically, I should just not be holding onto anymore. Some of it I haven’t worn in  years. I found one dress that suited me perfectly well when I bought it in Paris (six years ago), but I haven’t worn it since. It’s going, along with a lot of other stuff, to Goodwill.

Suddenly, I realized a fallacy I had been operating under all winter: I’m not experiencing a shortage of clothing hangers, I’m experiencing an excess of stuff necessitating those hangers. I began pulling stuff down, trying it on, and, I’m proud to say, tossing a lot of it in the pile. It’s nice stuff, but I just don’t use it often enough, and someone else will. I wrapped up the evening feeling resolved on something: next time I need another hanger — I’m not going to reach into the storage closet and grab another hanger. I’m going to reach into the clothing closet and find something I can part with. One out, one in.

In the end, last night wasn’t really about swapping out my closets. Mostly, it was about settling into a new place and making it feel like home. We moved in in January, but I realized last night that I hadn’t yet begun to feel that this place was home. I’ve had so much other stuff on my mind that I hadn’t even realized how unsettled I was feeling.

We set New Year’s Resolutions at the start of the year, but I think this is as good a time as any to do some pondering and stock-taking. Something about the reemergence of spring and new life gives me an energy that I just don’t feel in the dark days of January. Maybe spring cleaning doesn’t mean we are standing in our home with a scouring brush or a vacuum cleaner; maybe it means we organize an unruly email inbox or we deal with the accumulated pile of papers or we make the phone call we’ve been dreading, or maybe it’s something else entirely.

With that, I’ll leave you with this quote, simply because I like it. Happy spring, all. I truly wish that you find some sunshine and restoration somewhere in your life.

There are wonders around us all year.
But when we emerge from winter into spring,
The contrast is so sharp and sweet
That we pay full and joyous attention.
The trees and the flowers are coming alive,
And so, in a way are we. – Barbara Brotman

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